Fresh Hope – 31st December 2018

Today is filled with anticipation…or is it dread?

2019 is looming, and for different reasons it will mean different things for us all.

If we are not careful, we will spend the year ‘comparing notes’ with others, especially the ones that we see that are better looking and seemingly doing better than we are.

Comparing is very similar to copying. If you’ve ever tried copying in an exam, then you know that you will eventually come unstuck. Firstly, you didn’t know the answers for yourself, so that means you have not grafted to learn them, and secondly, the teacher will know that these answers can’t be yours because they don’t match your ability.

On this, the last day of the old year, I encourage you to give yourself a New Years ‘comparison’ break before January 1st arrives; you are not a copy, you’re an original.

Tonight, above every other night in the year, instagram will go wild as everyone starts to post their best shots and greetings. Within a few short minutes of the clock striking midnight, the copying and comparison spirit will kick back in…but only if you give it permission.

As we ponder all that we want to be and all that we want to do in 2019, let me share a few practical yet hopefully insightful thoughts as to the best way of approaching another new year.

-Know who you are.

-Know whose you are.

-Live for an audience of one – God.

-Be responsible for yourself and responsible to others.

-Know what you’re gifted at.

-Know where your gifting ends.

-Refuse to copy…you’re an original.

-Don’t be ashamed of where you’re at right now – God hasn’t finished with you yet.

-Remind yourself that you may not be where you want to be, but you’re not where you used to be.

-When you try to be someone else, you are watering down your God-given uniqueness.

-Life is not just an event, it’s a journey; like all great destinations, they take preparation and they take time.

-Make the Bible your daily road map.

-Make Jesus the driver and not the passenger.

Finally…the greatest gift that you can bring to 2019 is your own personal walk with Jesus, and your own personal growth along the journey.

Here’s to a blessed, adventurous and prosperous new year in every way.


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th December 2018

Feelings are a wonderful thing…
Like,  I feel loved, I feel happy, I feel warm, I feel content…
Yet feelings can also be dangerous…
Like, I don’t feel like getting out of bed,
I don’t feel like having a shower, I don’t feel like brushing my teeth, OR more dangerous like…
I don’t feel that God loves me…
I don’t feel like praising…
I don’t feel like giving.

When your feelings are wrong, be careful, you can stop God doing what He wants to do in your life because of your feelings…

When Jesus was on the cross the Bible tells us that He felt forsaken, He felt abandoned. Yet He did not give into His feelings, He did not get off the cross and say “forget this”, He went with what he knew was right.

Today, don’t let your feelings stop you praising, don’t let them stop you receiving, don’t let them stop you giving, don’t let them keep you in bed, when you should be up and making life count, don’t let them stop you having an encounter with the Almighty God.

If your feelings are a little off this morning get them back to where they should be – push through and allow God to do something amazing in you today.

Make a decision to follow what you KNOW , not what you feel.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th December 2018

Have you ever felt forgotten?

Forgotten by parents, friends, loved ones, your boss or even your spouse?

The Bible records in the book of Genesis that Joseph was not only thrown into a pit by his brothers, not only sold into slavery, not only falsely accused and sent to prison, but he was forgotten too.

After spending time in prison through no fault of his own, he started to make a positive impact on everyone that came into contact with him, so much so that people looked up to him and treated him with great respect.

On one occasion after interpreting the dreams of two employees of the king, he asked them to remember him and mention him to the king – something he hoped would get him out of prison.

You can only imagine how Joseph would excitedly wait each day for that prison guard to give him the news he had been waiting for, however it never came…

Genesis 40:23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

Jospeh waited everyday for a further two more years before getting the attention of the King.

What a painful story, but what an amazing ending that saw Joseph rise to highest ranking position in the land.

Being forgotten is something that we all face for long periods in our lives without any explanation, yet it is those very times that forge our character and lead us to maturity beyond our years.

Feeling forgotten today? Don’t dismay, though everyone may forget you, God never will – you are always on His mind.

He is using this very season of your life, if handled correctly, to catapult you into a significant life.

Isaiah 49:15-16 ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th December 2018

In my travels, I have visited many castles. One thing that castles all have in common is that they are all built on a “higher ground”, and surrounded by a wall of protection. A higher ground allowed for optimal view of approaching enemies. However, war in the 21st century has since been revised. Despite the “higher ground” strategy being used for centuries in war, the most advantageous place to be in the battlefield isn’t in fact on an elevated piece of terrain.

In a recent article by ‘Military.com’ I read, ‘We can’t battle Al Qaeda the same way we did the Germans in World War II. Sitting on top of a hill with superior firepower is no longer an advantageous position. In fact, it’s actually counterproductive when fighting an insurgency or an enemy that blends in with the local population… In order to win this “terrain” we have to come off the hill and immerse ourselves in the community. We need to create relationships with the local people, understand their fears and needs, provide security, and show them that working with us is more prosperous than siding with the insurgents. We have to win their hearts and minds.  It’s personal.  It’s face-to-face combat.  The only way to win the war is to create one positive relationship at a time’.

When it comes to taking terrain for the kingdom of God, we likewise have to come down from our hill. The ‘high ground’ in our military tactic is in fact the people in our local community. Our battlefield is where God has placed us in our small spheres of influence. It is about getting with the people – face-to-face. It is winning their hearts and minds, one relationship at a time. It is about knowing their fears and needs and providing security.

When you move into new territory there can be an onslaught of attack. You may feel like as you take new ground in your personal life, family life, or workplace, there is resistance. This can be in the form of anxiety, depression, or fear, but stay true to your strategy. The world isn’t looking for a defensive church situated high on hill. It needs an army, who is willing to get down with the people. It is looking for a people who can step into their lives and battle for hearts!

Do not fear taking new ground in 2019. Get in there! Get your hands dirty in the sometimes messy lives of people who need Jesus!

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th December 2018

Biblical hope is the certainty that God will deliver. It is not wishful thinking. It is the living, daring confidence that God would do what He said He would do. As we approach the end of the year and the beginning of a new one, we reflect on our lives, and consider our futures. Sadly for many, they believe there is little hope for their future. They are hopeless.

As Christ followers, we have a mandate to be hope-bringers. I heard a quote the other day, ‘He who gives the most hope has the greatest influence’. How true! People are hungry for hope. They want a guarantee that good things are coming. They desire promise fulfilled. Thankfully, this is the business that Jesus specializes in. When you become that person that delivers hope, people are drawn to you and open to your influence because you have what they are looking for!

