Fresh Hope – 31st March 2018

Mark 1 vs 40-42
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Many of us get disappointed with God because we don’t get our prayers answered immediately.

We don’t always get what we want, when we want it, because that wouldn’t be right.

As a parent you know that to be true in your parenting.

You don’t allow your children everything they want all of the time and at the times they always want it. Because, as a parent you have more wisdom and you know what’s best. Even though at times, your children don’t understand!

How much more does God know what’s best for us and at what time we need the answer?

The verses we read at the start showed an immediate answer. “The leprosy immediately left him.”

Here was an urgent need and God answered at the perfect time.

You may not understand when the perfect time is, but God does.

So keep praying – yes.

But keep trusting.

God knows what He is doing, because He is God.

If you’re waiting, there’s a reason.

Thank Him in your waiting.

Thank Him that He knows what is best.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30 March 2018

It was 7:51am in the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, a violinist, dressed in torn jeans, tee shirt and baseball cap, performed six classical pieces.

Almost all of the listeners were on their way to work, passing through the Washington state train station.
Of the more than 1000 people who passed by, only seven actually stopped to listen, and about 20 gave him money, but continued to walk at their normal pace. He collected $25.

When he had finished playing, no one even noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, being secretly filmed as an experiment to see people’s reactions. He is one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a Stradivarius violin worth $2.2 m.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and earned $1000 a minute.

Out of the 1097 people that passed by, only one woman recognised him as the greatest violinist in the world.

As you wake to this GOOD FRIDAY, you too could be so close to God and not even recognize that He’s there.

The moral of that true story is this: just because you don’t recognize whose presence you are in, doesn’t mean that the person isn’t present.

In much the same way, on that first Good Friday, hundreds stood around Jesus, but only one soldier and a few of his guards said ‘surely this must be the son of God’.

Matthew 27:54 ‘When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’

SOMETHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY HAPPENED THAT DAY LIKE NO OTHER.

Roman General Titus, records for us way back in history, that as many as 500 a day would be crucified even up to 70 years after Jesus.

So powerful was Jesus’ death, that unbelieving men that spent their days crucifying hundreds of men, bowed in this one man’s presence.

All it takes is for you to look again at the cross and see the real JESUS.

Now look also at the empty tomb and see the resurrected JESUS.

Why not say those words, just as countless millions have done throughout the centuries…’surely this was the son of God.’

His death and resurrection means that you can now know God in a personal way. He’s right there with you and is only a prayer away.

Humble yourself today and ask Him into you life.

Why not consider coming to one of our Easter services this weekend at Champions Church?

Sunday 9.30/11.30/5pm.

I look forward to seeing you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th March 2018

Just because you have all kinds of thoughts going through your head today, you don’t have to think them, and you certainly don’t have to believe them.

It’s completely possible that you went to bed last night and felt perfectly fine, and yet when you woke up it was a completely different story. Remember, just because you feel that it’s not going to be good day today…you don’t have to live by your feelings.

If you’ve already started the day wrong, that doesn’t mean to say that you have to punish yourself for the rest of the day. It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters.

Just because someone spoke something negative over your life yesterday, they don’t have the final say today.

Just because you woke up in a bad mood…remember that it’s only a mood….talk yourself out of it.

Got a difficult meeting today? It’s not the end of the world, no matter how bad it may turn out.

Centuries ago, whenever a city was being built, it always started in the same way. A plot of land was identified only when a source of water was found within its boundaries.

The spring of water was the life of the city, and as the walls went up, the people were secured from outside attack. They knew that if all else failed, they would have a constant supply of water from within. There was never a need to go outside for sustenance.

Today, it’s just the same for you.

If you are already defeated from within, then you will always be defeated from without.

If you have all that you need from within, no matter what comes against you, you can defeat it because of your inner source.

The power of these thoughts are only realised when you know the one who has the living water to give to you.

John 7:37-38 …Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’

Today, if you find yourself searching outside for the answers to life, then turn to the one who can fill you and sustain you with living water from within.

You’ll be amazed at how life can take on a whole new meaning by drinking from the source of living water.

He is the source, the force and the course of everything.

Thirsty for real life today?

Defeated from within and without?

Ask Jesus to come into your life and quench your thirst right now.

He’s only a prayer away.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th March 2018

There will be times in your life when you feel like you’re buried; thoughts will tell you that you’ve seen your best days.

Come to think about it, a huge part of the Christian message is about burial. Jesus himself faced it and so will you.

Listen to what Jesus had to say about that dark place…

John 12:24 Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

If you were to ask the seed, I’m sure it would say, “I don’t want to go into the dirt. It’s dark, it’s lonely and it’s uncomfortable when people walk on top of me.”

The seed feels like it’s been buried for ever, but what that seed doesn’t realise is that it’s not buried, it’s planted. It has the very life of God on the inside, and that life is about to burst forth and multiply.

That dark place, even though it feels like the grave, is the most critical part of the process. Over a period of time, once it germinates and grows, instead of being just a single, unattractive little seed, it ends up being a beautiful flower that will probably end up as the centre focus on someone’s table.

That dark place was the necessary tomb to enable that lone seed to multiply and become a blessing.

Have a new perspective today. You’re not buried -you’re planted.

Your potential is about to be released. You’re not only going to come out of the darkness, you’re going to come out better, stronger and fully in blossom.

Dare to trust in Him the dark and you’ll find His greatness in the light.

Have a good attitude in this process and you’ll find it’s just a matter of time before you break out and blossom into who you were created to be.

John 11:25 Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th March 2018

A short cut is often the longest way between two points.

