Fresh Hope – 31st May 2018

As a child, whenever Mom was serving up some delicious food for my brother and I, we would often stand by, watching and ensuring that the division of the food was exactly accurate and even between my brother’s plate and mine. If the other DARE get a little more ice cream or chips than the other, it would be utterly unfair. We did not want to miss out!  Sometimes we can take the same mentality into adulthood. We think God only has ‘X’ amount. So if someone else gets 70%, then that means that there is only 30% left for us. We live in a state of comparison, perhaps competition, hustling for our portion of blessing, as there must surely be a limited amount for everyone. But guess what? It is actually ok to cheer one another on. It is ok to celebrate the success of someone else. It is ok to watch other people be blessed and not feel like you are missing out. Why? Because God has more than enough for everyone. God has unlimited resources. It is in fact possible for everyone to have 100% of all He has for them. Your God is not small. His provision – be it in finances, jobs, healing, gifts, talents, relationships – is not limited. Be careful that you don’t settle for crumbs, when God has already called you to sit at His table.

1 Corinthians 2:9 says, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’.

A stunning example of Jesus providing in abundance was when He fed 5000 people with five loaves, and two fish. ‘Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over (Matthew 14:19-21). Their needs weren’t just met – they were SATISFIED and THERE WERE LEFT OVERS! Why would the Bible bother mentioning leftovers? How wasteful, one might think! I believe that Jesus wanted to prove that there is MORE THAN ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE. You don’t need to scurry after the little pieces of leftover bread in your life, while you watch others feast on loaves. You don’t need to settle for a can of tuna, thinking the person next to you has taken one of the two fish. There is something for you. Not just to get you through either – but to satisfy, plus more!  

What areas of your life have you been disqualifying yourself from being able to receive something good? OR in what areas of your life have you been disqualifying God and His ability to have more than enough for you?

Matthew 7:7-8 ““Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th May 2018

I have terrible eyesight. When I started waving at people I didn’t know, thinking that they were my friends, and squinting my way down the highway, trying to read road signs, I knew it was time to get glasses. I remember the day I got them. I put them on and was stunned at all the details I could now see. Where I had just been seeing the leaves of a tree as a green mass, I could now see individual leaves! My vision was now sharper and my life better for it!

Proverbs 29:18 says, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’.  Being able to see keeps you alive – both physically and spiritually. Driving before I was wearing corrective lenses was a serious liability. My life (and everyone else’s) was at risk. My drivers’ licence now states that I must be wearing corrective lenses when I drive. Vision is our ability to think about or plan the future with imagination. It is this that keeps us alive. If you are not dreaming, there is a problem.

Spiritually speaking, where we cannot see, where we have no vision, and no dream, in a particular area of our life, we are at risk of dying because we have no idea where we are going. We can suddenly find ourselves on all sorts of paths we didn’t plan on heading down.

There is a hike I regularly enjoy doing up a local mountain. At the end of the hike, at the top of the mountain, is a beautiful lighthouse. It is this lighthouse that is my vision as I climb up the mountain. That is my point of focus. If I lost direction for a moment, I would refer back to where the lighthouse is. Similarly, this is how vision works in our life. It is a vision or dream that acts as a lighthouse in our life. It keeps us on track. It is a constant that reminds us what we are really about and where we are going –  regardless of what we may face as we journey up the mountain.  

Perhaps we do have vision, but it is limited. It is a vision from ourselves, formulated by our limited mind. Maybe it is time to ask God what HIS vision is for you! Henry Ford, who developed and manufactured the first automobile said, ‘If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said, “a faster horse”. In other words, the minds and imagination of people are limited. The greatest possible thing they could have dreamt of at the time was a faster horse. But there was way more. The mind of God is unlimited, let Him set desires on your heart, and ideas in your mind. Don’t look to people around you to define what your dreams should be and what your life should look like, God will always have more for you. He is the benchmark – not your upbringing, not your friends, not your culture, not people’s expectations, not even your expectations.

1 Corinthians says, ‘God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being’.

Time and time again, I have seen people just take what is in front of them. Their standards have been narrowed to what they can see here and now – they don’t dream with God, and they must pay a price, as they find themselves making decisions that gratify now, but dissatisfy tomorrow.

One of the greatest investments you can make is to take the time to clearly define the vision God has for your life – whether that be in relationships, in career, in health, finances, or in ministry. Set aside time to write down what God may have for you. As the Lord said to Habakkuk, ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it’ (Habakkuk 2:2). Plain doesn’t mean boring, it means, ‘clearly defined’. Clearly define your vision, so that you can RUN into all that God has for you with strong purpose.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th May 2018

God never wastes a hurt!

It’s possible to believe that your hurt has only one dimension to it – to hurt you. If that’s the case, you’ve missed it.
Your hurt is far more than that. Your hurt is often two or even three dimensional.

First, it hurts you.

Second, it teaches you.

Third, it helps you to help someone else.

Your hurt is only wasted if you can’t see beyond its first dimension.

The greatest thing that you can offer someone else in a current difficulty is the past hurt that you came through and lived to tell the tale.

Pain is a wonderful teacher. In fact I would say that you learn the greatest lessons in life through painful experiences.

You never know when you are going to get called upon to share what you learnt, but be sure that that day will come.

Just imagine if the only thing that you are willing to take on board from what you are going through is more hurt because you are hurt. That’s not the point of pain. The point is to squeeze every bit of meaning out of it and store it up so that you can lift someone else that is going through a similar experience.

If your only reaction towards to what you’ve gone through is bitterness, then that’s all you’ve got to offer…who wants a dose of that?

Today, make a choice to live and learn through life’s hard times and thank God for the experience that He’s allowed you to go through.

Someone is waiting for you to help them get them through what you went through earlier. Don’t miss the opportunity to give someone fresh hope to live another day.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th May 2018

One bank holiday Monday, I was walking around our local garden centre and came across the most vibrant coloured hydrangeas that I had ever seen.

They were a deep purple and looked so healthy, so I decided that we should take two for our back garden.

To me, gardening is simple when it comes to plants. You dig a hole, put the plant in, press it down, water it and hope for the best.

For the whole season, the two hydrangeas looked amazing.

Everyone that came commented on the colours.

