Fresh Hope – 31st July 2019

One of my favourite films growing up was The Princess Diaries. 

It’s a story of an ordinary teenager who finds out she is a princess. Upon learning she is royalty, she has ‘Princess lessons’ to learn how to look, speak and act like a royal. It was an outward transformation to reflect and honour her stature.  

1 Peter 2:9 says But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness into marvellous light.  

Like many royals, and the girl in Princess Diaries, they are royal by birth. Royal by blood.  

Like you and I. 

Romans 8:17 says ‘Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.’ 

We are not royal because of who we are, we are royal because of who we belong to.  

When they are surrounded by non-royals, the Royal family follow many rules to make sure that their behaviour, appearance and attitude is always honouring to their position. Their every action is scrutinized by the public or the press so they endeavour to remain respectful to their royal appointment.  

We spend a lot of our days surrounded by non-Christians. Is our behaviour honouring of our royal appointment? Are our words those of Jesus, making people feel valued, loved and respected?  

The beauty of being royal by birth means that no matter where they go wrong, they still have ‘royal blood’. No matter where we have gone wrong in life, we are still covered by royal blood.  

Be secure in who you belong to, honour the stature we have been given and walk out the truth that you are royal.  

 

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th July 2019

The first thing that Adam and Eve did when they sinned was cover up. Why? Because they were suddenly riddled with SHAME.

‘At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves’ (Genesis 3:7).

Shame causes you to hide. Adam and Eve didn’t want to be exposed, and so hid. In their state of shame, they masked up any vulnerabilities. Shame will tell you, you can never be fully loved, if you’re never fully seen and known.

You see, before that, they enjoyed perfect relationship and connection with God. Suddenly that was broken by sin. They didn’t feel worthy any more.

Today, shame has the same effect on us. It causes us to disconnect and hide away from God and healthy people.  Shame is the deep sense that ‘I am not worthy’.  We don’t want our vulnerabilities to be exposed, so we hide away from the very voices that we should be opening up to. Shame isolates you and tells you, you are the only one going through whatever you are feeling. Shame is the community killer. If you are not being known, then it is because you have shame.  

You beat shame with vulnerability. Become good at exposing the very thing you want to hide.

The problem with hiding from people though is that you and your sin are often left in the darkness. And like mould, sin and shame grows in darkness. You need the light of truth to destroy the festering mould.

We must grow in becoming more vulnerable with the right people. We must actively seek out the wisdom and truth of others, even when we feel ashamed of ourselves, in fact, all the more when we feel stuck in shame. Press into vulnerability!

Vulnerability is pulling down the mask, the fig leaf, and inviting the right people into the good, the bad and the ugly of your life. It is inviting their wisdom, truth and light into your darkness, bringing you into freedom!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th July 2019

In Matthew 28:18 Jesus said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’. We are then told, in Ephesians 2:6, ‘For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus’. Through Jesus we have the same authority that Jesus walked in. We are ‘seated with Him’, and united with Him. This means we are POWERFUL people. We aren’t victims to life.

As a teacher of Art, I often see students comparing their skill set to the person next to them. They get discouraged with their art piece and begin using language like, ‘It’s too hard’ or ‘I can’t do that’. I have banned the ‘I can’t’ phrase in my classroom! Why? Because this language is rooted in powerlessness!

The driving force behind someone who is powerless is anxiety and fear. They live believing that most things and people are more powerful than them. They are positioned as the victim, the tail, and not the head. This is wrong because it is contrary to our position in Christ.

For the powerless person, life always seems on top of them. There is always a problem, and never a solution. Often they feel they need other people to protect them, do jobs for them, make them happy, and be responsible for them.

People with a victim mentality don’t have the capacity to give, because they believe they don’t. They will look for what they can take, and they struggle to own their own mistakes.

