Fresh Hope – 29th September 2018

James 3:12, “My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water”.

What fills our hearts? Whatever is inside us will determine the fruit we produce.

Jesus said (Luke 6:45), “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” therefore “The words you speak will all depend on what’s filling your heart.”

A critical heart produces a critical tongue.

A self-righteous heart produces a judgemental tongue.

A bitter heart produces a hurtful tongue.

An ungrateful heart produces a grumbling tongue.

But…

A loving heart produces a gracious tongue.

A faithful heart produces a truthful tongue.

A peaceful heart produces a reconciling tongue.

A trusting heart produces an encouraging tongue…So fill your heart by soaking in your Bible.

This week, soak in Matthew 5, or Romans 12, or 1 Corinthians 13, or Philippians 2.

 Be very careful about taking in the words of death and strife that the world so readily gives us in the media.

For “we are from God and we believe in his Son, Jesus, the Word” – John 1:1,

“the truth and the life” – John 14:6,

and who alone has “the words of eternal life” – John 6:68.

As the saying goes `you are what you eat`, the same goes for our hearts. Feed your heart with healthy and nourishing food from God’s Word and you will bear good fruit.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th September 2018

Feeling tired and over-extended has become a culturally normal state of being.  Busyness and a life of running from meeting to meeting, long to-do lists and a full-diary is not only acceptable, in some cases, celebrated. I’m not against hard-word. God wants us to work hard, but He wants us to work hard on the right things.  

In the words of Louie Giglio, ‘Whenever you say yes to something, there is less of you for something else. Make sure your YES is worth the less.’ 

If there are areas of your life that are dysfunctional, then perhaps it is time to reset your order of priorities. If your relationships are suffering, if your health is suffering, if your relationship with God is suffering, then your system is malfunctioning and crying out for a reorder.

Questions I’m learning to ask myself often are:

Are there boundaries around that which is really the most important? Things like rest for my soul, time with God, my husband, and loving people –these priorities must be protected, even from seemingly good things. I must be intentional to not let things intrude, or even sneak, into the precious space that these things need.

Where does God want my priorities? Scripture says, ‘Seek first the kingdom, and everything else will be added’ (Matthew 6:33). In other words, before anything else, prioritise that which is important to God. To figure out what is important to Him, you need to HEAR what HE (not people) sees as important. Make time to listen to Him.

There is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Develop a sharp awareness and discernment of the season you are in. What is God asking you to focus on now? The voice of God should be the most outstanding voice in your life, even when your choices look foolish to some, live for the one voice that matters – God’s! There are seasons for rest, and there are season for hard work. There are seasons to invest into some things and then seasons pull back on other things. Learn the winds of your life, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in how you steer and control the boat. Part of being a powerful person/Christian, is the ability to manage your life, not let life manage you!

In the words of Isaiah 2:22, ‘Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?’ – in other words, the opinions of man will die and fade, but the ways of God have eternal ramifications. So my next question is: is what you’re focusing on now going to matter in light of eternity, or like the opinion of man, just fade and count for nothing?

Galatians 1:10, ‘For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ’.

Ask God today to give you the wisdom and the courage to reorder, and restructure your life!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th September 2018

It’s a common saying that, ‘elephants never forget’. This is scientifically true. They cannot only remember locations, companions and dangers for survival purposes, their brains have the capacity to remember things that are of no benefit to survival. They can recognise and remember a creature that they saw once, and haven’t seen for 20 years! Elephants are very emotional animals. Their ability to remember is heavily linked to their ability to feel.  

There is power in remembrance. Why is it that we have ‘Remembrance Day’?  – A day in the year to stop, remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves in war to secure and protect our freedom. When we bring to mind that which has happened on our behalf – the sacrifice been made, it evokes emotions in us. We find a fresh sense of gratitude and humility. We don’t take for granted what we have now. Remembrance softens our heart. This is also why we do communion.

Sipping a shot glass of juice, and the swallowing of stale bread, isn’t just some old school, religious ritual. There is power in communion. The elements of bread and wine are a symbol of the body and blood of Jesus – a body broken and blood shed for us. Jesus started the tradition of communion as an instruction to remember the sacrifice He made for us (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Communion is a celebration of the freedom we have found. When sickness comes, take communion. When struggles strike, take communion. Remember the cross. Remember the price paid. Remember how He has given you a fresh start. Communion is a reminder that He will give you everything you need – just remember the cross. The early church in fact engaged in communion every day! (Acts 2:42-46). They had a lifestyle of remembrance and celebration.

Like an elephant never forgets, never forget the price that was paid for us. May we live in humility, with a deep sense of both gratitude and celebration, and then in turn, let remembering bring peace to your emotions today!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th September 2018

I love King David and I love his story, found in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel.  These 2 two chapters, for me, have to be one of the most exciting parts of the Bible. They cover the part of the life of David and they read like an action-packed novel.

1 Samuel 17 vs 28 -29 ‘But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!” “What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question!”

Eliab wasn’t seeing David’s heart when he accused him of leaving the sheep he was supposed to be caring for. David was actually there that day on the instructions of his father Jesse to bring Eliab, and the other brothers, food.

It can be very painful to be misjudged by others, especially if they’re close to us, such as family members or friends.  Imagine working hard at trying to make something of yourself but you get constant reminders or a recollection of mistakes you made years and years ago, or even highlighting of your shortcomings or weaknesses.