The following year, I looked out of the window to find that the plants were the just the same size and were beginning to sprout not purple but a very pale blue flower.

I waited for a few weeks until they fully opened and sure enough my prize hydrangeas had decided to change colour.

They looked sickly.

Off I went to the garden centre to tell them that my plants were very disappointing.

‘If I’d have wanted pale blue, I’d have bought pale blue’, I said.

After a brief conversation with the owner, he asked me a few questions about my soil and told me the news…

‘The type of soil that you planted them in will determine the health and colour of your plants.’

Change the soil and you will change the colour.

‘You’ve planted them in the wrong type of soil’, he explained.

My hydrangeas have remained pale blue ever since.

In much the same way, where you plant yourself in life will determine how you turn out.

This is especially true of your spiritual health, growth and vibrancy.

There are many people that have not understood the power and importance of putting your roots down in a ‘life giving’ church.

It’s soil for the soul.

If you don’t firmly plant yourself in a church, you will eventually start to grow spiritually weak and lose your ‘colour’.

Belonging to and serving in Church is the highest privilege that we have. It’s an honour to serve Jesus for all that He has given for us.

Don’t plant yourself in the wrong place and expect your life to flourish.

Very quickly you’ll start to flounder.

Make a once and for all decision to be firmly planted in a great life giving church and don’t uproot yourself every time you hit a crisis.

It’s at those times especially, that you need the vital nutrients deposited in the soil of God’s amazing church.

Psalm 92:12-14NIV
‘The righteous will flourish like a palm tree…planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th May 2018

Most of you will know about the seating on an aircraft. There’s economy (the majority) and then on some flights there are premium economy, business class and some flights, even first class seats.

Often in life, we can feel like we’re in ‘economy’. We can look at social media and see how everyone seems to be doing better than us (they’re not, they’re just telling you the best bits) and somehow we feel very hard done to and like we are at the bottom of the pile.

You know somethin? As Christian I should have the attitude that says “God is my Father and He has the best plans for my life…He wants me to live a FIRST CLASS life.”

You see, on the physical aeroplane, you may not be up the front drinking champagne with your complimentary pyjamas and lie-flat seats, but you are ON the flight, which means you are going somewhere, when a majority of people are not.

This should be our attitude…
– I am fortunate to even be on this flight
– I was blessed to have the money to pay for this ticket
– I’m on my way to experience something new
– Thank you for the opportunity
– I may not have paid first class prices, but I’m going to have a first class experience.
– Because God favours His kids, it cost me 10 x less than the people up front. Ha ha.

If we have an attitude of gratitude every day that says…
– I’m fortunate to be alive
– I’m beyond thankful that I’m a child of the king of kings
– Jesus paid for this ticket, how dare I moan?
– Thank you for this journey, and even with it’s ups and downs, turbulence and scary moments you are always with me
– your plan for my life is perfect, we are on a great journey together
– and sometimes when I feel cramped, at least I’m going somewhere

THEN your day will be different and your life will be different

“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.”
(Jeremiah 29 v 11)

Don’t see yourself today as living an economy life, see yourself as extremely privileged to be in the family of God.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th May 2018

Some of the best advice around is simple…keep your mouth shut!

 Somebody once said ‘that after all is said and done, there is much more said than done.’

 Speaking inappropriately about someone else is an age old problem that will never go away. We have to learn to live with the fact that people will always gossip in order to drag someone down, whilst making themselves look better.

 Praying that gossiping will stop sounds great, but in reality it’s here to stay. However, for you and I, we have a choice to make. It’s a tough one, in fact the Bible says it’s the most difficult thing in the world for a human being to do.

 James 3:2-12 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig-tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

 It’s pretty obvious what this passage of scripture is saying – don’t profess to be a Christian and then keep spewing out a load of unkind and unnecessary words that render you a hypocrite. Instead, give your mouth over to God and allow fresh and living water to flow from it daily, bringing life and light to all that hear.

 It’s not at all easy, but it’s completely necessary to learn to train your speech, so that you won’t fall into the trap of starting fires wherever you go.

 Here are a few pointers to help you harness your tongue and keep it from evil from now on…

 

• Two ears and one mouth are there for a reason; listen twice as much as you speak.

• If in doubt, say nothing.

• Ask yourself: is what I am about to say going to build or burn someone?

• Stop being a know-it-all…people despise a know-it-all.

• Speak up for injustice, but don’t speak down to people and make them feel small.

• Your opinion may be important, but only if its asked for.

• Do you find it hard to say nothing? Good. You’re supposed to.

• When you feel that you want to say something unkind about someone,  remind yourself that you don’t know all the facts.

• How would you want to be spoken of when you weren’t present in a room full of accusers? Exactly! Now do the same for others.

• Have a reputation as being a gossip? Change it today. It’s never too late.

• Say sorry to those you’ve offended and hurt up until now and move on to a whole new way of speaking.

 2 Timothy 2:15-17 ‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene…’

 Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 24th May 2018

Worry is worthless!

 Matthew 6:25-34 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 Worrying never adds anything to your life, but it certainly takes things from your life.

 Worry is a thief. It will rob you of your joy, rob you of your sleep, rob you of your energy and then take away your peace. When worry has done its job, it will leave you high and dry and completely bankrupt you of all the great things that make life so special.

 You weren’t created to figure out everything for yourself and everyone else. You weren’t meant to carry around everyone’s stress and burdens. You were created to give them all over to God and then get on and do what you can do without worrying about it…

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

 Worry is faith in reverse. It says to you….’let’s handle this on our own and try and figure out what we can do…let’s not involve God, even though he knows best.’

 A few days ago, I was talking with a guy who told me that he had been up half the night worrying about how he was going to figure out everything he had to do the next day at work. We’ve all been there – right. I then asked him if his worry had paid off. Had it helped him the next day apart from making him tired and worn out? His answer was exactly what you’d imagine – everything went so smooth because of his planning, but worry had no part to play whatsoever. The only contribution that worry made was to work him up!

 As you start out on a brand new day, remember, worry is a thief.