On the flip side, a powerful person knows that they cannot control others, and know their job is to manage themselves. They create the world in which they want to live. Life doesn’t just happen to a powerful person. A powerful person makes conscious choices that set up life for them. They aren’t driven by what is going on around them, they set the climate for what is going on around them. They understand that they have control over their emotions and heart. They choose to love and be the bigger person, not swayed by emotion. They are responsive, not reactive. They know who they are in God, and operate from a mind-set of victory, not defeat.

God has made us powerful people. Let’s live like it. Change the way you think and see who you really are as a child of God. It is an on-going process of letting go of a victim, powerless mind-set, and embracing your true identity! Ask God in what areas of your life you are living under a powerless, victim mind-set.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

Fresh Hope – 27th July 2019

Who do you love most fiercely, most protectively, most desperately here on earth? What would you do for them? Know that it’s a mere fraction, nearly immeasurable of what God would do for you.

Regardless of how beautifully or how imperfectly your earthly father showed his love to you, your heavenly Father’s love is utterly boundless. Rest in that thought a moment. There is nothing you can do to change how he feels about you. Nothing!

We spend so much time trying to make ourselves more lovable, giving out our very best, being there for pretty much everyone. It’s easy to forget we are already perfectly loved. Our father loves us more than we can imagine and He would do anything for us.

Matthew 18:12-13 tells us “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off”.

That’s how much God loves each one of us. It almost seems unfair that he would leave the ninety – nine to find that one lost sheep until that one sheep is you.

I love the parable of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:11–32. The son had been dishonouring to his father and had left home but eventually decided to return even before the son reaches home, the father is watching and waiting. Then, when he sees his son approaching, the father with immense joy gathers up his best robes and dashes out to greet his missing child with hugs and kisses. His wayward child, who was dead and is now alive, was lost and now is found!

Like the prodigal son, we have all made foolish mistakes, rejected and dishonoured our Father and fallen short. No matter what we have done, He awaits us with arms wide open and just wants to shower us with His love and blessings. That is the unconditional Love of God that is available to all of us.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th July 2019

As you read the following statements ,
start each one by first inserting your name where you see ##### – as though someone were talking to you.
(Insert your name and read the following statements out loud).
‘####’ you are unique
  • ‘You are the only one of your kind…
  • You are unlike anyone else – distinctive, individual, special
‘####’ you are significant
  • ‘you are important enough to be worthy of attention’
‘####’ you are beloved
  • ‘you are greatly loved, you are dear to the heart’

Did those statements encourage you and set you up well for the rest of the day?!

 

Perhaps they may have been a wake up call to stop talking over yourself negatively.

 For others, although you’ve spoken the words out loud, they remained superficial statements because you wouldn’t necessarily attach so much importance to yourself, or believe such statements could describe you.?

 

Life has its ups and downs and it can be all the more difficult if we do not believe that our lives, our very existence has significance or value.

 That’s why I love the Bible.

It is the best manual for life that there is.

A love letter to humanity, to people who continually fall short in thinking that they can get by on their own.

I believe it can help people come into the knowledge of a God who places value and purpose over their lives.

God forged a plan to ensure that people could truly live their best life- not just by trying to be good, or thinking positively or even by being nice to people .

 

The Bible shows that the key to a significant life is through encountering Jesus (God become man).

Through Jesus, people can encounter a God who desires to be in relationship with them.

 

John 3 :16 MSG This is how much God loves the world.

He gave His son, His one and only Son. And that is why no one need be destroyed by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

 If you know Jesus today, be reminded again what He has done for you and determine to live from a place of security – nothing can separate you from the greatest love that ever was and still is today.

 

If you don’t know Jesus yet, know this: He longs to know you and to be known by you.

He desires above anyone else for those statements to ring true in your heart and to bring you to fullness and significance in life that you could have only ever dreamed of.

 

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th July 2019

Our experience of life is ever changing and the pace seems to get faster every day. Life can be a whirlwind and the older you get the faster it seems to go. You watch the seasons and years come and go, your children are born, then go to school, college, university, and then married before you know it. 1 Peter 1:24 tells us that our lives are like grass that soon withers, and some days it certainly feels that way.

