Fresh Hope – 28th February 2019

Day 4 – Prayer and Fasting.

In Mark Chapter 9, a father brought his son to Jesus’ disciples. The boy was demonized and an epileptic, and even though God had healed people through the disciples before, nothing happened when they prayed for the boy to be healed. When the disciples brought the boy to Jesus, the boy was healed. Later the disciples asked Jesus this question, “Why couldn’t we do it?” Jesus answered in verse 29, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.”

There are some things that God will do in our lives but only in response to our spending additional time in His presence combined with fasting. Fasting breaks strongholds, liberates people, and moves us into a realm of realizing God’s power in our lives. The more time you’re spending with God, the more you’re going to see the hand of God on your life in an extraordinary way.

Maybe there’s an obstacle that you have been facing for a long time. Perhaps you have prayed and prayed, and you don’t understand why you are not making any headway in the situation. You might be thinking, “Will God ever give me victory?” Jesus’ response to the disciples is His response to you – some things only come by prayer AND fasting.

Is there a particularly stubborn situation that you are facing right now?

Make a note of it and pray over it everyday during the fast.

Stand back and watch what Jesus can and will do.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th February 2019

Day 3 – Prayer and Fasting

Whether done corporately or individually, fasting is a personal and private discipline. It is a sacrifice born out of an expectancy that God wants to do so much more in me and through me while I’m on this planet.

Fasting is not a manipulative tool to get something from God, but is a personal sacrifice that God chooses to reward openly.

Private devotion brings public promotion.

When you read about Jesus, you do not see Him praying in public nearly as much as you see Him praying in private. He would often pray through the night and then out of those times in private devotion, public demonstrations of God’s power would be poured out in healings, raising the dead, abundance and so much more.

Where there is little private devotion in prayer, there is little power in your life.

Prayer and fasting plugs you into the power of God. Even your toaster knows that it’s useless unless plugged into the mains.

It’s interesting that the three wisest men in the Old Testament, Joseph, Daniel and Solomon, were three men who fasted. They also each went on to great success, honour and wealth – I personally believe that fasting can bring breakthrough in every area of your life, including a breakthrough over poverty.

Daniel diligently sought God through fasting and prayer while in captivity, and was given wisdom over all others and greatly prospered.

I encourage you today not to be shy about praying about all matters in your life, and not least of all those things which effect you financially.

If you’re in business or starting out in business then make it a daily  matter of prayer accompanied with fasting.

If you’re struggling in any way, then bring your requests to God during this time, otherwise you will end up ‘hiding’ certain things from Him that you feel He wouldn’t want to know about – He already knows about them!

I chose to pray about everything concerning my life, family and Church. I have done so for several decades now and can look back at breakthrough after breakthrough that has come through regular prayer and fasting.

Start to get comfortable with talking to God about everything that concerns and touches your life. He wants and loves to hear from you.

Be specific with your requests.

Vague faith, vague answers.

1 Peter 5:6-7 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th February 2019

Day 2 – Prayer and Fasting

Sometimes the most helpful advice and inspiration when starting out in a fast is of a very basic and practical nature.

For most people, fasting is foreign and therefore we don’t know what to expect in terms of physical occurrences. Many turn back after the first day, simply because they don’t think they are cut out for this type of thing.

One of the most basic needs of the human body is of course for food – take that away and the body goes into meltdown.

The first thing that was said of Jesus after he had been on a prolonged fast was …he was hungry!

Matthew 4:2 After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Yes…the first thing that you will feel is ravenous. Even a piece of dry bread will be to die for. It’s normal.

Here are just a few simple guidelines on fasting that will help you on your journey, be it the first fast or hundredth you’ve been on.

Fasting without being combined with prayer is little more than dieting. Set aside a few moments each day in prayer when you would normally be eating. Find a quiet room at home or go for a walk in your lunch break at work, in order to pray.

There will be days when your energy is sapped and you can’t focus on prayer. Don’t condemn yourself-Jesus sees your sacrifice.
Fasting is like spring cleaning for the body – drink as much water as possible each day.

I normally get a headache on the first 1-2 days of fasting; if you do, it’s usually a sign that you needed to fast! Headaches come from burning off the toxins that have been stored up in your body – it’s also your body craving the caffeine that you normally give it daily. After three days, the headaches will usually disappear.

Whenever you fast for at least three days, your digestive system shuts down and takes a well earned rest. Some feel sluggish and can’t sleep and yes you’ll feel hungry, but after those initial days, if you’ll keep drinking plenty of water and juices, you’ll come out the other side into an amazing ‘sweet place’. You’ll begin to find a deeper relationship with God than you’ve ever known before and the thoughts of food and eating will take a back seat.

Medical doctor, Don Colbert says…”fasting not only prevents sickness, if done correctly, it holds amazing healing benefits to those that suffer illness and disease. Fasting is a mighty key to healing the body.”

