Fresh Hope – 30th April 2018

We all know what it’s like to be thirsty. I mean, really thirsty. I’m talking dry-throat, spinning head, and one thing on your mind– just guzzling a ton of water kind of thirsty! And when you finally get some water, you chug it down hard and fast. As your body finds hydration again, you are sure there is no feeling more satisfying!

Jesus knew what it was like to be thirsty. Several times in scripture, He invites anyone who is thirty to come and drink. But His invitation isn’t to drink just any kind of water. It is an invitation to come and drink from water that will be so satisfying that you will never be thirsty again. How is that possible? Well Jesus wasn’t talking about quenching physical thirst. He was talking about bringing ultimate relief to a deeper kind of thirst – a spiritual thirst. Jesus was engaging with humanity’s deeper craving for something more.

When Jesus sat at the well of water with the Samaritan woman, He was sitting next a woman who was drawing physical water. But Jesus saw past her physical need and saw her real need – spiritual water. What she really needed was Him! He said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.’ (John 4:13&14).

You don’t have to look far to see people today are hustling at the water pools of money, approval from man, materialism, and self-promotion – they’re on their hands and knees desperately chugging, trying to satisfy the dry holes of their soul with mirages of living water. In between gulps they say, ‘surely if I earn more money I will be truly happy!’, ‘surely if I can get people to accept me, I will accept myself!’, ‘surely if I work harder, I will feel better!’ – But this kind of water doesn’t relieve the dry parts of the soul. It isn’t sustaining. It does run deep enough. Simply put, they need Jesus. We need Jesus!

Where are you drawing your water from? Is Jesus your ultimate water source? You may be craving fleeting refreshments in superficial things, but Jesus promises you a fountain of water like no other in Him. And not just once – a constant supply, an eternal supply in fact, completely soul satisfying and deeply fulfilling.

The beauty of Jesus is that he doesn’t force water down your throat. Like a physical glass of water, you need to take it yourself. So, drink up, and find the relief and refreshment that is in Jesus.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th April 2018

I love the Bible. I love how we can learn so much from it. 

Some of Jesus’s closest friends were Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. 

We read in the book of John Chapter 11 that Lazarus died and it’s here we have the shortest verse in scripture “Jesus wept”.  

If you ask ‘why did Jesus cry?’ you’d probably come up with the answer that it was because His friend had just died. 

 I don’t think it was, because on three occasions Jesus said that Lazarus would be okay. He was God, He could easily pull that off.

 If you know something is going to be ‘ok’, you get peace about it. When you know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that something is going to be okay, you don’t weep. 

 In verse 32, the sisters said to him “if you’d have been here, our brother would not have died”  – they were frustrated, they were disappointed and they were sad. 

 God can cope with our disappointments.  He is big enough. 

I believe He cried because of compassion, He was deeply moved, because these were His friends and He didn’t want to see them hurting.  

BUT He had a far higher purpose.  Lazarus would be raised from the dead and God would be glorified. 

 When you and I don’t trust God (even when He’s told us it will be ok) and we get into a place of doubt and even ‘anger’ at God, maybe He cries over us.  Saying “my child trust me in this… I have it covered.”

 Unfortunately, we are people who react to what we see, when God wants us to be people of faith.  

Today, whatever your situation, trust God in it.  He has you covered. And the very thing that is concerning you right now, is the thing that will bring a great testimony and glory to Jesus. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th April 2018

Yesterday, we had a wonderful time celebrating the wedding of our niece.

 As Leah and Ashley start out on their married lives together, I am reminded that in just a couple of months, Gillian and myself will be celebrating 34 years of marriage.

Despite our busy lives that revolve around helping others, our love for each other has grown stronger and deeper over the years; that love has many times come as a result of going through difficult trials and intense pain along the way.

Anyone that is married, knows only too well that tests, trials and pain are sometimes our best friends in disguise. It’s not until much later, that we realise that they have helped play a huge part in who we are as a couple today.

 I’ve had the privilege of leading many marriage preparation classes over the years and have always been transparent in sharing some of the ‘secrets’ of a blessed and happy marriage.

 I can honestly say that Gillian is still my best friend today, and more than ever, I love spending time with her. She also loves spending(!).

 Here are some of the things that I’d like to share with you today that may help you sustain a healthy and happy marriage.

 

1) You can never say I love you too many times

 2) Appreciation, even for small acts of kindness, has a huge impact on married life.

 3) Share the chores…cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing are not beyond any of us. If you don’t know how, learn!

 4) Saying sorry is not always a feeling…it’s an action. If you can’t feel your way into an action, then act your way into a feeling.

 5) When you make a mistake, always take the higher road and humble yourself.

 6) One surprise gesture is better than ten planned ones.

 7) When you hurt your spouse, you are actually hurting yourself.

 8) Those who pray together, stay together.

 9) Never let the sun go down on your anger.

 10) If things are going from bad to worse, you are not alone – seek counsel from wise friends that are ahead of you.

 11) The rut you’re in right now is not much different than the grave (apart from the depth) – get out of it before it swallows you up with boredom – give yourself permission to enjoy your life together.