Exodus 13:17-18 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

The Bible says that God didn’t lead the Israelites on the easiest route towards the promised land, because they were not ready for war.

He had to toughen them up so that they would be prepared for what He had in store.

Don’t get discouraged by trouble and say, “God, why is this happening to me?” That trouble is not going to defeat you; it’s going to promote you. It’s not hindering you; it’s preparing you.

Many years ago when I was working as a chef, I was suffering from the flu, but was responsible for opening up the kitchen for all the staff one day. The weather was freezing and as I walked into the huge refrigerators later on my shift, I was feeling so low that I literally, there and then, cried out to God and asked Him what this part of my life was all about. I can still hear His voice ringing in my ears all these years later as He replied “it’s all good preparation”. I could do nothing more than get on with my job and believe that God had everything in hand.

At that time I was heading up a team of 20 staff and cooking 4000 meals a week. I couldn’t understand what meaning any of this had in the grand scheme of things, and yet God used that time in order to ‘toughen’ me up for all the leadership challenges that I would be facing later in my life as I led Champions Church.

Had I have taken a short cut, God knew that I would have failed miserably.

I challenge you today to not only trust God when the road is smooth and you can see exactly where you are going, but learn to trust Him in times of trouble when you have no idea where you are going, let alone what’s around the corner.

You may not understand your life right now, but know that He is still directing your steps. You don’t have to live feeling stressed out because you’ve had a bad break, or discouraged because of disappointment; that trouble means you are on your way to your destiny.

Don’t believe the lie that if only you could get a quick break everything would be ok…it won’t. The best way for both you and I is the long way round!

Yes it’s slow, but it’s also sure.

You are merely getting ready for battle, so stand in line with the rest of us and wait and see what God can do.

Always remember, God is NEVER in a rush. He would rather thoroughly prepare you through pain, rather than watch you be defeated at the first hurdle and never return to the race.

James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th March 2018

Yesterday I parked my car in a multi-story car park in the centre of the city. As I wound my way up the levels looking for an empty space, I noticed a four-wheel drive Porsche parked, but with its boot wide open. I assumed someone must have been sitting in the driver’s seat since the boot was literally packed to the roof with stuff… I could see cool boxes, a skateboard, and all the belongings you could possibly need for a comfortable weekend away.

Continuing on I found my parking spot, and went on to run my errands. One hour later I came back to my car, and began my descent out the parking block, passing the Porsche again…but the boot was STILL open. It was obvious now that the owner of the car was nowhere in sight and clearly had no idea that half his possessions were fully exposed to the general public and ready for the taking.

I pulled my car over and explained to a puzzled onlooker that we should close the boot – so we did just that, and both went merely on our way.

Driving off I thought about how the owner would never know that their boot was ever open. They would never know that all their stuff could have been stolen. They would never know that we closed the boot for them and did them a massive favour. They would simply return to their car as they assumed they had left it. It got me thinking about how often God is working on our behalf and we don’t even know it. How many times has God intervened behind the scenes? How often are we praying for things that God is actually orchestrating unbeknownst to us?

In the natural, and on the surface it may not look like God is at work. We can see what is not happening for us, rather than what is. During the challenging times where we can feel like we have been forgotten by God, but remember that Proverbs says that ‘the Lord sees everything you do. Wherever you go, he is watching’. He never sleeps, and promises to watch over your life.
Even though reality may say that nothing is moving, and changing, the greater reality is that ‘God works all things for the good of those who love him’ (Romans 8:28), so if your circumstances aren’t good – then God is not finished yet!

Ask God to make you sensitive to His workings in everyday occurrences. Thank Him that He is working on your behalf even if you cannot see answers to some of your prayers yet.

Psalm 121:1-8

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th March 2018

Philippians 1 v 6 says “I can be confident of this, that He who began a good work in me, will carry it on unto completion”

Life can be frustrating at times. We wonder what God may be doing in our lives and situations.

However, if life was all easy and straightforward, we wouldn’t grow as much. We grow our best through resistance.

Therefore, we should all embrace where we are, for life is a journey. And as long as we are moving forward, we are moving forward!

The people who were in slavery in Egypt, took 40 years to get to the promised land…that was some journey…
It should have taken 11 days.
THEY DIDN’T REALISE THE PROBLEM WAS WITH THEM.
They moaned, groaned and rebelled. They got frustrated and eventually most of them never even got to where they should have got to.
They developed a ‘victim’ mentality.

Someone once said “if you don’t like what’s going on around you, deal with what’s going on inside of you.”

Take God’s promise today that ‘He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion.’ Don’t lose hope along the way, don’t get angry or bitter or lose your faith. Know that God is with you and He will work it out perfectly.

Keep going and you’ll keep growing.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd March 2018

Life is not about changing your circumstances…but it is
about changing YOU in your circumstances.

If life was about improving circumstances, Jesus could have seemingly done a lot more to improve what we go through everyday. He chooses not to, in favour of changing us in the process.

God doesn’t care so much about your circumstances, but He does deeply care about you!

The Bible from front to back is all about God looking for people to turn to him, despite the allurement or distraction of their circumstances!

The problem though is that it’s actually very difficult for life not to be about circumstances!
Your job,
Your marriage,
Your family,
Your health ,
Your holidays,
Your finance,
Your ministry,
Your relationships,
Your circumstances are in your face daily!

In the context of the universe, my hand is minuscule. Yet to me, when I hold it up to the night sky, it’s bigger than the stars!

How is that possible? Because I’m very close to my hand; In much the same way, we are very close to our circumstances.