Perhaps Eliab was being the over-protective older brother, or probably still carrying the pain and humiliation of being rejected by God as the next king of Israel, when Samuel the prophet came to his father Jesse. Instead, David, the youngest son, not even invited to the selection meal, was called from the fields and anointed with oil as God’s chosen successor to Saul.

Apart from Eliab’s likely jealousy of David, perhaps we’re seeing the reality of how those who’re closest to us can actually not know us very well at all. 1 Samuel 16:17 ‘People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’. The truth was that it was David’s faithfulness, integrity and skill as a shepherd, seen by God when he was out in the hills, that prepared him to be a future shepherd and king to Israel.

David trusted in God’s power, but his brother did not. Eliab thought the doubts he had about David’s character were really wisdom… “I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!”He misunderstood the accusations in his heart toward David to be a gift of discernment into his brother’s life. He thought he understood his youngest brother. Rightly so, he had known David his whole life; he had probably helped to raise him, but in this moment he could not see David’s heart for what it was.

As David went to the battlefield to see how he could help his brothers, he was appalled at Goliath’s words against his people; he wanted to do something about it. But before David could fight against the giant, he had to overcome the accusations of his own brother Eliab. How close is this to home that whilst we pursue our purpose, we often have to deal with accusations and discouragement from people, sometimes the very people we expect to cheer us on?

Even Jesus himself was rejected from his hometown of Nazareth when he returned from the wilderness and reveals himself as the Messiah. They could not see past the fact that he was just the carpenter’s son whom they had seen grow up.

Perhaps, we can learn from this not to judge others by how we perceive them, or, even, how they once were. We all would want others to see the potential for growth and change in our lives, and we need to give that same grace and room to those we know and meet. When we find ourselves misjudged by someone, it’s probably another opportunity to learn and practise the lesson of forgiveness. David did not stop and start explaining himself and proving himself to his brother, instead he continued to encourage the soldiers against Goliath, that’s where his heart really was, and this saw him fulfilling one of his greatest purposes.

Christine Mudenha

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th September 2018

The greatest and most powerful gift that God gives to the follower of Jesus is the gift of prayer. Used by few and abused by many, yet God has never ever changed His mind in relation to this. You are created to be able to communicate with God through prayer.

 

Prayer is both simple and powerful. Humbling and exalting, energy sapping and refreshing all at the same time.

 

A Christian that is not praying is merely playing.

 

For all that have discovered prayer and its potential, will have also discovered and struggled with the inability to focus. That list of jobs keeps whispering that they are not getting done while you pray. Kids aren’t being played with whilst you are needing to talk to God. Newspaper headlines are beckoning you to read them and then there’s tiredness that’s causing you to drift into a dream world every few minutes.

 

The reality is this: until you discover and discern your definite purpose in life, then your prayer life will be dissipated over so many subjects and in so many different directions that they will lead not to answered prayer but to indecision and weakness.

 

There comes a time when you have to truly understand the power of what Jesus was teaching about prayer when he spoke these words…

 

Matthew 7:7-11 ‘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. ‘Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

 

Think about this for a minute…You knock on the door of prayer and as it opens you are asked by the Holy Spirit what you would like to ask for. You reply with a blank look that suggests that you have no idea and after a few tense moments you just walk away.

 

Surely the purpose of prayer, according to what Jesus taught, was to knock on the door of prayer, to then specifically ask and then receive?

 

I encourage you today to begin to see that prayer is seeking God so that you may know Him intimately, but in doing it means to not be a afraid of being specific. You must be definite with the infinite.

 

Ask yourself right now…what is it that I’m needing in order to fulfil the very reason I’m on this planet?

 

If it’s finance…how much?

 

If it’s a partner for life…what kind of qualities?

 

If it’s a job….what kind?

 

If you’re asking about what you should do with your life…ask specifically for God to give you some clues over the next six months.

 

One final thought for the day: If Jesus tells us to ask AND receive, then He must be teaching us to ask specifically, otherwise how would He know what to send you and how would you know when He did?

 

Make up your mind.

 

Be a person of prayer, but don’t be a person that prays ‘Bless the world’ but rather pray, ‘how do you want to use me to bless the part of the world that I’m touching today?’.

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th September 2018

Smith Wigglesworth was born on 8 June 1859 to an impoverished family in Yorkshire.

As a small child, he worked in the fields pulling turnips alongside his mother.

He was illiterate until, at the age of twenty-three, he married Polly, who taught him to read. He often said that the Bible was the only book he ever read.

He was a successful plumber by trade, but had to abandon it after he became too busy with an amazing world wide ministry of preaching and healing.

There are accounts of at least a dozen people being raised from the dead after he prayed for them, one such person was his wife, who complained to him that heaven was far too wonderful to come back.

He said on one occasion that he would rather see one person come to know Jesus through his preaching than 10,000 healed.

Life was not always easy for Smith Wigglesworth. He went through some very hard times. He wrote, ‘Great faith is a product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.’

The Bible is very realistic when it comes to describing how we all have to go through hard times, stating that it is these very trials that make us rather than break us.

Smith Wigglesworth’s life inspires us to understand that out of the some of the most difficult beginnings, an amazing plan can unfold if you will simply hand your life over to God.

Stop thinking that something is wrong when you go through difficulties; stress and strain are all part of life’s rich tapestry of forging something deep inside of us that can never be bought.