 Pastor Mark

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd May 2018

I’m learning to embrace God as an expert gardener in my life. I don’t know much about garden maintenance, BUT I do know that there are certain seasons, where a good, attentive gardener needs to prune their plants. A pruned Rose bush doesn’t look as pretty as when it is in full bloom, but for the blooming to happen in the right season, the pruning is a necessary act. To prune means to ‘trim by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to encourage growth’. God does the same in our own lives. He trims, and cuts away that which is dead and overgrown in our hearts and minds in order for us to grow more. Pruning isn’t always a pretty process, but a necessary one if we are to truly bloom. Continue reading Fresh Hope – 23rd May 2018

Fresh Hope – 22nd May 2018

After just getting married and then four months of being separated from my husband, Joshua (him being in England, and myself in Australia), I finally received my visa in the post this week, allowing me to now enter and live in the United Kingdom with my husband! Woohoo!

In the months that we were apart, many people in his life, and my life, many times a day would say, ‘It must be so hard’, ‘I’m praying for you’. ‘How do you do it?, ‘Newly married and separated – that’s awful!’

Truth be told, we were not really in a unique situation in waiting for my visa. There are plenty of people waiting for things. Some people are waiting to fall pregnant, some people are waiting to finally meet a spouse. Others are waiting for healing. Some are waiting for their children to return to God. Others are waiting for their marriage to get better. Some are waiting for a promotion. Others are waiting to get paid, so they can get food. I personally know real people with real stories that fall into each of these categories. Some have been waiting years. For some, the wait doesn’t have a definite end date either.

On the other side of my season of waiting, I want to confidently encourage you. My encouragement is this: give purpose to your season of waiting. Don’t waste the wait getting bitter with God, blaming people, and letting yourself become a victim. Make the wait count. Make the pain of it worth something. Encourage someone else waiting. Share your journey and use the pain to develop more meaningful relationships with people and God. Give to those younger or earlier in the journey. Share your story.

God is in the waiting and your time of waitingwill not be wasted. He wastes nothing, so if you are willing, he will use the wait to strengthen you, teach you, sharpen you, show you, enrich you, and use you in ways far greater than you could have imagined.  

Sometimes we can get caught up on the ‘why?’. Why do I have to wait? Why me? Why is this happening? Why can’t it happen now? Reality is that we will not always know the ‘why’. Joshua and I had so many people all around the world praying for the visa to come through for weeks on end. We fasted.  We sought legal advice. We contacted people who had authority in Immigration. We did everything we could. And still, nothing was happening and we couldn’t understand ‘why’. All we could really do at the end of the day was just wait. Rather than being focused on the ‘why?, we had to truly learn to wait on God. By waiting on God, I mean trust Him. It reached a point where it was no longer about waiting for the conclusion of the matter, but it was about learning to trust God, and that His timing would be perfect.

There is scripture upon scripture on waiting. The common thread that I see through them all is that it is not at the end of the wait that we find strength, but it is in the wait, as we trust God, that we find strength.

Lamentations 3:25 says, ‘The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him’.

‘Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!’ (Psalm 27:14).

‘But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint’ (Isaiah 40:31).

Rather than asking ‘Why?’, use your wait, and while using it, find your strength in trusting God.

 

Habakkuk 2:3 “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
‭‭

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

 

Fresh Hope – 21st May 2018

One of the most popular characters in the bible and one of my personal favourites is David.

David is mentioned more times in the Bible than any other Biblical character.  His name to many of us is immediately associated with the time when he confronted Goliath the giant.  The story of David and Goliath is probably one of the most widely known biblical accounts. David had an ‘interesting’ life, to say the least. He is known as the shepherd, the fugitive, the adulterer, the King, all in one.

But most importantly throughout these seasons of his life, he maintained his title as ‘a man of great faith’.

David grew into a godly, wise, much-loved king.  Samuel 18:14 says “..and David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him”. He was a man of much prayer, praising the Lord and blessing the heart of God with his songs (psalms). Nobody could have been more intimate with God than David.We love to read of David’s many exploits i.e. slaying lions and bears and, finally Goliath. God’s love was clearly upon David, and He clearly had a great plan for his life. But then,  King Saul came after David with wrath and David ran for his life, hiding in caves until he simply got tired of the battle. He was weary and he must have thought, “I’m so tired of this! If I’m so special to the Lord, chosen for this hour, then why am I in such deep trouble?”

In 1 Samuel 21, we read that in his time of despair, David fled to a place called Gath, the very hometown of the giant Goliath, whom he had slain. David had not sought the Lord about this move; he had just impulsively run. Looking for refuge, David put his life into the hands of a mean king and he became trapped.  Perhaps we could think ‘how foolish of David, after what he had done to Goliath, how did he expect to be received in Goliath’s hometown?’ Even though David was unfaithful at that moment, God was still faithful and his plan for David was still in place. God didn’t write him off; in fact, he was moving everything into place to ensure David’s blessing. “I anointed David King — and he will be king! He has a contrite heart and my plan for him is still on schedule.”

Perhaps, like David, you have gone through some kind of senseless periods in your life. Where you have acted according to the flesh and run ahead of God. Or you are simply weary and tired from the challenges you have faced. You might have had a negative label attached to you that you are not proud of or maybe for you this is your ‘king’ season – a good season of your life. One thing we learn about David throughout,  is that in whatever situation he was in, good or bad, he always sought God and drew close to Him. He remained steadfast in seeking God and did not shy away because of the things he had done.  God didn’t write him off, in fact, God maintained His love for David and his plan and purpose for him.

Let it remind you that we are not to despair, but to keep our faith and seek Him.

 

You may have gotten off track, but God’s plan is still in place.

Your Father remains faithful.

Christine Mudenha

  A daily devotion for a better way of living

Fresh Hope – 19th May 2018

Psalm 92 vs 13 says “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, planted in the House of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.”

I love this verse, it talks about the importance of being planted (to put roots down) in God’s House. That’s when we will truly flourish.

Have you ever thought about why it says a palm tree?  Why not an oak, or a tall cypress?
Here’s a couple of interesting things about the palm tree…
1) It can survive and flourish in VERY hot climates. Yes, when all around is scorched and dying, the palm tree flourishes.

2) It’s the only tree that can withstand a hurricane. When others get uprooted, it stays strong.

Here’s 3 things that we can learn today.