Jesus has many powerful names, one of which is ‘Immanuel’ – meaning ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23). What a beautiful name…but Immanuel is not just a name – it is a role of Jesus. He was born to bring his presence to man.

Unlike many other religions and patterns of thought out there, the God of the Christian faith, is the only God that became flesh, and came down to be WITH US in order to save us. All other religions expect you to climb your way up to God.

All these years later, and Jesus is still living up to his name of Immanuel He is truly WITH US… and this is our hope. That despite life’s current circumstance and despite what we think we are walking into in the New Year, God is with us. He is not standing at a distance. He is not looking down on us. He isn’t off doing something more important. He is walking WITH us into 2019. Christmas is a time to deeply meditate on this profound reality, hope and promise – that whatever is ahead – God is WITH US! And he promises to never leave!

‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th December 2018

The book of Isaiah 9 v 6 says… “and he shall be called wonderful counsellor, mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.”

A truly beautiful verse for this season.  Jesus wasn’t just a baby in Bethlehem, He was all of the following too…

Wonderful counsellor – yes,  He is someone to talk to, someone to confide in, someone who will listen.  He also gives the best advice. Try talking to Jesus. He is always there, always ‘on call’ day or night. Never think you’re alone when you have Him in your life. You can bring to Him every thought, every desire, every need, every hurt. He is a wonderful counsellor.

Mighty God  – nothing is too hard for Him or too difficult.

Nothing is impossible and nothing fazes Him.

He is mighty in power and deed.  Whatever your need or your problem, He is able to meet it and deal with it.  No sickness is too far gone for Him to heal, no person too far out of reach, He is a Mighty God.

Everlasting Father – you may not have a great

experience of your real Dad, you may not even know who he is, but today you can know God as your everlasting Father.  The best Father you could ever wish for and He will always be so, He’s everlasting…and guess what? He wants you to be His daughter or Son, you have an opportunity right now to belong to the family of God. God is just a prayer away.

The Prince of Peace – in days and times of uncertainty, when worry and fear can try and take over your life, let Him be the Prince of Peace to you. The Bible says, He brings peace that the world cannot give.  Peace that is beyond understanding. When you know God, you can know real peace and that’s a gift that money cannot buy.

Wherever you are today in the world and reading this, from all of us at Champions Church, we wish you a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th December 2018

Every Christmas we put out a novelty mat in our porch. It reads ‘SANTA PLEASE STOP HERE’.

When our Grandson’s were a little younger, they came to visit just before Christmas and the  youngest wanted to know what the door mat said.

Gillian read it to him and after a few seconds, he turned to us and said, ‘why would you keep Santa standing outside the front door?’  He’d misinterpreted the message.

Now, we all know the story of Mary and Joseph being unable to find accommodation for the birth of Jesus. The inn keeper gave them an abrupt answer; ‘No room’.

As the door of this Christmas Day  swings open tomorrow, its lasting success will be hinged on just one question: where will you put Jesus?

Will it be like our Grandson’s misinterpretation of the door mat… ‘JESUS STOP HERE?’

Will the invisible sign hanging on the outside of your heart be the same sign that hung 2000 years ago on the door of the Inn…NO ROOM ?

As much as the inn keeper always gets the bad press, at least he opened up what he had available to them, albeit a stable.

Today, make room for Jesus. Don’t leave Him standing outside of your heart for even one more day.

Ask Him to come and step inside and make His home in your heart.

Happy CHRISTmas!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd December 2018

How many of you worry and stress at this time of year? How many of you overthink things, which leads to that worry and stress?

If we let worry take control of our minds, it can become anxiousness, which leads to fear and even sickness.STOP! Take control right now of those thoughts and instead PRAY.

 Psalm 55 v 22. Cast your burdens onto Jesus, for He cares for you.

 The Message version says “pile your troubles on God’s shoulders, He will carry your load, He will help you out. He will never let good people topple into ruin.”

 Here’s another verse…

 Philippians 4 vs 6-7. Be anxious about nothing (NOTHING) , but in everything bring your requests and prayers with thanksgiving, to God.

 

Why do we carry burdens? Why do we worry about stuff? Why do we let it escalate in our minds? Why do we let our thoughts get on the train to anxiousness? When the answer is simple… It’s called prayer.

 This week I was troubled about many things. Some of you would have said “really??” (to some of the things I was actually troubled about).

We all get concerned about different things, especially at this time of year, when there is much to think about, to organise and to do.

Sometimes when we step back, we even ask ourselves, ‘why did I get worried about that?’

I lie awake going over things in my mind, I’m sure they were escalating in my thinking, when God clearly said to me “Gillian, why are you worrying when you just need to pray? Give it to me, I am the one who wants to carry your burdens, you can’t sort it but I CAN.”

Yes, it’s actually that simple.

Why do we toss and turn and lose sleep over things that God is concerned about and wants to sort for us?

 

 Psalm 56 v 8 – you’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.

 

 1 Peter 5v7 – Cast all your cares on HIM, for He cares for you.

 

Don’t lose the joy and peace and love that God wants to bestow on you this beautiful season, through worrying.

Stop it right now and pray.

 Pastor Gillian

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st December 2018

Excitedly, your children and grandchildren will be breaking up from school today! Hurrah!!

We all will remember those feelings associated with the last day of term – especially the one that is ushering in the Christmas holidays.

No doubt many of you will have been to one or more nativity plays this week, and no matter how bad the performances have been, it doesn’t seem to be important. Your child’s performance will always be special.

Forgotten lines and crying children will be overlooked in an atmosphere of both laughter and tears present at each performance.

As we get closer to the season of Christmas, we will of course be brought face to face with Mary the mother of Jesus, albeit acted out by a child with a tea towel on her head.

We are all well aware that in reality this young teenage woman was chosen by God to give birth to Jesus; but have you ever stopped to think of the things that SHE had to overcome to allow this to take place?

Whenever God wants to use a person through whom He can give birth to a dream, there will be the very similar problems that we all have to overcome.

Both Mary’s challenges and ours will look something like this if we are going to be used to do something significant with our lives.

1) I’m not worthy – why would God choose me?

2) It’s impossible – how can this be?