Our circumstances are so close to home, they’re so personal, they can consume us! But…

2 Corinthians 4:17 | NIV
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

I want to encourage you today not to focus on what you don’t have and even what you do have in terms of the challenging things going on around you, but with gratitude and thankfulness give yourself to where you are, whether in the church, serving, the people you do life with, or in the work place. It’s vital for us to challenge the circumstance led culture we live in.

You may have experienced loss and hardship, take courage, when we look to JESUS we’ll never be disappointed!

Remember: circumstances are on the outside but JESUS is on the inside. Don’t ever live the other way round.

Romans 8:18 | NIV
‘I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…’

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd March 2018

Faith that is living and active, looks like something tangible. Faith without works is simply dead.

Let me be clear that works are not for salvation, but because of salvation! Because we have been saved, we get to do good! We don’t do good to get saved. In fact our good works in order to gain righteousness are like “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

This doesn’t mean we sit around being lazy though. As Christians we have been given the privilege to partner with God in doing good works for Him and with Him – what an honour this is when He is more than capable of doing it all Himself! We are in fact created to work! Ephesians 2:10 says, ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do GOOD WORKS, which God prepared in advance for us to do’.

Mature faith, means we put into practice what we believe, and don’t just consume. We live in a day where we have unlimited access to a feast of information and resources – powerful podcasts, brilliant books, engaging speakers and entertaining preachers, and even phone apps for when we are on the go. But of what use is it all, if we are not intentional about applying the revelation we gain from them to our life? We all know that anyone who simply consumes and consumes and consumes, will inevitably get fat. A healthy person has an active faith, outworking and exercising that which they consume.

James 1:22-24 says, ‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like’.

Practically speaking, do we spend time meditating on what we have learnt, or simply rush to the next thing? Do we seek out relationships that keep us accountable to the truths we know? Do we ask the Holy Spirit to activate what knowledge has been imparted through teachings? Do we make time to reflect? Do we seriously consider how we can practically apply the word of God to our life?

It can be easy to believe a message, but it requires work to actually apply it. It can be easy to feel like we are exercising our faith by listening and hearing, but don’t be deceived, it is the ACTION of our understandings that makes our faith come alive.

James 2 says, ‘My dear brothers and sisters, what good is it if someone claims to have faith but demonstrates no good works to prove it? How could this kind of faith save anyone?… faith that doesn’t involve action is phony… You can believe all you want that there is one true God, that’s wonderful! But even the demons know this and tremble with fear before him, yet they’re unchanged’.

Since I was one week old, my ears have heard the sounds of great teaching and preaching, but at the end of my life, I don’t want to be known for being well-read, having perfect meeting attendance, and even listening well. I want a life that demonstrates the ACTION of Jesus, and be known for having a faith that is living and active.

Take the time to consider how you can apply your next teaching to your life.

Matthew 7:24
““Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st March 2018

We’ve heard it said that in order to display the nature of God, we should make it our pursuit to do all things with excellence. It is important that we actually understand what excellence is, otherwise we fall into the trap of hustling for perfection. Perfectionism is the counterfeit of excellence. Aiming for perfection takes you only to exhaustion. Perfectionism constantly reminds you of where you are not measuring up, and where you are not doing enough. It sets impossible goals. Perfection is never satisfied. It is critical of other people. It values what you do, and what you have, rather than who you are. It is fueled by guilt and can never rest. Perfectionism is rooted in a religious spirit as you believe that in order to be accepted, you must be perfect.

Excellence however, is about GROWTH.
Excellence is ‘the state of excelling’. Scripture tells us to stop striving for perfection and rest in the only perfect one, Jesus (Matthew 11:28) and instead encourages growth in God – key words being IN GOD. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to ‘fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and PERFECTOR of our faith”. This is liberating news as this means that excellence is both progressive and limitless because it is rooted in the limitless nature of God.

Excellence is about having A PASSIONATE HEART
While perfection is about the outward appearance, excellence is about the heart. It is God motivating your heart and setting the standard, not others or even yourself telling you what to do.

Colossians 3:23 says, ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your HEART, as working for the Lord, not for human masters’.
While perfectionism is a product of not feeling good enough, excellence is an expression of your passion for God. It is impossible to be excellent at anything without passion. Try being excellent at your job without having the passion for it. Trying being an excellent spouse or parent without passion for your loved ones. Try serving God with excellence without a passionate heart for Him – you can’t. Excellence is a fruit of passion.

Excellence is EXTRAVAGANT.
A beautiful example of excellence birthed from passion is when Mary poured the perfume on Jesus’ feet in Matthew 26:8. To onlookers, excellence can seem wasteful and overly generous. When Mary poured the perfume that was worth a year’s wages onto Jesus’ feet the disciples said this act was too extravagant, and the perfume could have been sold and the money used more wisely. But Jesus instead commended Mary for her excellent act of worship. Likewise, King David was deemed excellent by God went he took off his kingly garments and danced wildly before God (2 Samuel 6:14-23). His wife despised him for it, and she bore no children, but David was fruitful in whatever he put his hands to.

Rather than striving for perfect, fix your eyes on Jesus and let him give you a heart for excellence instead.

Philippians 4:8, ‘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’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th March 2018

One of the things that stands out to me about the person of Jesus is that He was a person of innovation.

Someone once described innovation as this: seeing what everybody else sees and thinking what nobody else thought.

When Jesus looks at you & I, He doesn’t just see us for who we currently are, but He sees us for who we can become. He doesn’t just see us through the lens of our current state, but our future potential.

I wonder what would happen if you and I made an intentional decision to become innovative in our approach to life and people…

One thing my Dad often says is that unless you see it before you see it, you’ll never see it.