BOW – the palm tree ‘bows’ down to the ground during a storm. When we have storms in our lives, don’t get frustrated and be annoyed with God, bow down to Him, surrender to His will for your life.

BEND – the palm tree is very good at bending. It’s flexible and pliable.
Sometimes, we can be so stuck in our own ways that we do and will not bend. We think it has to be always done the same etc.  Be willing to bend and be pliable, be open to God’s ways, even if they’re new and different.

BOUNCE BACK – yes, the palm tree surely does this. It is a known fact that during a storm its roots actually get stronger.
I love that; not only does it withstand the storm, it gets stronger in the process.

Let’s learn from that palm tree today.
Put those 3 “B’s” into your own walk with God and see the difference.
You too will flourish.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th May 2018

How wrong would it be if you saw a grown man wearing a nappy, drinking from a milk bottle and acting like a baby? You would be totally weirded out. Why? Because humans grow. You are a baby for a season of your life and then you develop into an adult. You move from being told what to do, to making choices for yourself. You grow from crying all through the night, to managing your problems. You go from simply sleeping, eating and pooing all the time, to fully adulting by managing a job, bills, a family, a social life, and a host of other commitments and responsibilities. You move from being feed only milk, to eating a steak you cooked!

Our spiritual life is much the same. We start as babies in the faith (regardless of age), and we should be growing in maturity. However, this isn’t always the case. There are many Christians still crawling around in nappies, and drinking milk, decade after decade.

Hebrews 5:11-12 says, ‘We have much to say about this (Jesus as our high priest), but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!’. The writer of Hebrews wanted to go deeper and further in the teachings of God, but he recognised that the people were not ready. They were Christians, but they were still spiritual babies. They were not growing.

Is milk bad? Not at all. Milk refers to basic truths of scripture. So of course, the basics of faith are vital, but there is so much more.  The basics of faith serve for a season, but we should then be going deeper. There are greater degrees and depths to our relationship with God that are to be explored and actioned. Hence why in Hebrews we read, Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…’(Hebrews 6:1-2).

Like a baby who only drinks milk, a spiritual baby only feeds off the same thing. They only ever crave the simple, they aren’t looking to be challenged and stretched. Drinking only milk will stunt your growth. Not being proactive in feeding on “fresh words” from God, and seeking to be challenged and pushed to new places in your relationship with God will stunt your growth.

Spiritual babies are slow to learn deeper truths and articulate their faith. Like a baby who grows in speech, so you can articulate your faith and relationship with God better as you grow in spiritual maturity.

A spiritual baby struggles to discern that which is right and wrong. A spiritually mature person is done with their worldly ways and can apply that which they have been taught. A baby still needs heavy coaching and rearing. Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness’ (Hebrews 5:13-14)As we grow, so does our capacity to use wisdom, and take on greater responsibilities for God.

So how can we grow up? For a healthy human to grow, they need feeding…constantly and regularly. No Christian can grow up by feeding on one 30-minute sermon once a week. It isn’t enough. Imagine trying to develop properly on one meal a week? You would die. A baby starts out unable to feed itself, and eventually learns to feed its own body. As Christians, we should not be reliant on being spoon fed by others constantly, we need to know how to nurture our faith ourselves. Regardless of how amazing your pastor is, their teaching should never replace our need to hear God for ourselves in our private life.

Are you challenging yourself spiritually? Are you feeding yourself every day? Are you actively digger deeper in your relationship with Christ? Are you tuning in to the voice of God daily? Don’t become lazy. Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you, for this is His job. There is more than milk. There are so many amazing foods and flavours in God to be explored as we go further, deeper and higher in Him! Regardless of how old you are in the faith, there is more!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th May 2018

Often we can box our almighty, all-powerful God into our finite, tiny thinking. It is comfortable that way. We know what to expect. It’s logical and rational. We have a sense of control. The funny thing is that the very nature of God is uncontainable. We only need to look at the life Jesus to see that his ministry on earth was constantly ruffling feathers, shaking mentalities, challenging set-thought patterns and perceptions. Jesus blew the lid on cultural, social, and religious norms. Even in his miracles he was often totally unnatural and illogicalLike spitting in mud and rubbing it on a blind man’s eyes for healing? How about, casting out demons from people into pigs? I mean seriously?! How normal is that?

When God wants to do something, it isn’t always in the way you may expect. When God wants to say something, it isn’t always in the way you would expect.

There is a story in the Bible about a man named Balaam. Balaam was a pagan prophet. Balaan was rebellious towards God. He had a donkey of which he used for his travels. Then in Numbers 22:28, we learn that ‘the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth’ and spoke to Balaam through the donkey! Talk about God speaking in a very out of the box kind of way! God also spoke to Moses through a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4). He spoke to Gideon through a fleece (Judges 6:37-40), and He spoke to Saul on the Damascus road through a bright light (Acts 9:1-5).

Last night I was at the gym doing a workout. I decided to try and use a piece of equipment I had never used before. I thought I had the hang of it, until a man, not far from me piped up. Judging by appearance, this man was a little “different”. Firstly, he wasn’t wearing trainers to the gym, he was in his slippers! He was an elderly man, walked with a limp and spoke with a very heavy and slow stutter. In front of everyone, from his workout mat, he began to shout out to me in his stuttering voice, how I could be using the machine better to best activate my muscles”. Although embarrassing and clearly challenging my pride, I kindly listened and applied his tips. Only I still mustn’t have been doing it correctly, because he stopped me AGAIN to correct me! Although he seemed slightly bizarre, the advice he was giving was actually working! What I had been doing wasn’t nearly as effective as what he was encouraging me to do. Sometimes God speaks in ways that don’t look cookie cutter. It’snot always in the pretty, simple ways that He will get a message across. Sometimes He will use very normal things to tell us something. Sometimes the very painful things, or sometimes even the problem itself is a gateway for the voice of God in your life. The question is: are we aware enough to notice it, and humble enough to receive it?