What does an obstetrician say when a pregnant mothercomplains about morning sickness and her clothes getting too tight? He simple says that it’s all part of the process of giving birth to something very special.

Today, don’t try to escape the pain, the conflict and problems of your life, instead embrace them as your best teacher and your best life coach.

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 – 22nd September 2018

What’s the one thing we’d honestly all like? To be happy.

Then why is it that a lot of the time we aren’t?

We let happenings dictate our happiness that’s why.

We get up late, the children are playing up, no one washed up from last night when you expected they would, you can’t find their PE kit and now you’re all late for school, you can’t find a car park space and it’s raining, the item you wanted to buy from the store has now gone, someone didn’t text you back and you’re disappointed, the manager is not happy and taking it out on you… and so on and so on.

We say things like “I’m having a bad day”, “nothing ever goes right”, “why can’t I be happy?”

Happiness just doesn’t come.  We can’t just expect it to turn up.

Life happens and stuff happens and things aren’t always great…but happiness has to be far deeper than happenings.

Some of us can’t even be happy, when things are all going great – nothing seems to make us happy.

We feed our unhappiness, by dwelling on negative things.
We blame our parents… “I was brought up unhappy.”
We blame our position… “I’m not where i want to be.”
We blame people… “so and so has made me unhappy.”

In the Old Testament, we read how the Israelites were in slavery and so God told Moses to get them out. They weren’t happy IN slavery and they weren’t happy when they came OUT!  They continually moaned at Moses and wanted to go back!

Today, take a hold of yourself and declare this “God wants me to have an abundant blessed life”. Keep speaking that and you’ll start to believe it.
Even in your worst situation, you can still be happy. The Bible says in Nehemiah 8 vs 10 “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
My happiness doesn’t come from happenings, it comes from HIM.
Take hold of that promise today

 

GOD WANTS YOU HAPPY.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st September 2018

I was in my early 30s when the phone rang at home one night.

The call was from a person that was giving me a lot of grief.

For me, this was the last straw, as once again he had a further list of complaints to address me on.

I put the phone down and the next thing I knew was that I was having chest pains and couldn’t stop shaking.

Gillian quickly fetched me a glass of water as I lay back on the sofa. She promptly called the emergency Doctor after I suggested that I may be having a heart attack.

The diagnosis, later that evening came back that it was ‘chronic stress’, brought on by the earlier conversation and a culmination of many other similar situations at that time.

That night saw me nose dive into a six month period of fear coupled with Doctors appointments – more than I would like to admit.

One Saturday morning became the turning point to end this horrible season of my life, as yet again I was driven to the emergency Doctors by a friend after experiencing chest pains.

As I waited to be seen by the Doctor on duty, I heard a voice from within me say ‘what are you doing here man of God?’

I instantly recognised that it was the voice of the Holy Spirit. I literally stood up, and without a word to anyone, I walked out and started to say out loud ‘I am never going back there again!’

That day, I addressed my irrational fears, pains and the voices in my mind that kept stating over and over that I was going to die.

I went back into the house a different man! Amazingly, all of my symptoms disappeared and I walked in complete health as if nothing had happened.

How many of you reading this today can identify with that season of my life as you deal with the battlefield of your mind?

Often our biggest enemy is our inner-me.

Take courage as you inwardly digest today’s Bible verses…

Romans 12:2 ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…’

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Isaiah 26:3 He will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th September 2018

The human brain naturally scans its environment, looking for an example of ‘ideal self’. We are wired to identify what we deem as a successful person, and then imitate them. Just look at celebrity culture and their influence on fashion, and culture.  Society deems a particular celebrity as ‘successful’ and in turn copies their ways. We are always looking for an example to follow. Someone to lead us into our definition of success.

It is important that in Christian culture we don’t do the same thing. We can look at a particular person carrying a certain gift, or ministry and label them a “Christian success”. We believe this person is the ultimate model and subconsciously feel like our ministry needs to look like theirs. The problem is that God never intended us to follow a person, or a ministry, rather to follow Him! There is only one model that we should be following – Jesus.

I believe many Christians are selling themselves and God short, by boxing themselves into an idea of what they think ministry looks like.

How the gospel outworks in each of our lives is going to be as individual as we are. How ministry looks in each of our lives is going to look as individual as we are. Imagine if my foot was trying to operate as an eye. Imagine if I didn’t wear shoes or socks and hopped around waving my foot in the air trying to “see”. It just doesn’t work. Part of my body is trying to operate in a function that it was never designed to operate in, all the while, missing out on being a successful, fulfilled foot! Likewise, how many Christians are trying to look like something that they were never made to be?

Romans 12 (The Passion Translation) puts it beautifully, ‘In the human body there are many unique parts and organs, each with a unique function. And so it is with the body of Christ…God’s marvelous grace imparts to each one of us varying gifts and ministries that are uniquely ours’.

Find what is uniquely yours. You have something that has been uniquely imparted to you. No one else has it. Stop looking at the gifting of others, and operate in the gifting and ministry that is yours. No one can deliver the gospel the way you do.

Don’t limit your definition of “successful ministry” to only what has profile or is seen on a stage. Don’t go trying to squeeze yourself into a cookie cutter ministry role because you feel like that’s what you need to be doing. Rather carefully and playfully ask God what delivering the gospel looks like for you!

