Fresh Hope – 31st August 2018

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

Just because you feel that it’s not going to be good day today, you don’t have to live by your feelings.

Just because you started the day wrong, it doesn’t mean that you have to punish yourself for the rest of the day. It’s not how you start but how you finish that matters.

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

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

Just because you’ve got a difficult meeting today…remember that it’s not the end of the world, no matter how bad it may turn out.

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

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

Today, it’s just the same for you and I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t die of thirst today.

Drink.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th August 2018

Caring about what other people think of us could be one of our strongest preoccupations. Many of us have a deep interest in trying to control what people think. A bad reputation could mean rejection – the worst thing we could possibly imagine.  

 On a recent trip to Italy, my husband and I thought we’d make use of our hotel’s paddling boards. Paddleboarding (for those of you who don’t know), is what appears to be quite an easy and leisurely exercise. You simply stand on an extra-large surfboard and float on water, using a large paddle to steer and manoeuvre yourself along.  

 Having both paddleboarded before, we assumed this time would be just as easy. We got out boards and began heading for the lake. I should mention that all this took place on a private beach. The sand was lined with a handful of beach beds, hosting our fellow hotel guests, all who had nothing better to do than lay there watching us try and stand on our paddle boards. Here our composure began to dwindle. As we attempted to reach the water, we staggered over sharp and slippery rocks, holding an 8ft board and matching paddle. Once we finally got on top of the board in the water, we quickly learnt that these boards were much shorter than what we were used to and any attempt at trying to stand, would surely fail – a risk we just weren’t prepared to take with everyone on shore watching. Surely all the other hotel guests were thinking, “Haha! Look at those two trying to stand, acting all confident. I can’t wait to see them fall in!”

 Here’s the lesson for today: what other people are thinking is none of your business!  

 This is what happened because we cared what other people were thinking:  

  • We didn’t utilise the full capacity of the board.  
  • We were less present in the moment, and more consumed with what the people were possibly thinking.  
  • We stayed comfortable, out of fear of failing.  
  • We didn’t learn anything or grow in our paddleboarding skills.  

 When we are so focused on the opinions of others, the quality of our life, and whom we are called to be is immensely watered down. When the fear of man governs our lives, we don’t try new things, we aren’t present, we fear mistakes, cap creativity, and don’t grow. All because we are afraid of rejection. We play it safe, doing anything to avoid looking like a fool. “If I pray for them, I’ll look like a crazy Christian.”

“If I pray and they don’t get healed, what will they think?”

“If I step out and encourage that person, they will think I want something from them.”

“If I speak out what I feel God is saying, it might not happen.”

 When we aren’t sure of who we are, we look to others for the definition. That is why we care so much about what they think. The problem with that is that the people we are looking to assess us, use a different grading system to God. While the world will assess on ability, personality, body type, and finances, God judges us based on the performance of Jesus – whose performance was perfection! We’ve already scored the perfect grade. We can therefore no longer be consumed with the thoughts of others when we have already been defined!  

 In the wisdom of 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12,  ‘…aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.’

  Focus on what is your business and let your business be whatever God is telling you. You won’t get any work done looking around for the constant approval of others.  

 The amazing thing is that as you fix your focus from multiple opinions to the simplicity of only God’s opinion, your life naturally produces a reputation of integrity and fruit.  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th August 2018

  Having moved from Australia to England, I’ve noticed some obvious cultural differences. In Australia it is totally normal to walk around the shops in your swimwear, gym gear or even barefoot on some occasions. I quickly learnt that that is not culturally normal in England! Another cultural difference: in England, cards are a big deal – birthday cards, Christmas cards, wedding anniversaries – everyone gets a card for every important occasion. In Australia, they aren’t so much of a big deal. In Australia, you celebrate Christmas eating prawns on the beach. In England, it’s a hot roast, wearing a woolly Christmas jumper.

 

When I first moved into a new culture, I felt like a sponge, noticing all the differences and ensuring I didn’t do anything culturally awkward. One day I had a thought… Living in a new culture isn’t about following the cultural pattern of the place I’m in, I’m called to carry and follow a kingdom culture way of doing things regardless of where I am. In other words, I don’t look to a culture to tell me how things are done, I look to God to tell me how things are done.

 

We are a product of our cultures. A culture’s influence on who you are and how you think effects you in more ways than you realise. It comes at us from all directions – from our family, who share their values and beliefs with us as we grow up, from our friends and who we give our time to, our nationality and race, and  even the media. Our culture saturates us. It tells us what person we should be, what it looks like, how it behaves, and what it wants. We internalise our culture’s rules.  But which culture are we ultimately following? There is much of what we may consider normal, which may not actually be God’s normal.

 

The beauty of kingdom culture is that it both connects with every culture, and disrupts it. Jesus was always culturally conscious, but never culturally conformed.

 

Likewise, you are called to bring the culture of God’s kingdom to whatever culture you are in today. This may be a family culture, a work culture, a city’s culture.  When we pray “your kingdom come” (Matthew 10:6), we are praying for the culture of heaven to be experienced on Earth. Who brings that? We do! We are the hands and feet of God. It is through us, that a culture, environment or atmosphere meets God. May it be known that we are a product of the Kingdom of God, not a product of whatever culture we are surrounded by.

 

Consider the day-to-day things that you do. Am I doing this because it is culturally normal? Can I stand out and do it God’s way? Practically speaking, it may be culturally normal to arrive to an event late, but kingdom culture says, ‘I will honour a person and arrive on time’. It may be culturally acceptable in your work place to complain and gossip, but kingdom culture says, ‘how can I bring life, encouragement, hope, and positivity with my words?’ It may be culturally normal to just do the bare minimum, but the kingdom of God says, ‘you are called to carry a spirit of excellence.’ The culture may tell you to judge people by how they appear, what they do, and how they look, but kingdom culture says, ‘material possessions don’t reflect a person’s worth’.