God can speak through circumstances, He can speak through the wise counsel of people, He speaks through peace, He speaks through dreams and visions, He can speak through our thoughts, through natural manifestations (e.g. Nature), through supernatural manifestations, through the Bible, and He can even speak in a whisper. Be open to what God might be saying to you, through the very normal things around you.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th May 2018

Just over a week ago, I found myself sitting in A and E after badly hurting my thumb. I was playing in goal at the time with a group of younger guys, who like to prove they can hit the ball as hard as possible. To my delight, I actually saved the ball, but then rolled on the floor like a baby, knowing that I’d possibly broken something. The bad news was that the X-ray showed that I’d fractured my thumb…the good news was that we won!

It’s pretty obvious when you’ve damaged a part of your body, as the plaster cast gives it away. However, everywhere you go these days, there are ‘invisible’ hurts that people are walking around with that no one knows about, simply because they are on the inside and have no bandage to speak of.

Some people’s hurts are broken dreams, whilst others suffer because of the mess they’ve made of their lives. No matter what has happened, and whose fault it might have been, just like the care that I received from the hospital when they looked after me and made sure that I was put on the road to recovery, we too should look after people with compassion and unconditional love.

Hurting people don’t need us to judge and criticise them, they simply need someone to bring them hope and healing.

I’m so glad the nurse looking after me didn’t scorn me for being so silly for playing football at my age; instead, she just smiled and got on with it.

When God created you, He placed within you the potential to have a kind, caring and loving nature towards those who are hurting. If you want to feel that you are doing something useful with your life, then simply open yourself up everyday to having a heart of compassion. Be on the lookout for someone that needs a friend and is desperate for someone to bandage their wounds.

Today, you have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s messed up and broken world. Follow the love in your heart. Don’t ignore it. Act on it. Someone needs what you have.

Reach out and help heal someone today.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th May 2018

Yesterday, we talked about not quitting.
Many years ago, I went through a very difficult time. A time when I could easily have given up.  When I look back on those days, I’m humbled at how God brought me through.

You see, whenever you are going to do anything that’s significant, there will always be a target on your back to get you to stop and give up.
I cannot imagine what would have happened if that had been my story.
Every time you feel ‘down’ or ‘depressed’ or ‘fed-up’ those are the times you must not quit!
Those are the times, with every ounce of strength, you must move forward.
What if every woman quit during child birth? There would be no babies!

God’s grace will keep you going, you can call on His strength day or night.
Because often I feel weak, and am weak…but that’s when I can call on Him.

When I am weak, He is strong. The Bible says His strength is made perfect in my weakness –
Read 2 Corinthians 12 v 10: “My grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in your weakness”. That’s a powerful verse of scripture.
It’s okay to be weak at times, God knows about it, He has that covered.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race” –  2 Timothy 4 vs 7. Life is sometimes a fight and it’s definitely a race.
We have to endure, keep going, not give up  and go for the finishing line.

Throughout history, great things have been done by people who refused to quit.

Be one of them!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th May 2018

Lots of people quit when it gets hard. If the enemy has got you to quit, then he has done a good job for that day! Think about it.

Occasionally, I will talk with people who want to quit. Why?
Because it’s hard.
Yes, that’s life.  God never promised us an easy life.

Michael Phelps, the Olympian, has the record for the most decorated and successful Olympian of all time. Do you think that was easy, to win 28 Olympic medals? Absolutely not. Recently, he opened up about depression and how he felt like ending his life after the Olympics.  ‘Wow’, you may say, ‘I never knew that.’ Life isn’t easy. Success isn’t easy.

But if you want to be successful and significant you cannot quit.

Was it hard for Noah to build that massive ark?
Was it hard for Moses to lead millions of people to the promised land?
Was it hard for Esther to go before the King on behalf of saving all the Jews?
Was it hard for Daniel to make a stand for God, then get thrown into the den of lions?
Too right it was hard.

Nothing great ever came easy.  Push through. Pray through.
Get your encouragement from God Himself.
But don’t quit.

Don’t let the devil get the victory in your life today.
God’s destiny is strong on your life.
You may have to fight for it, but do not quit.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th May 2018

Who have you blessed lately?  Just a random act of kindness, something that’s out of the norm for you.  How good is it to receive something so unexpected from someone, maybe a book, a bunch of flowers, a pair of shoes (that I would love…size 5) anything…and it’s not even your birthday or an occasion, just because they were thinking of you.  It’s even more satisfying to be the one who gives someone something they were not expecting and their face lights up in appreciation.

It does not have to be much, but it can be a big thing to someone. Some might say ‘But I don’t have much to give at the moment, I am also in need’.  How about dishing up a portion of your meal with your family and taking it to someone who is not feeling well, or even an act of service like mowing the lawn for someone who might be finding it difficult? I remember a few weeks back when we had the very heavy snow and we woke up to find our neighbour had cleared his drive and also cleared up our entire drive, just as an act of kindness.  Little things like that really warm the heart.Being a blessing to others is biblical.  The surest thing is that the Lord’s hand of blessing is on you so that others are blessed through you. God said to Abraham, “[In] blessing I will bless you … In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:17-18). In other words, “The reason I am blessing you, Abraham, is that you can bless all the nations.”

Few of us are called to bless entire nations, of course, but each of us has a circle of family, friends and colleagues. How many in your circle are being blessed by what the Lord is doing in you? Is the glory of your relationship with Jesus overflowing to those around you? Are your friends and family being blessed by Christ in you? Who have you blessed lately?

God delights in blessing us, and when we bless others, He ensures that we remain in abundance. Proverbs 11:25 says “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”

Be a blessing to someone today.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th May 2018

One of the golden rules that I try to live my life by is this one: always believe the best about someone.

There’s a great nugget of advice in the Bible too…James 1:19 ‘…everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…’

If we’re honest, we apply that verse everyday…but in reverse order.

We start with anger and judgement and then end up going quiet when the damage has already been done.

Be very careful that you don’t judge people based on the little you know and see, as if that’s all there is to know and see. Bear in mind that you usually don’t know the full story, and therefore it’s not for you and I to comment on as though we have some special privileged inside information.

We live in an age that has multitudes of armchair critics who pass judgement about things they know nothing about. They are simply fuelled by ‘trial by media’.

It’s only ever a few that really knows the story behind a person’s life. That inside information grants them a level of insight and empathy that all others are exempt from, therefore keep yourself pure and keep yourself away from things that you should be very slow to speak about, if at all.