When others see a problem, begin to see an opportunity. When others see a person labelled with no hope, visualise someone with the possibility of a bright future.

What will set you a part in this life is your ability to think what nobody else thought despite looking at the same things as everybody else.

In your home, in your business, while you’re hanging out with friends, ask God to give you vision to see people and situations not merely for what they are, but for what they could become.

And as you begin to see things that are not, as if they were, you’ll be amazed as you watch God unfold that which you never thought possible in and around your life.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th March 2018

I came across this very captivating statement: “If your thoughts and the words you spoke appeared on your skin, would you still be beautiful?”

I remembered growing up in Zimbabwe and we had some fruit trees in the back garden which grew beautifully because of the tropical climate. My favourite fruit was the ‘guava’ which mainly grows in tropical or subtropical environments. The fruit is green or yellow on the outside and has a sweet succulent red core. One thing about the guava fruit is it is prone to worms inside its core – so one can look juicy and tasty on the outside but once opened reveals the core which is riddled by rot from the worms. I thought of this as something we ought not to be as Christians, good on the outside yet the heart is contaminated.

The heart is what you are, in the secrecy of your thoughts and feelings, where nobody knows but God. What you are at the invisible root matters as much to God as what you are on the outside. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).

So the heart is utterly crucial to Jesus. Sometimes we feel that we can get away with having bad, harmful negative thoughts or words because no one can see it, but from the heart are all the issues of life. Physically, we understand that a diseased heart may result in severe physical health issues. So, too, a spiritually diseased heart can cause spiritual problems.
It is clear from the Scriptures that God searches our hearts in order to determine the intents and purposes behind our thoughts and actions.

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart; I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings”.

Proverbs 17:3 “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart”.

In all our actions God looks closely at our intentions. For example we might draw in our pockets and give an offering but deep inside or afterwards we grumble at this action, He clearly instructs that the heart must be cheerful as we give. So what we feel and think in the deep, private recesses of our lives is what he cares about most. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

One of the most difficult steps for us to take in our lives is to admit our hearts are not always right in God’s sight. At times we refuse to acknowledge when we do wrong and the sins that lurk in our hearts—“the sin which so easily ensnares us.” (Hebrews 12:1).

We might ask, ‘So what steps should we take to make sure our hearts are spiritually healthy? David clearly told us that we need an attitude of repentance.

David was aware of how absolutely vital the thoughts and intents of his heart were to God. He had grievously sinned against God by committing adultery with Bathsheba. He changed his thoughts and took action in order to renew his relationship with God. God wanted him to have “truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6). David requested for God to: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

We do ourselves a great disservice by hiding our sins or allowing our egos to convince us that our hearts are clean and pure. David rejoiced when he had declared his sins before God: (Psalm 32:3, 5). When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long… I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden…and You forgave the iniquity of my sin”. So David received forgiveness from God and we know that God guarantees us forgiveness and it comes with freedom and liberty.

The joy of his life returned to him after he had acknowledged his sins and he wrote in Psalms 32 vs 11: “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th March 2018

In John chapter 4 in the Bible, we read about a woman who had been married to five different husbands and was now on her 6th relationship.
…Then she meets Jesus.

There are many people in our world who have no hope, you may be one of them.
You may feel that the situation you are in is hopeless.
You may have tried many different relationships to give you the hope that you need.
You may have walked many different paths to seek that hope.
So often, we look in the wrong places for that hope.

Jesus came to this woman whilst she was in a ‘hopeless’ situation and He gave her the hope that she so needed.

It doesn’t really matter what your situation is like today – there is always hope, because there is always Jesus.

Jeremiah 29 v 11 says this “for I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
When that word was spoken, the people were in slavery and in exile.
They were in a ‘hopeless’ situation, yet God brought to them a strong encouragement that gave them incredible hope.

Today, hope is not just there for those who already feel ‘hopeful’ (full of hope) , but for those who today feel ‘hopeless’ (empty of hope).

Let the God of all hope, Jesus himself, fill you with that very hope today.

Hope for your relationships, hope for your family, your finances, your business, your health, your seemingly impossible situation and hope for your future.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th March 2018

Jesus couldn’t tell the disciples everything that was on His heart. In John 16:12 He said, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”

What did Jesus mean by, “You cannot bear them now”? Jesus was saying that their ability to carry a new revelation, and task from God was insufficient at that point. The realities of what Jesus wanted to speak out was far too big for them to handle and would essentially crush them. They had some more maturing of character to do before they could go deeper, go further, and go higher.

Our ability to handle more has a lot to do with the capacity of our character. Character enables us to receive the promises of God without taking glory for ourselves, or without damaging ourselves and others. Often we ask God for the more, the bigger, and the better, but is our character ready for it?

It is not uncommon for most people who win the lottery to actually end up in more of a financial mess than before they were given piles of money. This is usually because they did not have the capacity, or character to manage what was given to them and it inevitably crushed them.

Would you give a baby a knife and ask them to make a salad? Probably not! Some more maturing is obviously required before that baby can handle a knife without damaging themselves, let alone be effective at the task! Would you promote a 13 year old to CEO of a company expecting them to not be crushed with the task at hand? Of course not! Would you tell a reckless three year old where you have hidden the secret sweet stash? No, because you know that they do not yet have the ability to manage their appetite.

In the words of Christine Caine, ‘if the spotlight on you is greater than the light IN you – it will destroy you!’.

Likewise, God cannot entrust you to handle deeper understandings, impart greater gifts, and give you more influencial jobs to do on his behalf, if your character isn’t ready to handle  what it would entail. God is not withholding good, He is simply looking after you. Sometimes, it would only do you harm than good.