Our experience of human relationships and human love can be similar. People come in and out of our lives, people hurt us, people we love get sick, people we love die.

Even in the natural world everything around us is in constant change.

Maybe that is why it can be so hard for us to grasp the unchanging nature of God. When nothing we experience in our lives or natural world is fixed and unchanging, God is just that – ever present and constant.

Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus is ‘the same yesterday, today and tomorrow’. He is the ‘Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end’ (Revelation 22:13). In a world that is in constant change, He is unchanging.

But not in a cold unfeeling way, do not imagine a stern parent or a harsh boss who stands remote and hard refusing to budge as we plead with him. The Bible is clear that ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8) and everything He thinks about us is based on the fact that He loves us, unconditionally. It is His love for us that is unchanging like a solid rock, a foundation, an anchor,something secure and supportive to build our lives upon. His nature is love and that nature does not change, of that we can be absolutely certain.

Maybe you have never experienced love like that. Perhaps the human love you have experienced has fallen short or let you down. Maybe you are right now caught in a storm in your life, a storm of anxiety, fear, sickness, grief, depression or relationship breakdown.

Jesus tells us to build our lives upon the rock of God’s love. It is a firm foundation, it will not crumble or let you down. No matter what life throws at you, however hard the day is that you are facing today. Know that God loves you exactly where you are and for who you are. His love is higher, stronger and more constant than our human minds are able to grasp.

He is the constant, stand on Him.

 

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th July 2019

It’s no surprise that we dream big from a young age. It is wired into our DNA to be people who make a difference. We want to leave a mark on the world. We want to change the culture we are in. 

In Genesis 1:26-27 we read, Then God said, “Let Us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them’.

This tells us that we as mankind are: 

1. Made in the image of God (carry His traits). 

2. We have it in us to have authority and dominion over the culture we are in. No wonder we desire to change a world! Christian or not, it is inbuilt in the DNA of mankind, as people made in the image of God!

We not only want to CREATE culture because God did. As image bearers of Christ, we are also made to redeem culture! The desire to redeem is in our DNA. This also isn’t just evident in Christians, but in non-Christians too! We hunger to do good and make a difference. 

Why? Because Jesus came into the world and redeemed us (John 3:16). God first created, and then when it was broken he redeemed. 

You have it in your DNA to recognise brokenness in the culture you are in today and bring redemption. In your home, in your office, in your school, in your church. You are a culture creator and a culture redeemer! 

Isaiah 61 says, ‘The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound’.

Do not conform to a culture you have obviously been called to create. You have been purposely positioned among the broken. You don’t run from the culture you are in. You create it. You redeem it. This is your mandate! 

You are a cultural architect! As an image bearer of Christ, you build and establish the culture of Heaven!

Emma Burchell

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.  

Fresh Hope – 23rd July 2019

John 10:10 says ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’

 

The enemy has a lot of tricks up his sleeve and not one of them is new but one of the most common things he can get you to do is shift your focus and distract you from your purpose. At every turn now, we are presented with opportunities to compare ourselves to others, focus only on our problems or what we don’t have in our lives and consume media that subtly tells us we’re not enough and more often than not, that leaves us feeling inadequate.

 

The Bible says that ‘no weapon formed against you shall prosper’. But what happens when that weapon is your own mind?

 You combat those thoughts with the word of God.

 What does he say about you? ‘You are fearfully and wonderfully made’ – Psalm 139:13

 What does he say about your future? For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

How does he tell you to overcome troubles?

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

 There is no area in your life that is beyond what God can do. He knows the desires of your heart and He’s already gone before you. We weren’t designed to carry the burdens that we take upon ourselves.

 Spend time with God and ask Him to reveal things to you. He made us which means He knows us better than we know ourselves.

