Fresh Hope – 31st October 2018

My husband and I went to the cinemas the other night. We have a new rule where we like to leave our phones in the car when we go to see a film. It forces us to be present. As we sat in the cinema waiting for the film to start we looked around at the other couples surrounding us – every single couple (no exaggeration here), were on their phones. Scrolling through feeds, double tapping on the lives of others, while missing out of the very moment they were in. They were with the person they loved physically, but checked out in every other way – paying attention to something else until the movie started and they could fix their gaze onto the next screen. Maybe I had never really noticed how bad we’ve become as a society, because I myself had been on my own phone the whole time too, and it wasn’t until I left mine in the car, that this world-wide addiction became so obvious to me!

Although technology has brought with it endless opportunities, it’s also initiated a host of issues. I’m not anti-internet – my husband’s business is totally internet based, and thanks to the internet I can FaceTime my family on the other side of the world anytime, anywhere. But I do believe that many of us are yet to learn how to manage it well, and instead are managed by it. It is imperative that we govern this area of our lives with careful thought.

When Jesus talks about being careful stewards of our lives, he is talking about being careful stewards of our time. He is talking about being careful stewards of technology. He is talking about being careful stewards of our relationships.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is’ Ephesians 5:15.

Use technology, use the Internet, use social media, but understand that they don’t ever replace real people, real relationships, real conversations, real life, and real connection. Humans are made for deep and authentic connection with each other. We are not made for comparison. We aren’t made for a ‘life’s highlights’ competition. We can’t survive with superficial relationships, and a false sense of connection (e.g. feeling you are connected to people because you send them a comment and like their posts). When your time is mostly spent on the Internet, it threatens your self-worth. It robs your time, and causes you to become dissatisfied with your present moment and your present self. And the depression statistics of this generation only confirm this.

The Internet can be a helpful servant, but is a terrible master. Don’t let it govern your life. Let it only be an asset that you steward with wisdom and careful thought to priorities. Return to real life and real connection!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th October 2018

I’m no expert on marriage. I’ve only been married just shy of a year, but regardless of where you are at in life – married, single, divorced, widowed, this is a message for you – because we should all be people who hold marriage in high regard (Hebrews 13:4).

Marriage today has a reputation for being “boring”. It suggests a loss of freedom and fun. Terms like “tied-down”, and “settling down” are used to describe getting married. In the US, in 1970, 89% of all births were to married parents, today only 60% are. Generally speaking, people are afraid of the commitment and sacrifice that marriage demands. Many don’t see point and the value anymore. Why? Because marriage has become about what is most beneficial to US! We look for a spouse that can meet OUR needs and help us achieve OUR goals. Why would we want to spend our lives serving someone? Why would we want to be with someone that requires us to deal with our negative personality traits? We want someone that fits in OUR life or would rather not have it at all! Ironically the Bible doesn’t ask us to choose between fulfillment and sacrifice, but rather tells us that mutual sacrifice equals mutual fulfillment.

When viewing marriage, you cannot view it through the lenses of how society views marriage, how your past experiences define it, or maybe how your parents defined it. Marriage needs to be viewed and built through the lens of how God defines it. After all, He is the inventor of marriage.

Imagine buying a Mercedes car and trying to operate it on a Vauxhall manual. I can imagine that the car would not be fully functioning and any issues that cropped up with the vehicle wouldn’t be dealt with properly. You would end up with a broken down car eventually. If you want to sustain your marriage, you need to be following the maker’s guide to get the health and longevity that it is designed to have.

Going the distance in marriage, or any relationship for that matter, requires the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives you a heart song that does not weaken in life’s ever changing circumstances. When we look to any human being to fill our tanks the way only God can, we are placing an impossible demand on someone. God needs to be our on-going source of fuel and sustenance.  

God asks that we deny ourselves to find ourselves. This sounds challenging, maybe even impossible, but with the power of the Holy Spirit working through your life, it is in fact very possible and very liberating (Matthew 10:39). Remember, God designed marriage to have a 100% success rate.

Find the freedom, power, and joy that is in loving like Jesus loved – unconditionally, sacrificially, and with a humble, servant heart.

In the words of Timothy Keller, ‘Marriage will unveil the beauty and depths of the gospel to you. It will drive you further into the reliance on it and will allow you to experience deeper union with one another’.


John 15:12, ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th October 2018

God always answers every single prayer.

Now at first glance you may feel that this cannot be true, as on the many occasions that you’ve asked Him for something, He seems to have turned you down, or at least that’s the way it felt at the time.

On other occasions God just seemed to remain silent, as if He hadn’t even had the decency to listen, let alone answer.

So let’s go back to our first statement and then qualify it; God always answers every single prayer…just not always the way you want!

When He answers, He answers in any one of four ways:

When the request isn’t right, God says, “No.”

Just like parents say “no” to their children for a hundred good reasons, God doesn’t owe you an explanation every time he says “no” to your request.

When the timing isn’t right, God says, “Slow.”

There’s a big difference between a delay and a denial. “No” and “not yet” are not the same thing, and learning and accepting the difference shows spiritual maturity.

When the request and timing are right, but you’re not right, God says, “Grow.”

He wants to do something in your life before He answers your prayer because you’re not yet ready to handle the answer.

When the request is right and the timing’s right and you’re right, then God says, “Go.”

God often gives us the green light to our prayer…just not always.

Pause and think about it for a moment; God is never going to give you anything that is hurtful or bad for you. After all, if even imperfect parents know how to give good gifts to their children, won’t God, who is good and perfect, do even more for you?

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!

   

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th October 2018

Persistence, Perseverance and Patience are three words that most people don’t like.

We do however, like the words Instant, Immediately and Now.

If you’ve been around for any length of time, you’ll know that you need to start liking that first set of words a little more in order to go anywhere in life.

“Success comes to those who wait” is a phrase that many people will have heard of and yet the reality is that we don’t actually like to.