 12) Put God first in everything and everything else will fall into place.

 

Ephesians 5:22-33 MSG

‘Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.                                                 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.                          No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.’

 Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th April 2018

I’m not the greatest example of a person that likes a good wardrobe clear out, but neither am I a hoarder – somewhere in between.

I have to admit that there is something really freeing when letting things go out of your life. At the same time, I can’t help but feel that I should at least hold onto that item for just one last season, to see if I will wear it again. Truth is…”just let it go now Mark!”

I try to place my under-used ‘good stuff’ in the right hands, hoping to be a blessing to a struggling person that may not be in a position right now to get a new jacket, top or shirt.

There’s hardly a time that I’ve done this, that I privately get the recipient of their new stuff walking up to me and I’m left thinking ‘how come that never looked so good on me?’

Our youngest son is the king of clear-out. He no sooner has a new tee shirt, than he then donates his slightly used one to someone else. He probably rotates all his clothes on a monthly basis and his wardrobe is a sight to behold. Everything in its rightful place, with no room for stuff that he’s moved on from – that has long since gone to a new home.

Clothing is like the gifts that we may possess and use for a time. We can be highly gifted and used in a certain area, but then we start feeling tired and frustrated and wonder why. Could it be that God wants you to reflect in that moment on what you have been doing for the last few years, which in turn leads us to look at being used in other areas with greater effectiveness?

If you’ve ‘worn’ the gift that you’ve had for a few years and you’ve started to grow out of it, isn’t it time to find the right fit of person to pass it on to, in order that you can be fulfilled again in another area?

Just like a person being complimented on wearing that gorgeous jacket that you passed on to them, so it is with your life and the gifts entrusted to you for a time. Don’t be afraid to pass them on and see someone else take them to a whole new level with a greater passion. At the right time it will suit them more than it’s suiting you right now.

While I’m holding onto stuff that no longer is my fit, I’m actually stopping someone else being blessed too.

Take stock of your life today.

Pass on the things that you no longer are usefully using anymore and let others flourish in them.

Make room for that new set of clothes that God is waiting for you to try on.

Wear the bigger jacket today.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 MSG
‘God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits.

All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful: wise counsel, clear understanding simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts proclamation, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues. All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th April 2018

God is unlike anything or anybody.

 Humans can only understand something, by building upon what they already know. In the words of A.W Towzer, ‘we learn by using what we already know as a bridge over which we pass to the unknown’. Hence why in scripture, the authors often attempt to describe God by saying He is “like” something that we already humanly know. Even Jesus Himself used metaphors and stories over and over again, in order for the human mind to comprehend how the kingdom of God works.

 At present, our understanding of God, no matter how many years we have been a Christian, is finite in comparison to the great nature of who God really is. This is actually a very reassuring thought.

 God is creator. We are His created. To reduce all of God down to our level of understanding would be to make him as powerful as us. How comforting it is to know that my mind cannot fully fathom Him, because He is far bigger than me, and thus I can rest in the mystery of His almighty, sovereign nature. If He weren’t a mystery, then He would be no bigger than me.

 Yes we are made in the image of God, but scripture didn’t say, ‘The EXACT image’ of God. Just like a painting reflects the attributes and the mind and heart of the artist, but isn’t the artist itself, so we as people reflect the mind and heart of God, but are not God – and thank God for that!

 Often we want a God we can manage and control. But don’t try and reduce God to manageable terms. Rest in the mystery of His magnitude. One of the great paradoxes of God is that we can know Him so personally and intimately, yet so much of His ways still remain a mystery. In the words of Frederick W. Faber,

 ‘Darkness to the intellect

But sunshine to the heart.’

 In other words, there are aspects of God that the mere human mind cannot understand completely and rationally, only a heart can receive in faith, and then experience the love of God.

 In the gospel we see the helplessness of the human mind in understanding the mystery of God. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, teaches that God can be known only as the Holy Spirit works in a hungry heart.

 ‘For to us God revealed them (deep thoughts) through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God’.

 So stay hungry to understand more of God, let the Holy Spirit enlighten you on the ways of God, as you partner with Him. Equally, rest in the reality that you never will know it all – and that is the beauty of His mystery.

 Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th April 2018

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act” (Psalm 37:7)

 The reason why most people never hear God speak is that they never slow down enough to let God talk to them. Hurry is the death of prayer! You’ve got to slow down. You’ve got to be quiet. And you’ve got to wait expectantly.

The best way to do this is if you get up earlier, so you’re not rushed and you’re able to spend some time and start your day with God.

 If I told you that tomorrow at 4 a.m. the queen of England wanted to meet with you privately, you probably wouldn’t even go to bed tonight. You’d take a bath — you’d probably take two baths! You’d go and have your hair cut, find a beauty salon, get a new suit or outfit, and get spiffed up. You’d be at the meeting 30 minutes early.

 Guess what? The Creator of the universe wants to meet with you tomorrow morning!

 You don’t even have to get dressed up. You can be in your PJs. You don’t even have to leave your home. But you do have to plan an appointment. That means you have to stop doing something so you can start doing what God wants. You’ve got to decide what’s more important to you: another 30 minutes of entertainment or time with God every morning.