Let’s make a fresh decision today to be slow to speak and quick to listen and on most things you hear, reserve your judgement and let God be the judge. He knows everything and He knows best.

Matthew 7:1-2 ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th May 2018

I have to admit that I was trembling with fear.  I was waiting on the end of the phone for the results from tests that I’d undertaken at the Doctors ten days earlier.

I’d felt unwell for some time and had concluded that there must be something wrong; my appetite had gone and I was feeling sick every afternoon.

I’m not very good with the anatomy of the body, but I was experiencing discomfort around my kidney area and was pretty convinced that I was going to receive results that would confirm my worst fears.

As I waited, even the receptionist seemed to act strangely, as if she wanted to hide something from me, pulling up the results on the screen.

“I will have to get the Doctor to call you”, she said with a tone that suggested that she was not qualified to break to bad news.

Moments later the Doctor phoned: “Mr. Burchell….your test results have come back…all clear.”

I asked him if he’d read them correctly and if he was sure, and once again he confirmed all was well.

It doesn’t have to be a sickness; it may be just a situation that is plaguing you, but nevertheless the feelings are much the same…you fear the worst.

As a man of faith, it pains me to tell this story as it feels like I was so lacking in faith on this particular day, when instead of believing for the best, I was waiting for the worst.

Everyday, ordinary people of faith, are facing the subtle yet powerful mind games that come to take us down.

How many of us today are fearing the worst possible news, when in reality it’s just a ploy of the devil to take us out of action?

Stop believing for the worst and believe for the best.

Even if the news is bad or even worse than you thought,God is still God and He is still good. Nothing can ever change that.

Maybe your test results didn’t come back all clear and you’re trembling with fear right now…be at peace.

Worry is worthless…it changes nothing.

Don’t look down, look up -Jesus has it all under control.

Mark 5:35-43 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”. Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around she was twelve years old. At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. 

Today I encourage you to speak to your fears and allow Jesus’ peace to flood your soul.

Psalm 112:6-7 Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered for ever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th May 2018

There are many different interpretations of what it means to be humble. There is a misconception that if you make yourself invisible or discount your work, then you are being truly humble. There is also the idea that humility means you run yourself into the ground serving others, neglecting your own needs. This is wrong. People can also serve from a place of false humility – this is where you showcase what appears like service and humilty but is done in order to satisfy self-centered insecurities (e.g. you will make yourself look good and others will like you more if you play humble). These misunderstandings are not Christ’s idea of humility at all.

Firstly, it is important to understand that self-love is not a form of pride. Dismissing and down-playing your strengths, talents or God-given gifts and abilities does not make you more holy or humble. It is actually a disservice to God and others to water them down as you become less effective! Humility is about having a strong sense of self-worth through knowing who you are in God, then being confident of that, you serve others with what you have, but not using what you have to get your self-worth.  Simply put, humility is being so secure in who you are, that you aren’t afraid to get low for others.

Matthew 19:19 says, ‘You must love your neighbour in the same way you love yourself.’ Why does Jesus say to love others to the degree in which we love ourselves? There must be a connection between our self-worth and capacity to love. Say I have a 20 pound note, but I feel like the 20 pound note has no value, I then won’t see the point in using it or giving it away as I have no value for it. Likewise, if I don’t see the value in myself, I won’t see the point in serving others with what I have. To the degree in which I value myself, is the degree to which I can effectively love others. Your behaviour towards your neighbour is a reflection of how much you feel about yourself.

You will know someone is humble when you see that:

They know who they are without needing others to reaffirm their worth.
They refuse to promote themselves.
They allow others to be celebrated without having to share their own successes.
They have an attitude of ‘no task is beneath me’.
They are honest about their weaknesses.
They work to see the promotion of others.
They are vulnerable.
They are teachable.

As you can see, all the above behaviours require you to know your worth in Christ. Consider how you can grow  in understanding your value so you can operate out of true humility, letting it overflow to benefit those around you.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th May 2018

I wonder how much of our present is wasted by our worries for the future? It seems that more and more people are struggling with issues of fear and anxiety – both of which God wants to free us from.

The Bible warns that the Devil’s primary purpose is to ‘kill, steal, and destroy’ (John 10:10). The debilitating effects of anxiety achieve exactly that. Fear kills your peace, steals your joy, and can destroy your life.

It can be easy for someone to tell you not to fear, but when very real challenges are staring you in the face, it can seem impossible, sometimes ridiculous, unnatural, not to worry.

The confronting reality is that if we are growing as people, it is inevitable that we will be exposed to new challenges and issues. Anxiety is triggered when we look at the future, with what we know of today, and with what God has given us for this day only. It is like opening up your pantry now and looking at the food on the shelves and wondering how on earth you are going to be able to make a Christmas dinner from that! Naturally you will start to worry, because you are looking at a future need with what you have today! God tells us to look at our problems differently.  

Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself’ (Matthew 6:34 TPT).  This is a promise that when we get to the future, God will have what we need for that moment there. Take one step at a time and use what you have today, rather than being caught up in tomorrow.

Perhaps ask yourself, what were you afraid of in the past that never happened? Recall and remember what good things has God done for you. Speak out what He has for your future.

For I know the plans I have for you, ‘declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 11:29).

Remember that one of the names of Jesus is ‘Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). This isn’t just His name, it is who He is – He is peace. Much of walking in peace comes from knowing whose you are and who you are. When you realize who is covering you, and you are rooted in His character instead of your circumstances, peace can reign in your life.

The world says worry. Jesus says, ‘I will give you a peace that is far superior to any fear you have. No matter how big, no matter how scary, this peace will not make sense to the world, because it will seem crazy not to worry! But it is a peace that will guard your heart (your emotions) and your mind (your thinking!)

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 7th May 2018

Perhaps you or someone you know carries hurt from seeing “church people” be one kind of person on a Sunday, and another on Monday.  Witnessing this kind of hypocrisy can leave you feeling quite angry and disillusioned with Christians, the church, and even God.

Maybe you yourself tend to the external affairs of your life really well, but too easily neglect the private areas of your life like your heart, marriage, and children – leaving the scraps of your time and energy for them.

While the world emphasises the pursuit of a shiny, perfect external life, God reminds us that the success of our outer life actually starts with the management of our internal state. You can’t produce something sustainable in your outer world, that isn’t being fostered in your internal world.