Let’s look at those first three words. Persistence, perseverance and patience.

Be persistent in prayer and you will receive.
Jesus taught us that.
In the story of the man who went to get bread from his friend at midnight. We are taught “He won’t give you the bread because you’re his friend, but he will give it you because you persist”. ( see Luke 11) Don’t give up for what you are believing for, keep persisting.

The dictionary says that perseverance is “persistence in doing something, despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”
Keep going. however difficult it seems. Sometimes results are slow. But you will get results.
Don’t give up when the going gets tough. Keep going. Galatians 6 v 9 says “don’t become weary in doing good, for at the proper time you will receive your harvest, if you don’t give up”. Persevere.

Patience is a wonderful thing (which I’ve never had much of).
To wait until the right time, to wait for God’s time…That’s the best time.
Waiting can be frustrating. Be patient. James 5 v 8 says
“You also must be patient. Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord’s coming is near”


If you want something instantly, now or immediately (like instant coffee or a microwave dinner) you will be settling for something that is second best or a poor copy of the real thing.

Go after what is GREAT, not average.
Go after what will LAST, not what is temporary.
Go after that which will SATISFY, not which will give a temporary fix.

Start to see those words as your friend, not as your enemy.

Be persistent, patient and persevere.
Good things come to those who wait.


Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th October 2018

A few days ago, I was walking from the train station to my client’s offices, where I’m currently working.

Seeing that there were quite a few people up ahead, I broke away from the crowd and decided to walk a slightly longer but quieter route.

As I was strolling along, I looked at the buildings and names of various companies who were situated in them. One in particular stood out to me. When I got to the office, I looked them up. After a browse on their website, I decided to introduce myself. Long story short, I was in a meeting with them, a few days later, discussing ways that we could work together.

Now, why do I tell you this? Well there are a couple of reasons. First of all, when we’re rushing along with the crowd, that’s all there is time to do…rush. Breaking away from the dozens of people I was walking along with that morning gave me time to slow down and pay attention to what was around me.

It you find yourself doing a lot of rushing to get to your destination or to tick off the next item on your to-do list, may I encourage you today to slow down for a moment and ask God what He might want to show you? Maybe it’s about your next career move. Maybe the Holy Spirit will drop some words of encouragement in your heart to share with someone who needs them. But how will you ever know, amongst the noise of the crowd?

Take time to slow down and be alone with Him today and see what happens.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th October 2018

Life can get pretty complicated.

Complex situations make up part of our every day existence.

There is no such thing as an easy life without problems.

Problems form part of who we are as human beings, trying to do life with others that have their own set of issues.

Trying to stay fresh in our spiritual lives takes great tenacity on our part at times, as it feels like we are being weighed down with the weight of the world on our shoulders.

The reality is that although our problems may seem insurmountable, they are no bigger than those of thousands of others going through very similar things, all over the world right now.

The answer to our daily living has therefore got more to do with the way we see things, than it has to do with trying to avoid problems that keep coming our way.

In Luke chapter 8, Jesus is being asked by a man named Jairus, to go and heal his 12 year old daughter who is dying but as He’s on his way, He gets stopped in His tracks by a lady that has a 12 year old problem. She also has a condition that’s sapping the very life out of her.

Jesus heals the lady, but then hears in the mean time that the young girl has died. It’s too late. The moment for healing has been missed and the only thing left to do is plan for her funeral.

Talk about a complex day with no happy ending.

It is into this situation that Jesus speaks and shows us what uncomplicated faith looks like…

Luke 8:50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.’

Today, Jesus still speaks to the complex issues of our lives with great simplicity and says to you… ‘don’t be afraid, only believe.’

With all of life’s complications that you may be facing right now, why not let Jesus unravel them all as He speaks those very same words of reassurance…

Don’t be afraid.

Only believe.

All will be well.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th October 2018

We often associate kindness as being weak and watery.  To be kind is to be generous, friendly and considerate. As simple as these traits are, they are hard to come by. In fact, often when people experience kindness, they struggle to believe it’s genuine and wonder if there is an ulterior motive. This is because it is rare to find people today who give with no selfish ambition or strings attached. When you become that person who is authentically generous, friendly and considerate with no strings attached, it can have powerful effect because kindness touches people.

The Bible talks about the power in kindness many times.

In a world where airing opinions, cutting comments and selfish gain is considered appropriate, a kind heart can be a light in the darkness. There’s not enough time to list all the examples of the kindness Jesus displayed in his ministry on earth, but I will leave you with one example. The kindness of Jesus literally touched the untouchable of the day – the leper (Matthew 8:1-4).

Lepers of the day were on equal par with the pigs – unclean, unloved, and out-casted. Jesus in his kindness touches the leper who is then made clean. Not only was his body restored, his status was too. His stigma was broken and life regained through a touch of kindness.

The question for us is, ‘who are the lepers in our lives?’. They may not carry a physical aliment, but perhaps have been socially outcast for other reasons. In one simple act of generosity, friendliness, and consideration, we can actually heal and restore people.

French Psychologist, Sidney, Jourard, visited cafes and observed friends interacting for an hour. During this hour no one touched in England. In the United States, he counted two touches. In France, 110 touches, but in Puerto Rico, there were 180 touches! We may live in society where keeping to ourselves is considered acceptable and normal, but there is power in touch – both physically, emotionally and spiritually. Rather than distancing ourselves, let kindness pull us close to people who need it.

Colossians 3:12 ‘You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy…. Be compassionate, showing kindness toward all’.

Emma  Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd October 2018

What if the way you perceive reality is not necessarily reality? We only expect what we are exposed to. When we only see small, we live small. When we are shown greater things, we hunger for greater things. The beauty of walking with God is that he exposes us to greater things all the time. He shows us that there is always more. Therefore Christians should be the biggest minded people on the planet!

We become small-minded when we accept and expect whatever is in front of us here and now, with no vision or desire for more.