 

I guarantee that the more you fall in love with God and the life He gives to us through salvation, you wouldn’t dare dream of being anyone else.

 You’re one of one. There is nobody else like you, God made sure of that.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd July 2019

Offence is holding resentment for being treated how you perceive, as unfairly. 

We will all have the opportunity to be offended at least once in our lifetime. Someone doesn’t behave how you would expect. Someone does or says something behind your back, or maybe they do it to your face. 

The question is not ‘will we get offended?‘, rather, ‘How will we handle it when it inevitably happens?’ 

Offence can seem justified and natural, but if left unchecked, it can quickly take root in our heart, leading to bitterness. Bitterness can then turn into hatred. The thing with hatred is that it leaves no room for love. We are not designed for hatred so it will eventually destroy us. 

So when we get offended, how do we manage it? 

1. Take it to God. Seek out wisdom as to what to do with it. It may be something you need to address with the person. It may be something you just need to let go of. ‘A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression’, Proverbs 19:11. It may be something that you need to wait on. It may be something you need to act on. James 1:5 tells us that, ‘if you ask for wisdom, God will give it generously without finding fault’. 

2. If the offence has been directed at you and you feel it is something that you cant let go, go to the individual privately. Do not broadcast the situation to others. Do not try and win people over to your case (Matthew 18:15-21). Make your approach in conversation honestly and with vulnerability, not in anger, attack or revenge. Your ultimate goal is restoration of relationship, peace and unity, not winning an argument. ‘Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’, Ephesians 4:2-3.

Sometimes the person who has offended you doesn’t even know it! Go talk it out! Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemyProverbs 27:5-6.

3. Check your heart. Why are you offended? Is it a righteous anger, or an anger rooted in your own insecurities? If you are coming from the wrong place, you will be offensive in return. 

4. Grow from the outcome. Whatever the outcome consider what you can learn from it. What have you leant about God? What have you learnt about people? What have you learnt about yourself? Moving forward, forgive the offender. Show in action and words that their offensive behaviour doesn’t have a hold on your life and that you trust God to deal with them! (Note, that this doesn’t always mean you totally trust the offender easily again!). Be the bigger person. ‘Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge’ (Romans 12:17-19)

5. Remember. Remember that we all fall short. We all have weaknesses. No one is perfect. When you consider where you have potentially offended others, it doesn’t justify their behaviour, but gives you a little more grace and understanding. Consider the person through God’s eyes and ask, ‘Why might they have offended? What is going on inside of them for them to behave that way?‘ This forces you to respond from a spiritual angle, rather than react from an emotional angle. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th July 2019

The gifts that God has given to you are not the same as the gifts that He has given to anyone else.

Why do you keep being frustrated by looking at what God has done in someone else’s life, and then belittle what He has done in yours?

If you compare yourself with others, you’ll never be at peace; somebody out there will always be great at something you’d just love to be good at, but maybe you weren’t supposed to be good at that, instead, you were supposed to be great at something else.

One sentence, just one, was spoken to me many years ago, after trying to succeed at being someone that I wasn’t created to be. As I looked around at those that were doing amazing things with their lives, subconsciously I’d try to emulate what they were doing.

I’d listen to those that preached amazingly and tried to be like them, but all was in vain.

That one sentence went like this: ‘why don’t you just be you, because we like you just the way you are?’

In a moment, I realised that I was putting all my effort into being who I wasn’t, rather than using my energies to make a difference through who I was.

I was almost 40 years of age when that happened, but you don’t have to wait a day longer than necessary to have that revelation – be who you were created to be.

By all means change and be inspired by others, but don’t try to be a copy…you’re an original.

When you live happily in your own skin, the pressure to prove and to be approved of lifts off you, you become free to be you.

Remember: there will always be someone that can do what you do better than you, but there’s only one person that can do it just like you – YOU!