 

Challenge your thinking and why you do things a certain way, as Paul says, ‘And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2).

 

When animals are kept in captivity for long enough, and they are finally offered freedom, they often struggle to move from their confines and embrace freedom. The culture of their cage has become their norm. Don’t let the limitations of your culture become your cage and your norm, you have been set free to bring heaven to earth! You are a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)!

 

Emma Burchell

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th August 2018

Charles Blondin was born on 28 February 1824 at St Omer, Pas-de-Calais, France. At the age of five he was sent to the École de Gymnase at Lyon and, after six months training as an acrobat, made his first public appearance as “The boy Wonder”. His superior skill and grace, as well as the originality of the settings of his acts, made him a popular favourite.

One his most famous acts happened 30 June 1859, when he attempted to cross Niagara Falls on a tight rope. He completed this incredible feat successfully and a number of times thereafter, always with different theatrical variations: blindfolded, in a sack, trundling a wheelbarrow, on stilts, sitting down midway while he cooked and ate an omelette and standing on a chair with only one chair leg on the rope.

One on such occasion, it is reported that a great crowd were cheering him on as he approached the final stretch across the falls. He suddenly stopped and asked the crowd if they believed he could carry a man all the way back across in a wheelbarrow. They all responded with excitement shouting ‘we believe…we believe’.

Blondin retorted…’the man that believes should now step forward and get in the wheelbarrow’.

Faith is just that.

Faith is not SAYING I believe, but turning your belief into ACTION.

The words of the New Testament put it like this…

James 2:14-18 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds. ‘Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

Today, don’t just be content to be part of the cheering crowd that ‘talks the talk’, instead be that person that steps forward, and says from now on I’m going to ‘walk the walk’, even if it means risking everything with no safety net.

Have the courage today to walk by faith, no matter how seemingly impossible your circumstances may are.

Be bold…

Step out…

Trust in Jesus.

Believe.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th August 2018

Fresh Hope – 25th August 2018

Every so often I get a manicure, not being a person who spends much time caring for my nails; I like to get a gel manicure because the polish lasts a little bit longer. My nails look good for a little while but it doesn’t take long before I need to get them redone again.  Through repeatedly doing this, I noticed my nails getting brittle and thinner, so the technician recommended a nail treatment to help strengthen and provide nourishment to enhance their growth.  I thought this is the same with how we sometimes live life.

Often, we want to look good and spiritual and we put on a mask or a false covering. We want to show our strength but this mask can look good for a while and after some time it starts to wear off because it isn’t the protection God has designed for us. It may seem beautiful and helpful, but when it comes off, we’re weaker underneath, because the mask or false covering keeps us from receiving what God really has for us.

The truth is that God wants to change us from the inside out. We need to allow God to apply the oil of the Holy Spirit in the areas of our weakness. Through this, He makes us strong. That strength is not one that’s false and comes off – rather it permeates and changes us to become strong. When this happens, the image that we present to others is who we really are, from the inside out. This image is a reflection of God, when we’re allowing Him to work in our lives.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Isaiah 40:31 says “But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint”.

We always need to find our strength in the Lord. We must search ourselves and see what areas of our lives are we using things other than God to make us feel or look strong? Let’s ask God to reveal them to us and let’s repent and turn to Him. Let’s allow God to change us so we can be strong in Him.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th August 2018

Driven down any country lanes lately, maybe on the way to your holidays, and have commented on the obvious fact that something stinks?

It’s the fertiliser! Without it things wouldn’t grow to their full potential.

When I take our dogs for a long walk on Saturday mornings, I pass by some stables, and with stables comes manure. It too may stink, but that manure is packed with helpful ingredients that makes excellent fertiliser. People even pay good money to have manure put in their flower beds because when used in the right way it causes growth.

If the truth be told, we all have stinky stuff in our lives and with that comes the choice to get bitter and defeated, or to allow those seemingly unfair situations to be the very fertiliser to spur us on to greater growth.

Don’t just GO through it, GROW through it.

Whatever stinks in your life right now, and whatever you don’t like, see it as having the potential to cause you to blossom.

There are two types of problems that we all have to face from time to time: people’s problems and problem people. Right now you may feel like you are having too much fertiliser, but actually that’s what is preparing you for a great future. You have a big destiny right in front of you. The truth is you cannot reach your highest potential without fertiliser.

The next time you have a challenge with people that get on your nerves or they don’t give you proper respect, why not just smile back and say to yourself, ‘you stink and your attitude stinks but you’re helping me to grow’.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd August 2018

You cannot recognise a lie, until you know the truth. This is why we should always be feeding on the word of God. It is very hard to partner (agree) with a lie about yourself or God, when the word/truth of God is deep in your heart. Likewise, it is very easy to believe a lie, when you don’t know the truth.

 Whilst we are often comfortable around the idea of the unconditional love of God, we must never forget that God is also truth. You cannot have truth without love, and love without truth. As Timothy Keller says, ‘Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it’. Like we are open to the love of God, we should also be receptive to the TRUTH of God. After all, ‘the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32), and who doesn’t want to be free?

 Truth being revealed to us can look like a friend or family member kindly revealing something in our character that needs to be dealt with. It can be opening the word of God, and being challenged. It can be finally repenting for not listening to truth, and believing a lie that the enemy has been whispering to you for years.