Here are 5 traits of big-minded people:

1. They watch their words.

Small towns or communities have a reputation for gossip. This is typically because the people are so focused on the small world in front of them, that EVERYTHING is a big deal. They have lost perspective, and a sense of greater purpose in a bigger world. They have forgotten what really matters. Big-minded people don’t have time to get caught up in the affairs of others, when they are serving a big God, and carry a big mission in their hearts. They have important things to put their time, energy, and thoughts into (Ephesians 4:29).

2. They give…big.

People with a small mind fail to see the bigness of God. They live with the mentality of getting whatever they can, whenever they can for themselves. They live in survival mode, fearful of lack, so they consume, consume, consume.  With themselves always at the forefront of their thinking, they live in a constant state of ‘what is in it for me?’.

Big people, on the contrary, give knowing they are looked after by a God with unlimited resources (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). They see the long-term value of sowing and actively seek out opportunities to bless.

3. They respect.

Big-minded people respect those around them. They are receptive to wisdom, and understand that they don’t have it all. They are respecters of all people knowing that life isn’t all about themselves, and fulfilment goes beyond meeting the needs of yourself, and is instead found in serving others.

4. They forgive…quickly.

A big-minded person doesn’t have time for the damaging effects of grudges and bitterness. Like a physical wound needs tending too quickly to avoid a festering infection, a big-minded person, tends to their emotional wounds quickly before infection spreads. They don’t hold offences and can be a bigger, powerful person by displaying grace, mercy, love and healthy confrontation, rather than revenge.

Colossians 3:13-14  ‘Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.’

5. They have vision.

Small-minded people live for the gratification of now. Their primary purpose is to following their feelings of whatever feels good right here, right now. They lack vision for their whole life, let alone the generations to follow. Big-minded people make intentional lifestyle and character choices that are beneficial in the long term, even the generations to follow.

The condition of our mind is powerful. Romans 12:2 says, ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’. Culture today teaches us that behaviour modification will bring your freedom. This is not true transformation. You can try and manage the symptom of your behaviour, but only for so long. True transformation occurs when you get to the root of the problem – your thinking! If you want to transform your life then let the Holy Spirit transform your thinking, for this is the root of your behaviour patterns.

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

Live big lives, with big minds. You were made to, and can under the guidance of the Holy Spirit!  Look beyond today and live with a generational vision! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd October 2018

Have you ever been in a long queue at the store and you are watching every cashier and customer and checking how long it’s going to be before you get served… then you watch the person whose turn it is next, pay no attention to the fact that it is their turn now and so it holds the queue up even longer??!! And you’re thinking “they’ve been in this queue all this time, why weren’t they focused?”

Have you ever been at the airport waiting for your luggage to come round on the carousel, as soon as you see it, you grab it and you’re off!  Holiday or home here I come!  Why are there some suitcases that just go round and round, is it that the person who is looking for them is not focused, maybe chatting, maybe forgot what their case even looks like and so therefore not being focused causes them a delay?

We read in the Bible that the Children of Israel could have got to the promised land in less than 2 weeks, however, it took them 40 years.  Why? Because they weren’t focused.   They kept going round and round due to lack of vision, complaining, frustrations and “what if’s”.

You have a purpose in life, whatever it is, focus on it.

There’s a saying “work hard, play hard” – basically, that’s saying, FOCUS on what you’re supposed to be doing and do it. You won’t get very far if you don’t.
If you’re leading, LEAD.
If you’re working,WORK.
If you’re serving, SERVE.
If you’re resting, REST.
When you focus on what you’re doing (putting your time and energy into it) you will bring the best out of it and see the greatest results.

The reasons that many of us ‘go round and round again’ is because we’re not focused.  We don’t learn as we go, we don’t grow and therefore we never get very far.
We can take our direction from God and from other good people in our lives and we should set our mind to doing whatever it is we need to be doing.

You can take all day to clean your home, because you keep stopping to watch TV or check on social media.
You can take years to lose a stone in weight, because you keep going back to your old habits.
You can take months to complete a project that should have taken you a few days… or like the Children of Israel you could take years to get to where God wants you to be, instead of just two weeks.

Set your mind today, make a plan, seek help and direction from God and GO FOR IT.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th October 2018

Your thoughts can be previews of ‘coming attractions’, unless you do something about them.

When the enemy sets out to destroy you, he always starts with a thought.

Evil thoughts are not yours until you allow them to move in and rearrange the furniture. Left to ramble through your mind, a thought will attach itself to an incident in your past and feed on it, until it becomes like a tumour inside you.

Paul says “…Take captive every thought… To make it obedient to Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 10v5).

Solomon said: “above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” (Proverbs 4 v 23).

Don’t give evil thoughts any ground in your head. Evict them before they weaken your commitment, and leave you in the Valley of despair.

When we clean the house, we tend to focus only on what others can see or inspect. Just imagine how much ‘mental’ junk we collect, because we think nobody sits in our heads examining our thoughts…but somebody does – God does! He knows your every thought.

Identify your wrong thoughts.

Address them as unwelcome guests.

Fill your mind with good thoughts.

Read the Bible daily, and let it wash your mind clean again.

Psalm 139:1-4 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th October 2018

It is wise to have plans for the future; having dreams and desires is part of what keeps life moving forward. We have all arrived at where we are today by the decisions we’ve made.

The exciting news is to know that we can continue to grow and rise to greater heights with God’s assistance. As we are travelling down the road of life, we shouldn’t worry about where we are going, but who we are following.

I would rather follow God’s lead and stay on course, than go my own way and stumble along. For when I am uncertain about the correct path to follow, God illuminates the way. I find peace from the words God spoke through Isaiah the prophet. The Lord says in Isaiah 42:16, “I will lead the blind on roads they have never known; I will guide them on paths they have never travelled. Their road is dark and rough, but I will give light to keep them from stumbling.”