At the age of 77, Dr Tanner decided under strict medical supervision to fast for 53 days. Among other things, his once thin, grey hair was replaced with new black hair. It was the same colour as when he was a young man. What’s more, is that he did this several times and lived to be 93!

Remember: if you’re already feeling like giving up – you’re not alone in this. There are hundreds of people right now joining together in this spiritual fast.

Whatever you’ve decided to fast during this next few days, push through and you’ll see a breakthrough.

Ezra 8:23 …So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th February 2019

DAY 1 – prayer and fasting.

Remember: fasting never changes God towards you, but your ways towards Him.

Fasting sensitises us towards the voice of the Holy Spirit and therefore increases our ability to hear what He wants to say to us directly.

Going without food and other luxuries also gives us more time with God and more of a hunger for God.

Sacrificing what would normally be for most, three meals a day (or a partial fast of goodies) brings with it a very special reward from God that can be easily found in the teaching of the New Testament…

Matthew 6:16-18 ‘When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Although no one can definitively answer what that reward is, I would suggest that it comes in the form of greater answers to prayer like you’ve never seen before.

Many people testify of miraculous interventions in their lives during an intense time of fasting.

Now of course you will feel hungry as you’d expect, but many also speak of no desire for food after a few days, whilst others say that they never want to go back to their old lifestyle of eating everything in sight!

Now let’s get down to business…

Unashamedly take a piece of paper and write down as many things that you want to believe for during this special time of prayer. Make your list unselfish, in that it should be about the things that need to change in your life, family, finance etc rather than…’Lord I want a new Ferrari next week’.

Now ask yourself if you actually believe that God could do these things for you. If you can honestly say that you have faith for them to happen, then make them a direct prayer to God each day.

Keep your list private, but also keep it where you can access every moment that you spend time in prayer.

Remember, God is more ready to answer your prayers than you are ready to pray them.

We may not see immediate answers in the 10 days, but the more time that passes, the more answers to prayer you will see happen in and through your life.

Don’t delay.

Start to make that list now, and then add to it as the 10 days roll by, and remember this kind of prayer and fasting doesn’t finish after that, but can become part of your lifestyle as a Christ follower for the rest of your life.

Here’s our key verse for today…

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Here’s to the next ten days of breakthrough!

Standing with you in prayer.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd February 2019

I was visiting a gym yesterday and I loved the two quotes on the walls.
“Pain is temporary, but quitting is forever” and
“if it’s not challenging you, it’s not changing you”

Both are so true.
We don’t like the pain that challenges cause us and we don’t like the pain of the uncomfortable. However, that pain is temporary…if we quit however, that is permanent.

When I go to the gym, I like to stretch myself, this often causes ‘pain’ – legs will ache etc… however I know that it’s doing me good.

When I’m in a situation I don’t like or appreciate, or even in a storm, it can be painful. However, it will lead to great results if we steer it right and deal with it correctly. It will lead to greater growth and it will lead us to becoming the people we need to be.
The next time you’re in ‘pain’, tell yourself that it’s only temporary and it’s probably doing you good.

‘Whatever doesn’t challenge you, won’t change you’ is the sort of phrase we are reluctant to hear at times. Maybe we don’t like challenge, not many of us do, however, from that challenge can come change.
Exercising, dieting, healthy eating all may seem like a challenge, but they’ll bring about the change we desire.

I was just speaking with someone who was having difficulty at work, they were in a situation that didn’t seem fair, so they were brave enough to challenge it. I said to them “that challenge, may bring about the change that you are hoping for.”
Change of any description rarely comes without a challenge.

This week as we embark upon 10 days of prayer and fasting, you may feel like that will be a big challenge to you, yes it may well be, but it’s that challenge that will bring about a change.

So think about the things that need changing and get ready to challenge them in prayer and by fasting.
And the next time any sort of challenge comes your way ask this: “Lord, what change can you bring through this challenge?”
and be ready, be brave, be committed.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd February 2019

What comes to mind when you think of Disney? Maybe like me you think of a ‘grand’ organisation with a global influence. Maybe your mind goes to their movies (bring on Toy Story 4!) or their stores found in shopping centres around the world. Whatever comes to mind, I’m sure we can all agree that Disney is truly a phenomenon.

I recently found out through a conversation with someone that in Disney’s theme parks, they have what are known as ‘hidden secrets.’ These are different features placed across each park that the majority of people would never notice unless they knew to look for them.

Now some may wonder why Disney would go to such lengths to create aspects within their parks that most people will never even get to appreciate…

Some would call it unnecessary, others would call it passion.

The ‘hidden secrets’ found within Disney’s theme parks to me, speak to the care of the creator. That they would get such a thrill out of putting their time and energy and resource into things that many will never get to enjoy, but they will.

Now what may have surprised you about Disney may also surprise you about God. That despite being ‘so big,’ He is still interested in the smallest of details, even those that are unseen.

There’s a crazy verse in the Bible that tells us how God knows the amount of hairs on our head…

Some would say that’s totally unnecessary. I would say that’s totally passionate. That the creator of the universe and everyone in it would take the time to know things about us that we don’t even know about ourselves.