 One of my favourite qualities in my husband is the uncompromising stance he has on truth telling. He prefers honesty over anything else. He has no tolerance for lies. I believe the nature of God is the same. He is passionate about you not believing the lies of the enemy. God desires for us to be ever free – and it is the word of God that cuts the chains of deception.

 Knowing truth is the most powerful weapon we have. Ephesians 6:14 says, ‘Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist’. When Paul is talking here about the Christian being ready for battle, he is emphasising the importance of truth being part of our armour. Why is truth represented as a belt? Because the belt of a Roman soldier in Paul’s day was not a weak fake-leather strap such as we wear today. It was a thick, heavy leather and metal band that offered protection. The belt held the soldier’s sword and other weapons. The belt of truth of the spiritual armour holds the sword of the Spirit, linking truth and the Word of God. The Word of God is truth, and truth protects you and it fights for you!

 Let us be truth seekers, and truth speakers, and we will be the most free people on the planet.

 Psalm 25:5  “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd August 2018

Romans 8:1 says, ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’.

In words of A.W Tozer, What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us’.  How we view God and His opinion towards us, will determine how we view ourselves, relate to others and live our lives. It is vital that we truly understand how we are viewed through the Father’s eyes, for this is what shapes our identity. We cannot have even a streak of doubt in our hearts that we aren’t fully loved or aren’t good enough – for that little streak will hold us back from being who we were truly made to be. We are made to be fully loved and live like we know it!

Condemnation means, ‘strong disapproval and/or sentencing to punishment’. How do you believe that God views you? Many live with a sense of God’s disapproval towards them… or perhaps they believe that He has to love them, but doesn’t like them… or they believe that the struggles of life are punishment from God. A failed marriage, a history of poor choices, derailed children, long-term illness, a lost job, financial struggle, are just a few of the realities that the devil may use to sentence you to a life under a cloud of shame. This is not freedom. Regardless of how you were raised, God will never use shame to enforce you into good behaviour. God is only in the business of transforming hearts through love and grace.

If you carry the weight of shame, and inadequacy in any area of your life, this is not God’s plan for you. When the Son (Jesus) set you free, you were made truly free (John 8:36).

When we struggle with shame our first instinct is to either hide (Adam and Eve covered themselves with leaves in shame when they sinned – Genesis 3:7-11). When we feel a sense of shame and inadequacy, we may hide in the form of hiding from vulnerable relationships, hiding behind a busy schedule, hiding behind material possessions, hiding behind a good performance, hiding behind our phones, or hiding behind lies, humour, behind timidity or even bravado.  

The key to breaking the power of shame is to hide in the right place… and that is hiding in the finished work of Jesus. Jesus is enough, so we are enough. We no longer need to prove. We no longer need to feel inadequate. Could you boldly declare: “I AM THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD!”, and believe it? To some this may seem prideful, but that is exactly what scripture says we are. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul says, ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that IN HIM we might become the righteousness of God’. As we hide our shame IN HIM we are made to be right. We are made to be enough. We are free from any shame.

Do you struggle when people do nice things for you because you don’t feel worthy enough to receive it?

Do you always think about what you did wrong, instead of right?

Do you struggle to be creative and to dream?

Do you often feel inadequate?

Are you physically exhausted from trying to do things to please people?

Do you struggle to have vulnerable relationships?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions, break the chain of shame, by refusing to partner with condemnation and any sense of inadequacy. Instead, hide in the finished work of Jesus and in His unconditional love – where your true identityand freedom is found!

 

Psalm 17:8 “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st August 2018

When God puts a dream in your heart, He’ll show you what the end will look like, He’ll give you a promise of what can and will come to pass, but He will not show you the middle.

If God showed you everything that you had to go through in order for it to come to pass, you would more than likely talk your way out of it.

In 1992, God spoke to me so clearly, and told me to buy a piece of land for our church. There was no questioning in my mind that this was a clear instruction from God – a dream if you like. I excitedly started to enquire about who owned the land and went to visit the contact that I’d been given. The meeting went fine and it kick-started the process that I thought would take several months.

Well, weeks turned to months and months turned to years. Finally after six years we purchased the land. I often look back over that time and think about how I probably would never have signed over six years of my life to buy a piece of land. For six years, there were weekly challenges, not least of all the fact that the church didn’t have any money. But God remained faithful and enabled us to purchase the land for cash – a miracle!

Thinking that this was now getting to the end of the dream whereby we would now start to build a church on that very land and I would be able to put this waiting game behind me, little did I realise that another twelve years would pass before the building would be built. Yet again, if I’d have known that the ‘middle bit’ was going to turn into one long and drawn-out battle, then I may never have signed up for it.

What am I saying? God doesn’t give all the details.

What you’re going through on your way to your dream may be difficult and discouraging and you may not like it one bit, but this is where your faith has to kick in. Are you going to give up and talk yourself out of it?

Whatever you’re going through today on the way to your destiny, make a decision not to live in discouragement, give up on your dreams, or quit believing. I’m going to have faith in the middle.

Psalm 119:49-50 Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: your promise preserves my life.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th August 2018

Have you ever needed peace? Have you ever found yourself lacking joy?

When I think about peace and joy, two things I am certain we would love more of, I am drawn to the moments that led up to the death of Jesus.

Here Jesus is recorded telling some of His closest friends, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”

As difficult as this is to hear, there is something about this statement that resonates with you and I… that Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, experienced some pretty real emotions.

However, it doesn’t stop there. Jesus goes on to pray that if possible, He would not have to die this way, but He then says to God, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

You want to talk about peace?! This right here is what it looks like to possess peace… Willingly offering yourself to be hung on a cross.

And why? As the Bible puts it, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross.”