When walking in the dark, a flashlight is very useful, otherwise we might run into something and fall. By simply following the light, every obstacle becomes visible. God’s Word is also like a flashlight that guides us. Psalms 119:105 tells us, “By His words we can see where we’re going; they throw a beam of light on our dark path.”

Jeremiah 33:3 gives us direction on how to receive spiritual clarity. Listen, “Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvellous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” You and I can sit around thinking about the future and still come to a dead end. Prayer, not purposeful thinking, is the key to unlocking doors.

Acts 16: 6-7 “Paul and his companions travelled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”

Paul was the greatest missionary (a person sent on a religious mission, to promote Christianity in a foreign country) of all time. He was also the greatest theologian (someone who studies the nature of God, religion, and religious beliefs) in the history of the Church. His early missionary journeys are chronicled in the book of Acts in the New Testament and offer incredible insight into not only sharing the Gospel but also on letting God lead. In Acts 16, we read of Paul’s second mission trip and we learn that along the way, Paul is redirected by God and makes a drastic change of plan. He was sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and flexible enough in his planning to let God lead.

So how about us? How sensitive are you to the leading of the Holy Spirit? Do you allow God to lead and sometimes even change your plans?  Or do you try and arm twist God into following your plans instead?  Plans and goals are good –as long as we’re flexible enough to trust God to take the lead. With God in control, you never know where the journey might take you, but it will always be best!

Where do you feel like the Lord is leading you? Are you uncertain about the path? Don’t worry for a minute because you have the Bible, God’s Word, as your road map. Obey the counsel provided within its pages and you will have success.

As Joshua 1:8 says, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th October 2018

It defies human logic, but God is not bound by either time, or space.  We process the world through our physical senses, God however is not limited to only a physical dimension. He operates in a spiritual dimension. He isn’t bound by the physical laws that govern our world – things like time, and space. He in fact invented time, so He can stand outside of it!  He sees all of history, and He sees all of what is to come. More personally speaking, He knows your past, and He can see your future. He knows where you are coming from, and He knows where you are going.

This should spark hope in us because:

1. When we have a problem – He already has the solution. If God knows how things are going to play out, then it is up to us to press into Him for wisdom and solutions. Why figure things out in our own limited capacity, when God sees the whole picture? Go to Him for your solutions (1 John 3:20).

2. God is not surprised by anything – He saw it coming. When something rocks your world, remember that it hasn’t rocked His. Rest in His nature – the nature of a good father who has given you everything you need to overcome (2 Peter 1:3).

3. We can speak into our future because God is already there working things together. He isn’t waiting for the future to arrive, He is there working it out. Your prayers and words have the power to shape what you experience when you get to your future. Make a future investment today and start speaking your future into being! (Psalm 33:9)

4. You were planned in the heart of God – before time. He chose you to be loved by Him, and live for Him, in this very period of time, for a reason. Before time was even “a thing”, you were in the heart of God (Ephesians 1:4). You were once a dream in God’s heart, and you are now manifest on the earth today. You were born for a purpose and for such a time as this!

When you have a problem, when you’re scrambling for a solution, turn to God. Rest in His nature, and speak into your future. You were in the heart of God before time – what a reassuring thought that we are loved by a God who stands outside and over time!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th October 2018

C.S Lewis described integrity as ‘doing the right thing even when no one is watching’. To do the right thing when no one is looking says that you are doing the right thing because it’s right and not because you’re trying to prove something or earn something. You’re doing the right thing even when it doesn’t benefit you and it isn’t easy.

Integrity stems from the Latin word ‘integer’ which means ‘whole and complete’. There is no such thing as partial integrity. What makes a person a person of integrity is the fact that their character is tried and tested in all circumstances and yet they still stand, wholly, completely, and consistently to standard in all areas not in parts. This isn’t about being a perfect person, this is about a position of heart.

A person of integrity holds the standard of the Bible as their governing compass in the decision-making and choices of their life no matter whom they are around. A person lacking integrity has double standards – they aren’t governed by a consistent compass. For example, they will bring the best part of themselves to church on a Sunday, giving all they have, but roll into work late and dishonour their boss on a Monday. The integrity of who they are is compromised because they are not being consistent with who they are on a Sunday. They are living what the Bible calls a double life.

God loves, honours and blesses integrity. Proverbs 11:3 says, The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity’.

God even warns against association with people who live a double life. In 2 Timothy 3:2 Paul says, ‘People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, with out love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people’.  Paul is warning that there will be people who have a “form” of godliness, meaning they appear to have integrity and character, but their life is not consistent in all areas.

A life of integrity leads to a life of peace. You don’t need to live an exhausting life masking holes, switching personalities, and playing parts when you have a heart of integrity. You are instead free to be totally, and simply you – at rest that if anyone challenged you on anything, you know in your heart, that you have done the right thing by God in all circumstances.

Proverbs 10:9 says, ‘The one who walks in integrity will experience a fearless confidence in life, but the one who is devious will eventually be exposed’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th October 2018

Have you ever met someone and got on with them so well, it’s like you’ve known them forever? You find yourself saying things like ‘they know me better than I know myself.’

Those relationships – whether it be within your friendships or with your spouse – are what enrich our lives. They validate us. They make us feel loved. They deepen because we feel like we’re better people because of them.

Maybe that’s not something you’ve experienced. I want to encourage you today to seek that sort of relationship with God. Truth is, He really does know us better than we know ourselves. Jeremiah 1 v 5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” God formed you – so of course He knows us best and better than that, He made you on purpose.

For years, I spent an awfully long time being concerned with people’s opinions of me, whether they liked me and whether I was seen to be fitting in. I realised over time that somewhere along the way, I’d lost myself and actually relied too heavily on the people in my life for validation.

Once I brought that to God’s attention and simply asked Him, ‘who am I really?’, the most amazing changes started to happen. God revealed things to me about myself that even I didn’t know and it’s such an amazing adventure.