I know someone who sees her nail salon business as her ministry – as she gives women pedicures, she ministers words of encouragement and love.  I know someone who sees cooking as her ministry – as she works over a stove to make a struggling person a meal, she is ministering the love of God. I know someone that set up a new mother’s group, so that needy women in the community could find advise and support. I know a teacher who regularly sees her high school students commit their lives to God in her lessons as she steps out with very specific prophetic words for them. I know of a counsellor who sits with people struggling in their marriage and through following the voice of the Holy Spirit, can identify the root issues, and then bring very practical solutions. I know a woman who goes into schools to speak to troubled girls about hair and makeup, and as she is doing their makeup, builds their confidence and self-esteem. I know of a highly successful businessman who once was a CEO of a bank, then one night God gave him a dream (literally while he was sleeping) on how to make bags out of leather! He woke up and knew that God wanted him to start a business employing homeless people off of the street and teaching them how to work with leather (as God had shown him) to make bags. His business is successful, and changing the lives of the people he has employed, and further still the community in which he lives!

Be the best at whatever God has called you to be! With the power, guidance, wisdom, and creativity of God in us, Christians should be the best in the game. Imagine if we were all fully operating in our individual gifts the way God made us to. How powerful the body of Christ would be!  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th September 2018

We’ve heard it been said before, ‘bad company corrupts good character’ (1 Corinthians 15:33), but we also know that we are to love everyone. ‘Keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins’ (1 Peter 4:8). So how do we draw the fine line between loving all, but not letting all influence us?

Whilst love is the heartbeat of the Christian faith and should not be withheld from anyone, when it comes to protecting yourself it is important that you have boundaries around who you let into your life. Not everyone should have access to all areas of who you are. Different people should have different levels of access. This is how you protect yourself, and your future.

I work in a building with hundreds of other staff. Every staff member has a key, but not every key unlocks every door in the building. In order to protect certain areas, confidential information, and protect special equipment, only certain people have keys to access certain areas. Likewise in our lives, we need to use wisdom in whom we allow into the different areas of who we are. Who do we allow to access most of our time? Who do we let speak into our lives? Who are we open to influencing us? There should be parts of you that are VIP access only.

This isn’t a word to avoid people, or to act exclusive, rather the opposite. This is an encouragement to actively seek out people who can influence your life for the better and spur you on in God. This is about carrying a humble and teachable heart. Seek out relationship with people whom as you are vulnerable with them, they can then impart Godly wisdom in return. People who are ahead of you and doing a good job and can tell you how to get there too. People who are producing fruit in their own lives and can therefore sow some seeds into yours.

Find people who will sharpen you. Keep in mind that sharpening isn’t always a pleasant process. ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17)’. A good friend is someone who will speak Godly truth in love, pointing our your blindspots, sharpening your flaws, and encouraging you to be who you were made to me. Proverbs 11:14 says, ‘In abundance of counsellors there is victory’.

I am very grateful for close friends who are strong in God. They genuinely desire to see me walk into all that God has for me. They are a constant source of encouragement, not competition. They will pray for me in private, in person, or over the phone. They will speak the truth in love. They themselves are producing obvious fruit in their lives, so I trust them. I give them access to the VIP parts of my life. This is who I want influencing me, and sharpening me. They are people who if I became like them, I would be proud.

 

We aren’t designed to do life on our own. When you watch a professional runner, all you focus on is the athlete and their performance, but behind their race is a team of coaches, sponsors, supports, and advisors who help get the best out of the athlete. If we are to run our race well, how much more do we need the right people around us to get us where we need to be? Be intentional about seeking company with people who will bring you into all that God has for you.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th September 2018

 A woman who had fifteen children was once asked by an interviewer, “With so many kids, how do you love them all the same?”

She smiled and gave an answer that he wasn’t expecting, “I don’t love them all the same.”

Taken aback, the interviewer awkwardly asked, “Well…which one do you love the most?”

She gave a thoughtful smile and answered softly, “The one who is hurting the most, the one who feels the most loneliness, the one who is brokenhearted…that’s the one I love the most.”

God has a lot more kids than just fifteen, and I don’t believe that He plays favorites, but the Bible does teach that God has a special place in His heart for those who are hurting. He’s with us always, but in our moments of deepest despair, I believe His presence is strongest.

 

 “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

 If you are in a place right now where you feel like you’re all alone, I want to reassure you that you are not alone. God is with you. Jesus has said, “Never will I leave you or forsake you.” God loves you more than you can imagine.

 

 He will be your strength until the pain passes and far beyond. He will bring good out of it somehow; Trust Him and know that you are loved with an everlasting love.

 

 Pastor Mark

 

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 17th September 2018

Recently, I have been going through a difficult patch in my job. As a manager, I have been pouring into,  and encouraging people on my team and telling them “it’s going to be okay, the changes are going to have a positive outcome”,  but after a few weeks, I myself felt empty.

I needed some communication from someone above myself to fill me with more information and assurance that ‘it would be okay’, so that I could continue to pour out and encourage others. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to come.
I decided that I had better get my encouragement from elsewhere. I picked up my Bible and read about Peter in the book of Acts…  In Chapter 9:34  it says “Peter comes across a paralysed man who had been bed ridden for 8 years,

“Aeneas” Peter said to him, ‘Jesus Christ heals you. GET UP and roll your mat.’ Immediately Aeneas got up.”

Then Peter went to another region where a widow called Tabitha had died. In Acts 9:40 it says
“Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning towards the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, GET UP’. She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.”
A few chapters later,  Peter was in prison and needed his own miracle. He was going to be put to death but the night before, an angel came and woke him.  In Acts 12:7, the angel said ‘quick, GET UP’.