The ‘joy’ being the thought of spending eternity with you through the salvation He would offer.

Again, talk about real joy?!

Now you may be thinking, that’s great for Jesus, but what about me?

In the book of John, Jesus tells us two things across two different chapters that I believe will encourage you greatly.

Hear this… He says, “My peace I give you” and in another chapter, “So that my joy may be in you.”

Notice how Jesus isn’t just offering any kind of peace and joy? This one is personalised.

The same peace and the same joy that brought Jesus through what was no doubt the hardest period of His life, is the same peace and joy He has made available to you.

I’ve got a feeling that if Jesus could walk through this, you and I can walk through anything.

Whatever circumstances you find yourself up against today, whatever struggles you may be facing, remind yourself constantly of this, ‘the peace and joy of God Himself is at work on the inside of me’.

I think you’ll be amazed by how you see life from that moment forward.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 18th August 2018

Whenever God wants to do a miracle He often asks us to be part of it.  Whenever we need a miracle, we often thinks it’s only down to God, yet often He asks us to do something.

The very first miracle that Jesus performed was at the wedding of a couple whose wine had run out.
The servants were asked to bring the water jars and fill them with water –  (John 2 vs 7 ) – “Jesus said to the servants, bring the water jars and fill them to the brim.”

Jesus’ Mother said “whatever He asks you to do, do it.” (vs 5).

It’s very easy for us to sit back and let God go ahead and do what He can do.  I am a firm believer in this, if I do what I can do, then God will do what He can do.

What three words activated this miracle?  (Vs8) “they did so” – they obeyed the request of the Master.
When we do what God asks of us, we too will receive.

If I need a financial breakthrough… I sow a seed (that’s Biblical)… God produces a harvest. A miracle.

The servants brought the jars and filled them to the brim with water, Jesus turned it into wine. A miracle.

The lady in the Old Testament  (2 Kings 4 ) who was about to die because she had no food, was told to collect jars and bring them to the man of God. God turned up and filled them so that she did not die. A miracle.

You see, to receive a miracle, here are three things to remember:
1. Identify the need
2. Invite Jesus to help
3. Be prepared to do what He may ask of you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th August 2018

One of the most important truths on how to live a victorious life has to do with how consistent we are.

When the first of the year rolls out, many people vow to get in to better shape and begin to exercise or take in better eating habits. The reason many do not see change is because this only lasts for a short while and then they go back to what they have always done. As with anything in life, the more consistent you are at doing something, the more impact it will have on your life.

The same goes for our spiritual life – which tends to be the area we neglect the most.

The biggest challenge people face is with being consistent.

What is consistency? It means “The quality of always being the same, doing things in the same way, having the same standards, and not dropping the ball.”

Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law (Bible) shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night.”
…meaning, consistent reading and meditation of the Word of God through every season of life.  We may have a serious battle come against us and we seem to get serious about our walk with God seeking Him daily and reading His word, but then things get better and we slip back into doing what we have always done. We may start to attend church for a while and then we start to let other things take our focus and we drop off. The problem is that we tend to allow our emotions and circumstances to dictate how we are in our relationship with God.  Perhaps when we are in need of a miracle we are fully engaged, but when the things we are praying for happen, or even are not happening within the time frame we have set, we give up and go back to our old ways.  The problem in doing what we have always done is that we are going to get what we have always got.

Being in an ‘off-on’ relationship with God is the most dangerous place to be. In other words, you are neither here nor there; Jesus said in Revelation 3:15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!”

There is a saying that ‘little drops of water make a mighty ocean’.

Have you ever observed where there is a leak and water is dripping? We might place an empty bucket there, but before long the bucket is full and overflowing.  The little drops of water seem insignificant, but with time that drip becomes a flood.

A great man of God, Kenneth Copeland, likened this to how much we lose through inconsistency with God.  He said “there is a revelation of God that comes from being consistent that inconsistent people will never see”.

Make a decision today to be consistent in everything you do. You’ll be amazed at how much further you can go in life when you make that your choice.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th August 2018

If you have ever planned a wedding, you will know how easily the logistics can quickly take over all your time and headspace. The arrangement of the flowers, the order of service, the timing of the cake cutting – these finer details take our attention from the whole point of the whole day and distract us from the most important thing – to get married! What is really quite simple, becomes complicated. You can worry about many things, but really only one thing is needed – an exchange of vows!

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42.

Martha did nothing wrong in working hard. After all, it was all for Jesus and she was the one that had invited Him in! The problem was that she was so distracted, flustered and worried in the serving that she had actually forgotten about Jesus himself. She missed the point. Martha’s frustration with Mary is typical of people who diligently serve with good intent, but forget to also sit at Jesus’ feet. In their service, they become frustrated and resentful of those who don’t need to earn their approval from God.

In the context of the scripture, sitting at the feet of someone, was a position of learning. It was a position of intimacy and influence. Mary had chosen to just be with Jesus – to be in a place of intimacy, be influenced by Him, and learn from Him.

When Jesus said to Martha, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better...” Jesus is challenging all of us to reconsider why we do what we do for Him. Are we busy doing good things, but to the point where we are actually distracted from the very voice and influence of Jesus? Are working so hard to please Jesus, when really He just wants our attention? Is sitting at His feet the number one priority in our lives?

This parable can be an uncomfortable one for many of us, as keeping busy in service can be highly esteemed, but don’t let service for Jesus, ever take us FROM Jesus. Let intimacy with Jesus be our primary pursuit. Be careful not to let even good things distract you from the main point. Jesus. Have a Mary heart, in a Martha world!

Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th August 2018

I love how God is interested in EVERY little detail of our lives. I have been a Christian for many years and the verse of scripture that says “seek first the Kingdom of God and ALL these things will be added unto you” – (Matthew 6 v 33) always stands true.