 Your day is filled with lots of important responsibilities, commitments, and activities. But time with God is the most vital appointment that can appear on your calendar tomorrow!

Rick Warren

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd April 2018

How often do we pray about something that is worrying us and declare that we have handed it over to God then hours later find ourselves laying awake at night, worrying about that same thing? Giving things to the Lord is not easy, in all honesty, sometimes we may feel like God is so distant, and it just seems to make more sense to handle things ourselves.

We often experience unnecessary anxiety and burdens that we were never meant to carry when we bring something to God through prayer, but we ultimately end up ‘taking it back’. We pick up our worries, fears, and even our past mistakes and we hold on to them so tightly with a firm grip – all the while knowing we should give them to God. Sometimes He even has to pry them from our hands and we begrudgingly give them to Him but not totally. God wants us to totally place all our cares and worries into His hands. He wants us to release them to Him trusting that he will handle them with care and work them out for good for each one of us in His perfect time.

When we give over something to God, it feels wonderful because we are essentially giving the burden, worries, and cares of that thing over to Him. We are doing what Philippians 4:6 instructs us to do which is to, “Not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” And when we do this, (present our requests to Him), we feel an overwhelming peace, knowing that it is in His hands.

If you have prayed about something and you find yourself worrying about that thing again, stop right then and say to yourself say, ‘No, I refuse to worry about this thing anymore, because God is taking care of it!’ You may need to do this a number of times until you are completely free of worry and He promises that if we do this, that His peace that surpasses all understanding will flood our mind as we put our trust in Him! (Philippians 4:7).

Swap your worries for His peace today.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st April 2018

We’ve all heard the following …
“I want to make a difference.”
“ I want to be a history maker.”
“I want to be successful.”

The great news is this: we can be.
For all of us, we cannot exactly see the future. God tells us that His word is a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119) and not a floodlight.
Which means, that very often (most often) we can only see the next step – that is how God designed it.
We may not be able to predict and see the future, but we can create it.

When you are fruitful, you will become productive.
When you are productive, you will become successful.
When you are successful, you can make a significant difference.
The question is then, how do I become fruitful?

By being faithful.

In Matthew chapter 25, a manager gives out talents to each of his employees (sums of money). One put it to work and doubled it, the other added to it and one buried it (because he was scared of losing it). The Master was very pleased with the faithful one, not so with the unproductive servant.

Whatever God has given you today, whether financially, your gifts, your words, your time, your talents…be faithful with them.
Use them wisely. When you do you will become fruitful and productive and successful and significant.

In Matthew chapter 21, we read about a fig tree that didn’t bear fruit. Jesus cursed the fig tree and it died!

Reading these two chapters from the Bible, reminds me that God wants me to be faithful with what I am supposed to be doing and with what I have.

Do you want to make a difference and be a history maker?
You can be. Just start by being faithful with the small that you have and just watch God bless it and multiply it.

Final thought. We are not meant to just be faithful; we are meant to be faithful AND fruitful. Ask the fig tree.
It had been faithfully there, for probably many years, but it wasn’t doing what it was meant to do. Produce figs.

SATURDAY CHALLENGE – ARE YOU?

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th April 2018

Words have power. They can hurt and they can bless. But scripture tells us that the power of words reaches much further than the impact they make on our emotions. Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Our words have supernatural power, power that changes circumstances and situations.

The tongue is only a small part of the body yet it is so powerful. It has the ability to create as well as destroy. It is important for us as children of God to avoid statements and confessions of fear and defeat. Even when things look hopeless, we must speak in faith knowing that God is able to fulfill His promise for us.

When we speak positively, it doesn’t mean that all is well. It doesn’t mean that everything is moving smoothly. What it does mean is that we believe God will definitely see us through. We are simply declaring our faith in God’s ability to work in all situations to eventually bring us good.

Psalms 19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Be a person whose mouth is full of life. Continue to change your circumstances by filling your heart with the Word of God. Confess the truths from scriptures so that the words that come out of your mouth are life-changing words. Let your words be God’s Word!

Today, make your mouth “a fountain of life” (Proverbs 10:11). Speak positive words into your own life. Speak positively into someone else’s life, encourage more than you critique. Seek opportunities to speak kind, tender hearted words (Ephesians 4:32). Say something affectionate to a loved one at an unexpected time. Seek to only speak words that are “good for building up,” that “give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th April 2018

God doesn’t bring about bad circumstances in our life, but He certainly can use them to test us. When God tests us, He isn’t critiquing us, waiting for us to fail if we don’t perform. He rather wants to show us what we are really made of. He wants to expose us to ourselves and show us what is really going on inside.

When the pressures and challenges of life weigh down on us, does a trust in God and a strength of character surface? Or does a flurry of worry, stress, spiraling emotions, grumbling, unforgiveness, and disillusionment manifest? Often we don’t know what is inside of us, until a life challenge forces it out of us. A glass of juice is not enjoyed, until the fruit has been crushed and the goodness inside forced out. When food is put in a pressure cooker, the best flavours come out. Tough times force us to face the reality of who we really are. Our faith is only as strong as our ability to walk through a trial and still trust God.