This right here speaks to the care of the Creator. Not only does God know you, He knows everything about you.

Maybe today you need to continue to see God as someone who is almighty and powerful, but you also need to see Him as someone who is close, as someone who is intimately involved in your life.

Today, you and I can walk in confidence knowing that every step we take, every success we experience and every setback we come up against is known by God.

Allow that to bring peace to your soul.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st February 2019

Have you ever lost your car keys?

I’m sure we all have at some time in our lives.

Have you ever thought about the importance of just one key?

Let’s say that you are going to catch a plane to take you to some exotic place on the other side of the world. You are so excited about your holiday and can’t wait to get there. You have everything packed to go and the only thing between you and your destination is the drive to the airport.

As you go to put your cases on the driveway, you realise that your car key is missing. Without it, all of what is ahead of you is never going to come to pass unless you find that one key.

Our lives are very much the same; we are destined to have a great future and yet without finding the right key to get there the whole thing becomes beyond our reach.

Keys to our lives often come through people who have great wisdom. Just one sentence from them can make everything fit into to place for you.

Maybe you are hesitating to move forwards today because of the unknown, yet a conversation with a courageous person can be the key to your success.

Ultimately, the key to finding the true meaning and purpose for your life is found in knowing Jesus. He is the key that unlocks the door to the forgiveness, acceptance, peace and joy that you have been desperately craving for, but as you travel the road with Him, be completely intentional also about having people who have been on the journey for longer that can unlock the potential within you.

Be open to God.

Be open to people speaking into to your life.

Proverbs 4:5-9 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honour you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th February 2019

Discontentment is perhaps one of the most damaging attitudes that a Christian heart can possess. Actually, I should clarify… the WRONG kind of discontentment is one of the most damaging attitudes. Yes, lack of satisfaction with your present life can push you to achieve more in God, do more for Godhunger for more in God, but that is not the kind of discontentment I’m talking about. I’m talking about the kind of discontentment that makes you feel like your life isn’t enough, that what you wear, drive, and do isn’t enough. That your friends and spouse aren’t enough, that your job isn’t enough. That YOU aren’t enough.

The Devil loves to play on a discontented heart. He is an expert at pointing out what you lack, clouding you from what you DO actually have. He works hard to keep us from a heart of gratitude and peace. A discontented heart = a disgruntled, and restless heart toward God, ourselves, and others.

Yes, we are supposed to have a deep longing for something beyond earth. We are wired to long for eternity, our true home (Hebrews 11:13-16), so we know nothing on earth will truly satisfy.

But if you are struggling with discontentment, consider the root of the frustration? Is your lack of satisfaction centred around your needs, or is it a lack of contentment rooted in desiring more in Christ?

Self-focused discontentment is essentially a mistrusting of God. It says that God is not doing his job of being a provider. It leads to jealousy. It suggests that God has or is making a mistake. It implies that your wisdom is higher than God’s. A discontented heart was what precisely drove Eve to first sin.

God calls us to learn to rest in his loving, all-knowing ways. He should be our highest joy (Psalm 4:7). If everything was taken away, Jesus could never be taken from us, and thus at the deepest level of our heart, true contentment can never be taken from us.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th February 2019

A couple of weeks ago I was meeting my friend in Birmingham for dinner. I arrived to the car park early, parking my car and sitting for a while, when I noticed in my review mirror a homeless man with a foam cup asking the occasional pedestrian for some money. When no one was around, and he had no idea I was watching, I saw him limping and shivering.

Closer to the time it was to meet my friend, I got out the car and walked past this man myself. He politely asked if I could please spare some change. I didn’t have any cash on me and offered to buy him a meal instead. He gratefully accepted. “What would you like?” I asked.  “Something hot”, he replied. Unfamiliar with the area I asked him what was nearby. He gestured towards some shops across the road. “What about this Italian restaurant right here?I’m about to go to for dinner there”, I suggested. “Ahh no, that’s far too expensive”, he responded shaking his head.

I felt prompted to not just to pay for a £1 Gregg’s sausage roll, but to actually give him something that he deserved. Jesus never loved people in halves and crumbs. Jesus was extra” in his loving.

“Perfect then! You deserve it! Italian it is!”, I told him. Blown away at the thought of some hot lasagne from an actual restaurant, we entered. I told him to order whatever he wanted off the menu.

As he waited for his hot chocolate, lasagna, and doughnuts, unprovoked he began talking about how he had been slowly coming off of alcohol, his childhood, and experiences with God. By now my friend had arrived.

He said that he never liked to hug people because of the state he was in. We gave him a big hug and his parting words to us were, “thanks for making me feel human again”.

As he walked out the door with his bag of food, he gave me a small token of appreciation, all he had in his foam cup – a Starburst sweet.

 

That sweet sits on my desk today as a reminder, that God is always opening doors for us to partner with him. My job that evening wasn’t necessarily to get him to church or convert him, it was simply to love him. I may be one of the many people in a network that God uses to get Chris where He wants him to be.