We can pour out and pour out and we can often witness miracles and great things, yet we can sometimes feel empty; I want to remind you that the words you speak are sometimes the words you need to hear yourself.

We need to be reminded that in all we are doing for God, all we are pouring out into family, into situations and circumstances, that we too can be filled up.

We can be filled with the Holy Spirit, we can be filled with the Word of God, filled with love, filled with encouragement, filled with forgiveness, filled with acceptance and THEN you are ready to go ahead and pour.

Get up from what is holding you back, get up from what is bringing you down, get up and read God’s word, get up and remember that you are His and He wants to refuel you and it’s available whenever  you need it .

GET UP today, God wants to use YOU.

 Lee Morgan 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th September 2018

I have a friend who is a policeman. In order to become a cop, he had to be sworn in on behalf of the Queen by the Chief Constable. Now that he is sworn in, he has a legal obligation to act when he can see an offence being committed. He has been commissioned to exercise his authority whenever he recognizes behaviour that is against the law. Failure to carry out his duty, would be an offence in itself, and considered “neglect of duty”.

As people of God we have ourselves been commissioned with a very similar authority. Jesus has sworn us in on behalf of God. We have been given kingdom authority to act when we can see anything that offends the law of Heaven. When we recognise anything that isn’t in line with the Kingdom of God, it is our responsibility to bring order!

 

Many of us have neglected our duty. Like a policeman ignoring a thief running out of shop. We watch the Devil, “kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10), and fail to act in our God-given authority. We have been commissioned by all of heaven to recognise when the enemy is robbing someone of their confidence, and then bring order, by speaking life. We have been called to identify when the enemy is destroying a life through illness, and then command healing.

Don’t ignore or even entertain anything in your life, or in the lives around you that you see or feel is not in line with the kingdom of God. Operate in your authority to bring heaven to earth through your words, prayers and actions.

When the disciples asked Jesus how to prayJesus told them to pray, ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10). The kingdom comes through US! We are the hands and feet of God. Many people ask, ‘what is the will of God?”. Matthew 6:10 makes it quite clear – the will of God is to have earth as it is in heaven – pain free, sickness free, oppression free. That is how it is in heaven, and that is what God desires to see us deliver on earth.

As Paul says in Ephesians 1:6, when Jesus died, we were raised up and seated WITH Christ at theright hand of the Father. What is so special about the right hand? Why not the left hand? The right hand is symbolic of power and authority. This means that the authority that God gave Jesus, is now also OUR authority. We are joint heirs. Why live defeated, when right now the authority of God, which raised Jesus Christ from death, is yours!? It’s IN YOU!

If you want to know what walking in authority looks like, look at the life of Jesus on earth. When Jesus left us on earth he said, ‘All authority’s been given to me, and now I’m commissioning you’. Jesus modelled it for us.

If you thought you could never live in the authority that Jesus did, you’re believing a lie, because Jesus said that you will not only do what He did, BUT EVEN GREATER!

John 14:12-14 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it’.

Operate in your God-given authority TODAY! All of heaven has your back!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th September 2018

It’s so easy to take for granted our freedom in Christ. We can pick up a Bible and read it at our leisure, or attend weekly corporate worship meetings without thinking twice, or meet with God whenever we feel like it. If we are truly honest with ourselves, how often have we made worship “I” focused? How often do we seek Him out for what we can get? Have we ever complained about having to get up and go to church? Have we stood in church just thinking about our lunch? Or spent a worship song angry at what a person two rows back did to you? Or failed to make time to sit and just listen to God? Could we be spoilt, and losing our sense of wonder?

While the grace of God is extravagant, unconditional and invites us to ‘approach the throne of God with confidence’ (Hebrews 4:16), we must never lose the deep thankfulness and awe of now being able to approach an all-holy God. The freedom we have now hasn’t always been the way. Once upon a time, there was only one appointed priest, who could meet with God on the people’s behalf. This priest would carry all the prayer requests of the people and present them to God. He would wait to hear God speak and then report back. He would enter the most sacred part of the temple to meet with God. This part was called, ‘The Holy of Holies’. The presence of God was contained to this exclusive space, blocked off with a curtain. The curtain was so thick, it would take 300 priests to manipulate it so there was no way that someone could inadvertently trip and stumble into the Holy of Holies and subsequently die as a result.

The appointed priest would wear bells on his robe so outsiders could hear that he was still alive and walking around, and hadn’t been struck down by God, and if he had, then the priest had a rope around his foot so he could be dragged out upon death, as no one else, under any circumstances could enter! At the death of Jesus, the curtain was torn. The divide was broken. Through Jesus, our access to God was now granted. We live in the days that many, once-upon a time only dreamed about – we have 24/7 direct access to a Holy God. When God looks at us, He sees us as holy too, and asks that we approach Him with confidence! How amazing!

Let me remind you that God is now totally approachable, but still the same holy God. His degree of glory and holiness hasn’t changed since the Holy of Holies days. It still remains as it did back then – only now we just have access to it. So why do we take for granted the honour that it is to come before Him? This is why we are told to “enter his gates with thanksgiving” (Psalm 100:4). It is with hearts full of thankfulness that we come to God.