3) I’m deceived – I must have this wrong?

4) It’s different – it’s never been done before.

5) Pressure – there’s always necessary pressure at birth. Pressure pushes out the dream.

6) Underestimated on arrival. Few recognised the magnitude of this world changing occasion.

7) Threatened in infancy. King Herod wanted Jesus dead! Every dream will be threatened when it’s just been born and in its infancy.

If you are willing to be used by God, then take heart from Mary’s life. Don’t walk away from pressure or pain – it’s that very stuff that gives birth to the dream.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th December 2018

For our recent Champions Church Christmas Carols event, we were encouraged to invite as many “non-churched” people as we could. The church had put together 10,000 beautiful boxes, including chocolates and an invitation to the service.

Like years gone by, the event was guaranteed to be a true success and blessing to the community – food trucks, Santa’s grotto, real reindeers, and a stunning carols service. I personally invited about nine people…And you know how many of them turned up? Zero! Yep, zero! I felt disappointed and disheartened. All this effort that the church put in, all the effort I put in to extend the invite…and then for no one to accept my invitation? It was a little frustrating hearing their excuses, especially knowing how much they would have loved it! It triggered the same feelings in me that I had when I was seven years old and I was brave enough to take an invite to church (that I had made in Kid’s Church) to my neighbours. I put the invite in their letterbox and watched from my window for their reaction. I saw them open the letterbox, take the invite, laugh, and throw it to the ground! Talk about rejection!

Jesus himself extended many invites in his lifetime, and many were rejected! Yes, sometimes people reject good things! Jesus was at a dinner party when one of the guests said to him, ‘Someday God will have a kingdom feast, and how happy and privileged will be the ones who get to share in that joy!’. Jesus replied witha parable about rejection:

‘There was a man who invited many to join him in a great feast. When the day for the feast arrived, the host instructed his servant to notify all the invited guests…but one by one they all made excuses’. The servant reported back to the master and the master insisted that the servant go back out into the city and invite everyone that he could find. The servant did so and came back saying that there was still room for more! So the master told him to go out AGAIN and ‘urgently insist that they come in and enjoy the feast so that the house will be full’. Jesus ends the allegory with this statement, ‘I say to you all, the one who receives an invitation to feast with me and makes excuses will never enjoy my banquet.’ (Luke 14: 15-24).

I believe Jesus told this story as an encouragement that even the greatest invitation of all – an invitation to the Kingdom of God, will be rejected by some. When the servant came back a second time saying that there is still space for more at the party, the master didn’t say, “Well, I guess this is the third invite we have sent out now, let’s give up”. NO! He told the servant to bounce back, brush off the rejection and go and ask more!  

We feel bad when we are rejected, how much more so does God feel rejected? Think of his broken heart! I recall the verses at the beginning of John:

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God’ (John 1:11-13).

Yet the mercy and grace of God remains. His invitation is always there.

This Christmas as we extend invitations to services, dinners, friendships,  they may be rejected, but don’t feel disheartened. Don’t give up. God himself was rejected. Go out again, and again, and again. It isn’t always our job to push people over the salvation line, it is simply to sow a seed, and give them that invitation.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th December 2018

With just a few more days until Christmas, and that one big food shop looming, FRESH HOPE today is going to have a bit of a different twist…

This season brings with it the wonderful opportunity to taste the traditional food and drink that we have come to associate with Christmas, but if we’re honest, we all tend to go back time and again to the tried and trusted recipes that have been handed down to us for years and even decades.

With so many great recipes out there that need to be shared, what’s better than for me to share a very economical, but really great Christmassy hot mulled wine? It’s not only non-alcoholic, it’s simple to make.

It’s perfect to serve when family and friends arrive for Christmas lunch or can be served at supper time.

Here’s the recipe that will serve a full glass for up to 20 people. You can also keep the leftovers in the fridge…

1 carton cranberry juice

1 carton orange juice

3 cartons red grape juice

Box of 6 mulled wine sachets (in the herbs and spices section at Tesco).

2 cinnamon sticks or 2 teaspoons of cinnamon spice.

Sugar to taste.

Fresh oranges, lemons and apples cut into small triangular pieces.

Simply heat everything in a saucepan for 30 mins and then serve in a glass bowl or other type of nice bowl. Looks great as a centrepiece on the table with all that floating fresh fruit.  People can ladle out as much as they want, when they want.

Cheers! Here’s to a wonderful Christmas.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th December 2018

How frustrating is an interruption?! Have you ever been mid-explaining something to someone only to have them or someone else interrupt your flow? How much more frustrating then are the interruptions of life?! 

Maybe it’s that bill you find in your mailbox at Christmas time – not what you had planned. Maybe it’s falling ill at a really inconvientant time. Even as I’m typing this I’m in the doctor’s waiting room with Shingles when I should be at work preparing for a show tonight! Perhaps the interruption is some bad news that changes your life forever – an interruption to the dreams and plans you had for yourself.

Life is filled with interruptions and unexpected events. The reason they are frustrating is because they mess with the plans we have set up for ourselves.

Looking at the Bible, we have the story of Peter and John who were on their way to the temple to pray. They were interrupted by a man who had been lame from birth (Acts 3:1-10).  Their plan for the day was to pray, but they in fact turned the interruption into an opportunity to stop and give attention to a man lying there. They facilitated a miracle and shared the gospel through an interruption. My bet is that Peter and John had watched their leader, Jesus, operate in this same manner. While Jesus was about his ministry on earth, he was regularly interrupted by unexpected events.

However, Jesus didn’t see interruptions as a interruptions from people, He in fact saw them as interruptions of grace – an opportunity to press into the sufficient goodness of God available in that moment.

When Jesus was on his way to heal Jairus’ dying daughter, he was interrupted by a women who had been bleeding. A messenger in the crowd called, ‘Why bother the teacher any more?” (Mark 5:35). Although this woman seemed like an interruption, to Jesus, life had no real interruption. This was in fact an opportunity to demonstrate grace. And that was his ultimate purpose. Jesus understood interruptions in the grander scheme of things. Even in his very death – an interruption of divine grace for all mankind.