I tell this story to encourage you to be open to any opportunities to love people. The opportunities will surely come in unexpected moments, perhaps even at inconvenient times, and in mundane ways. Be open, be aware, and be ready!

People cannot argue with the love of God. The love of God cannot fail (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th February 2019

I stood at the door to my boss’s office in the upstairs of the restaurant, and nervously knocked and waited. It was my second job and I was about to break the news that I was about to resign.

I ran the whole restaurant, but it kept me out of church.

After his initial choice words and expletives, he turned it around and promised me the earth if I would stay. It was a major juncture in my life as I came face to face with a potential trade off – my future for his demands.

Was I willing to trade off my future for his offer? NO!

Everyone one of us will be faced with any number of trade-offs during our lives.
The trade-off will especially knock on your door as your devote your life to God’s plan and will ask you to make your choice of your way or God’s way.

My question to you is: will you hold fast or will you trade off your destiny?

Trade offs come in lots of different disguises…Money, sex and power to name but a few, but they all say the same thing – Sell your soul for what’s on offer.

Genesis 25:21,24,27,29,31-33 (MSG)
Isaac prayed hard to God for his wife because she was barren. God answered his prayer and Rebekah became pregnant. But the children tumbled and kicked inside her so much that she said, “If this is the way it’s going to be, why go on living?” She went to God to find out what was going on. God told her, Two nations are in your womb, two peoples butting heads while still in your body. One people will overpower the other, and the older will serve the younger. [24] When her time to give birth came, sure enough, there were twins in her womb. The first came out reddish, as if snugly wrapped in a hairy blanket; they named him Esau (Hairy). His brother followed, his fist clutched tight to Esau’s heel; they named him Jacob (Heel). Isaac was sixty years old when they were born. [27] The boys grew up. Esau became an expert hunter, an outdoorsman. Jacob was a quiet man preferring life indoors among the tents. Isaac loved Esau because he loved his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. [29] One day Jacob was cooking a stew. Esau came in from the field, starved. Esau said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stew—I’m starved!” That’s how he came to be called Edom (Red). [31] Jacob said, “Make me a trade: my stew for your rights as the firstborn.” [32] Esau said, “I’m starving! What good is a birthright if I’m dead?” [33] Jacob said, “First, swear to me.” And he did it. On oath Esau traded away his rights as the firstborn. Jacob gave him bread and the stew of lentils. He ate and drank, got up and left. That’s how Esau shrugged off his rights as the firstborn.

Esau was the first born. He had the birthright of special privileges, a double portion of the inheritance, dignity and future blessings but he also had a ravenous appetite. In a moment of wanting instant gratification, he was willing to ‘sell his soul’ for a bowl of stew.

For a moment, he was completely satisfied, but his future was sacrificed. That’s how quickly it can happen to you too.

Here are 5 points to consider before you trade off your future for instant gratification.

1) Identify what your future is worth. Don’t trade it for anything.

2) Am I willing to trade off a permanent promise from God for a temporary fix from man?

3) When you are having to convince yourself to convince yourself, then you know you are in danger.

4) It doesn’t have to be illegal or immoral for it to be wrong.

5) Never do anything that you wouldn’t be happy explaining to your children, family or friends.

Finally…when am I most likely to be vulnerable to the temptation of a trade-off?

– when hungry for success, recognition, satisfaction and power.

– when you need a quick fix – time is passing you by.

– when you’ve just accomplished something great for God – I deserve this. God owes me.

– when my appetite is inflamed. Sex, money, fame and power.

– when you’ve lost your way.

– when you’re tired.

Make the decision before you ever get to considering a trade off of your destiny. Decide that God’s way will always take first place over my way. No regrets.

Proverbs 3 v 5-6
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th February 2019

In the book of Acts chapter 3 vs 1-10 we read the story of a crippled beggar who sat outside the temple each day begging for money.

When Peter and John saw him, they said “we don’t have money, but what we do have we will give you, in the name of Jesus Christ, get up and walk”, and he did!


Wow! What a miracle…and the guy wasn’t actually asking for one…he was just hoping for a little money to help him in his disabled state.

Why is it that we don’t ask God for what we really desire or need?
Maybe we think…
a) I’m not good enough (there’s others more deserving than me)
b) I’m not in need enough (there’s others more in need than me)
Or maybe…
C) I’m not desperate enough. (Do we really want to see a change?)

God wants you to overcome that thinking right now
-You don’t have to be good enough, you never will be.  God loves us and He wants the best for us
-Your need is your need. It’s your miracle. And whether it’s £10 you need or healing from a disease, your need is important to Jesus, because it’s important to you.
– You need to pray and not give up. Sometimes we have to be desperate and persistent and when we are, God answers. The teaching of Jesus is that we should ask and believe and then we will receive.   (Mark 11 v 24).