What are ‘all these things’?  They are our desires, our needs, our wants, our dreams, even our small concerns God has covered.

The more I follow Jesus, the more I see that God has everything we need at hand. We don’t have to ever concern ourselves with need; if I put God first, and bring to God what is rightfully His, He has everything covered.

Tonight I spent time with four lovely friends.  We talked about the goodness of God. We each shared testimony of the great things that God is doing. The theme of all those testimonies was that we don’t have to ever concern ourselves as to how God will answer our prayers, we just need to trust that He will.

In the midst of all the awesome testimonies, I somehow shared about how our dogs toys kept getting stolen by foxes. I joked about how it had ‘mithered’ me and that I kept buying new ones and every day they would get stolen.

I hadn’t been home five minutes, when a knock came to our door and there stood a young girl, a new neighbour, and in her hand a plastic bag with two of our dogs toys in that had been deposited in their garden by the robbing foxes.
You see God is interested in EVERY part of your life.  Things that may seem stupid to someone else, but very real to you, God is interested in.
He has every one of our needs covered.

He is an awesome God. You can trust Him with anything.

Seek Him first. He will never let you down.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th August 2018

One of the most heart-breaking things is when people don’t see themselves the way God sees them. The enemy loves to rob people of their confidence, because when He has their confidence and self-worth, he has rendered them ineffective and powerless. They are no longer operating at the capacity that God designed them to.

If you make yourself a cordial drink, the more water you add to the cordial, the more diluted the drink becomes. The more water added, the weaker the flavour, the less effective the taste. The enemy is out to dilute our flavour. He will do whatever it takes to water us down and become a weaker version of who God made us to be.

He will cause us to use the opinion of others, or our comparison to others, as our measuring stick to how valuable we are. We will ponder on and relive negative words spoken over us, partner with lies, and forget the truth of God’s thoughts towards us. We let media and the world decide where our worth sits. Our following, our body, our personality, our level of intelligence, and our income – these are the rulers by which we measure our worth… and God says, “ENOUGH!”.

If I took a fish – designed in such wondrous detail for an underwater environment, and placed it on land, then valued the fish’s worth on its ability to survive on land, it would fail miserably. Yet we do the same with ourselves. We aren’t designed for this world, yet we measure ourselves based on our ability to succeed in a world we are not actually made for. We were made for more. Scripture says, we are ‘citizens of heaven’ (Philippians 3:20), we are ‘aliens and strangers’ to the ways of the world (1 Peter 2:11), ‘…we are not of this world’ (John 17:16).

Our challenge is to not conform our thinking to such low standards. We must challenge every lie we have towards ourselves. I heard it once said, ‘We cannot afford to have one thought in our head about ourselves, that God doesn’t have about us’. That is why Romans 12 says, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’.

Take a break from social media if you have to, step away from people who don’t see you the way God sees you and find people who do, speak out the truth of God until you believe it deep down. Start speaking truths like this over yourself:

“I am a child of God” (John 1:12).

“I am no longer a slave to sin” (Romans 6:6).

“I will not be condemned by God” (Romans 8:1).

“My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 6:19).

“ I am a new creature in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

“I have been set free” (Galatians 5:1).

“I am God’s workmanship created to produce good works” (Ephesians 2:10).

“I have been made complete in Christ” (Colossians 2:10).

“God supplies ALL my needs” (Philippians 4:19).

“I have been chosen of God, and I am holy and beloved” (Colossians 3:12).

These aren’t just positive phrases, these are powerful realities and freeing truths from God for YOU! You are who HE says you are!

Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 13th August 2018

For months now, anyone attempting to use junction 2 of the M5 will have encountered the 30mph restriction and long tail backs with seemingly no end in sight. As you crawl past the workmen, no doubt you will have asked yourself the all important question which is “what on earth are they doing and how much longer is it going to take?” You can be forgiven for daring to think that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot happening.

 The truth is that engineers by the dozen are having to correct a 40 year old problem which is known in technical terms as the Thaumasite sulfate attack . The TSA, as it’s known for short, transforms concrete in certain conditions into a non-cohesive mass without any binding or load bearing capabilities.

 It had become apparent that the Motorway had been crumbling for years but no one knew why, that is until the experts found out that TSA was responsible. When first built, the M5 along with its bridges, had been built from a concrete mix that contained limestone from the coast and had not been properly washed of the salt that had come from the sea air. Forty years later, the whole thing has fallen apart simply because of using inferior materials that construction engineers were oblivious to at the time.

 

The question today is: what is secretly eroding your life away that will cause it one day to crumble?

 Like so many, our lives can appear to be fine until one day we realise that things are beginning to fall apart and we have no clue as to why. The answer lies in the materials that you have built your life on; If they are not the right ones then over time, whether you like it or not, your life will begin to take a tumble.

 

Jesus said it like this…

 Matthew 7:24-27 ‘Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.’

 

Living according to your own principles and values may seem like the right thing to do at the time, but those ingredients may well be far short of the required ‘mix’ for a blessed life lived on a firm foundation.

 Even if you’ve never done it before, open up the BIble today and ask God to speak to you from it. Each part gives you incredible supernatural wisdom to live your life by so that even when the worst storm hits you, you will not even falter.

 I encourage you, build your life on the tried and trusted ingredients of the word of God today and watch your life get transformed before your very eyes.

 

 Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th August 2018

Assumptions get people into trouble, and yet we all do it. We often do it unknowingly. We witness a brief moment in another person’s life or hear part of a story, and then we fill in the gaps in our mind. We may not think about it again until the moment the assumption is undone. This can be embarrassing or even destructive depending on the nature of the assumption.