We see this when God speaks about ‘guarding your heart, for this is the well-spring of life’ (Proverbs 4:23). This is because whatever rules in your heart, rules in your life. Whatever is tended to in your private life, will manifest in your public life. Whether that be good or bad.

Many Christians burn out from pressure to produce on the outside what doesn’t exist on the inside. This is a works-orientated Gospel that tries to obtain favour through labour rather than working from the place of favour! Religion focuses on that which is on the outside, but relationship, which is what God calls us to, starts on the inside and then moves out!

In Matthew 10:8, Jesus says, ‘Freely you have received, freely give’. This proves that we give, out of what we have been given. We can’t give away, what we don’t have. It’s like trying to shout your friend a meal with your insufficient bank funds. 

You can’t produce something externally, if it hasn’t been deposited privately.

The heart is able to manifest all sorts of evil, but it can also overflow all sorts of goodness. Stewardship of our heart and private life – what goes on behind closed doors, is what determines this!

1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.””

Emma Burchell

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 5th May 2018

‘You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously’ – Anonymous

I love watching TV series and movies about solving crime cases and usually when the person is caught, they are then convicted of the crime then subjected to the sentence (condemnation) which is the punishment.   The sentence is final, there is no turning back.  It got me thinking in terms of God’s justice system and two terms we often come across ‘Conviction and Condemnation’ and they are different to the world system.

In Christianity, Conviction and Condemnation are two dissimilar terms and understanding the difference between the two will affect how we approach life.

Condemnation says “you’re a loser, good for nothing terrible person and there’s no turning back” – it reminds you of all the bad things about you and where you fall short.

Conviction, on the other hand acknowledges the bad, but offers the chance for redemption. It says says “You are loved and a child of God and need to work on this thing that’s out of place in your life so you can be better and live better.”

As Christians, we tend to live under condemnation, or constant guilt, and think it is from God. It isn’t. Condemnation comes from Satan. See, we all fall short at some point or in some areas, no one is perfect, and condemnation is the enemy’s way of making you feel worse and worse. God doesn’t work that way. God will never attack you; he will never say you’re worthless or unlovable.   Romans 8:1 says, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus”. In fact, in Revelation 3:19 God says, “Those whom I dearly and tenderly love, I tell their faults and convict…”

Conviction comes from God. The purpose of conviction is to correct us on specific issues in order to bring a change in our lives, and it is motivated by God’s love. Because God loves us, when he sees an area in our life that needs change, he will nudge us and say, “You need to work on this thing that’s out of line in your life.”

Jesus paid the price for condemnation. He served the punishment for our sin through his death on the cross. And we are free to live the way God created us to live, to live the way Jesus enables us to live.

Why won’t you ever hear God telling you what a failure you are? Because firstly, we are all created in His image, but sin is what clouds that perfect image. God condemns the sin in order to set us free from it, and only ‘self-conviction’ will cause us to change. Jesus said, “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47). That is the grace of God.

We need to therefore understand the nature of God’s forgiveness and embrace it. His desire is to wash us clean from our pasts. 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” God hasn’t given us a licence to sin because of His grace, but an open door to His heart that says no sin is bigger than the love He has for us.

Remember you are no longer bound to the restraints of who you used to be.  In Christ, you have been made new and because of that you are free to start over.  Accept His forgiveness, forgive yourself and strive to be better.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th May 2018

Our friend’s daughter got engaged last week, and after the proposal on one knee, they went to a lovely restaurant for a romantic meal.

After sitting at the table for a time, staring into each other’s eyes, they became aware of a lady on another table close by constantly taking photos of them on her phone. What was a novelty for a few moments soon turned to an annoyance, and after putting up with it no longer, the boyfriend, come fiancée, stood up and walked over to the lady and gave her a severe ticking off. It was at that moment that he realised that she wasn’t taking pictures of them at all, but was in fact taking them of Noel Edmonds who was sitting directly behind them. What they believed was happening to them wasn’t happening at all. They had made completely the wrong judgment call, based on what they saw. Slightly embarrassing to say the least.

Throughout our lives it is possible to judge many a situation simply on the basis of what you believe is happening, when really it’s not happening at all.

Looking and judging people on face value is often one of the biggest mistakes we can make in our lives. A person may be dressed in scruffy clothes and yet be a multimillionaire, whilst another may be dressed in a suit and not have a penny in the bank. How many times do you and I see people who have obviously got issues, and our immediate reaction is to make a judgement call on why they have allowed themselves to get into such a state? In reality, that person could well have been abandoned as a child and has not a family member or friend in the world. They are alone and disheveled not because they chose to be, but because of the circumstances that’s caused them to be the way they are.

Make a decision today to stop judging people at first glance and start to take a look at what’s behind the way they are.

Choose today to be kind to everyone you meet, as everyone is going through a battle in some area of their lives today.

Why not ask that lonely looking person if there is anything you could do for them?

Why not ask that person looking worse for wear, what their story is. You never know, you may just be the friend they need right now.

Do you and I have a perfect life, or do we have issues too? Then why judge what you see others doing when you could actually be kind to them and ask what’s behind the way they are? Stop blaming and start befriending.

Matthew 7:1-5 ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd May 2018

I had been perusing the shelves of a bookshop, looking for a new read when I came across Marie Kondo’s ‘Spark Joy’. The subtitle read,‘The Life Changing Global Phenomenon – 5 Million Copies Sold’. I learnt this book was on the seemingly trivial topic of TIDYING! Marie has taken her childhood passion of tidying and organization and made a highly successful career. Marie’s core philosophy is that we should only keep in our home that which “sparks joy” in us. Anything else has to go! And she is ruthless about it! She has strong evidence to support the fact that an unkempt, junk-filled home hinders creativity, efficiency, inspiration, growth, and health of mind. She shares amazing testimonies of how people’s external lives have radically changed, as they have committed to clearing, and bringing order to their internal world – their home.

If the art of organization, letting go of junk, and tidying is a global phenomenon, proving to enhance people’s homes, minds, and lives, then  how much more is there value and joy in letting go of all the junk in our hearts?