As any good teacher knows, testing is a healthy part of growth. It shows us what we really know, and how to improve, and learn for next time.

The Israelites left Egypt and had to travel to the Promised Land. It was normally an 11-day journey, but it took the Israelites 40 years (Numbers 13)! Why did it take them so long to do such a short journey? They wanted to turn back to Egypt and return to slavery numerous times. They did not trust God. When circumstances tested their faith, they failed. They literally went around and around the mountain, complaining, grumbling, reliving the past and therefore failed the same tests over and over and over.

When we pass a test, we can then graduate to bigger and better things, stronger and more equipped than before. When we fail to rely on God, we will have to repeat the journey again until we learn. The tests of life continue, our response is the same, and so is the outcome. There may be reoccurring problems in your life. The same thing that is constantly challenging you. You, metaphorically speaking, are going around and around the same mountain! Yes many of life’s mountains are totally out of our control, but how we navigate our way over them is well within our control. Maybe God is waiting for you to tackle the steeps and slops in a new way, with a greater trust and reliance on Him. Don’t go around and around the same problems in your life in the same pattern. You’ll waste years doing that, and get nowhere. As you are tested, ask God what He is teaching you, grow, trust God, and move up the mountain with Him.

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold.” (1 Peter 1:7a NLT)

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th April 2018

I love the honesty of the Psalms – the raw emotion and vulnerability of the authors. The complaints, the sorrow, the praise, the gratitude, the laments, the joy – all rolled into a beautiful collection of poetry. The Psalms accurately depicts the same emotional and spiritual highs and lows we ourselves experience in our own lives today. The underlying theme of the Psalms is simple – worship. Those who wrote the Psalms had hearts devoted to God. Despite trial and tribulation, their common response was always praise.

The Psalms is proof that the Christian life is far from a bubble – ignoring real life problems, and sticking our heads in the sand. The Psalms prove that the Christian life is actually about fully acknowledging our broken hearts, disappointments, and fears, but not camping there. We acknowledge and then praise. We recognise and CHOOSE to worship.

In Psalm 42 as the author diagnoses himself with a downcast soul, he immediately knows his remedy is praise and worship to God. ‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my saviour, and my God’ (Psalm 42:5).

Have you ever forced yourself to go on a run? At first, it isn’t what you feel like doing, just something you know you should do. Around half way you start feeling good. As you get further and further into the run, you feel more and more motivated. The endorphins kick in and you see your progress and feel empowered to finish what you started. I don’t think anyone finishes exercise and says, ‘I wish I didn’t do that’. You start out feeling flat, and finish feeling on top of the world, grateful that you pushed past your initial lack of motivation. Praise through trials works in a similar way. You sometimes just do it, because you know God is always worthy and it is good for you. As you get into it, you start to feel things lift and your perspective change. You become empowered through the praise. You never finish worship regretting that you started it. Do this over and over and you will find that worship and praise, like a good exercise regime, becomes an automatic lifestyle and response, unshaken by situation and circumstance.

How easy it is to rejoice, praise and thank God when all our ducks are in a row and our dreams are fulfilled, but where is our mouth positioned in times of trouble? It seems hope, healing, and the breaking of oppression comes through the power of our praise and worship.

Psalm 71:14, ‘But I will keep hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th April 2018

Too many times we let the fear of the unknown hold us back. When you are in God’s will there is going to be a ‘not knowing’ factor. You’re not going to know all the details about how it’s going to work out, you just have to be bold enough to step into the unknown.

There was a young Jewish girl in the Bible named Esther. She was an orphan, didn’t come from an influential family and was living in a foreign country. But God raised her up to become the Queen and was living in the palace. At the same time, there was a powerful official that ordered all Jewish people to be killed.

Esther knew that she had to do something about it. She also knew in those days that if you just went in to speak with the king you too could be killed. After careful thought, she just knew that she should go in and address the dreadful situation and see if she could make a difference and get the plan reversed. Her uncle was named Mordecai and he also encouraged her that maybe she was in her royal position for ‘such a time as this’.

This was her chance to make a mark. It was now or never, so she rose up and said ‘if i perish, I perish’. She stepped up and not only did God give her favour with the King, she saved her people and became one of the heroes of faith.

Like Esther, we all will get moments where we feel scared to step out, but we must never shrink back. Don’t let fear talk you out of it. There are people’s lives at stake.

You too were born for such a time as this.
Be bold, be courageous and step into the unknown and God will give you favour and a new level of influence.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th April 2018

There’s a story in the Bible referred to as ‘the feeding of the 5000.’

The story begins with us being informed that due to the disciples’ busy schedule, they haven’t yet had chance to eat. As the day rolls on, the hungry disciples identify that the large crowd ought to be sent home, as they have a long trip ahead of them and will need to get some food on the way.

Jesus responds to their suggestion by telling them to give the crowds something to eat.
Knowing that they’re hungry, knowing that they themselves haven’t had a meal, Jesus asks His disciples to first take care of the hunger of others.