I have never been to court but I once – through work – had to write part of a report that was potentially going to be presented in court.  I was instructed to clearly separate the facts and my own hypothesis (assumptions).  This was because the Judge would have to base his decision on the facts presented not based on mine or another person’s opinion or view.

In our own lives, assuming is something we naturally do, but we have to careful what assumptions we make especially of others.   There is one simple principle we can follow. Always assume the best. Give people the benefit of the doubt. What gets us in trouble is we often assume the worst .One of the greatest mistakes all of us have is to generalise people by just one mistake that they make. If they make a mistake we tend to slander their whole character. If a guy makes a foolish mistake – we consider him a fool. But this is not necessarily the truth. Maybe he is a good person who has just made one foolish mistake. Maybe he has just slipped and fallen in one time. Maybe he has just made a mistake.

Almost everyone has heard the phrase: “You can’t judge a book by the cover.” The same is true of people. Look beyond the mistake, look at the person’s real character and you may be surprised what you find.

The Bible addresses this issue. Assumption is a nice word for judging. When we assume something about someone else, we are making a judgement about them. Matthew 7:1 is a popular verse and we like the fact that Jesus said, “Do not judge” but we often fail to understand the context of his statement. What Jesus is prohibiting in Matthew 7:1 is a particular kind of judgement. We are not to judge unfairly. We are to follow the golden rule and treat others the way we would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12). We are not to be hypocritical (Matthew 7:3-5).

Jesus always sought after those we would naturally assume not to be the kind of people he would take time to talk to; like the woman at the well, Zacchaeus and Matthew, the tax collectors. Jesus was after their hearts and if we take time to also reach out to people and not assume we will always find a deeper meaning and yearning in each person.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th August 2018

This weekend, I went with some friends to the English-countryside town of Ludlow. Ludlow has a strong farming and food culture and quality produce is celebrated. As my friends and I walked around the local supermarket, we learnt pretty quickly that this wasn’t your standard Tesco or Aldi. The fruit and vegetables were big and brightly coloured. As we ate the produce we purchased, we noted the fuller flavours of quality, organic products, but we paid no thought to how the farmer would have spent serious amounts of time and effort cultivating the produce we were now enjoying. The watering, the positioning, the timing – had all been carefully considered. Cultivation takes time! Cultivation means to ‘improve growth by labour and attention’.  

Many of us are desperate to taste good quality fruit in our lives. We want growth and harvest, but without the time and patience required in the cultivation process. Does a farmer give up when the seed he sowed last week isn’t producing a fruit the following week? Of course not! He understands that growth and ultimately fruit, takes careful cultivation and the creation of atmospheres in order to grow.

What seeds have been sown into your life that need some tending to? What things do you need to give some attention and energy to? What things do you need to wait patiently for?

James 5:7 says, ‘…See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains’.

Like a good farmer cultivates and waits in expectation of reward, so we also should cultivate and wait for fruit in our lives. As a farmer keeps working despite varying circumstances like rainfall, so we must also continue to cultivate seeds in our life despite life’s circumstances. Like the value of the harvest encourages the farmer to keep on going, so we should continue with our eyes on the prize and continue to tend to our seed. Like a gardener knows how the seasons work, so should we understand the seasons of life and ensure that we continue to cultivate the garden of our lives in and out of season.

Ask the Holy Spirit today to give you the patience to cultivate whatever seed you have sown.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th August 2018

As you strive to build a life based on values that last, it’s important to establish and maintain integrity.

The Bible says in Psalm 41:12 ‘Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence for ever.’

To have integrity does not mean you are perfect, because if it did, none of us would have it! So, what does it mean to have integrity? Integrity is wholeness. A lot of people think of their life like a pie, and the different parts of their life are the pieces of the pie. This slice of the pie is my career. This is my work life. This is my spiritual life. Then this is my family life. That one is my social life. Then over here is my secret life — my compulsions, addictions, and the things nobody else knows about. If you segment your life like that, you lack integrity, because your life is not a whole. Integrity means you’re the same person with everybody, in your speech, actions, and motives, no matter which part of life you’re dealing with. Integrity is authenticity.

In ancient Greek culture, actors were referred to as hypocrites because they pretended to be someone else. It’s where we get the word hypocrite. When you wear masks so that you appear one way in front of some people and another way for others, it shows a lack of authenticity.

God wants you to be exactly who he made you to be, no matter who is watching. Integrity is uncorrupted motivation. It means you do the right thing, and you do it for the right reason. You have unmixed motivation and pure motives. You’re sincere and straightforward in every area of your life and with all people. You pray to talk to God and not to impress other people. We’re interested in image, but God is interested in integrity. We’re interested in reputation, but God is interested in character. Reputation is what everybody thinks you are. Integrity is what you really are. Reputation is what you are in public. Integrity is what you are when no one is looking.

Proverbs 10:9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

Pastor Mark

*With excerpts from Pastor Rick Warren.

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th August 2018

Whether it’s travelling on holiday by car, or jetting off abroad this summer, the principles of travel are hugely the same.

In the old days, when we went on a family holiday, my Dad would take out his trusted map of the UK and plot the journey using a combination of road numbers and names of prominent towns along the way. Today, the sat nav has made the whole process so easy, but it’s actually doing by satellite what my Dad did with paper, pen and map.

Travelling by plane, requires the pilot to type in the coordinates for the journey so that the aircraft can log on and get you from A to B.

For life to be lived to its fullest, and to experience all that God has in store for you, then we too need to plot our journey with certain coordinates. Those coordinates will determine not only whether or not you get to you destination, but also how you get there.