There are desires in you, with purpose attached to them and they are just waiting to be revealed to you, if only you’ll take the time to look and listen. Just when you think God is done, He does something else incredible and that is His nature; He never runs out of ideas.

 

One of my favourite verses is in Romans 8 v 15 in The Message version and it says ‘This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.’

Whenever you’re uncertain, simply ask God what’s next. He’ll show you who you truly are.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th October 2018

If you don’t exercise your muscles, they weaken and atrophy.

 In the same way, if you don’t utilise the abilities and gifts that God has given you, you will grow weak in them, and even lose them altogether.

 In the Bible  Jesus taught the well known parable (Matthew 25:14-30) about three men that were each given a different amount of talents. (A talent in the Bible was an amount of gold).

 Referring to the servant that refused to use his one talent, Jesus said that his talent should be taken from him and given to the one that had ten talents.

 Fail to use what you’ve been given and you’ll lose it – Use what gifts that you have been given and God will increase it.

 Whatever gifts you have been given can be enlarged and developed through serving with them and investing in others. For instance, no one gets the gift of teaching fully developed; but with study, feedback and practice, a good teacher can become a better teacher and then a great teacher and then a master teacher.

 Don’t settle for a half-developed gift. Stretch yourself and learn all you can.

 2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

 Like an athlete, preparing for that moment when they will be called upon to serve their country, so you and I should daily prepare for that opportunity that God will send our way so that we can use our gifts for Him.

 God deserves my very best.

 Use it or lose it.

 If you’ve buried your talent, dig it up!! Serve again, and be blessed with so much more.

 Pastor Mark

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th October 2018

Ever felt like giving up? Ever felt like what you’re doing is not worth it? Ever felt like no one notices? If that’s you, here are some great verses to encourage you today.
Hebrews 10 vs 35-39 says
“So do not throw away your confidence for it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.
For in just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.
But my righteous one will live by faith and if he shrinks back I will not be pleased with him.
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved”.

The Bible teaches us that ‘shrinker backerers’ will get destroyed, those who doubt and disbelieve will get nothing!!
Wow, I don’t want to be one of those…

Here’s the good news… But those who put their confidence in Him are RICHLY rewarded.
What will I be richly rewarded with?
Richly rewarded with His promises, with the answers to my needs, my heart’s desires, with ALL good things.

Life is often hard, many times it’s a struggle.
Remember, nothing good ever came easy.

The tortoise may take a long time to get there, compared to the hare, but he will get there and he will be pleased he didn’t give up. That finish line is there to be crossed.
Sometimes, we don’t realise that what we are doing IS making a difference. We don’t always see immediate results.

One visit to the gym won’t change your body shape and one healthy meal won’t make you slim. (Oh how I wish!). But constant good choices, constant working hard, constant commitment to a cause, will ALWAYS be rewarded.

God will give you strength to keep going. Get up. Don’t quit. Don’t retreat.
You will get there and God will bless you.
He loves people who don’t give up when the going gets tough, when hurdles face us, when mountains seem too high and the road seems too long.
Keep going my friend.
GOD IS FAITHFUL.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th October 2018

There is one thing that you will never find Jesus doing in the Bible…He never ran. Neither will you ever find Him in a rush or frantically racing around, in fact the opposite is quite true; He would often frustrate people by stalling, when on his way to a major crisis…

John 11:1-7, 17-22 Now a man named Lazarus was ill. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay ill, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is ill.’ When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This illness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. ‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’

Hardly surprising that Martha was pretty outraged that Jesus was a ‘no show’ at the time she expected. It wasn’t that He didn’t care, but rather it was because He cared that He waited for the right time, so that the impact was greatest and that his friend was ultimately raised to life.

It would seem today that we hold too much store in rushing and racing around, feeling that in doing so it gives us value, and even more so than that, we believe it gives us a sense of worth in the eyes of others.

Ask the average person how they are and they will answer …BUSY! REALLY BUSY!

That answer has become the pat answer that covers over ineffectiveness, unproductivity and even boredom. We feel that by rushing around that we can actually justify our lack of vision for our own lives.

Think of a car, it may be racing at full speed, but is it going anywhere? It sounds good and looks good but is it just revving its engine and showing off, without anything to show for it apart from an empty tank of fuel?

I challenge you today to think about the value, not of rushing here, there and everywhere, but rather the value of pausing, reflecting, thinking and planning your day for effectiveness rather than being a busy fool.

When was the last time that you paused and re-evaluated your life and purpose?

Let’s ask the question again – how are things for you?

The reality is more likely to be…under pressure, tired, going nowhere fast, frustrated and grouchy.

Now I’m not saying be slow and apathetic, but I am saying plan more times in your life to think through the why as to your frantic life.

Martha said to Jesus ‘come quickly.’

Jesus’ response was I’ll come when I’m ready, but right now I need to be else where.’

When was the last time that you purposely slowed down and took stock of where you’re at and where you’re going? Don’t skip work or shirk your family responsibilities, but instead pull yourself away when you’d normally be watching TV and be ruthless with your diary and ask ‘why am I continually rushing around at everyone’s request?’

If you don’t plan your diary then everyone will plan it for you. The key from now on is to get there first!

Mark 1:35-39 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’ So he travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

God is the greatest detailed planner of all, and yet He’s never in a rush.

Learn from the greatest. Take time to sit with Him today.

Matthew 11:28-30 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th October 2018

Psalm 16:5, ‘Lord, I have chosen you alone as my inheritance. You are my prize, my pleasure, and my portion. I leave my destiny and its timing in your hands.’

There’s nothing worse than a song that’s out of time. What makes a piece of music beautiful is the careful arrangement of notes – sequenced in perfect order and timing.

Each of our lives are like a piece of music. Like every song has a different time score, a different rhythm and melody to another, so do our lives. Yet we compare the tune and timing of our life to the timings of the people around us. The song of your life was never intended to be the same as the person next to you. Trust the timing of your own life.