This right here gives us an accurate picture of who Jesus is and how He operates.
Out of their lack, He wanted His disciples to be somebody else’s supply…

Are you feeling discouraged today? Jesus says to you, ‘go and encourage somebody else’.
Are you in need of a financial breakthrough? Jesus says to you, ‘I want you to give more away’.

It’s quite possible that in the very area you think you need to be a receiver, God wants you to be a supplier.

The story concludes with more than 5000 people being fed that day. But what happened to the disciples, you may ask?

At the end of the day, they collected 12 basketfuls of bread and fish… one for each of them.

One of God’s many principles is that when you take care of the needs of others, God will never fail to take care of you.

In the area of your lack, God wants to show Himself to be your supplier. In the area of your need, God wants to show Himself to be your abundance.

Make a decision today to be consumed with feeding others, and know this: when you do so, God is always faithful to feed you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 14th April 2018

I’m not a gardener and I don’t pretend to be… however, I do have a basic knowledge about some of the things in our garden.

There’s the HOSTA – it disappears every winter and leaves a huge space in the garden, and I think to myself “has it gone?” “Where did it go?” “has it died?”
It was beautiful one minute and living full, then it disappeared.

Is that like you? Beautiful one minute, flourishing and splendid and then suddenly disappear? Hiding away? Leaving people to question?

There’s the CLEMATIS – beautiful and pretty and a great climber, covers over a multitude of broken fence… yet it poisons and kills my honeysuckle. The two don’t mix. So I have to be careful where I put it.

Is that like you? Pretty on the exterior, but can still be destructive at times?

There’s the HYDRANGEA – I love these, so pretty and colourful. You can buy one as pink, plant it in your garden and it changes to blue. You see, it all depends on the soil that it’s planted in. You would think it’s a completely different plant.

Is that like you? Depending on where you are planted and who you are with, you can be one person one day and a different one the next?

Then there’s the CONIFER (the evergreen) – not particularly beautiful, yet it’s always the same. Come hail, snow, wind and rain. The good old conifer just grows taller and taller, the birds nest in it and it stays put.

Is that like you and me? I hope so.

The Bible says in Psalm 1 that when we walk in God’s ways and keep the right company…when we delight in His word and mediate on it… (vs 3) “That person is like a tree, planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither and whatever they do prosper.”

That’s the tree I want to be like. What about you?

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th April 2018

Recently someone close to me experienced some terribly unfair circumstances. As I watched the events play out, I was both frustrated and heart-sore for this person – it was so unfair, unjust, and frankly impossible to understand why God would allow something like this to happen when it just wasn’t right!

From a young age we learn that it is not fair to steal, to cheat, or mistreat any one, so our world can be torn in two when someone or circumstance robs from us, that which is rightfully ours – it may be someone taking our money, being robbed of our health, circumstances sabotaging our plans and devastating our dreams, a person stealing an opportunity, or undermining our hard work and reputation. So where is God when life seems unfair? How do we navigate our emotions through the depths of disappointment?

Reality is that God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28). If things aren’t good yet, God hasn’t finished working. Nothing is too far out of His ability to re-orchestrate. Nothing is too messy for him to involve himself with. Nothing is too broken for Him to make beautiful.

And nothing slips past Him. That thing that slipped through your fingers has been caught by His! Realise and remember that God sees it all! 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, ‘For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him’.

When you feel like God hasn’t protected you or come through for you, you can feel like you want to shut the door on Him, but have a heart that is instead totally surrendered. Exodus 14:14 says, ‘The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still’. Stillness implies surrender. When you have surrended to the nature of God, and finally trust that he will fight on your behalf, your soul is still and at peace. Let God fight on your behalf for justice. He may not be working according to your expectation and timing, but He is definitely working!

Philippians 1:6 ‘…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’
‭‭

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th April 2018

In Luke 2:52, we see it mentioned that ‘Jesus GREW in wisdom and FAVOUR with God and man’. This means that favour is something you can grow in. Jesus was perfect, and he still had to grow in favour.

While the love of God is unconditional and limitless towards you as a person, favour in what you have must be stewarded well for you to receive more. While God loves everyone the same, scripture shows that there are different measures of favour on people. The degree of favour on our life, is directly linked to our ability to steward the favour already given to us. This may sound offensive to some, but let it instead challenge you to get better at managing what you already have been given.

So like Jesus, Samuel (1 Samuel 2:26), and Joseph (Genesis 39:4), how do we grow in favour with both God and people? The answer – everything you have in your hands right now, manage it well and watch it grow in the spiritual and the natural! Many people are frustrated that they have unfulfilled dreams and desires, but the question is, ‘what have you done with the favour God has already given you?’.

Do you want increased favour in your friendships? Then steward the ones you have now well (practically speaking, stewarding your relationships well may mean serving whoever is in front of you, cutting out gossip, proving yourself trustworthy, and being an encourager).

Want increased favour in your job? Then steward the job you have now well (this may mean being punctual, working hard, having integrity in the workplace).

Want to have more favour in your gifts and talents? Then steward whatever skill you have now (this may mean taking time to fan into flame your current abilities, humbling yourself, seeking ways to improve, eagerly serving others).