This is why we should embrace opportunities for character growth – because it is essentially the gateway for promotion in the kingdom of God! Romans 5:4 says, that trials produce proven character, and proven character produces hope!

When Jesus left, the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples to sharpen their character and enlarge their capacity in a whole new way. This is why Jesus said, ‘It is to your advantage that I go…” John 14:26.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit enables us to understand more of who God is, mold our character, and take on more that He has for us. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth (John 16:13).

Let this change the way we see our weaknesses and trials, for God is preparing us for the bigger and better!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th March 2018

God is the master artist. He is the most creative being that ever was, and ever will be. The greatest painters, the most moving musicians, the most talented craftsmen, the most popular fashion designers in all of history are only the products of God Himself.

The devil has no creative abilities whatsoever. All he can do is distort and deform what God has made.

Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules and patterns. It is the ability to imagine, reinterpret, and progress.

Many people feel like they are not creatives because they have narrowed themselves into the box of ‘being creative means I have to be good at art or music’. They fail to understand that creativity is in our DNA simply because we are God’s children, carrying His nature.

As a teacher, I am concerned for how education systems narrow their perspective of creativity. Children have a natural bent to create and think outside the box in their early years, but studies show that this is dramatically stifled by age ten as the traditional education system does not cater for innovative thinking, and has narrowly defined creativity.

Creativity is in essence divine wisdom, and it is divine wisdom that will bring individuals to the forefront of their field or area of influence.

Creativity doesn’t have to be about you coming up with a whole new novel concept, it can simply be building on the work of something that has already been done. Look at cars for example. It took someone really creative to come up the concept of a car that doesn’t need to run on fuel and is electric powered. But this person’s creativity was simply building on the creativity of others that went before him like Karl Benz who invented the first gasoline automobile. But then before him was the creative mind of Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot who built the first self-propelled road vehicle powered by steam. And so generations that follow us will also take our comparably simple concepts and further problem solve, progress and advance. This is the heart and nature of creativity and God – to look at what is being done and consider how it can become better through divine wisdom and inspiration!

If you are feeling stuck on a problem, or feel as though you lack inspiration, ask God for his creative wisdom to be made known.

One of my favourite quotes from a pastor by the name of Bill Johnson is, ‘We do not become culturally relevant when we become like the culture, but rather when we model what the culture hungers to become’. Rather than being afraid of change, or simply copying others, or settling for whatever is popular at the moment – let us instead use the limitless wisdom of heaven that is available to us, and give today’s culture what they hunger for!

1 Timothy 4:14 “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th March 2018

The Bible records the words ‘fear not‘ 365 times…that’s one for each day.

It’s not a suggestion – it’s a command.

If we can win this battle, we can win almost anything.

From my own journey… here are 10 things that fear has caused in my life.

1) Fear causes us to reduce the size of God and elevate the size and opinion of man.

2) Fear causes us to go backwards

3)Fear causes us to stay quiet when we should speak up.

4) Fear causes us to be passive about an issue that has clearly been brought to our attention,

5) Fear causes us to seek consensus rather than really seeking the voice of God.

6) Fear keeps us from engaging in the broken, the hurting, the misfits, and the neglected, because we fear they will mess up our lives.

7) Fear causes us to refuse to embrace change, because we care more about being comfortable than being conformed to Christ.

8)Fear causes us to control things and take matters into our own hands, rather than trusting God and trusting others.

9) Fear causes us to conceal our sin rather than confess our sin.

10) Fear causes us to seek the easy decision rather than the right one.

Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

FEAR NOT!

Isaiah 41:10-13 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ‘All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th March 2018

As well as being a chemist, an engineer and an innovator, Alfred Nobel was the inventor of dynamite.

He was also well known as being a weapons manufacturer.

In 1888 Alfred’s brother died, but the newspaper carrying the story, recorded by mistake, that it was in fact Alfred and not his brother Ludwig who had passed away.

The mistaken obituary column was headed up “the merchant of death is dead”.

As Alfred read of his own life that ‘apparently’ had now ended, he was stunned to read further… ‘Dr Alfred Nobel, who became rich by inventing ways to kill more people faster than anyone ever before, died yesterday.’

Alfred was devastated by what he would be remembered for, and immediately set about changing his last will and testament.

He instructed that almost all of his estate, to the equivalent value of £150,000, be set aside to fund what would become known worldwide as the ‘Nobel peace prize’.

He had the rare opportunity to reassess his life and change it for the good.

Dr Alfred Nobel eventually died in 1896.

In much the same way today, God has afforded us the opportunity to re-evaluate our lives.

Ask yourself right now this one vital question: what would I be remembered for if I died today?

Would I be remembered for contributing life or death into the people that I’m privileged to be alive with right now?

What difference am I making in this generation?

Would you consider making a decision to live differently from this moment forward?

Sobering thoughts?

Maybe that’s what you needed…just like Alfred.

As you pray today, ask God to show you why he wanted you alive for such a time as this.
Luke 12:16-21 And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” ‘Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’” ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th March 2018

Our society has grown accustomed to immediate gratification. We live in a “see it” and “get it” now era, known as the microwave society where everything is quick and instant. Due to modern technology and all our conveniences—telephones, microwaves, fast foods, superfast fibre broadband etc.—we have many things immediately at our fingertips.

According to marketing researchers, the human race now has an attention span of only eight seconds and that number is continuing to dwindle. We as a society expect to be entertained. If not, we get bored and we move onto the next bigger, better, newer and brighter thing.