Letting go of the junk in our hearts isn’t just a one-off job. You wouldn’t say to your spouse, “Sorry Darl, I cleaned the house in 1996, it doesn’t need to be done again!”. (Actually, some of you have probably said that!). You may have purchased the house, but clearing, culling and cleaning are regular necessaries for the maintenance of the home. Likewise, Jesus has saved us once and for all, but it is necessary to be regularly assessing the wardrobes of our hearts and culling the junky attitudes, baggage, misconceptions, and lies when they crop up. If I have a wardrobe full of excess clothing, there isn’t room for anything else. I don’t have space for anything fresh or new. Likewise, when our lives are cluttered with things like unforgiveness, jealousy, or fears, there isn’t space for the good stuff – we can’t let in new people, new ideas, the voice of God, joy, and peace.

Recently married, and on the cusp of moving overseas, I myself am in the process of trying to cull my entire life into a 30kg luggage allowance. Right now, I have two very full garbage bags of clothing that are going to donation sitting by my door. If I am to move into the next season of my life, I can’t be taking those old clothes with me. There frankly isn’t room, and I can’t afford to be taking so much baggage. It’s time to leave that which isn’t adding value behind, so I can go forward.

As it says in Hebrews 12:1, ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles’. To throw something isn’t a passive action. The verse doesn’t say, ‘slowly and carefully put that which hinders you away in a junk drawer or random bag at the back of your cupboard until you decide what to do with it’. NO! It urges us to THROW, meaning, be ruthless, to propel with FORCE! Be forceful about throwing off and outthe things in your life that don’t add value, that don’t add joy, that hinder you, and block out the good stuff! Do what it takes to find freedom and wholeness. Get out the garbage bags, ask the Holy Spirit what needs to go, get a friend to help, do whatever it takes to make that space!

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd May 2018

It can be easy to judge someone. After all, we are trained to judge. We spend most of our day-to-day making comparisons, and choosing preferences. We make constant decisions on what we feel is right and wrong. From what food we rather, the star-rating our Uber driver deserves, which outfit we think looks better, which restaurant offers the best service, which is the safest route home, which schools to send our kids to, and how to best spend our moneywe are always making judgments!

Yet when it comes people, Jesus gives a very confronting and clear warning about how we weigh them up. Too often, Christians can get caught up in the act of criticising others. As we hold the Bible as the standard for our lives, we can begin to use it as a rulebook, rather than a gateway into loving God and people. We start judging people according to a set of rules, rather than first loving them. We become judgmental, and our faith can look a lot like religion and rules, rather than relationship and grace.

Don’t get me wrong – Jesus is very clear on confronting sin. If you see people living in less than God’s best for them (sin), then it is our duty to respectfully and lovingly confront (Matthew 18:15-17). The purpose of this confrontation is never to condemn, but to bring reconciliation and freedom.  Jesus commands discernment, but it is the ‘judging by mere appearances’ (John 7:24) that He hates.  

Just to give you an idea of how inaccurate human judgement can be, Jesus himself was judged wrongly by the people closest to Him. Jesus came to minister in His hometown – Nazareth, and the people said, ‘isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (Mark 6:1-3). The people of Nazareth missed out on all that Jesus had to offer because they formed a preconceived judgement about Him.

What are you missing out on in other people because judgement is blocking your view?

Judging can look like: making assumptions based on your own limited human perspective, attacking the poor behaviour of someone else, and speaking destructively about someone else behind their back.

Criticising and ridiculing others causes serious damage in our own lives. When we judge, we have no room to love and it steals our joy. It pollutes our heart, and makes us vulnerable to hatred taking root in our lives.  Judging others is a form of spiritual pride. It is saying, ‘I’m better than you. I would never do that!’. Imagine if that was God’s attitude towards us? We are only who we are by the grace of God.

Rather than judging, let us pack away our measuring stick, let us close the rulebook, and instead get back to relationship – relationship is where we forgive, honour, encourage, challenge, lovingly confront and thus always keep connection and relationship as our primary goal! After all, this is exactly how God works with you!  

Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st May 2018

It’s been said many times that this generation differs to generations that have gone before us. Where our grandparents, stretched two pennies across a week, we want the dream car and home today. Where our parents took time to make a phone call, and have meaningful conversation, we shoot a text. Where we once had to organize a coffee date to really see how someone is going, we can feel like we are in touch with people by quickly scrolling through social media. Where generations before us had to have face-to-face conversations with people at the shops, we order what we need at the click of a button. Where things like community, and family were once esteemed as the highest priority in life, self-protection and self-promotion have taken its place. Where our grandparents kept appliances for decades, we are persuaded to purchase the newest and the latest every few months. Where children were once taught to listen, parents are now pressured to constantly entertain and stimulate their kids, ensuring life is never dull and they never miss out. But we are missing out. Because life can actually be dull sometimes.

It isn’t always new, sparkly, instant, easy, entertaining and grand… and this is not only ok, but also good for us! Life can in fact be hard work! We are constantly getting primed to believe that dull isn’t normal. Whilst we have progressed in the most wonderful of ways in some areas compared to generations before us – we must admit that new technologies, celebrity culture, and a busy life isn’t always doing us a favour!

We have inherited a divine nature, but we aren’t born with character – you develop it! Dull moments make character! Diligence makes character! Hard work makes character! 2 Peter 1:5-7 says, ‘MAKE EVERY EFFORT to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love’. Character requires effort, and some less than easy, and instant things like self-control and knowledge!

In the words of Oswald Chambers, ‘we are not meant to be illuminated versions, but the common stuff of ordinary life exhibiting the marvel of the grace of God. Drudgery (dull, hard work) is the touchstone of character’.

Don’t simply seek the glamorous things in life, and become dissatisfied when your life isn’t looking magnificent. Remember that Jesus himself took and towel, got down and washed the disciplesfeet (John 13:1-7). There are times when life is routine. It is common jobs and no thrill. Don’t expect constant stimulation and worry that there is something wrong with you if something awesome isn’t happening. Learn to live with the mundane moments by the power of God! Do not simply give up on something if it requires extra effort and attention. There is great power and blessing in doing the “boring” things with excellence, allowing your character to be sharpened in the process. Obedience, consistency, and faithfulness to the very normal things of life, is powerful.

Philippians 4:12 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.