For us this shifts how we see our interruptions. Instead of perceiving our plans as being derailed, instead view them as opportunities to receive the grace available to us as well as extend grace to those around is – for this is also our greater purpose.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th December 2018

Martin’s story is a journey from dark to light. He went from being a spiritual orphan to a spiritual son. He went from being a man who takes, to a man who gives. He was subject to a lifestyle of stealing and destroying and stands today as a transformed man, doing the exact opposite of what he once was. He is bringing life, giving to others, and building. He is a true testament to the reality of Jesus’ words, ‘But I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full!’ (John 10:10).

Born in 1963, to an Irish Catholic mother, Martin experienced rejection from day one. Born into a time when having a mixed-raced child outside of marriage was heavily frowned upon, Martin’s mother put him into care (although this wasn’t what she wanted).  Martin grew up in care. He saw his mother every two weeks and was able to enjoy school holidays with her. But he never knew about his Dad. He didn’t know his Dad, and he didn’t like him. “At 14, I got into trouble in the Children’s Home”. Being one of 400 children he felt people didn’t listen and he didn’t have a voice. “The place was run by nuns and abuse was common. There are many stories within stories”, said Martin. They refused to have him back.  “I then went into foster care. Then into a referral community school or a ‘lock up school’ – a school for children who couldn’t get into main schools. Then at 16 years of age, I was released. I went back to foster care and then got into trouble there. That’s when I had nowhere to go.”

There were a number of factors that Martin believes led him to this point – rejection, fatherlessness, no good male role models, the abusive environment and system of the care home. ‘There was hierarchy in the home. Being a tall lad, I was expected to be tougher then I was and expected to live up to that.’

Once out of the care of the system, he started stealing and became a homeless man. He eventually moved in with his mother and her boyfriend, but again found himself in trouble with a group in the area. The 80s was a period where Martin found himself in and out of prison.

In the 90s, Martin got a chance at court, and was able to go back into society and start working. He was doing drawings to sell as merchandise at pop concerts around Europe. He also found himself on drugs, addicted to Crack and then Heroine and gambling. This was his lifestyle and he considered this to be his portion. “I felt like this was it. I was trapped.”

“It was 1998 and I was broke, hit rock bottom, and just miserable. I had a computer and a friend drove me to a pawnshop to see if it was open so I could sell it. It was this very ordinary moment that was truly the divine work of God. “It was in this moment at the shop that a lady came up to me and invited me to church, and invited me to have a relationship with God. I said, ‘I want a relationship with a woman’. But eventually I took up the invite and went to church.”

It was then that Martin made some true friendships. These friends would come over and study the Bible with him. “I thought, ‘there is something different. Most of my friends wanted to take, but these guys wanted to give.’ One time I did a study on sin and it was the first time I spoke about the stuff that had gone on in my life to my new friends. It was a confession”. The Holy Spirit was truly at work in the heart of Martin. He then got baptized and his life was changing. “I had a sense of freedom that I didn’t understand… and a joy…I looked forward to going to church. Whereas before I was trying to avoid people because I thought I had nothing to give. My friends had thought I had gone crazy.”

Martin met his wife at church. ‘She was one of the first friendships I made…I loved her joy and spirituality.’

What first attracted you to the gospel?

Initially it was the friendships that attracted me. There was something different – they would share their stories and their lives. God plants you in the right the place at the right time.

Does the past ever come back? Do you ever have to deal with baggage?

Triggers will come up and trigger the shame and I deal with that by prayer.

How are you a changed man?

Throughout my whole journey, God has made a way. I have a business doing property refurbishments. I used to burgle houses, now people invite into me into their house to decorate and do up their home…I used to be in foster care and now my wife and I have been foster parents to about eight or nine different kids. It’s God choice, not my choice.

Just before we got married, I heard from my Dad – I had never known anything about him. I was able to forgive him.

My very first experience of prayer was when my brother fell ill. He was an addict. One day he went missing. Mum was distraught. I bent down and prayed. God led me to where he was – a Crack house. I had to call the police. He had an abscess on the brain. He went to the hospital. He could have died at any moment. The only way we could have found him was through prayer.

How would you describe God from your first hand experiences?

FORGIVING.

LOVE – I see Jesus through my wife. And that helps me to see because I’m a visual learner. It goes with truth. When people tell me the truth about myself I see it as God working on me.

FREEDOM & PEACE

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 15th December 2018

I’m not sure if you like winter… it will be officially here in just a few days. Some of us love it and some of us probably can’t wait for it to quickly pass.
We associate winter with cold, nothing much happening, dark times and even barrenness.

However, as God so designed the winter natural season, He also allows us to go through our own ‘winter’ season at times.

Here are a few good things about winter:

Winter kills off bugs.
Summer can be a time where we may get lazy and complacent. Those times can be dangerous. Bugs can fester in summer. They can feast on you!
Winter kills them off and causes you to sharpen up.

Winter shows who is staying and who is going.
Just like plants. Perennials and annuals …one will come back and one won’t. Winter is a good time for finding out who will stick with you.

Winter makes you dress appropriately.
We certainly dress up in winter. We need appropriate clothing. In a ‘winter’ season, make sure you are dressed in the armour of God and put on garments of praise.
They’ll not only see you through the winter, they’ll help you to grow in the winter too.

Winter makes you appreciate the summer.
Oh yes… God designed seasons to compliment each other and to flow one to another. When you’re in a winter, you’ll appreciate the long awaited summer a lot more.
When you finish with winter, you’ll learn to appreciate the next season more than you thought you would.

Enjoy winter. See it as a time that God wants to do something new in you.
You won’t see the daffodils until the spring, but there was a lot of important stuff going on underground during the winter.

Let that be the same with you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th December 2018

I was aiming to decorate our dining room around this time last year. I must admit that I’ve always found that Christmas gives you a greater focus in order to get those pressing jobs done. Needless to say, my wife was also helping me to stay focused too, as she reminded me that that particular room was last painted ten years ago! I have to admit that I failed miserably.

With the passing of yet another twelve months, I decided that this was it. The time was now. Wallpaper was chosen and in the last week I’ve set to work with every spare moment I have.

As I write today, I’m still only half way through and in less than two weeks the whole family will be descending on us for Christmas day. There is no choice but to have the room completely ready.

Yesterday, in order to get everything I needed to finish, I popped into the decorators centre in order to get some grey paint. Nowadays you can literally take a swatch of the colour you want to match and they will scan it and produce the right combination of paints in order to get the exact colour that you require.