I like to think of coordinates as road signs along the way to keep you on track. But more than that they are values that I live my life by so that the quality of my journey is determined and not just the distance.

Getting to a place in life is one thing, but how you get there is another. Walking all over people is no way to get there.

Here are 3 simple yet profound coordinates that will make the difference not only to your journey, but also to everyone travelling with you:

Value people

Believe in people

Unconditionally love people

As you and I navigate our way around the rest of this week, let alone the rest of our lives, begin to see the impact of these three directives from God not only on your own life, but on that of your family and everyone that you meet.

I encourage you today to be done with travelling down the back roads of negativity and selfishness and to begin your journey with a new set of coordinates.

Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 7th August 2018

My wife knows very little about cars, yet she can drive. She knows how to fill up with fuel, although it’s pretty rare that she does so, but after that it’s game over. I’m not even sure if she would know how to top the washer fluid bottle, but I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t know where to put the engine oil.

 Driving the car to her is simple, you just need one key.

 That one key is the difference between staying where you are and getting to your destination. It may only be one small thing, but its impact is huge.

 In much the same way, one key can unlock your future. One Bible verse, one word of wisdom, one sentence spoken over your life can provide for you the means to get from where you are today to where you want or need to be in the future.

 More than 25 years ago, I was handed a set of keys. They weren’t literal keys to a physical door, but they were more important than that…they were keys to my future.

 In the same way that those keys have helped me to stay focused over many years, my prayer for you today is that these 3 keys on one simple key ring will do the same for you.

 

Here they are:

 

 Key 1. Don’t live for what’s urgent, live for what’s important.

 Many times in life we find ourselves being pushed and pulled in all kinds of directions. This is often due to allowing people to continually to get us to respond to their ‘emergencies’.

If you don’t plan out your day then someone will actually come along and steal it from you by pulling you away from what is important. Urgent is sometimes urgent, but I’ve found that it rarely is.

 

Make a decision today to live your life by what’s important. Plan your days and weeks around those things and you’ll find that you wont keep having your diary filled by other people’s ‘urgent’ calls. They are often a ploy to get you off track.

 Key 2. Don’t live for success, live for significance.

 Success is great, significance is far greater. Success points to you, significance points to others.

 Living to be successful is not always a bad thing if done with pure motives, but it can be entirely selfish. Significance, however, takes personal success and turns it into something that benefits others over a long period of time. Ask yourself just one question: is my life helping to change and benefit anyone else’s? The answer gives you the information you need right here and now.

 

 Key 3. Don’t live to bless, live to build.

 At first, I thought that this sounded way off. It sounded almost anti-Christian. Everything I’d tried to do with my life up until this point was centred around blessing as many people as I could. I would be out speaking in different places and travelling all over when I realised that I was blessing a lot of people, but I wasn’t building anything of lasting impact. Be careful that your life is not just taken up with running all over the place at the expense of leaving nothing behind when you’re gone.

 Now of course we all want to be a blessing, but be careful to take stock of what you are building so that others may be left with a legacy when your life is done.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th August 2018

This week I was shopping in Birmingham with a friend. We were stopped by a man who was trying to sell insurance in the mall. After we assured him we weren’t interested in his product, he asked us how my friend and I knew each other. “Through church”, I said. There began a genuine conversation about church, faith and God. This salesman genuinely stepped aside from his job and was peppering us with questions about God. He wasn’t interested in a sale, or an argument, he really wanted to know why we believed what we did. ‘Tell me why I should become a Christian’, he asked. He had been desperately searching for truth in all sorts of religions and wanted real connection with God. He was openly listening to whatever we had to say. My friend and I were taken back by his genuine inquiries and hunger. I stammered my way through an explanation to his questions and curiosities, and gave him some contact details. As I walked away, I thought to myself, “I really wish I was more prepared for that conversation!”

1 Peter 3:15 says, ‘But in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect’.

It is amazing how as Christians we can ask God for opportunities to share the gospel, change lives, and minister to people yet be unprepared for the moment when it arrives. I felt God say that this is because many of us are reactive, not proactive. Rather than being on the front foot, and ready, we are instead living in reaction to that which happens around us. To be proactive is to be prepared. To be proactive is to look for moments to engage people with the gospel of Jesus.

Does God condemn me for missing the moment? Of course not! But I do believe there are many moments in our days where we have the opportunity to bring the love of Jesus in naturally supernatural ways. The question is – are we alert, and prepared? Are we aware? Are we fully present in the moment? Are we sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit?

Ephesians 5:15-17 says, Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is’.

I love how The Passion Translation puts it, ‘Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes’.

There were two ancient Greek words used for ‘time’. One had the idea simply of day upon day and hour upon hour. The other had the idea of a definite portion of time, a time where something should happen. When the Bible tells us to make the most of our ‘time’, it’s not suggesting you make the most of your time on earth (although that’s great advice!), the time spoken of here is speaking of a moment, a definite season of opportunity that Christians must recognise and make the most of. Now is the time, your time, to show people Jesus.  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th August 2018

Good things come to those who wait.

If you try to start your season before it’s ready for you, you will fail.
You can try wearing summer outfits in the winter, you can get out the garden furniture and try and light the barbecue, but the fact remains, it’s still winter and summer isn’t here and you are going to fail at enjoying and experiencing the ‘summer’ because it’s still January.

Why is it in life then, that we try to rush a season, when it’s not ready for us?
You can conceive a child, but you’ll have to wait 9 months if you want it to be healthy and fully grown and developed.

We try to rush things. We want everything now. Even the old saying clearly says “good things come to those who wait.”