‘Holy” may not really be a “cool word” anymore – it may seem old-school and imply that God is unapproachable, but a true understanding of the holiness of God evokes a different response –it reminds you that you now have an all-access pass to the glory of God. Let His holiness stir up a reverence for Him in you. Reverence isn’t religious. It is instead a deep gratitude and humility for the price been paid to have a relationship with the Lord of Lord and King of Kings!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th September 2018

Today we continue where we left off yesterday, with five more questions that are frequently asked when wanting to know God’s purpose and plan for our lives…

6) DOES MY AGE MATTER?

YES…but only to you!

Your age is irrelevant to GOD.

The biggest clue that your assignment isn’t over is that you are still breathing.

Some of the greatest men and woman that have changed the world did so in the latter part of their lives.

On the other hand, both children and young people have made massive impacts on the world.

God is no respecter of race, age or background.

7) CAN I STOP THE PLAN?

Yes!

You can stop the plan for YOU by your stubbornness and disobedience, but you can’t stop God’s ultimate plans.

You can also delay the plan by your unwillingness to say yes when He asks you, but after God has waited for you, He will then find someone else who will fulfil what you refused to.

8) WHEN WILL IT START?

It has…You just didn’t know it!

It’s a bit like when your parents bought you that surprise present for Christmas that you’d been asking for. You thought that they’d forgotten, but in fact they’d already got it…they had just kept it hidden from you until the right day came.

Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

9) DO I JUST SIT BACK?

No…His plan is a partnership.

Your part is to start serving Him in any way that you can in any area that you can.

What often looks like your plan, is actually HIS plan flowing through your desires.

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart.

10) WHAT IF I CAN’T DO WHAT GOD ASKS OF ME?

God will never ask CAN you; He will always ask WILL you.

He already knows what you can and can’t do. He made you.

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS ANSWER HIS CALL.

Remember: God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

The moment you connect to God, you connect also to His higher purpose for you; It’s woven into the very DNA of your life.

WILL YOU ANSWER THE CALL?

Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here I am, send me!’

Jeremiah 29:11 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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th September 2018

Over the next two days I want to pose ten searching questions that will help you to discover God’s purpose for your life:

1) WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW WHAT GOD’S PURPOSE FOR ME IS?

That’s okay…most people don’t to start with.

Think of it like a treasure hunt.

Look for the clues…

One clue leads to another, which then leads to the treasure.

Sometimes it can take years to identify the treasure within you,  but don’t give up. Anything that will effect eternity usually takes time.

Serve wholeheartedly in a whole variety of things; you will soon discover the area of your gifting and passion by ruling out what you are no good at.

Once that has happened, you can begin to look for further clues within that specific area, and soon you will be focusing on the very thing that you were created for.

Whatever you do, don’t just sit around hoping for something to happen; find a need and fill it.

2) WHAT IF I MISS GOD’S PURPOSE?

You’ll only miss it if you are content to live your life for yourself.

Pray every day and be open for God to speak to you.

You’ll start to see pieces of the puzzle coming together at the most unlikely time and in the most unlikely places in your life.

God will show up big time when you open yourself up to Him.

3) WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE GOD’S PLAN FOR MY LIFE?

You may not to start with!  It may be a surprise or even a total shock!  Sometimes it’s the most unlikely thing that you had in mind, but the reality is, once you get into it, you’ll fit into it like a hand in a glove.

4) WHAT IF I’VE GOT MY OWN PLANS ?

I certainly did! In fact, you have the freedom to carry on with it if you choose to, but remember, it’s only when you fulfil God’s ultimate plan for your life that you will feel totally fulfilled. Often your own plan and God’s plan start to meet together so that your desires are actually His desires in disguise.

5) WHAT FORM WILL IT COME TO ME IN?

Email, post, dream or sign at the end of bed?

It can come in many ways…but it will generally be delivered as a result of KNEE MAIL.

Surrender your hopes, dreams, aspirations and all your fears over to God right now and He will make sure that He gets in touch with you regarding your future.

Jeremiah 29:13 NIV
…You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Psalm 20:4 NIV
…May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

Proverbs 16:3 NIV
…Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Proverbs 19:21 NIV
…Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Remember: it’s not so much for you to DECIDE what you’re going to do with your life, but it’s more so for you to DISCERN what God wants to do through your life.

More coming up tomorrow…

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th September 2018

When Rudy Giuliani took office as the mayor of New York City in the 90’s, the crime rate was at an all time high.

He decided to implement a strategy that would set about repairing every broken window in the city within 24 hrs of its breakage, sending a message of response, order and law enforcement to the community.

The plan worked better than anticipated.

The average person’s perception of the local law was enhanced greatly because the results were visible in their everyday lives and the criminals noticed too.

Not only did the overall crime rate drop by 57%, more violent crimes were reduced by 65% as well.

The city once infamous for its dangerous streets was now being recognised as the safest large city in America for several years in a row.

How on earth did this happen by just repairing broken windows?

The answer was simple. By taking care of the small things the bigger issues got dealt with aswell.

It’s very easy to put off doing the small stuff in favour of dealing with the bigger issues in our lives.

Maybe we’ve put off making that one phone call to apologise, not realising that a whole host of other bigger issues would be solved if we did.

A dripping tap may seem insignificant, but a failure to repair could lead to a later flood and far greater time and expense.

My Nan used to say this …’take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves’.

Solomon in his wisdom put it like this: ‘it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine’.

Today, set about taking care of some of those nagging little issues that you’ve failed to realise are having a much bigger impact on your world than you thought.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th September 2018

Fresh Hope – 8th September 2018

We all have mountains in our lives that need moving.