I was amazed to find that in order to get what I thought was a plain grey, there were actually five different colours that had to be added in order to get the perfect match.

“Can’t I just buy a tin of grey paint off the shelf?”, I asked. To which the reply came back, “no, not if you want to produce the exact colour that you want.”

I have to admit that the process was fascinating as I watched reds and greens going into a pure white paint pot. After a couple of minutes and with the paint mix being shaken up on a special machine, the lid was prized open and hey presto…perfectly matched grey paint!

The question today is this…do you want a run of the mill, ‘off the shelf’ kind of life that will never stand out, or do you want a life that is matched perfectly to what God has for you?

I’m sure that you’d admit that you would like to live a significant life, but are you prepared to live through the process that it takes? No process – no progress. No progress – no success.

I could have bought an ‘off the shelf’ tin of paint for probably half the price that I paid, but it would have never have matched or been what I really wanted. The process of being changed into what God wants for your life is never easy and it certainly costs, but the results will be outstanding.

I challenge you today to think of the life of any person that is admired and making a difference in this world; you will discover that they’ve had to go through a lot of changes and processes to get there. Be careful that you don’t just become a person that looks on from a distance and says that you want what they’ve got, without first considering if you are willing to go through what they went through in order to get there.

Don’t just be content to live an ‘off the shelf’ kind of life, instead allow God to shake you up and take you through some challenges in order to change you and prepare you to live a life of significance.

Romans 5:3-5 ‘…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th December 2018

Can you even imagine how Mary would have felt? An angel comes before you and tells you that you are going to birth a baby…as a virgin!? In a society that heavily shames women falling pregnant outside of marriage?! We are not surprised by Mary’s response: ‘But how could this happen?’ (Luke 1:34).

Those words … ‘but how’.

God promises to birth something great in all of our lives, and yet often our response is like that of Mary, ‘but how?’.

‘Gabriel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you’ (Luke 1:35). How did Mary conceive and birth something great? Only by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Like Mary, we cannot conceive and birth something powerful without the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. It is when He comes upon us, His power overshadowing us that we can then do what we have to.

Sometimes the good thing that God is building and birthing in the spiritual doesn’t appear that wonderful in the natural. In fact, like Mary, it can mess things up in the natural…a lot. Mary’s pregnancy wouldn’t have been looked upon too favourably, yet it was in fact favour from God that she was walking in. It was a gift given from God BECAUSE ‘the Lord found delight in her and chose to surprise her with a wonderful gift’ (Luke 1:30). What was being shamed on the outside, was in fact greatness on the inside. ‘A baby boy…He will be supreme and will be known as the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God will enthrone him as king … and his reign will have no limit’ (Luke 1:31-33). This unplanned pregnancy would be our Saviour.

God is doing great things in all of us. What the world, or even ourselves can misconceive based on external judgements, can in fact be the pending birth of something great. Perhaps like Mary you can feel like the ‘delight, favour, and gifts’ of God aren’t evident in the natural. Yet God is in fact about to deliver something great through you. Like Mary, painful realities, are incubators for greatness. And like Mary, we can only do it by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit!

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th December 2018

Christmas is on the horizon! And I don’t know about you but this seems to be the time of year that I notice people – myself included – winding down, as the year comes to an end.

Every year, I reflect on the months gone by, whether or not I achieved my goals and what I need to work on for next year. As I sat down to do this, a few days ago, I realised that some of the situations in my life where I had seen answers to prayer had turned around so quickly, that I could barely catch my breath. We’re talking no change in circumstance for months, to breakthrough within 24 hours.

God reminded me that His timing is perfect. He specialises in ‘suddenly’. Maybe there is something that you’ve been praying for this year and have given up because the year is almost over. Let me encourage you today not to lose hope.

It doesn’t seem like a lot to you and I but a few weeks is more than enough to see miracles. When we place our time and our trust and requests in God’s hands, He can turn it into something wonderful. Remember how little it took to feed the 5000? The woman with the ‘issue of bleeding’ was healed, after 12 years, with just a touch. Let’s get excited during this final stretch of 2018, to see what God can do.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 11th December 2018

The postage stamp seems to be almost a thing of the past, but there’s still nothing quite like receiving a Christmas card that has a specially designed Christmas stamp stuck to its top right hand corner.

Since 1966, over 17 billion Christmas stamps have been sold.

The value of a stamp seems quite insignificant in its value, size and weight and yet without it your parcels, letters and cards wouldn’t get very far.

Its value therefore is in its ability to stick to things for the duration of its journey; once your item has arrived then the humble stamp has done its job.

To many people, God has no relevance and yet He is the most reliable being in the universe; He is not only willing to love you unconditionally, but He is willing to stick with you and never let you go.

No matter what journey you’re on today and no matter how long and difficult it may be, you can rest assured that God will stick to you, so that you will make it right to the end.

His promise throughout the Bible is that He will ‘never leave you or forsake you’, but it doesn’t get much better than the promise below…

Jude 1:24-25 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

What an amazing promise to see you through this life and into His presence in the next…

– He will keep you from falling…
– He will present you without fault before God.
– He will present you to God with great joy.

All this is true for those who surrender their lives to Jesus.

Ask Jesus today to take the driving seat of your life. Give Him full control…you’ll be amazed at where He will lead you this Christmastime.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th December 2018

Christmas time can be salt to wounds for struggling people as they face again the reality of their difficult life circumstance – lack of family, finances, and dwindling hope for the future. As I interviewed Pat on her journey in setting up a charity to help these very people, it dawned on me that not only is her service to those in need an inspirational testimony, but so is her personal life.

Patricia White had a high-flying career, working as a journalist for the BBC. She had 10 years of experience under her belt, was training up and coming journalists, and flying around the world for work. Community outreach was the last thing on her mind. But it was this very job at the BBC that was the catalyst to a new and unexpected avenue.

As Pat did community journalism, she would often film and interview people who had overcome incredible adversities, or people who had helped other people in their struggles. She loved telling these kinds of stories. It was only a matter of time before Pat started to develop a deep hunger to become one of these people and begin serving the community in a more direct way.

BBC began offering redundancies. This is where Pat bit the bullet, took voluntary redundancy and decided that now was the time for her to follow that which was on her heart, and begin the journey of community service.