Want to grow in favour in your money? Then steward whatever is in your bank account now (this may mean committing to budgeting, being generous, surrendering your money to God).

Stop wanting the bigger and better and use what is in your hands now. If you are stuck in the same place you were a year ago, with no fruit, and ease, perhaps it is time to reconsider how you are stewarding the favour already given to you, before you can grow in more.

God’s love towards us is not determined by our works, but like any good parent who gives gifts, it is as He sees us using what we have been given well, that we then increase in favour and prove ourselves ready for the responsibility that more favour requires.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th April 2018

One of the most fascinating phrases in the Bible, used more than 80 times, is the phrase ‘and it came to pass.’

I love this phrase. It has become one of my best friends. When going through times of trouble, I’ve always tried to keep it in mind ‘it will come to pass.’

Every day, things are either entering our lives or leaving our lives. One slight problem is that we often think things are here to stay, and so we get attached to them, even when we hate them. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but few things in life are here to stay.

How many things in your life right now have you re-written the Bible over with the words… ‘now it came to stay?’

We have decided that even things that were said over our lives years ago are here to stay, not to mention toxic friendships and even tacky ornaments – all are here to stay.

Start to declare over everything that has made its way into your life and is wanting to take up space…you have come to pass!

Stop accepting everything that comes to you as the will of God and realise that the very enemy of your soul is wanting to take you down by keeping you focused on stuff that you’ve allowed to take up residency in your life.

Recently, on the day before my son’s wedding, I was taken out by a virus that came my way. I could have let it ruin everything and render me in bed, but I decided to tell that virus that it was only here in order to ‘come to pass’. The very next morning, through a series of miracles, I was out of bed and standing in front of all the guests marrying my son and his new bride.

Declare today that everything you need to make your life richer, fuller and deeper is on its way to you, and anything that’s not will pass on through!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th April 2018

Just before Jesus went to be crucified, He met with His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane. That garden was, and still is today, an olive grove.

Interestingly, the name Gethsemane means ‘the place of pressing’. The only way to get the valuable oil out of the olives is to put them under immense pressure.

Our lives are much the same; in order to bring out the best in us, God sometimes allows, and even puts us through situations that bring us under pressure.

Think of a garden hose that may not reach the plants furthest away in your garden. The pressure may not be great enough to project the water flow much further than a few feet, so what do we do? We place our thumb slightly over the end of the hose in order to increase the pressure. That way we get to extend the reach of the water. Without that added pressure, some of our plants would be left to die.

If you’re never put under pressure, you’ll never tap into the resources that God put on the inside of you in order to reach out to others.

Maybe today you feel as though you’re being squeezed to death. But just like Jesus, who was literally brought to death under immense pressure on Good Friday, understood that Sunday was coming, where He would shoot out of that grave in victory.

Right now you probably feel that you’d do anything to escape the pressure you’re under, but hold on…Sunday is coming.

Don’t get discouraged, the more opposition you face, the more you’re going to be propelled into your destiny.

Pleasant…NO. Necessary…YES.

The next time you use olive oil in your kitchen, remember, this only arrived because of the pressure it endured.

Stay in faith, God has got your back.

Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th April 2018

John 8:36 – So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

The one ‘set free’ must act in that freedom in order to benefit from freedom’s full power.

We have just celebrated one of, if not the most significant events in the Christian life, Easter, where Christ died for us so we can have a new and eternal life; where all are sins and iniquities are forgiven and completely wiped off our records and where we walk in freedom not in bondage.

Freedom cuts off the chains of bondage and literally shouts, “Break loose, child of God, you are washed and given a new lease!” To be granted freedom is to be given a new life, one that has been voided of the necessity of carrying one’s own sin and shame any longer. This is the Father’s everlasting gift to us all, once we accept our beautiful adoption into the family of God and walk inside of the privilege that entails.

In order to enjoy and live in complete freedom, we must understand what it truly means to be free. Imagine being trapped in a lift for hours, and then someone gets the doors open for you but you stay in the lift as if you are still trapped. That’s how we sometimes live, set free but still carrying the beliefs and acting as one who is not. Many of us have grown up with beliefs such as ‘I have to be a good and perfect Christian to get to heaven.’ This obviously is an impossible goal to reach, so instead we end up living trying to be perfect, fail at it and turn back to sin and this becomes an exhausting cycle of living in bondage and trying to earn salvation

True freedom is not based on rules, but on a relationship – a loving personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Freedom is not a onetime decision, but a decision we must consciously make every single day to accept what Christ did for us and live in His complete Grace. As Christians, we are now free from the law, but just because we are free, this doesn’t give us license to sin. In fact, if we sin we lose our freedom and become slaves to satan and submit to a yoke of slavery, a form of bondage. On the cross, Christ granted us freedom from sin in the most groundbreaking way.

Whatever you find yourself struggling with, if it’s addiction, perfectionism, anxiety, stress – know that you are NOT the one who provides freedom. Colossians 2:6 says ‘As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots of your being firmly and deeply planted in Him, being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving’.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th April 2018

Isaiah 55 vs 8&9 tells me that God’s ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts.
What does that mean? That there obviously has to be a higher way of thinking than mine!