If we start expecting God to work and answer prayers on this rushed, “want it now” schedule we will surely be disappointed. It’s easy to think that if a prayer isn’t answered in the way we wish and on the schedule we wish that God is simply ignoring us.

Most of us are waiting for something most of the time:

Maybe you are without a job and waiting for news on an application.

Maybe you are in a job situation that’s really tough to endure and you are waiting and hoping that conditions will change for the better.

Maybe you are ill (or have a loved one who is) and are waiting for your health to improve.

Maybe you are on a diet and waiting for your weight to drop a few pounds.

A single person may be waiting for Mr. or Miss Right.

Or maybe you are married and waiting for a baby.

Whatever it is that you are waiting for, if nothing has happened yet, you might start asking God, “Why aren’t you listening to me?” or “Where are you God when I need you?” We become prone to losing hope and living in despair because we are failing to see immediate results.

It is easy to forget that God’s wisdom is infinite and many times does not work on our expected time frame. God works by his own clock. His ways are higher than our ways, He has His own plan and He doesn’t work by the world’s schedule or expectations. This is not something we like to hear, I would much rather hit the “quick start” button as we do on the microwave because it’s very hard to be patient. However, over the years, I have found that the things that I have waited for (sometimes long and hard) have turned out to be better, even beyond my expectations.

The ability to wait on the Lord stems from being confident and focused on who God is and in what God is doing. It means confidence in God’s wisdom, love, timing and understanding of our situation. It means knowing and trusting in God’s principles, promises, purposes, and power.

Hebrews 6:15 says of Abraham, “And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise”.
Abraham got to see His promise come to pass when he was 100 and Sarah was 90 years old when God gave them their son Isaac. Though it took years of patiently waiting, they received the promise of God.”

Psalms 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord”. Let us think of our journey with God as a slow cook where we are being made tender and soft so He can mould us into the person He created us to be. When we think of waiting, this does not mean just sitting back, not doing much of anything. Waiting also involves an activity. Besides trusting in God, we must use that time to seek Him.

Lamentations 3:25 “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him”.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th March 2018

I encourage you to read a few verses today if you want to be encouraged.

Read Acts 12 vs 5-10.

Peter is in jail for his faith in Christ and the Church are earnestly praying for him…

Here are a few exciting encouragements from these verses

1. The Church is praying and Peter is sleeping.
What we tend to do in a crisis or difficult situation, is worry and fear first, then we may get round to prayer.
If you pray first, worry and fear shouldn’t even enter the equation. Notice…Peter was asleep.
You can REST when you have prayed, knowing that God has it under control.

2. God did a miracle and freed Peter.
He sent an angel, his chains fell off and he literally walked out of the jail.
It doesn’t matter WHAT your situation is today… Prayer is powerful and God can make a way SUDDENLY!

3. The big iron gate opened all by itself.
This wasn’t a small garden type gate, but a huge iron gate that was at the entrance to the city. It was massive and heavy and would never have opened all by itself.
Today, God can open any door for you whenever He wants and all by itself.
The Bible says in Zechariah 4 vs 6 “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.”

Prayer is powerful.
The Church prayed and God answered.
Whilst you are waiting for the outcome, be at peace.
He is a miracle working God.
Get excited today for what can turn around in your life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th March 2018

A box of matches has no use until one match is taken out and ignited on the rough edge.

Its power and potential is not in its size, but in its usefulness outside of its box.

The box represents its safety, but it wasn’t made for safety; it was made to be the starter of a fire, giving heat, or igniting a candle, giving light.

The rough edge of the box is what ignites it into action.

All that matches do inside their safe environment is rattle around. They make a little noise, but are unable to achieve what they were created for.

In just the same way, if you don’t live outside of your box, you’ll just rattle around, make little noise but never live to your potential.

Often it takes a rough challenge to ignite you into action.

If the truth be known, we often reject any form of pain, criticism or hardship as an unnecessary evil in our lives. We want everything to be nice, easy and self gratifying, if not we dismiss it out of hand.

Simply put: we rarely grow through the ease of living in the safety of our little box, but we always grow when taken out of our comfort zone and ‘roughed up’ a little.

That trial that you are facing right now could well be the very thing that you need to spark you into action.

Losing a job can be painful, but maybe it’s happened to kick start your dream into action.

Losing a friendship that you thought was going to last forever may be an unexpected shock, but it may be just the thing you need to get you to embrace other friendships at a higher level.

When three godly young men were thrown into the fiery furnace in the Old Testament because of their faith, the last thing they thought would happen, happened. The king and the whole city was ordered to worship God because of these guys going through and yet surviving the fire. Don’t ever think that God cannot be found in the fire…He’s right in the middle of it with you today.

Get a hold of this Bible passage …

1 Peter 4:12-19 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Feeling that life is treating unfairly today? Maybe God is just using a little sandpaper to ignite you into action.

What would you rather be? A cosy Christian who is making no impact, or a Christian that’s experienced a little discomfort that’s on fire for God?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th March 2018

What You Give to God, He Multiplies

Hattie May Wiatt, a six-year-old girl, lived near Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia, USA. The Sunday school was very crowded. Russell H. Conwell, the minister, told her that one day they would have buildings big enough to allow everyone to attend. She said, ‘I hope you will. It is so crowded I am afraid to go there alone.’ He replied, ‘When we get the money we will construct one large enough to get all the children in.’