Problems, situations, difficulties, impossibilities.

Sometimes we feel they are ‘so mountain like’ that they won’t shift.
When Caleb was aged 40, Moses asked him to go into the promised land and spy, so that they could get ready to take it. They encountered a really large mountain region that was going to be tough to conquer. It was the home of some really bad people, the enemy.
45 years later, they still hadn’t taken it and aged 85, Caleb said again “Lord, give me this mountain!” And He did.
It was a story of victory AND a story of 45 years of regret.

 

Joshua 14 vs 7-12 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’

10 “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day.” 

Notice that in verse 9 he was promised the land and so for all that time, he still held onto that promise. 

Today, we as a church open a £1 million children’s facility for future generations.  

Has it been a mountain journey? Yes. 

Have there been hard times? Oh yes.

But when God tells you to take something, get up and do it. 

Don’t live all your years in regret. 

And if like Caleb, it’s taken you a long time to get there, don’t worry, you can still do it!!

Declare it today “Lord, give me that mountain.”

 

I would like to personally invite you to join us at our grand opening this morning from 10 AM till 1 PM at Champions Church or tomorrow at one of our two services 9:30 AM/11:30 AM.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th September 2018

These are the days of the “selfie-generation”. We shouldn’t be surprised really. Paul warned us that people would ‘become lovers of themselves’ (2 Timothy 3:2).

In 2014, 93 billion “selfies” (photo of yourself) were taken every day on Android phones alone. Every third photograph taken by an eighteen to twenty-four-year old was of themselves. I’m not against taking a photo of yourself, but I do think these stats speak volumes about the cultural climate of today.

Unlike generations before us, the individual is now glorified. Where historically there was once perhaps social oppression, abuse of authority and hierarchy, the individual is now arising. We don’t need to be contained. We are told we can now be anything and do anything if we “just try more” and “work harder” to reach the “ideal self”. If we aren’t noticed or recognised, we feel we have failed. We can see who we want to be, and who we are, and we sit in the gap and think, “if we put more effort into self-improvement, then we can reach self-perfection”. “If I reach a certian level, then I will matter”, is the mentality. The problem with immersing yourself in this kind of thinking, is that you become very “I” focused and thus end up carrying an immense amount of pressure to be something – to be perfect. We aren’t designed to be “I” focused, we are designed to be God-focused.

Research has shown a strong link between perfectionism and suicide. Self-defeating, over-striving, self-rebuke, and a sense of failure are often the cyclic mentalities of people who are trying to attain their version of perfection. Unfortunately the modern world is giving us more opportunities to feel like this.

Unsurprisingly with the rise in individualism, studies have found a decline in empathy. Naturally, as we become self-obsessed, we care less for others. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4). It has become totally culturally acceptable to focus on making sure YOU are getting ahead, but what this world needs, is the purity of the gospel – No agenda, not self-promotion, no spirit of competition, rather community and being “others-focused” in our mandate.

Here is the message of hope for you today: attaining perfection doesn’t rest in your hands. Jesus has won perfection for you. When you secure your identity in Christ, you understand that Jesus is the only one who can and has attained perfection for us. The deal is done by him on our behalf. We shouldn’t have to be the Lord of our lives. We don’t have to live under the authority of our inner-selves, rather we submit to the lordship and saving grace of Christ. Don’t try and be something you are not. Quit assessing all the things you aren’t doing, and instead focus on investing in who God has simply made you to be. Stop searching for the accolade of man, when you have the unending, unconditional approval of the only opinion that matters – God’s opinion.

We are designed to operate from a place of rest, not a place of striving. Align yourself with the truth that you are a child of God. It is okay to be driven, but let your goal be excellence, not perfection. Operate from identity, not for identity. The beauty of grace is that it EMPOWERS us to fulfil the standard of excellence and reminds us of our identity – it is then that we can do more work, accomplish more, perform better, and serve without seeking approval.

Challenge your model of what is the perfect self. Who is defining your perception of perfection? What model are you following? If you are following anything other than the perfect picture of Jesus, then you’ve missed the point.

Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

 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 neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th September 2018

When the Bible speaks of us having a hope, it isn’t a wishful hope. It’s not the kind of hope where it may not happen, but your desire is that it will. Biblical hope is a knowing that what God has said WILL happen. It is an EXPECTATION that He is going to deliver.

Many of us pray for things, full of doubt, and empty of hope.

There is a quote I love – ‘Do not pull up in doubt what you sowed in faith’.

When we pray, we are sowing seeds of faith. We are trusting that God will deliver. We are expecting that He will bring to fruition that which we have planted. When we doubt, we rip up the seeds of prayer that we have planted.

I don’t believe we should approach God like a vending machine or Father Christmas – expecting that as we put in our request, we should get something out immediately. God doesn’t work like that, but He does answer EVERY prayer in His perfect way, in His perfect time.

Have you ever noticed that Jesus never taught us how to deal with unanswered prayer? That is because no prayer is unanswered!

Some people pray for the perfect partner, but then go and settle for less…. or pray for healing, but then continue to believe the doctor’s prognosis.

When you present your requests to God, live like you know He has got them. Live with the expectation that He is going to deliver in His perfect way. Don’t pray and then speak doubt and continue to act in fear. Let your actions demonstrate hope.

Mark 11:22-24 says, ‘“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours’.