Why can you trust the timing of your life? Because God composed your song. The pauses, the silent moments, the highs, the lows, the crescendos and decrescendos – He wrote it all in perfect timing. He is the ultimate composer and conductor. His timing never out.

The book of Ecclesiastes starts off with ‘“Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). The original word for ‘meaningless’ is ‘hevel’ which translates literally to ‘smoke’ or ‘vapour’. In other words, life is fleeting. It vanishes. It is uncertain and sometimes confusing, like trying to catch smoke, BUT in the same book, Solomon in all his wisdom also writes, ‘So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun’ (Ecclesiastes 8:15). Solomon is stating that we don’t have control over the seasons of life, there are troubles, yet even IN the troubles, enjoy life! Don’t wait for the song to end.

You can’t skip the low notes, and only ride the high. When you want the season you are in to end, when you are waiting for that spouse or baby. When you’e wondering why others are finding success and freedom, while you’re still waiting, remember that a pause, a silence, a low, is an important element in your life’s song. The tune will continue in perfect timing and at the end of it all, you will have a beautiful piece.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th October 2018

My grandma was made an orphan. My great grandmother died giving birth to my grandma. When my grandmother was only four years of age, her father then also died in a motorbike accident. If it weren’t for my great great grandmother who then adopted and raised my grandma and her sisters, my grandma would have been sent to an orphanage. My grandma’s life, and the generations to follow her were changed because of adoption.

Adoption is a powerful privilege. To be made a son and daughter, when you are parentless is the ultimate act of redemption and restoration. We were once orphans too. Not necessarily in the natural, but spiritually. We were lost and insecure, BUT our heavenly father then adopted us. We went from no protection, no comfort, no security, no inheritance, no provision and no identity, to all protection, all strength, all provision, and restored identity.

Scripture reaffirms the power of our adoption in Galatians, ‘…In Christ, I am no longer an orphan but his child: “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons(Galatians 4:4–5).

In fact, scripture says that God preplanned that we would be made sons and it would be His pleasure! ‘He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will(Ephesians 1:5).

Since we are children of God, we live like it!

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father’ (Romans 8:15).

If we aren’t living as sons and daughters, we are still acting like orphans.  An orphan is very insecure and fearful. An orphan doesn’t yet understand that they are a child of a loving parent. An orphan struggles with worth and identity. There are Christians that don’t quite understand that they are no longer orphans, but are now children of God! They are no longer slaves, but are sons!

Being a child of God means we have access to all that was available to God’s other son – Jesus! Everything that Jesus was able to tap into – healing, connection with God, miracles, and freedom in ALL areas – is also available to us as children of God. We share in his inheritance. Romans 8:17 says, ‘And since we are his true children, we qualify to share all his treasures, for indeed, we are heirs of God himself. And since we are joined to Christ, we also inherit all that he is and all that he has’.

Don’t live with an orphan mindset. Live knowing that you have been chosen, won, and are loved deeply by your heavenly Father.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th October 2018

God travels!

 He’s a fast mover.

 He travels everywhere all at the same time. When He arrives He meets himself as He’s already there.

 THERE ARE 3 WORDS TO DESCRIBE HIM:

 He is all powerful. (Omnipotent)

 He is all knowing. (Omniscient)

 He is everywhere. (Omnipresent)

 These three statements when placed together bring us to an amazing Biblical truth – All of God is everywhere at the same time.

 Don’t get paranoid about your future. God has been there and done that already.

 

Psalm 139:4-12 (NIV)

Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

 THESE FEW VERSES ARE REALLY BAD NEWS FOR SOMEONE ON THE RUN FROM GOD, BUT REALLY GREAT NEWS FOR SOMEONE WONDERING IF HE’S WITH THEM!

 Today, you may feel that you don’t want to bother God about your problems, however if you think like that then you have not correctly caught the truth about God.

 God’s power is not shared out in small pieces to everyone wanting His attention all across the globe; no, God is such that you get all of Him, all of the time. He’s not Father Christmas.

 The problem with the devil is that he masquerades himself as an all wise, all knowing and all powerful being, and yet it’s a complete lie; he is restricted in that he can only be in one place at a time, but not so with God. Millions of people can be calling on Him this very morning and yet He hears and attends to everyone at the same time.

 His power is limitless and so is His presence; Time and distance are also irrelevant to God.

 Think about this too: God doesn’t need someone in close proximity to pray for you either. He can call on anyone, anywhere, to get down on their knees for you.

 When you think of God today, don’t put Him in a small box that fits your understanding, instead, let him break free and see Him as all powerful, all knowing and everywhere – ALL at the same time.

 Pastor Mark

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th October 2018

The story is told of boy who was continually being told off by his father.

Every time he was asked to run an errand for his Mom, his Dad would rant on about where and when he should go.

One day he was asked by his Mom to go to the corner shop to buy some vegetables. On the way he met his dad, who told him that the corner shop was too expensive and that he should go straight to the market, more than a mile away, and cut out the ‘middle man’.

Cutting out the middle man became one of his Dad’s pet sayings, as he continually directed his son to shop at the market to save money.

One day, the father was lying ill at home and demanded his son to call him a local Doctor.

Thirty minutes later, the undertaker turned up.

Dad was furious with his son, and demanded to know how he had got it so wrong.

His son simply replied, “Remember, Dad? Cut out the middle man.”

Cutting out the middle man is something that people in search of God are doing all over the world, yet trying to reach God all by ourselves is never going to happen.

Religion tries to bridge the gap by encouraging us to be good people, helping the poor, saying a prayer and attending a church.

As good as all this is, we can never know and reach God by our own attempts.

We need a middle man – His name is Jesus.

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus .

A mediator is someone that has the right to stand on behalf of both parties in order to bring them together.