Pat survived off of the redundancy money for a year or two. Her local church suggested that the best platform for her to help would be to get involved in setting up a local food bank. This was a transitional time for Pat as she moved from the polished corporate world, to the harsh reality of suffering people. This proved to be the perfect environment for Pat’s passion to grow.

In true Pat style, she was eventually running the largest food bank in the city. But she didn’t want to just fill people’s mouths with food for a few days, her heart was to dig deeper. She wanted to get to the root issue of why there were so many hungry people. She began to listen carefully to what people’s real needs were. It seemed that the root issue was unemployment. It sounds so simple, but if they couldn’t afford food for their table, they certainly couldn’t afford a decent suit or outfit for a job interview, and there began the cycle and bondage of poverty.

While at the food bank she had the idea of launching ‘Suited for Success’. “I thought wouldn’t it be amazing, if people that donated food could also donate clothes for job interviews”. Pat had the idea of coaching people on how to interview well and ‘suit and boot’ them in appropriate attire, giving them every opportunity to get employed.

“Out of the blue I had an email from a corporate company asking if I wanted suit clothes. When I got this email I literally screamed the office down! I hadn’t voiced my idea to anyone yet, and then I just get this email out of the blue – and that’s how it started… Corporate businesses in the city asked, ‘what can we do in the city to make a difference?’ Banks and global law firms, and accounting firms…”.

Pat’s idea wasn’t merely a temporary band-aid to assist people suffering from poverty, it was education. It was empowering. It would move people from financial bondage and reliance on welfare to a place of personal success.

“I left the food bank and took on ‘Suited for Success’. I worked part-time while I developed it”. Despite such a noble act, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Pat. She had to bite the bullet again when she felt that she had to commit to the charity full-time in order to achieve the best results. Pat is still volunteering her services today, trusting God every step of the way. The financial side of things has been the biggest struggle. But God always comes through. The challenges are still there financially, but what keeps me going is that God didn’t say it was going to be easy, but I know it is something I have to do…when clients say, ‘this is the first time someone has cared for me’ or ‘You have no idea how this has changed my life’ – that is the fuel that keeps me going”.

Pat helps about a 100 people a month. She works with anyone who is experiencing barriers to employment from the ages of 16 to 65. She listens to their stories. Gives them confidence, skills, and a new outfit.

A stigma can be attached to the homeless or unemployed that they made poor choices to get where they are. What would you say to these kinds of attitudes?

Things happen in life. Even to the best of us. One of the biggest causes of homelessness is family breakdown. The stress of the breakdown has then led to mental health issues. To survive on the streets they turn to drugs and alcohol. There is always a trigger. A deeper pain. Many of the homeless people once had good jobs.

The kinds of people we are helping are people who have overcome addiction issues and need work. People who have had long-term health issues. People who have had criminal records and have done the time, but struggle to start a new life. They lack confidence. They see themselves as worthless. People with poverty mind-sets. Veterans who have served our country and struggle to integrate back into civilian life.

What has your spiritual journey been like while you’ve been setting up ‘Suited for Success’?:  

It has been the fight of my life – to get ‘Suited for Success’ up and running and save my marriage the same time.

When I started ‘Suited for Success’ I was married and this was a dream of ours. The same week we finally got the keys for ‘Suited for Success’, he also walked out leaving just a note and my broken heart. One dream was fulfilled and another broken. I had to make a decision. ‘What do I do with this set of keys?’ No matter what, I said, ‘I will still do ‘Suited for Success’. I lost my home and my marriage. I lost everything. But the call of God was still strong. I put all my strength and energy into ‘Suited for Success’. Despite the circumstance, I’ve learnt the strength and tenacity that God has put within me in the darkest of times. It wasn’t personal ambition that carried me, it was the strength of God. In the dark time, God’s word came to life, and I had to hold on to it. The worship songs at church had tears rolling down my face – the words of the songs spoke to me, they were real. My faith has really come to life. ‘Suited for Success’ is the action of my faith.

What can people do to help?

The government is going to bring in drastic change in regards to providing people with benefits soon. It can no longer be as generous to the unemployed as it has been for generations gone by. This is a chance for the church to rise up and do its job. We can’t expect the government to look after the poor. We need to step it up as the body of Christ. I remember sitting in church listening to a sermon about people in need and weeping. God was saying, ‘YOU CAN TAKE ACTION. What are we doing about it?’ I remember thinking, ‘I cannot sit in another sermon about helping the poor and not doing something about it’.

Here are some ways people can help:

Support in prayer

Skilled volunteers – people who know how to interview people and volunteer interview coaching.

Financial support

Mentoring in business planning

Contacts for employment

Visit https://www.suitedforsuccess.co.uk/ for more info.

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 8th December 2018

From time to time, we all face giants.
Giants of health issues, money problems, relationship troubles, family woes and things that seem so big to us that we don’t know how they’ll ever change.
Those giants can and will taunt us with “I’m big and I’m going to ruin your life.”

“I’m huge and you’ll never overcome me.”

“I’m going to be here now for a long time and you can’t do anything about it.”

Actually, you can.
David was just a young guy who was taking lunch to his brothers. They were part of the Israelite army who were faced with the enemy. Goliath was a GIANT who would taunt them daily and will them to fight him if they dared.

David saw and David heard him (1 Samuel 17 v 23)… and then he decided to do something about it. He took what he knew (his small sling shot and some smooth stones) and instead of running away, he took down that mighty giant.

When something GIANT comes your way, you may feel inclined to run, not deal with it and hide. Fearing that there’s nothing you can do about it.  YOU CAN.
Take what you know…which is the power of prayer and take that mighty giant down.

You may see and be experiencing an injustice like David did. It doesn’t matter how weak and feeble you may feel, take your courage from God Himself and attack it, not retreat.

If you don’t do what David did, you won’t experience what David experienced.  You’ll never have your ‘David and Goliath moment’.

Today I encourage you, whatever you face, don’t retreat in defeat, don’t think this is the beginning of the end.  Take the word of God and the sword of the spirit and take that giant down.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th December 2018

In the early 1900’s, cotton farmers in Alabama were facing the extinction of their crops. A tiny insect called the boll weevil had migrated from Mexico and was eating its way through the cotton plantation.

The farmers tried everything they could to get rid of the infestation. They even tried to exterminate it with all kinds of new chemicals, but all to no avail. All they could do was to sit back and watch it happen.