Live like it is done. Don’t use prayers like a magic wish, rather stand in the hope that as you declare your request, you EXPECT (KNOW) your God will show up!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th September 2018

Pearls of wisdom…
  • Upgrade your life to the size of your future
  • Coping with difficult people is always a problem, especially if that difficult person happens to be you.
  • Don’t read your child’s negative school report as though it were a prophecy.
  • Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen –  Sir Winston Churchill
  • The most significant achievement of our age is not that man stood on the moon, but that God, in Christ stood upon the earth – Astronaut James Irwin.
  • We stand tallest when we are on our knees.
  • Stop everyday and look at the size of God.
  • The future belongs to those who see possibilities before it becomes obvious.
  • Giving is the highest level of living.
  • Our confidence is not in answered prayer, but in the fact that God hears us.
  • When your output is more than your input then your upkeep becomes your downfall.
  • When Jesus said ‘I am with you always’, He didn’t make a promise, He stated a fact.
And finally…If at first you don’t succeed, you’re normal.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 4th September 2018

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 24:3-4)

Solomon, the guy who wrote the book of Proverbs, advised that we should build the foundation of our lives with bricks of wisdom and understanding; that wisdom comes from asking God about things.

God’s wisdom can also be found in what great men and women have discovered as they have sought God for answers on how to build their own lives.

From these words we get the phrase ‘pearls of wisdom’, meaning that we can receive so much understanding through one small spoken nugget of truth.

Here are some pearls of wisdom that I trust will help you to build your own life today…
  • The greatest danger for most of us is not that we aim too high and miss it, but that we aim too low and reach it – Michelangelo
  • A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. A optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty – Sir Winston Churchill.
  • A different world cannot be built by indifferent people – Peter Marshall
  • Why wait for the iron to be hot before you strike…why not strike until it gets hot? – Reinhard Bonkke.
  • People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be – Jentezen Franklyn.
  • Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29:2
  • Troubles are often tools by which God fashions us for better things.
  • Faith makes all things possible – love makes all things easy- DL Moody
  • An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.
  • Every Christian needs half an hour of prayer each day, except when he is busy…then he needs an hour.
  • Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes can see.
  • No problem is too hard for God’s intervention and no problem too small for His attention.
…more pearls of wisdom tomorrow

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd September 2018

I love walking along the bakery section of a supermarket, and some supermarkets have made the sneaky decision to place the bakery right by the entrance. Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread, cakes, and pastries. Chocolate, vanilla, caramel… all those irresistible flavours/smells draw me in – especially when I go shopping hungry! Some people are disciplined and are able to resist but some, like me, give in and end up indulging in ‘one little treat’.

The apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians that “we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ”. To a world that so desperately needs to hear His good news, He uses us to draw others to Him.

A simple smile or gentle reply can release such a pleasant scent, that is the first step to inviting someone to know about the love of Jesus.

Our different backgrounds, talents, personalities and experiences all work together to create a bouquet with a variety of fragrances when we allow God to use us.

Sugar, on its own, doesn’t smell very nice but after a little flame, it becomes caramelised, and produces a sweet inviting smell. Likewise with us, the aroma that draws people to God can come out of brokenness, battles fought, tears, pain, the disappointments and delays.  All these God can still use. He can use everything that we have been through to create something new. The Bible says He gives beauty for ashes.

Being children of God, it’s important to reflect Christ in our attitudes, gestures, responses, and reputations wherever we are, in our jobs, colleges, community, everywhere. There is enough despair in this world already; the world needs to be captivated by His sweet aroma through us, so that they may also receive His grace and eternal life.

Today, choose to be like a bakery or a fragrance shop when people come near you. Your sweet scent should be so strong that they cannot resist you and when they leave your presence, they should also leave with a whiff of His aroma.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st September 2018

Someone is far more likely to rise to fulfil their destiny through encouragement than discouragement.

We all would agree that we need daily encouragement, but often we fail to recognise the power of the discouragement.

‘DIS’ may only have 3 letters, but it is a powerful word and can actually take courage from someone.

Discouragement will often need fighting to take it out, as it can actually ruin your life.

In the Old Testament, in the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah himself was doing a great work in re-building the ruined walls.  People tried to discourage him, to stop him rebuilding. He said in Nehemiah 6 vs 1-4.  “I will not come down.” He told the discouragers that he wasn’t going to listen to them, he didn’t have time for them. I love that!

Here’s three things to help you today:

1. Turn away from discouraging voices
–  whoever they may be. They may be friends or even family. Don’t let that discouragement affect your heart, or your spirit,  or your countenance,  or your face, or your life.
TURN away from those voices. DON’T listen to it.

2. Separate yourself from any atmosphere that is charged with defeat.
If you need help, if you’re in need of someone to say “keep up the good work, keep going, it will be alright” (and we all need that) then do everything you can to stay away from the opposite.
It will suck the very life from you.

3. Dare to stand up to discouraging thought patterns.

Sometimes you will have to stand up to yourself! Slap yourself into encouragement! Don’t let your own mind take you down a discouraging path.

Mark Twain said this… “True courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of fear.”

1 Chronicles 28 vs 20 “David also said to his son Solomon, Be strong and courageous and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you.”

Notice, he tells him twice to not be discouraged, but to be full of courage, because discouragement is a real issue!

Stand up against it today.
Speak and believe great things for your life.
And don’t be discouraged, for the LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.