For that to happen, Jesus would need to be fully God and fully man, and yes, God had it covered from the start.

Matthew 1:23 ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ which means ‘God with us’.

JESUS. He is qualified to hold God’s hand and mine at the same time.

You can call on His name today.

Need a modern version of the Bible? We will send your very own free of charge AND the gift of our brand new booklet about following Jesus.

Simply send us a request at: info@championschurch.org.uk

We’d love to hear from you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th October 2018

Our almost 3 year old son knows how to pray – his prayer is just made up of three words, whether it’s meal time or bed time or whenever we ask him to pray, it’s always ‘Thank you Jesus’.  Amen! I was thinking that sometimes that’s all we need to say, ‘thank you Jesus’.  Prayer is an important part – if not the most important part – of our daily life and depending on situations and circumstances each prayer is different. But how about just putting aside the situations for a moment, and the list of requests we all have and just set your heart to be grateful?  I love the saying that if Jesus never did anything else for us, we should still be grateful for what he has already done.  Many times we take for granted the little things in life, not that they don’t mean anything but because they’re so familiar and we forget that we have been gifted those things.  How about thanking God for good health? We don’t have to wait for illness to set in or something to go wrong so we can pray for healing, let’s thank him for wholeness now.

Thanksgiving—the giving of thanks—to God for all His blessings should be one of the most distinctive marks of the believer in Christ Jesus.  We must not allow ingratitude to harden our hearts for nothing causes us more dissatisfaction than being ungrateful. I am truly amazed at how two people can have the exact same circumstance, however one person can be negative, dissatisfied and hopeless while the other is optimistic and full of joy!  Praise makes all of the difference. Living life with a heart of gratitude for who God is and what He has done for us lifts our burdens and causes us to see everything in a different light. Regularly giving thanks to God not only helps us fully realise how He’s working in our lives, it gives us a new perspective—our mind is renewed, our attitude is improved, and we are filled with joy  (see Psalm  16:11).  
 
Like Paul, we ought to be radically grateful. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. That’s radical gratitude.  You can thank God in every circumstance because He is in control. He can bring good out of a bad situation. He can turn around the mistakes you’ve made. No matter what happens, God isn’t going to stop loving you. There are a hundred things to be thankful for in any circumstance, even when it doesn’t look or feel like it.
 
To expand my awareness of God’s blessings in my life, I am learning to cultivate a heart that acknowledges the source of all the joys I experience each day, but especially the ones I often take for granted. Today those included a crisp walk round the block, the anticipation of an evening with friends, a new notebook to plan my life with; along with new colourful felt pens, a 10 minute soak in a hot bath, the beauty of the autumn colours outside my window. What is the “so much” that God has already given to you? If it is just to be thankful for another day then celebrate it and make the most of it because it is a blessing. Opening our eyes to all the blessings around us will help us to develop grateful hearts.
 
Christine Mudenha
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th October 2018

I want to ask you how much thought you put into things..
A gift for someone…do you think hard about it, or do you just get a voucher or give them something that someone gave you that you didn’t want?
A meal…do you plan it and shop for it and prepare it lovingly, or do you just open the fridge or freezer at 5pm and say “what shall we have tonight?”
Sometimes life calls for us to make quick decisions that not much thought has gone into – we maybe have to act on our feet.
However, that’s not the best way.

I think about my outfit each day… sometimes I spend five minutes thinking, other times I plan the night before.  Recently, I was just on the way out to a meal and at the last minute, I had to change my outfit.  I felt unhappy all evening, because what I had chosen, was chosen quickly and I knew it wasn’t right.

How much more in life should we put thought into things that REALLY MATTER – like our relationship with God.
How much thought do you put into that?
How much time do you spend with Him every day, in prayer and in worship?
How much do you think about what He wants you to do and who He wants you to speak to and what future plans you need to make.
Or do you give little or no thought and give Him the leftovers?

The Bible says that without vision, people will perish. (Proverbs 29 v 18)
Vision to me is thought.  The more I put into something, the more preparation and planning, the more I will get out. The more successful it will be.

Have a vision for your life, better still, ask God what His plan is for you and devote yourself to that.
Put time and energy into His work and spending time with Him, you will not only feel fulfilled and blessed, but your life will take on much more purpose.

Take time today to give thought to what REALLY MATTERS.
Remember what you invest into will reap great rewards.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th October 2018

The peace of God is powerful. Often we associate peace with all things still and passive, but in the kingdom, peace is powerful and active. Peace isn’t a feeling, it’s a person. One of the names of Jesus is ‘Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). When you are experiencing peace, you are experiencing the person of Jesus. In the world, peace is the absence of something – the absence of noise, clutter, and demands. But in the kingdom, peace is the presence of Jesus.

The Devil is always trying to rob you of your peace. Yes, He brings fear, but He also loves to work with more socially acceptable feelings of anxiety and stress. If He can keep us occupied with stress, then our creativity is the first to go. If he can keep us anxious, then we are idolizing our circumstance, and diminishing Jesus. We have given more power to our situation or circumstance, than we have to God.

Mark 4:35-39 tells the story of Jesus on a boat with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee, ‘And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm’.

What I most love about this account was that Jesus was asleep on His pillow. A little boat in a big storm – Oh what peace of heart He must have had to just be sleeping! And it wasn’t the storm that eventually woke Him, it was the stressed out cries of His disciples!

Jesus calmed the storm, but corrected His disciples for not having faith, ‘But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”. The disciples had allowed stress and anxiety of circumstance, to take priority over the peace that was available to them in the midst of the storm.

Before we begin to rebuke the storms of life, lets be found in a place of peace. In whatever stressful situation you are facing, fix your mind on the person of Jesus – the Prince of Peace.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd October 2018

I recently purchased a pair of shoes on sale. They were basically new, bang on trend, and I loved them. The only problem with them was that they were about a size and a half too small for my feet. I refused to let size hold me back from a bargain and purchased the shoes, convincing myself that I could squeeze myself into the shoes and perhaps eventually stretch them out. I was wrong. It was incredibly painful trying to walk anywhere wearing them! I tried to ignore the pain, but it just wasn’t working. My feet were sore. There is nothing worse than an ill-fitting shoe or piece of clothing.