As the darkest days for all the farmers lay ahead, one of them came up with an idea. He said, “instead of planting our normal cotton crops, let’s plant peanuts.” Everyone thought he was crazy; they knew they couldn’t even make a living from them, or so they thought.

However, as they went ahead with the peanut plan, they soon realised that the boll weevils didn’t like the taste of them, and instead, the crops took off in a way they had never seen. Each of the farmers were now making more in a month than what they had previously done in a whole year before. In fact, many of the farmers never went back to the cotton trade again. They stuck with the peanuts.

At the time, everything for the farmers seemed bleak, but amazingly God used even the boll weevil to bless them and bring them into a new level of prosperity.

Right now you maybe facing a setback, but God is really positioning you for a comeback. My encouragement to you is to stay in faith and God will turn things around. He works in mysterious ways. What may seem like its sent to destroy you, God can use to bring about something far greater in your life.

Make your stumbling stones your stepping stones today.

We find in the Old Testament, the account of Isaac living in a double famine; not just one famine, but one right after another causing the land to be desolate. He could have just sat there and complained about his circumstances, but instead we read…

Genesis 26:12-14 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him.

Whenever I’ve hit a financial crisis, I’ve learnt that it’s not time to moan and complain but it’s a time to sow even more.

Whatever is going on in your life today, make a decision not to be intimidated by it, but to see that God is going to bring about your deliverance through it.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th December 2018

We’ve all heard of our mate Moses. Before birth, God’s hand was obviously upon him. The way the Lord orchestrated his life and protected him, was a sure sign of things to come – the call of God on him to deliver Israel. Despite the great call on his life, Moses faced very real emotions of feeling way out of his depth. Moses was scared, and very aware of his own weaknesses. So he called out to God for help. How was he to lead Israel out of bondage and into freedom? God replies back to Moses with a question, ‘What is in your hand?’ (Exodus 4:2). God suddenly shifts Moses’ focus away from the future and causes him to look at what is right in front of him – a rod. An old, wooden rod. Not a fancy, royal scepter (which he would have had before as he grew up in the palace). God wanted Moses to fix his focus on the very ordinary tool in his hands.

This tells us a lot about how God uses people:

God uses our ordinary experiences and resources. Moses would have used that rod for years to tend to sheep… YET it would be the same rod that would eventually part the Red Sea. It would strike a rock and see water pour forth. It would be the same rod to be raised over a battle won. It would be called ‘the rod of God’ (Exodus 4:20).

God will use the most mundane and ordinary circumstances, experiences and people in your life to bring forth victory for His glory. Don’t overlook the ordinary.

God likes to use whatever is in our hands. God used what was in David’s hand (1 Samuel 17:49). He used the jawbone of a donkey in Samson’s hand (Judges 15:15), and he used five loaves and two fish in the hand of a little boy (John 6:9). Rather than fixating on all things glorious and shiny. Rather than having anxiety about the future. Rather than worrying how you, flaws and all, could possibly bring anyone else into freedom, look at what is in your hands right now. Moses called out in distress, overwhelmed by the responsibility of delivering people, and God told Him to use whatever was in his hand. Moses knew how to use a rod. He had experience in that – so that is what God used.

There is a part of everyone that wants more in at least one area of their life. More finances, more opportunities, more relationships, more breakthroughs, more freedom, more confidence, more testimonies, more ideas…We could go on and on…. But if we are honest, are we using whatever small, mundane, and ordinary thing, is in our hands today? Let’s not miss the extraordinary in the ordinary, because we are expecting the extraordinary to come in a different package. God is asking us the same question he asked Moses, ‘What is in your hand?’.  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th December 2018

There is incredible power in spoken word. Our very existence is a product of the spoken word of God. Since we are made in the image of God, our words also carry creative power – the ability to create the world around us.

People who complain, criticise and gossip, are also the people who are the most unhappy and depressed. Why? They have established a negative world with their negative words. On the contrary, people who are thankful, full of praise and encouragement, are also people living in joy. Why? Because their language has created an environment of victory.

Matthew 12:37 says, ‘For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned’. This verse isn’t saying that you will find salvation through Godly speaking, rather it is stating that what we declare will either bless or restrict our lives.

A declaration is anexplicit statement or announcement’. To be ‘explicit’ means ‘to state clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt.’ 

Practically speaking, one of the most powerful ways I have found to leave no room for confusion or doubt, and to focus my mind and spirit is to declare daily and repetitively the truths of God over my life.

This year I created a list of core statements that I wanted embedded deep into my mind, heart and outworked in my life. Regardless of what life throws at me, whenever I come back to these truths, I am reminded of why I am here, what I am doing, and who I am.

Let me share with you some of my truth declarations:

Jesus is first in my life
I love my husband and lay down my life to serve him.
Righteousness is not something I wear, it is who I am.
I am whole and complete in Christ, not inadequate.
I do not fear the rejection of man, because I already have the unshakable approval of my heavenly father.
I’m gifted to create, change and lead atmospheres.
I take control of any thought in my head that Jesus doesn’t have about me.
I will share the gospel through how I treat people.
I actively seek opportunities for growth.
I accept that mistakes are a normal part of the journey to excellence.
I am free to enjoy life.
I will make decisions today that will make a difference for generations to come.

 

This is more than positive thinking and talking. This is the powerful truth of the gospel in whichI intentionally choose to speak over my mind, heart and life.

As we pull up to a new year, perhaps consider some declarations that you can speak over your life in 2019.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th December 2018

THE MIRACLE BABY

Just 7 months into marriage, and their 5-year plan had gone down the plug hole. Busy with church commitments and pursuing their careers, Mark and SJ were expecting it to just be the two of them for a while. But SJ had discovered she was pregnant.

Despite the initial shock, they made the mental readjustment, and quickly embraced the reality that they were going to parents, trusting that it was meant to be.

SJ’s pregnancy wasn’t a conventional pregnancy. It was instead an emotional, testing, and stretching in every way kind of journey, but at the end of it all God birthed something beautiful – a new strength in SJ, and the fierce and strong little Lexi we now know today.

‘Everyone just sees pregnancy as really exciting.

I never enjoyed pregnancy like you see on social media. I also put up a front because I never wanted people to see how I really was. I didn’t want attention from people. I wanted people to think I was fine. It was hard because it was in the first year of marriage. Mark had to be the support while I came to terms with everything’.