I love Peter and John here…they didn’t give the man what he thought he needed or what he was willing to settle for, but they gave him what he really needed and that was his miracle of healing.

Be specific.  Be persistent.  Be thankful.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th February 2019

I was at a conference last week. As I was walking through the foyer of the venue, I was aware that I was approaching someone that I knew quite well but hadn’t seen for a time. They were in a deep conversation with someone else, but just as I was getting close by, they looked up and then looked straight at me; I enthusiastically acknowledged them with a smile and a wave, but to my amazement they looked at me completely blank. As I walked on by, I felt completely deflated. Questions raced through my mind, ranging from ‘have I upset them’ to ‘what did I say to them the last time we spoke?’ What on earth has happened to our friendship I thought, as I tried to rewind the last twelve months since we last met.

I decided that I would have to get over it, feeling that I failed to come up with any logical conclusion as to why I was dismissed out of hand.

It then dawned on me as to how many people had said to me over the years that I had ignored them in the foyer of our church. Ouch! No wonder they felt hurt and let down, I thought.

Two days later, I was walking outside the conference venue when that very same person was standing, larger than life, right there in front of me.

‘Mark…its so good to see you. I’ve been looking for you as I knew you were here’. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that we’d ‘almost’ met two days earlier.

After a very warm and genuine conversation, it became apparent that they had obviously looked straight through me when I thought they were looking straight at me.

My experience from those two days taught me more than ever never to look through people, no matter what may be going on. My perception of that person had initially left me beaten up and plagued with doubts and insecurities about myself; none of which was necessary, but for the fact that I had misread the situation.

The reality was that I hadn’t upset them, or said the wrong thing when we last spoke – it was a complete misunderstanding of what actually was going on.

Thankfully, more than ever, I will be conscious that when in a crowd, no matter how small or large, to never look right through another person again.

It should come as no surprise that Jesus always looks and sees, no matter how many people are crowding around Him.

There are many instances of Him never missing the one person that needed His attention; here’s one of them…

Luke 7:11-17 Soon afterwards, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’ Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. ‘A great prophet has appeared among us,’ they said. ‘God has come to help his people.’ This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

That day, both this lady and her family were restored.

Make sure that the next time you see someone, that you don’t look straight through them. They may well need your attention.


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th February 2019

What is your default mode when the struggle is real? How do you deal with pressure, stress, and uncertainty? It’s easy to manage ourselves when things are coasting along smoothly, but we can surprise even ourselves by how we deal with life’s uncomfortable moments. When triggered by pain, dark times, or challenging seasons, we might gravitate toward certain people, the wrong people, turn on our avoidance mechanisms, sleep more, eat more, try and micro-manage more, or disappear more. The problem is that these things may cover pain for a moment, but never lead us to greater freedom.

The beauty of walking with God is that it is in fact possible for a tough time to bring out the best in you, not the worst.

Paul was so sure of this that he said, he rejoiced in his weakness! For he knew this was where Christ’s power, and all sufficient grace could be made manifest (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). For when he was weak, God was the strongest!

God therefore does not leave us in the hard times, but is able to be glorified IN you, in those times. A struggle is an invitation for you to shine – not by your own effort, but by the power and the strength of God at work in you.  Rather than capitulating to an automatic feeling or response under pressure, surrender to the grace of God.

Ask the Holy Spirit today to highlight to you that which your automatic response default mode is. Ask him to sensitise you. Consider why you might respond the way you do and adjust your coping mechanism.

‘To dance in the dark demonstrates a lavish display of trust’ (Alicia Britt Cole, 40 Days of Decrease’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th February 2019

I love dogs. I love that God made these creatures that have skills and abilities that far surpass that of humans. Humans then rely on dogs for different jobs, and in return dogs are thrilled to receive a small amount of play or praise as their hard-earned reward. There are police dogs, guard dogs, herding dogs, search and rescue dogs, medical dogs, military dogs, and service dogs.  

 

What often grants them these roles is their ability to smell. They can sniff out the faintest traces of drugs, bombs, guns, and suspects. Some medical dogs can even smell the slightest drop in blood-sugar levels. Other dogs can hunt down a missing body by tracing the smell of a single drop of blood or tooth. The number of receptors in their nose, coupled with the design of their face, helps dogs to absorb scents. But it takes more than just their God-given, natural ability for a dog to do its job. A master or trainer must take the dog’s natural inclination and enhance it. It takes a working dog up to 600 hours of training to get them to hone their natural ability into a skill set.  

 

We all have inbuilt, God-given, natural inclinations, skill sets and gifts. We all desire to achieve and succeed in them. But do we take them, train them, hone them, and sharpen them? Do we fan into flame our gifts? (2 Timothy 1:6). Taking the time to invest into your skills and abilities is honouring to God as you are stewarding that which He has given you. Often we want the reward, without the hard-work. We want to ‘make-it’, without the time and dedication it takes to get where we want to be.  

When we take what God has put in us seriously, we find mentors, commit time to sharpen the gift, actively and intentionally seek growth, we stay open to feedback, learn from our mistakes and do the very best that we can.  