A person can determine their own thoughts, their own actions and their own attitudes. We may not be able to control what happens to us, but we can control how we think and how we act and what our attitude is like.

If we don’t change our thinking and reach for higher things (that God intends for us) then we will never be any different to anyone else.

We can change our lives, by changing our thinking.

For instance, if I have an enormous bill that needs paying and I can’t pay it, my way of thinking will say “I’m sunk”.
Remember, God’s ways are higher than mine.. so instead, I think like this
“My God will supply all my needs.” (Philippians 4 vs 19).

If I have a child that is sick and I’m concerned about it, I may start to worry and fear the worst.
Remember, God’s ways are higher than mine.. so instead… I think like this:
“Forget not all His benefits, He forgives my sin and heals my diseases.” (Psalm 103 vs 2&3).

What if there is someone or a situation that is against me and I start to feel defeated by it and feel myself being taken down?
Remember, God’s ways are higher than mine…so instead, I think like this
“If God is for me, who can be against me?” (Romans 8 vs 31)

I challenge you today; start thinking higher thoughts, start thinking GOD thoughts.
It will really change your life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th April 2018

Today I noticed a man wearing a t-shirt declaring the words, “NO SACRIFICE, NO REWARD” across the back. I assumed this was in reference to his weight-lifting-focused lifestyle as he was strutting around with about 2% of body fat, rippling muscles, and a chest and neck resembling something like that of Goliath! He had a protein shake in one veiny hand and sweaty towel in the other. My guess is that ‘sacrifice’ to this person is giving up many hours a week to pursue his body conditioning goals. He would no doubt have to give up eating whatever he felt like, in order to follow a strict diet. He would sacrifice time with friends, for time at the gym – all for what he deems a worthy reward.

There is something powerful about sacrifice. Denying self and immediate gratification in the pursuit of a vision that will reap a greater reward. Although we live in an “instant gratification, me-centric” culture, it seems that true satisfaction and fulfillment comes at the end of a road of sacrifice.

Jesus himself ‘for the joy set before him, endured the cross’ (Hebrews 12:2). He had a vision, which made the present pain and sacrifice worth the awaiting reward. Jesus went to the cross, and paid the ultimate price so we could live in the reward of it today. We are the joy that was set before Him. We are the reward He saw at the cross.

Our ability to sacrifice is directly linked to our ability to have vision for our lives. We can sacrifice the immediate gratification of fast food for the vision of a long life and good health. We can sacrifice the immediate gratification of new clothes, for the vision of being debt free and buying a home one day. You sacrifice your selfish desires to the benefit of your spouse, for the reward of an enduring marriage. You sacrifice the short-term gratification of pursuing meaningless relationships, for the reward of a meaningful one in the future. We sacrifice time in our busy day for God, and in reward gain greater intimacy with Him.

This is why Jesus said, ‘Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it’ (Luke 17:33). There is no doubt that sacrifice is a major theme of the gospel. In trying to take and keep all you can for yourself, you will only lose out. To gain something long term, you must give up something and make a sacrifice in the immediate.

What in your life can you lose today, in order to preserve it for tomorrow? Do something that your future self will thank you for. Pay the uncomfortable, maybe even painful, price today, to reap the promised reward tomorrow.

Galatians 6:7-9 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
‭‭

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th April 2018

I love anything royal. My fascination with royalty started when I was 14 years old watching the royal wedding of Mary Donaldson, a real estate agent from Australia, to Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark. Fredrick had met Mary in a restaurant in Sydney when he was out in Australia for the 2000 Sydney Olympic games. Mary’s life was changed forever. She became a crowned princess, moved to Denmark, and learnt the language and culture. My love for all things royal continues with the British Royal Family – I read books about them, watch documentaries on them, retain all sorts of random facts about them, and genuinely find the history and customs of the monarchy fascinating!

If you are a member of the Royal Family, your entire life is destined to represent the reigning king or queen to whom you are related. Obviously the current Queen of England cannot be present for all 2,000 engagements that are carried out each year by the Royal Family, so she sends her family members on her behalf as her representatives. The role of a royal isn’t actually to sit on a shiny throne being waited on. Their job is in fact to SERVE the nation and beyond. They support and encourage the public in charity and meet with a wide range of the public to understand their interests and concerns. The Queen is also the over-arching AUTHORITY of many prime-ministers and leaders of many nations.

All through scripture God uses royal language in reference to our position in Christ. We have been adopted into a royal family ourselves. Only our father is crowned the ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ (1 Timothy 6:15). This means that we are as royal as they come! We have been given a royal mandate. 1 Peter 2:9 says, ‘you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light’. Being part of the royal family, means we not only have access to all the resources of God, and the inheritance of Jesus, but we also have a God ordained authority. But this authority isn’t at all for selfish gain. We are a chosen people to represent the king and His kingdom. We are called to operate in authority, but with a servant heart.

Scripture says we are seated ‘on the throne, at the right hand of the father’ (Ephesians 1:19-21). The right side of the throne represents a special place of honour. It is a place of both intimacy and authority – and this is our position as part of God’s royal people!