At the 20-week scan of the baby, the doctors did the measurements and fluid check on the neck. ‘The moment the doctor said, ‘I just need to get someone else in, I knew something was wrong’, says SJ.

There began a whirlwind of specialist appointments suggesting links to Down Syndrome and bladder issues. ‘They said I would have the baby early. That it would be small. They genes tested us and suggested that she could perhaps carry Cerebral Palsy, but couldn’t confirm it’. There were no definite answers, just a constant stream of negative possibilities from doctors – a breeding ground for fear.

One consultant even wanted to terminate the pregnancy – he told them that by having this baby they were signing up for a life of many issues and problems. Is this what they really wanted?

With SJ’s brothers having special needs, she had a deep-rooted fear about what was ahead for her, and an unresolved lack of trust in the goodness of God. ‘Could He really look after me?’

‘On one hand, I knew God would use the baby and us regardless, but at the same time I was Googling symptoms trying to prepare myself. I let it take over my whole head. I was constantly in overdrive’.

By Christmas time the brave façade hit breaking point. ‘People would ask what I was having and if I was excited. I broke down in the office. I just couldn’t do it anymore – just pretending I was ok… Not properly speaking to anyone, including my husband about what was really going on. That was where I had to go to God. As much as people were there for me, they didn’t understand what was going on’.

SJ took leave from work and cancelled all the distractions. ‘God finally had me where He wanted me’. God now had the space to do a deep working inside of SJ. She cried out to God, ‘you have to show me how to be strong and how I can get through this’.

In the process of learning true surrender, SJ found peace. She went back to work still scared, but with a new courage and determination to trust God, and intentionally look after her mind by managing what she dwelled on.

When fear would begin to creep into her head and take her down ‘what-if’ lane, SJ began feeding herself with truth. She soaked in worship songs, meditating on powerful lyrics, and consumed books that strengthened her faith.

‘I could face the reports. I found myself again and I found myself with God’.

SJ was induced. The intense months of pregnancy built up to this moment. Mark and SJ were about to meet their baby.

They walked past the waiting crib in the hospital. All sorts of monitors and cables were attached to it – just another sign that the doctors were sure of the worse to come.

‘She’s not going in there’, said SJ. ‘The consultant may say one thing, but God says something else!’

Lexi was finally born. ‘I looked down at her and said, ‘Thank you God, for protecting her’.

Lexi wasn’t born early. She wasn’t born small. She wasn’t born with bladder issues, or Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy. She wasn’t rushed into neonatal.

The winning moment for SJ was when the consultant who once had suggested termination of Lexi looked down at her and said, ‘Wow, I can’t believe what I’m seeing’.

The three of them were discharged from the hospital the following day.

Lexi has since overcome the challenge of Talipes (when the feet are turned inwards and down), but she has handled it with such confidence and grace, and hasn’t let it hinder her joy. Aside from checks for relapses, she is where she should be and doctors are pleased with how she is doing.

I asked SJ a few more questions:

What practical advice do you have for people struggling with stress and anxiety, depression, or fear?

Talk to someone. It’s easy to keep everything in, but it only compiles and builds up. As soon as I was able to release everything, I could start healing. You need to be able to speak it. In today’s society, it’s easy for people not to talk.

Social media can paint a picture of the good stuff, and not necessarily the real stuff.

Be there for others. Get your mind off your struggle and help someone with theirs.

Gratitude – People wanted to be where I was. Some people would be desperate for a baby and here I was pregnant. Focus on what you do have.

What did you learn about God through it all?

It’s taken me until this year to put the pieces together as to why I went through what I did. And this year I have spoken to so many people about my pregnancy and my faith. As much as I had my parents, and my husband, I couldn’t have got through it without God. He was the only one who got me through as I literally gave Him everything. I knew I had to put my trust in Him as the proof that everything would be okay.

How would you describe Lexi today?

Crazy little diva! She is hilarious. She is so confident. She sings all the time and loves to dance. She is very empathetic towards people. Nothing scares her. Nothing stops her. I’m so excited for what she is going to become! She is our miracle!

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd December 2018

I was having a chat with a friend recently. They had fallen into the trap of comparing an area of their lives to other people’s and it had discouraged them. They’re still waiting on God to answer a prayer of theirs.

Comparison is such a dangerous habit but so many of us find ourselves doing it. We look at others and ask ourselves ‘why don’t I have that?’ ‘When will God answer my prayer?’ ‘Why do they have the thing that I am waiting on?’

It could be all manner of things that you are waiting on God for. A new job. A spouse. That dream home. A breakthrough in your business. Here are a few things I want you to remember, when you find yourself comparing your life to other people’s:

  1. Your path is your path – it’s a simple but profound truth. God has carved out a unique plan for each and every one of us. Once those plans were drawn up, that was it. No photocopies. No templates.

2. You may not be positioned correctly – it’s easy to want what others have, without considering what it took that person to get there. God will help us along but He will only nudge us in the right direction, if we’re moving in the first place. Make steps towards what you want and watch God move.

3. Have you been obedient? Much of the time, God shows us what to do step-by-step, rather than in one grand reveal. Have you done the last thing that He told you to do?

 

Remember: God can only use your story to encourage others, once you stop trying to live out someone else’s.

He never runs out of ideas. He’s waiting to do something new, if you’ll let Him.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st December 2018

I have some battery operated candles. They stand together in a group, they both need two batteries each, which is a lot of batteries. However, I love to put them on when it’s a dark dreary evening…
A burst of light in a dark place is always a great thing.

As I started my Christmas decorations this week, I noticed that some of the candles needed their batteries replacing. However, when I stood them all together, the light from the others was strong enough to shine through those that weren’t and it was hard to tell that some weren’t working on their own.

That’s like me and you…sometimes we can run low on our own , sometimes we even feel our ‘batteries are empty’ …yet when we are with the right people, good friends who will help us, even when ‘our batteries need replacing’ we can somehow get through those times because of their light.
This is a reminder of who we are standing with in those times.

When I replaced the batteries and put new ones in, I was amazed at how dull they had become. It’s easy at this time of year, as things get busy, to run out and get dull.  Keep connected to the ONE who is the LIGHT OF THE WORLD and in any and every season, you will always shine bright.

And remember, if you’re feeling like a recharge is needed, get into His presence and all will be well.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.