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th July 2019

The environment in which you experience an event dictates the outcome. If for example you experience the event of meeting a lion, and your environment is a zoo or safari park, I’m sure it will be a great experience. If you experience a lion in the environment of the Serengeti plains of Africa by yourself without any form of self-protection, it could well be a truly terrifying experience!

Psalms 46:1-3 | NIV God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

This idea can help us better understand the many references to God as a refuge in the Bible. When we learn to start the day seeking His presence for the day, giving over any concerns and worries to Him, we are, effectively building a safe enclosure in which to experience that day’s events.

There is a great example of this in 2 Chronicles with King Jehoshaphat.

In 2 Chronicles 19, you can read how King Jehoshaphat goes through Judah and calls all the people back to God appointing judges and Levites to carry out their correct duties.

Then in chapter 20 verse 2 ‘Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom!”

This was the worst possible news and a fight Jehoshaphat knew he couldn’t win in the natural. Then in verse 3, his response is to seek God first.

God’s response soon comes in verse 15:
‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’

God encourages Jehoshaphat and all the people, that the battle belongs to the Lord!

If you read on, they go to battle and as they go they sing praises to God, and as they reach where they should be encountering the conflict, they find all the enemies dead! Not only had they avoided death as below in verse 25 they had so much plunder it took three days to collect!

This is such a great picture of how it’s not ‘what we face’ but it’s ‘how we face’ it that makes the difference! I encourage you to learn no matter what we face, if we experience it with the backdrop of Jesus, the context of a God who has already won, we can actually enjoy and be abundantly blessed by what should really harm us!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th July 2019

In the New Testament, there is the story of the woman who had a medical issue, which caused chronic loss of blood and how she received her healing.

Matthew 9:20-22 gives us the account, ‘Just then, a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.’

There are some things that this woman’s healing can teach us…

One touch is all it takes – once she had touched Jesus, she was healed instantly. She had been on her journey for 12 long years, treated by medical experts. Many would have given up but her healing shows us that it is never too late to reach out to Jesus. Where man fails, God’s glory can be shown.

God sees it all– as weak and feeble as her touch may have been, Jesus knew immediately that someone had touched His garment. We may feel sometimes as though we have no strength to put behind our prayers, but no matter how weak we feel, God’s power can touch us all the same.

Romans 8:26 says ‘In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.’

She received her whole miracle – we serve a God who doesn’t do half-measures. The scripture tells us that she was ‘freed from her suffering’. God’s promises are ‘yes’ and ‘amen’. She didn’t just feel a little bit better, she was completely free. Such is the nature of God.

Don’t give up. It only takes one step towards God to get his attention and one touch from Him can restore you fully.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th July 2019

The enemy has no authority over you (Jesus dealt with that at the cross!). YOU are the one with the authority now (you received it through Jesus – Luke 10:19). So the only way the enemy can have influence in your life is if you give him your keys of authority. 

What the enemy cannot take from you, he will convince you to give it away. If he can get you bogged down in things, then he has taken away your ability to move into all that God has for you and his work is done! 

Here are 3 things the enemy will convince you (often, without you even realising) to get caught up in: 

1. Busyness – Distraction is one of the greatest and most subtle tactics of the enemy. He will use even good things to take your focus off what is most important. If he can keep you busy with seemingly productive commitments that rob you from your time with God, your spouse, family, and church, then he has you where he wants you! Time with God is the most valuable asset to your growth and effectiveness as Christian, don’t think the enemy will not go after it!

‘Fix your eyes on Jesus’, Hebrews 12:2

2. Opinions of man – When you esteem the opinion of others above the opinion of God you will be easily tossed to and fro in life. You will be easily offended, quickly discouraged, driven by people pleasing and striving for affirmation. Hold the opinion of man lightly. Your value comes entirely from the fact that you are a child of God. Find your security in Him. Psalm 118:8 – ‘It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man’. 

Isaiah 2:22 – ‘Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?