No matter where you are from and who you are, you have been called to rule and reign in life! You have been given both authority, AND the identity to serve others in such a way that represents the King of kings! Get rid of your pauper thinking and realise who you represent.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th April 2018

In the court of law, a testimony is a written or spoken statement providing evidence of something. In the kingdom of God, a testimony is a statement providing evidence to the work and nature of God. It is when you declare how God healed, gave hope, provided finances, made a way, broke down barriers, imparted wisdom, and restored!

When we hear someone testify of the goodness of God in their life it creates an awareness and expectation in our own hearts for God to work in the same way in our circumstance.
Unlike a legal testimony in a courtroom, a testimony in the kingdom of God has prophetic POWER. That means it has the power to create or repeat that which is being spoken! The Hebrew root word for “testimony” means, “to do again”. That means that when we hear what God has done in someone else’s life, we are hearing what He can do again, in OUR life!

Testimonies also connect generations. In many cultures it is through the telling of stories that identity and history is passed on to the next generation. Likewise, as our children hear of the goodness of God in our lives, and read of the goodness of God in the generations before them, they then understand and experience God for themselves and pass that message onto those after them!

Testimonies are tools for us. As we hear of how God has come through for someone else, we can take hold of that testimony for ourselves and allow it to bring us hope.

Keep on speaking about what God is doing in your life! Listen to and celebrate the stories of God in other people’s lives for they are yours also! When we hear a testimony spoken by those around us, or read it in the word of God – don’t ask ‘why them and not me? Or, ‘that’s for them and not me’. God will repeat the story in you. Why? Because His good nature is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Psalm 78: 5-7 “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.”
‭‭

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd April 2018

To me life is simple…it’s about God and it’s about people.

Jesus himself said these words in Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength …..and Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

For more than 30 years now I’ve devoted my life to serving others, so that they too could have a meaningful life that carries at its very centre, the importance of loving God and people.

Often, people find it hard to love others simply because they find it hard to love themselves.

Loving yourself comes from knowing that you are loved.

I’ve listed below some of the things that I’ve held in my heart when trying to encourage people to see their true worth. I hope they help you to help others today too.

5 minutes of proactive care is worth 5 hours of reactive care.

One surprise gesture is worth 10 planned ones.

Telling someone that you appreciate them takes really no effort at all.

Time spent encouraging people is never time lost, but ground gained.

A shoulder to cry on is far more absorbent than the words ‘you’ll get over it’.

I, me, and mine are 3 words that may make you feel important, but there are only 3 letters that make everyone feel important…OUR.
‘Let’s get together sometime’ are just empty words that never happen. ‘Let’s make a date now’ is what relationships are made of.

A full vase means more than empty words.

Better is open rebuke than hidden love (Proverbs 27 v 5-6).

A timely 5 minute phone call is far better than 5 hours of counselling when it’s too late.

A cup of coffee with a troubled person is worth to them than its weight in gold.

Today, instead of just thinking about what more you can get out of life, start to lift others that have no life at all.

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd April 2018

Take a Bank holiday helicopter ride today!

A ride that will give you an aerial view of your life.

A ride to help you see from above how your worries and cares are weighing you down.

You can get so close to your worries that you can no longer see the effect that they are having on you.

How many of us today are being pulled down and pulled back without even knowing it?

Not all worries are the same…there are different types.

Here are a few…

Floating worry – It just drifts aimlessly through your mind. You know it’s there as it keeps popping up each day, but there’s no way of solving it as these types of worry don’t actually tell you what you are worried about. Floating worries are really automatic negative thoughts that want to use up valuable space in your mind. Just let them go. They don’t belong.

Fake worry – is really like the mouse and the elephant crossing a bridge. The mouse said to the elephant… “we sure did make that bridge shake.” Fake worry is the mouse behaving like it’s the elephant. It thinks it has the power to shake you. It doesn’t.

Guilt worry – Many people have high guilt proneness because of their past life. The mind continually replays the bad things of the past and as a result you continually keep talking yourself out of a forgiven life.

“…I feel bad about myself.

“…I feel I’m letting people down.”

“…I’m not good enough.”

Then we feel guilt for feeling guilty.

It’s a vicious circle.

Settle it once and for all: “I’m either forgiven or I’m not.”

Jesus either died for my sins or He didn’t.

He settled it 2000 years ago. You have to settle now.

Perfectionism worry – Anne Wilson Schaef said that perfectionism is ‘self abuse of the highest order’.

A perfectionist is never happy with results. They are never happy about where they are.

To them, non-perfectionism is mediocrity; yet you can do things with excellence without being a perfectionist.

Stop worrying that you haven’t got everything perfectly lined up, but at the same time don’t settle for second rate and second best.

Understand in an imperfect world that there will always be a problem to keep you just short of perfectionism.

Remember: when we do our best God will do the rest.

Take to heart today this great Bible verse…

Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The word ‘perfect’ means complete.

Be complete IN God.

Throw yourself into His arms and let him take your worries, cares and concerns. Feel His complete love for you.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.