Maybe you’re waiting for a great job and the door keeps shutting on your choices. WAIT for God, He has the perfect one for you.
Maybe you’re waiting for Mr or Mrs Right, don’t make wrong choices because you can’t wait. WAIT for God’s perfect choice for you.

If you try to start a season before it’s ready to start, you won’t be able to start it, BUT in the same way, if you try to stop someone’s season which is here, you won’t stop it.

Seasons are powerful. God’s timing even more so.
When God is ready to move in your life, nothing will stop it, the doors will open and your season will start to flow.

Revelation 3 v 7
What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

Are you waiting for something today? Good.
As long as you are doing what God wants you to do whilst you’re waiting, it WILL come.

Psalm 5 v 3
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd August 2018

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

Will Noris, the journalist wrote “If your lips would keep from slips, five things observe with care; to whom you speak, of whom you speak, and how…and when…and where.”

Publius, the Greek sage, wrote “I have often regretted my speech, but never my silence.”

I was invited to do a live television interview some time ago and I was very aware that there was no taking back my words once I’d said them. There was no room for me to convey a message that I could later retract. I would never have that luxury.

It served me as a daily reminder that our speech is ‘live’ at all times. There’s no taking back what you have just said in a heated moment.

Often, learning to speak positively about everyone is just like learning any knew language. You have to devote yourself to learning it and it takes time to do so. Here are three tips to help you learn how to manage your mouth.

1) Think first.

Before you speak, pause for ten seconds and mentally preview your words. Are they accurate or exaggerated?

Kind or cutting? Needless or necessary? Grateful or complaining?

Remember, what you don’t say you’ll never have to explain.

2) Talk less.

Ecclesiastes 5v3 …”Many words mark the speech of a fool.”

Which basically means…put a sock in it.

You increase your chances of saying the wrong thing when you talk too much. Compulsive talkers find it hard to keep friends. Conserve your verbal energy.

3) Start today.

You’ve now read enough today to help you get started. Once you condition your mouth to the new ‘muzzle’, it will become easier each day to resist the urge to speak out of turn.

James 3:2-6, 9-12 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. 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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd August 2018

Today was one of those days. You know the kind – the day started with a message from the neighbour living below us letting us know that I had flooded our toilet last night, and she had water seeping through her roof, I got lost on the way to a friend’s house, forgot my lunch, was still thinking about my unwell grandmother, nearly had a car accident, skipped gym, and killed a bird. I was left feeling rather stressed after a not-to-smooth and expensive start to my day, but it wasn’t all bad.

There were actually so many good things in what I could easily label ‘a bad day’. I spent time with two friends, FaceTimed another, came home and cooked food, and spent time in nature. It can be so easy to focus on everything going wrong in our lives, rather than focusing on the good.

Like any given day, both the good and the bad are inevitable in our lives. With all that is out of our control, what we can control is where we fix our focus. I could easily focus on the negatives, or I could actively choose to appreciate the positives in my day/life.

So what do I do with the all the bad stuff then? Ignore it? NO! Acknowledge it all and then give to God. This isn’t just positive thinking, this is biblical truth!  

Philippians 4:6 says, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God’.

Key word in this scripture is – ANYTHING! In other words, there is NOTHING worth getting anxious about! God could have said, “there are some things worth worrying about” or “most things aren’t worth worrying about” or “be anxious about the important things”, but He said, “be anxious for nothing!” Why? Because there is no thing bigger than God and anything that is causing us anxiety should be given to God in prayer for Him to handle.

In our house, I generally do the cooking, and I’m a messy cook at that, and then my husband does the clean up after. It’s the best feeling when we finish dinner and I know that he is cleaning up (which he actually enjoys by the way! Win!). I’m free from the worry of washing up! In fact, as I’m writing this, he is in the kitchen dealing with my mess! He just said to me, “okay, stay out of the kitchen now please so I can clean up properly!” When we find ourselves in a mess, we present it to God, and then let it go, walk away, and let Him deal with it. Our anxiety is no longer necessary because it is no longer our job to deal with that which is troubling us! God is saying to you today, “stay out of the problem and leave it with me!”

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st August 2018

Many of us are very familiar with the Bible story of Esther. A humble Jewish girl who the king chooses to make his queen. God’s orchestration and timing was perfect because as she was promoted to the palace and given a position of favour and influence, she was used to save her people from extinction.

When we are given position or find favour, it is ALWAYS to have influence for God, not to merely just enjoy for ourselves.

In Esther 4:14, Mordecai, Esther’s older cousin, imparts his wisdom to her at a time of decision-making saying, ‘For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?’.

Esther could have easily sat back and enjoyed the pleasures of palace life for herself. She didn’t have to risk her life by approaching the king to save her people. She could have chosen comfort. But here is the thing, God never positions us for comfort! He always positions us for influence. We are called to make a difference!

Many of us seek a life of abundance for our personal comfort and pleasure, but this is not kingdom culture. A life of abundance is always to be used for cultivating culture (kingdom culture), not cultivating comfort! Yes, we are called to enjoy the privileges of the palace, but like Esther, we also have a mandate to carry out the responsibilities of royalty.

You may not be a literal royal like Esther, but you do hold a royal position in the spirit realm and you without a doubt have been put in some sort of sphere of influence. You may not have much, but you have something. Use whatever you have because like Esther, you have come to your royal position for such a time as this’.

Assess what comforts, privileges, favour, and positions of influence you have in any area of your life, and pray about how you can use these things to serve the kingdom of God, rather than simply settling for a life of comfort!

The beauty of God’s favour is that as we use it and steward it, we will find more favour, more influence and more promotion.

‘…And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook’ (2 Kings 18:7).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.