Two years later, in 1886, Hattie May died. After the funeral, Hattie’s mother gave the minister a little bag they had found under their daughter’s pillow containing 57 cents in change that she had saved up. Alongside it was a note in her handwriting: ‘To help build bigger so that more children can go to Sunday school.’
The minister changed all the money into pennies and offered each one for sale. He received $250 – and 54 of the cents were given back. In this way, her 57 cents kept on multiplying.

26 years later, in a talk entitled, ‘The history of the 57 cents’, the minister explained the results of her 57-cent donation: a church with a membership of over 5,600 people, a hospital where tens of thousands of people had been treated, 80,000 young people going through university, 2,000 people going out to preach the gospel – all this happened ‘because Hattie May Wiatt invested her 57 cents’.
The theme of multiplication runs throughout the Bible. What cannot be achieved by addition, God does by multiplication. You reap what you sow, only many times more. What you give to the Lord, he multiplies.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th March 2018

I was driving in my car on the way to the gym. It was just days before my wedding and I had been busy running errands. As I pulled up to a set of traffic lights, I was admittedly in a bit of a driving daze. My daydreaming was broken by someone yelling out from the car next to me. I wound down the window to be told by a friendly, fellow road-user that my back brake lights weren’t working! Is this what I wanted to hear days before my wedding? Was getting car brake-lights fixed really something I wanted to care about right now?

I smiled back at the bearer of bad news and yelled, ‘Ah sorry! Thank you so much!’, just as the light changed green and I drove off in a huff. How much was this now going to cost? When would I get time to fix it? How long would the mechanics hold my car hostage while I had urgent errands to run?

I considered the alternative – just leave the broken brake lights. Ignore the problem and be at risk of an accident. But did I really want to risk an accident? I soon concluded that it was illegal, dangerous, and simply not worth it.

Truth isn’t something we like to hear. It can hurt our ego, and challenge our pride. Sometimes it is just easier to ignore reality and carry on as is.

The book of Proverbs totally changes our perspective on how we should view honest feedback, also known as truth. It tells us to actually seek it out, and embrace it when we get it, even if it hurts. Yes this requires a position of humility, but like repairing a defected car, Proverbs emphasizes over and over that receiving truth will also save your life.

Proverbs 12:1 quite frankly says that you are actually a fool if you hate correction – ‘Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid’.

Proverbs 12:15, ‘The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice’.

Proverbs 10:17, ‘Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray’.

Proverbs 13:10, ‘Where there is strife there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice’.

Proverbs 13:18 ‘Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honoured’.

Proverbs 15:3, ‘Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home amoung the wise’.

Proverbs 28:23, ‘Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favour rather than one who has a flattering tongue’.

It seems to me that the fruit of receiving a loving rebuke, some uncomfortable advice, or some confronting truth about the condition of our character, or behaviour is actually priceless. Listen to people who genuinely love you and have your best interests at heart. Don’t hide, get defensive, or sulk when you are presented with a harsh reality about yourself. Instead take hold of it and bring it to God to work it out with Him, and you will find a new freedom as promised!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th March 2018

A leader, or anyone working with people for that matter, cannot succeed based on skill alone. Empathy or compassion is a basis for all successful relationships. Being compassionate isn’t about being soft or weak. It is about having a genuine understanding of what someone might be experiencing, even to the point where you might feel what they are feeling. An empathetic leader is a successful leader because they will make hard decisions from a place of humility and service. Likewise, an empathetic friend is a beautiful friend because trust is established as they emotionally share the burden.

Biblical empathy requires action. We see over and over in scripture Jesus responding to people from a place of empathy. ‘When Jesus saw the crowds he had compassion on them’ (Matthew 9:36). In the ultimate act of compassion, Jesus didn’t just come to earth to save us as God, He came as man. He came and stood in our shoes. He didn’t look at mankind and simply feel bad for us, He came down, got in the dirt of mankind, and suffered for us. There was a response to His compassion.

If you want to grow in compassion, grow in love with God. It is impossible to love God, and not love people.
1 John 3:17 says, ‘If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?’.

God is the master of empathy. He personally feels the pain of people. In Psalm 56:8 David says, ‘You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book’.

It doesn’t take much to identify heartbreak in the world today. When you see pain, suffering, shame, rejection, heartache and loss, it is our assignment to feel it and get amongst it.

I had a scripture on my bedroom wall growing up and I used to read it over and over again when I lay in bed at night. Today I refer back to it constantly as an overarching mission and mandate for my life. It was Isaiah 61:1, ‘The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners’.

This is our inbuilt responsibility as lovers of God. To feel compassion, but to not be afraid to get ‘sent into the darkness’, too in order to bring healing for others.

Romans 12:15, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th March 2018

Last month, Joshua and I enjoyed a month long honeymoon on the eastern coast of Australia. January/February in this part of the country is what they call the ‘wet season’. It is summer, but being close to the equator you are experiencing an average of 35 degrees every day, at 75-80% humidity, and a high possibility of rain. So when we were gifted with four days of non-stop torrential rain, we were initially less than impressed that all our activities and plans now had to be put on hold, or worse, cancelled. We felt like time inside would be a waste – a waste of the beautiful city we had come to visit, a waste of the beach we were over-looking, a waste of the glorious pools at the resort.

Yet what we in fact found was that these days turned out to be possibly our favourite of the trip. We were nestled inside our little hut, in a rainforest, reading, ordering in food, and being forced to finally unwind.

It got me thinking about the seasons in life that perhaps aren’t what we planned for. Sometimes it is not until hindsight that we can see how good they were for us.

Over the past two and half years, Joshua, and myself have had to navigate the sometimes scary waters of a long distance relationship. Even as I type this, I am in Australia waiting for my visa, and he is in England. Do I know when the visa is coming through? No. Is this ideal? No. Is this what I had planned for life as a newlywed? Definitely not. But reality is that this is life. We walk through uncharted waters, unexpected seasons, and constant challenges.