 

A dog that can fetch and return a ball, is the same dog that can find a missing person. The only difference is that one has been trained and worked hard to enhance what is naturally in it. What has God put in you that you need to take seriously?

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th February 2019

If you’re going to go forward in life, you must quit looking backwards.

Some people are always dwelling on their disappointments.

Some people have lived so long in self-pity that it has become part of their identity.

We’ve all had negative things happen to us; you may have gone through things that no one deserves to experience in life.

Maybe your dreams look more like a nightmare as they look so far away from ever working out.

I don’t mean to minimise what anyone has gone through, but if you want to live in victory, you can’t let your past poison your future.

Feeling sorry for yourself will only push people away from you long term, so it’s time to let go of your victim mentality as nobody, not even God, ever promised that life would be fair.

Make a fresh start today by forgiving those people that did you wrong, but equally so, forgive yourself for the mistakes that you have made.

If you’re not willing to let go of the old, don’t expect God to do the new. You’ll never be truly happy as long as you harbour bitterness in your heart.

If you’ve had some unfair things happen to you, make a decision that you’re going to stop replaying those things in your memory. To constantly focus on all the negatives and the mistakes that you have made, only perpetuates the problem.

Matthew 11:28-30 Message Bible
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Let these verses sink deep within your soul today; Why not repeat them over and over again until they become part of you?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th February 2019

When I was younger, I didn’t want to get married. I was worried that it wouldn’t work out and I’d be left to pick up the pieces. I thought I was being cautious, even wise, avoiding commitment. But I’ve since realised I was actually just afraid.

Sometimes we tell ourselves we’re being wise, cautious prayerful… but we’re actually just living in fear. Making decisions about your future based on what could go wrong isn’t wisdom – it is putting fear in the driver’s seat of your life. Marriage is risky. Having a family is risky. LOVE is risky. But I don’t want to ever miss out because I’m bullet-proofing my life from everything – including happiness. Today, my prayer for you and for me is never to hide behind fear and call it wisdom.

 

Philippa Hanna

(reposted, with permission. Original post over at www.instagram.com/philippahanna). 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th February 2019

How many times do we feel like the enemy that we are facing is too much? Maybe whatever you are  facing feels huge and sometimes you can feel totally on your own and unable to deal with it.

Maybe it’s a sickness, a finance problem or relationship issue,  maybe it’s people and you feel that you just can’t deal with it.
This week I’ve been listening to the song ‘Surrounded’ (written by Michael W. Smith) Which has really spoken to me and encouraged  me. It led me to the passage in 2 Kings chapter 6 (vs 8 onwards) where Elisha, the man of God is really hearing from God and operating in the supernatural.

The enemy, the King of Aram,  wants to fight the Israelites, and so Elisha hears from God, and lets the king know of the strategy of the enemy and he warns him.
The enemy (King of Aram) gets mad and thinks they have a spy on the inside who keeps telling the Israelite King. But he then discovers that it’s Elisha…so he sends some people to kill him and with them, he sends many horses and chariots.
Elisha is with his young servant guy, who looks out of the window and sees the enemy in full force… He says to Elisha “what are we going to do?” (Vs15) And Elisha tells him that there are more with them than with the enemy army!  Vs 16don’t be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” There were only two of them!! However, with God we always have the majority.

Whatever you are facing today, whatever is surrounding you, remember this…you’re surrounded by God and that’s all you need to know. The enemy or his plan cannot touch you when you are in the family of God.

Pastor Gillian


A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th February 2019

A friend of mine recently bought a new car, and after marveling at the modern technology inside it, I decided to look at the important details of the car. Things like, how big the engine is, which say how fast it is. I was quite disappointed to find out that it had a small engine and thought to myself what a shame – it would probably struggle to go up a hill. That was until I turned the page. Not only was it fast, but it was kind to polar bear cubs and penguins whilst going fast – more fuel efficient.

A lot of times we think bigger is better, or that bigger can achieve more because, after all, might is right. But in 1 Samuel 17, a young shepherd called David approaches a fight with a giant called Goliath and in verse 40, chooses five small, smooth stones to go to battle with. This was against the advice of people who wanted him to use something bigger, because that’s what they would have used in his situation.

We each have five rocks that we lean on through life, relationships, careers, finances, health, and spiritual growth. Life would be great if all these were the biggest and best all the time. But difficult circumstances always seem to come up that can leave us washed up and worn out both physically and mentally, slowly chipping away at one or more of the rocks that hold us up.

David actually chose five huge rocks to fight Goliath. The only thing was, time in the water had eroded them, making them smaller. But at the same time, that made them more useful – imagine carrying and trying to throw a huge rock at Goliath! In the same way, times when God is removing dead weight and smoothing out the rough edges from us is never a bad thing, even though it feels like we’re becoming smaller.