Some of us walk around wearing ill-fitting items – burdens that don’t fit well on us. We are uncomfortable, sore, weary and tired.

In Matthew 28, Jesus invites us to Him, to find relief from the burdens of the world, He says, ‘My yoke is easy, and My burden is light’.

When training an animal (such as an ox) to plough, ancient farmers often yoked it to an older, stronger, more experienced animal who bore the burden and guided the young animal through the learning process.

The word ‘easy’ is in Greek ‘chrestos’, which can mean ‘well-fitting’. In Palestine ox-yokes were made of wood. The yoke was carefully adjusted, so that it would fit well. The yoke was tailor-made to fit the ox.

Jesus didn’t say there wasn’t work to be done, and a burden to carry, but He did say that it would be light with Him.

If we are feeling heavy, then we are carrying ill-fitting burdens that Jesus should be carrying. It is our relationship with the older, stronger, more experienced person of Jesus that allows us to work hard, without the burden weighing us down. This is our best fit. When we try and squeeze into a model outside of this, we will find our souls very sore, damaged, and ironically our work less effective.

Press into Jesus, who will carry your load, working with Him is your best fit, it is a custom fit that will lighten your load and bring ease to your life.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd October 2018

Isn’t it amazing what can happen, when tools are in the right hands? In my hands, pen and paper can become a great piece of writing. In the hands of my best friend, those same two things will turn into a beautiful illustration.

 

The outcome of anything wonderful depends on whose hands you place things into. What do you do with your problems? Do you hand them to your family? Do you offload them onto your friends? Venting can be nice temporarily but what real power do those people hold?

 

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

To cast something is to ‘throw (something) forcefully in a specified direction.’ Now, if you were to throw something forcefully in my direction, I’d probably drop it because I’m not great at catching. But God never misses.

 

It doesn’t matter what you throw in God’s direction in prayer, He will pick it up and better than that, He will turn your problem into a reason to praise. Why? Because God is the only one who truly holds the power to do something incredible, in the midst of adversity. He can make a way where there doesn’t seem to be one. In fact, He has already gone before you.

 

You may be holding on to your problems tightly today, too afraid to let go because you’re living in fear. Let Philippians 4:6-7 encourage you today: ‘do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

 

Until you let go of your need and hand it to God, your hands will be too full to experience the peace and promise that God has waiting for you.

 

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st October 2018

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine invited me for a game of tennis.  We had played a couple of times before,  but he plays four times a week now. When we started playing, I noticed that his game had changed slightly. He had been working on his form with a coach, but he just didn’t seem comfortable. Anyway, I took advantage of this and won the first set.

During the break, I suggested to him that he should just go back to his old style of play, but what he said then was an eye opener – he said that in order for him to improve his game, he had to persist with the new style of play!  It may not look like he is improving, but he is adjusting to the new style.

That can be what it’s like in our life – people can get around us and see how we are starting to change and adjust in our new found way in Jesus. They want us to revert back to the old you, the you that they liked to hang around with, the old you that would follow their instruction rather than you following the plan of Jesus.

We find this in the book of Acts, chapter 4.

Peter and John, who were going to the temple, came across a lame man, healed him, but then were thrown into jail. We pick this story up in Acts 4:17-18…
But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

How many times in your life will people not want to hear good news, want you to stop talking and do as they say? But like my friend said at the end of the first set, he has to face challenges in order to get better. Jesus is with you, His word will make you strong and the promise on your life will overcome. It’s time to start looking at the people in your life that are wanting to hold you back and cut them out one by one. It will be a challenge, but it will free you to do God’s plan.

The second set then came along, my friend started to find his rhythm, he was now applying what he had learnt, starting to improve his game and was now beating me. He took that second set because he didn’t listen to me, he applied what he had learnt.

We often hear the phrase ‘practise makes perfect’, but that can be so demoralising as we cannot achieve perfection. Practising God’s word and promises will not make us perfect, only Jesus was perfect and then He took on our sins and died for us. What about if we changed that phrase to ‘practise improves performance’? Practising God’s word, reading the Bible, praying, loving on people that are unloved, helping people, encouraging people, increasing your faith. Improve the performance of your life. Don’t strive for perfection, but look and work on improvement.

Then we came to the third set; my friend was now unrecognisable in his game. His serves were wizzing past me and  he was returning everything I played to him, winning comprehensively.

If he had listened to me I would have won, I’d have ruined his confidence. The enemy will do that, he will tell you that you’re no good, he will tell you that you will never get out of bondage from friends and family that bring you down, that you will never beat your addiction, that your finances will never be right, that you will never succeed but as my friend did to me in that third set, he put what his coach had told him into practise, got through the rough times, improved his performance and then was serving aces. God has some ‘third set’ game changers for you.

Hebrews 10-36

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised

‘Persevere’ means ‘to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or no indication of success’.

Proverbs 3 5-6

Trust in the lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him and he will make your path straight.

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 a hope and a future

There are promises of God on your life.

Your life will look like this tennis match. 1st set will be where you are starting to change and adapt to a new way of life, where you will have to make some changes that won’t be easy but will set you up for the next set. The 2nd set is where you’ll start to practice to improve your performance in your life, you’ll start winning the small battles, your prayer life will be healthy, you’ll be reading the word of God, you’ll be loving and helping people, then the 3rd set is your game changer – these are your match winning serves, the promises of God on your life where your faith increases and you live a life with a God who is a miracle working God. Jesus is your coach and the promises of God are your racket to smash things away.

Game. Set. Match.

Lee Morgan
A daily devotion for a better way of living.