One of the books I was reading that rainy day in our honeymoon hut was ‘Future Brain’ by Dr Jenny Brockis. It is a book on the 12 keys to creating a high performance brain. Jenny talks through the value of a brain that embraces the unexpected. The longevity of a healthy brain and soul depends on your ability to embrace the inevitable challenges of life as opportunities to progress, to grow, to learn something new. We need to reframe how we see our problems. Don’t see the things you didn’t plan for as ruining your life. See how they make you better. See how they help you understand others better. See how they make you stronger, give you insight, equip you with unique tools, and sharpen your character. Take the good out of the unexpected. This isn’t just a naïve, over-spiritual idea, secular studies show that this really does build a healthy mind, and heart.

I love how The Passion Translation puts Jesus’ words in John 16:33, ‘And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!’

Make the most of whatever season you are in. Find the good. Perhaps this is why the apostle Paul said, ‘Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy’ (Romans 5:3-5).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd March 2018

A spirit level can be found in most people’s tool boxes. Its use is to check whether or not something is level. E.g. if you hang a picture on the wall, or fix a kitchen cabinet, the spirit level shows whether or not the item is straight… how? By having the bubble in the middle.
If the item isn’t level, the bubble will be off-centre, showing you that you need to adjust.

Sometimes our lives can be off-centre, we can have circumstances and situations that may throw us off balance. We may sometimes feel that our lives ‘are all over the place’.

It’s important at those times to ‘keep our bubble in the middle’. We can still remain balanced even in a storm.

Jesus himself slept through one whilst the disciples were panicking. It’s a human reaction, yet God wants us to live balanced and keep our trust in Him.

Many people throughout the Bible lived lives that were challenged, yet remained steadfast throughout it all.

We don’t want our lives to be up down, up down and our emotions and attitude all over the place. That’s no good to us, or anyone else.

Psalm 51 v 10 says this, make it your prayer today,
“create in me a clean heart O God, and RENEW a steadfast spirit within me.”

If you feel that due to the turbulence of life and circumstances, your bubble has gone off-centre, make that your prayer today, that God will help you to be balanced again.

He’s looking for people who remain steadfast and balanced through every scene of life. Those are the people He can use and those are the ones who will remain blessed.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd March 2018

Arguably one of the most offensive concepts that Jesus taught was that children were more ready to enter the kingdom of God than adults.

In Matthew 11:25 Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes’.

From God’s perspective, to be truly mature, we must have a child’s heart. What is it about a child’s heart that God so loves? Well, children are uncomplicated and humble. This really helps when it comes to hearing from God. They are open to His voice, they are teachable, and they don’t bring past baggage to the table and filter things through the lens of past hurt. They have a willingness to obey and God is attracted to such a fertile soil. Children are inquisitive, they want to learn more, dig deeper and go further. They aren’t afraid to dream or imagine. A child understands that love can’t be earnt, and therefore they are more easily able to receive.

This is why God tells us to be childlike in our faith! Sometimes the most mature thing we can do is unlearn the adult complexities we have taken on over time.

Tonight as I was getting into my car after picking up some takeaway for dinner, I noticed a mum carrying a bag of food with two waling boys trailing behind her. The boys were in hysterics and consecutively crying out “I want chiiiiiipppppps!!” What I loved was the mother’s calm, and confident approach. The demands of her children didn’t phase her, she knew that what she had in the bag would satisfy them, and nourish them far more than what they were asking for. Even if they were upset now, she knew what would benefit them in the long run!

I like this as a picture of God and us. We are His children, He is our Father. When we think we want something and need something, He being the secure, grace-filled, sovereign Dad that He is, knows that He has something far more satisfying and nourishing for us in the bag! What a secure and safe place for us.

It is easier for some of us to find ourselves productive in Christian service, than it is to connect with God as our Father. We only know what to do for Him, rather than how to just be. We only know how to be a soldier and not simply a daughter or son. This is dangerous.

Romans 8:15 says, ‘The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Holman Concise Bible Commentary says, “Abba is the transliteration of the Aramaic term for father, implying great familiarity and intimacy.”

Our heavenly Father is not just our giver of life, nor is He a rule maker for a beneficial life. Instead we are invited into a lifetime of ever-deepening connection and intimacy with Him.

God doesn’t want more eloquent or profound words from us. Sometimes he just wants our authentic, child-like selves. Next time you approach God, do it with a child-like heart.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st March 2018

A mindset that you may be familiar with is the mindset that says, ‘a person has to earn my trust.’

Now whilst I understand why people may say this, I want to suggest today that we look to reverse this way of thinking.

I was listening recently to a founder of a large organisation speak on leadership.
He described how this kind of living can be counterproductive, as we can typically waste a considerable amount of time waiting for a person to earn our trust, while all along, they could have been bringing great benefit to our lives.

He then went on to describe how in his organisation, they think differently.

He and his staff have adopted a mindset which says, ‘trust is given, mistrust is earned’.

I wonder what would happen if we also chose to adopt this same mindset towards people…

Let’s allow a person the opportunity to show themselves trustworthy before we label them something they’re not.

Now of course, people will inevitably let you down, and you can’t always determine a person’s behaviour. However, you can determine your behaviour towards a person…

Do you want to be more effective relationally? Do you want to see the people in your world flourish? Do you desire to live consistently, despite not instantly knowing the consistency of others?

Choose trust first…
And watch as your trust towards others makes a way for you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.