Jesus made you big enough to overcome any giant that comes your way, and if you look up, you’ll find He is reaching down to pick you up just as you are, just when you think you’re now too weathered to be of any use to anyone.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th February 2019

Avoid assuming the motives of others! Avoid assuming what people are thinking and how they feel about you!

The Bible says that we ourselves don’t always understand our heart (1 Corinthians 2:11), so how much more do we not understand the motives of others?

When the Bible tells us not to judge others, this does not mean that we can’t show discernment. There are different types of judgment.

Jesus encourages us to be truth seekers and discern what is right from wrong, but it is the judgment by mere appearances that Jesus tells us to stop. “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24).

The Bible tells us that passing judgement without fact, honest conversation and healthy communication is superficial judgement and frankly foolish (Proverbs 18:13). Superficial judgement isn’t just assuming the worst about someone based on looks or sinful behaviour, superficial judgement includes assuming people’s motives and thoughts towards you.

To walk around assuming people’s feelings and motives is draining and judgemental behaviour. Assume the best of people and you will find you have a lot more room to love others, and to be loved in return!

Emma Burchell

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th February 2019

How do we cope when God doesn’t meet our expectations? There are times when we can wonder if Jesus really is who he said he is. Jesus’ actions were not matching John’s expectations. John’s certainty of who Jesus was, was questioned when the actions of Jesus didn’t match the expectations of John.

John used his public ministry to point people to God. John was confident in the goodness of God and had experienced it first-hand. However, when John found himself in prison, he in fact sent one of his disciples to Jesus to ask him if he really was who he said he was (Matthew 11:3).

From our place of prison or pain, we too can wonder if Jesus really is who we have believed him to be.

Jesus responded to John with, ‘Recall what I have done in the past. Accept me as the Great I Am of your future’.

When your longings are unmet, when God doesn’t do what you think he should do, when your heart is heavy with disappointment and you feel like you can’t trust God with something else, God has the same response towards us, ‘Recall what I have done in the past. Accept me as the Great I Am of your future’.

The people of John 12:29-36 had mostly been taught from the passages of the law, which spoke mostly of a saving messiah. They were generally unaware of the passages that spoke of his pain too. When they witnessed his pain toward the cross, they therefore believed that surely this couldn’t be the messiah then? Like these people, let’s not let pain, cause us to question the saving power of God. Just as they couldn’t see the whole picture (that his very pain would lead to ultimate freedom and his resurrection), we too can’t separate pain from our faith journey and assume our present struggle is the whole picture! There is more!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th February 2019

One of the biggest songs of 2018 was titled ‘In My Feelings.’ Maybe without knowing it, Drake was speaking to how many of us live our lives when he gave this song its name.

‘In my feelings’ is so often how I can live my life. It’s the place where many of my decisions are birthed, it’s the place where many of the steps that I take are dictated.

However I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my life to be lived from my feelings alone, but instead, from my convictions.

If I think back to my childhood, most of the things that I should’ve done, I would’ve never done, if I had based my decisions on my feelings; my teeth would have hardly been brushed, my room would rarely have been tidy, and I don’t think I would have gone to school a day in my life.

However, I did all of those things often. Why? Because I was taught that feelings don’t have to have the final say in my life, but there are times when I must act in spite of how I feel.

This lesson that hopefully we each grew up learning is one that many of us need reminding of today… feelings are good, feelings are important, but they don’t have to be the dominant factor in our lives.

I want to ask you this: when was the last time you added something to your list of convictions?

Maybe you used to have convictions, but over time they’ve been watered down, or it’s possible that you’ve never had any.

Today would be a great day for you to determine what are your convictions, what are your priorities and what are for you, the non-negotiables in your life.

You must then make a decision that when it comes to my convictions, my feelings don’t get consulted. After all, I control them… they don’t control me.

Maybe today, ‘In My Convictions’ needs to become the new soundtrack of our lives.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th February 2019

My work started today by trudging through all the countless emails that I had accumulated over the weekend.

I can assure you that the vast majority were nothing to do with necessity, urgency, problems, encouragement or popularity, but to do with just one word – JUNK.

Everyday we all have to sift through all the junk mail that comes to us in a modern world knowing that we can’t afford to miss that one email that we were waiting or hoping for.

I had a friend that was so fed up with the amount of emails that he received on a daily basis, that he would ignore them for as long as possible, and then delete the whole lot! I soon learnt that the only way to communicate with him by email, was to send at least 3 identical messages, all with the title ‘URGENT‘ in bold capitals. Occasionally it would grab his attention and I’d get a reply!

Being continually bombarded by junk mail is no different in many ways to the amount of ‘junk thoughts’ that enter our minds every day.


I wonder how many thoughts you have had to sift through just to start the day off today?

How many of us have found some pretty horrendous things coming into out minds, even before we got out of bed?

The key is, just like with your emails, to quickly deal with the junk and delete it without reading it. Don’t even open it as you know it will only want you to give it your attention.

Be ruthless with your thoughts.

Don’t attach any importance whatsoever to the junk thoughts.

Remember, you’re not the only one getting them as they are being sent out to millions of people all at the same time hoping that they will gain someone’s attention. Decide it’s not going to be you.

-Press delete now.

-Don’t flag them for later.

-Don’t believe what the subject says.

-Bin them before they bin you.

Amongst all of the chit-chat that is going on inside of your head right now, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you clearly above the noise of everything else.

Don’t mistakenly delete His ‘mail’ to you…that’s the one that you need to read today.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.



Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd February 2019


“Would ‘sorry’ have made any difference? Does it ever? It’s just a word. One word against a thousand actions.”– Sarah Ockler

There are three very important words that we teach our children from when they are able to talk.  They are: Please, Thank you and Sorry. However it seems the first two are easier to grasp that the latter, especially as we grow into adulthood.  As difficult as it may be to say it, when one sincerely says I’m sorry, they are offering an apology, an word that could save a lot of heartache, a word that could lead to so much freedom, a word that has the ability to mend an irreconcilable situation yet for some reason many adults would rather go through all the turmoil than utter this one word.

Saying “sorry” denotes that you have chosen your relationship over your ego. Yet so many of us can’t find the strength within us to admit our fault. It’s not that we do not want to apologise, is it perhaps that there are some obstacles that hold us back from making a genuine apology.

When you apologise, you admit that you may be wrong; to most people this is a threat to their ego and pride.  We should learn how to be objective and admit our mistakes, and not to allow our egocentrism to blind us

Some people see an apology as a confirmation of guilt and, as a result, of responsibility for the conflict. They mistakenly believe that if they apologise, then the other person wouldn’t realise his or her own wrong behaviour. This is false. Apologising in fact opens the lines of communication, and stimulates empathy and understanding on both sides.
Sometimes the apology is viewed as a means to draw attention to the mistake. This leads to a misguided implication that it’s better to ignore or deny offenses and hope that nobody will notice. But it doesn’t matter how little the mistake is; if there is hurt involved, you should apologise rather than let it fester.
Sometimes it’s simply that one person thinks that he or she is the one who deserves the apology first so they wait for the other person to apologise.

Making the first step will increase your self -respect, it never diminishes it   

Some people assume that apologising is a sign of weakness, but actually I believe it is a hallmark of strength. It is in fact an act of bravery, because it subjects people to the risk of humiliation.

On the other hand, forgiveness is a dominant theme throughout the Bible.  If we are the ones who are being offered an apology, may we have the same grace that  Jesus had for us when he forgave us of all our sins, for we all have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23), so who are we to  hold on to unforgiveness.

Finally may we not live our lives expecting an apology, some might wrong us unknowingly or that apology you have been waiting for may never come, that is not our responsibility or concern.  

 

Our responsibility is to live in love, forgiveness and fullness and experience the true Joy and Peace that was designed for us.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st February 2019


A happy person is not a person with a certain set of circumstances, but a certain set of attitudes.

Some time back I was bought Sir Alex Ferguson’s book titled ‘Leading’. It’s an exceptional book. It’s well worth the read, especially for anyone leading anything, even if you have no interest in football.

In the early pages of his book he says these words, “If I was starting out again as a manager, the thing I would focus on the most is a players attitude during training sessions.”

Today, it would appear that too much emphasis is placed on an individual’s ability or gift. People get initially drawn in by charisma not realising that they are very short on character. When this happens, the person’s life becomes ‘top heavy’, and it’s only a matter of time before he or she is going to topple.

Ability and gift, when you think about it, doesn’t originate with the person, as they have little to do with it – it was given to them to use and is on loan, yet over emphasis in that department leads to a person feeling superior just as if they had done something to deserve it.

Focusing on character and attitude brings with it a humility that can sustain natural ability and gifting, so much so that when person with a great attitude gets to the top of his game, they are able to remain level-headed and in most cases understand that the gift that they possess is just that – a gift.

A great attitude brings with it a likeability that in itself brings promotion.

Attitude determines three very distinct things much like in an aircraft taking off; the speed of the plane is important, but the plane can only take off when what is called ‘attitude’ is correctly achieved. Attitude is when a plane’s nose is pointed up at the correct angle. Once speed is achieved, then attitude determines whether or not the plane will climb.
Everything on a flight can be set correctly, but if a plane’s attitude is set wrong it will eventually crash.

1. Attitude determines altitude – How high you climb in life is determined by your attitude.


2. Attitude determines how quickly you will get there – getting to your destination in life, on time, is determined by your attitude.


3. Attitude determines your success when you get there – just because you may feel that you have ‘arrived’ is no guarantee that you will make it when you are there…that is left in the hands of your attitude.

Time and time again I have watched gifted people come crashing down because their attitude was wrong, but equally so I have watched far lesser gifted people rise because their attitude was right.

The message is simple: ignore the importance of attitude at you peril.

Philippians 2:3-11 Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own. The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death— his death on the cross. For this reason God raised him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name. And so, in honor of the name of Jesus all beings in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will fall on their knees, and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.



Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.