3. Disappointments – Disappointment is inevitable. Unmet expectations for yourself, for others and for God. Left unchecked, disappointment will lead to resentment and unforgiveness – which will eat you and your destiny alive! Grieve, but trust in the Lord’s plan. Don’t let the enemy get a hold of your destiny through disappointment. 

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’, Jeremiah 29:11.

No one is exempt from encountering busyness, fear of man, or the pain of disappointment. Jesus warned us, ‘…in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). Jesus offers us peace because He has come to bring rest to combat busyness, a sure identity to combat the need of approval from man, and hope in a world of disappointments. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th July 2019

In the same way that an intense workout improves fitness, or a bone break strengthens the bone, or a disease enhances the immune system, or intense heat produces a diamond, or an iron grating against the edge of a knife sharpens the knife, so a relational conflict can actually bring forth fruit, making you better, your relationship better and your connection stronger!

In any relationship where there are two people with varying upbringings, opinions, individual brains, feelings and experiences, there will eventually be a clash of ideas. In fact in a healthy relationship there should be a clash at some point, because you should be two freethinking individuals, able to freely voice your thoughts, feelings and ideas! How they are voiced and processed however, is important. Your contradicting opinions and ideas will either make or break the relationship. Your goal is to be better together on the other side of conflict!

Here are 8 tips to communicate better in conflict:


1. Make understanding each other your ultimate goal, not proving your point.

2. Your thoughts, feelings and needs are valuable and so are theirs.

3. Do not participate in disrespectful conversation. Stop the conversation and set boundaries. Continue when respect is restored.

4. It’s your job to explain what is going on inside of you. The other person isn’t a mind reader. Don’t expect them to know what you are feeling unless you have communicated it to them.

5. Communicate your feelings using ‘I messages’. Use clear and specific statements about how you are feeling, rather than using ‘YOU never!’, or ‘YOU always’, language.

6. When they communicate their needs, it is your job to listen well.

7. Commit to protecting the connection.

8. It’s your job to manage your heart post-conflict.

So may the words of my mouth, my meditation-thoughts,
and every movement of my heart be always pure and pleasing, acceptable before your eyes, my only Redeemer, my Protector-God’, Psalm 19:14.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th July 2019

Everyone fears a pair of weighing scales when on a diet. It seems that if you can ignore them, your weight might just go away…but it doesn’t.

There’s only one way to tackle the issue and that is to face up to your weight and turn your scales into your best friend.

They will never lie and they will never tell anyone else what they know.

What if we had scales for the levels of our maturity?

Our reaction would probably be just the same, in that, we would want to stay off them in case they told us something that we didn’t want to know.

Because there is no such thing, below are six pointers to help you ‘weigh in’ on your level of maturity…

1) Free from offence – do you resolve issues quickly and move on or do your harbour hurt and unforgiveness?

2) Impartial in how you treat people – do you treat people like you would wish to be treated?

3) Control of your tongue – are you able to hold back words that you know you shouldn’t speak? An immature person talks too much and therefore has little to say.

4) Peace and not conflict – do you always look for the good and believe the best about people or do you like to cause strife?

5) Patience – are you willing to stay the course or do you give up too easily?

6) Keep your word – if you say you’ll there…be there.

How painful was that?

Weighing in on the maturity scales means that you can now lose attitudes that you don’t want in your life.

If you feel pain about who you are right now, good, it simply means that you have a desire to change. If you have no idea where you stand on this, ask a friend …they’ll tell you!

Proverbs 27:5-6 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th July 2019

Life really is a journey. Every day is an opportunity to learn something to make us bigger, better, more successful, more productive, more fruitful and more satisfied.
Unfortunately, some of us don’t experience that, instead we get frustrated, feel fed up, feelings of “here we go again, I’m useless, I’ll never make it.”

People keep repeating stuff, why? Because they don’t learn from experience or they’ve learnt wrongly.

Have you ever felt like you’ve known a song for years, known the lyrics etc, only to find out at a later date, that the correct words are nothing like the ones you’ve been singing for years? That’s happened to me! I was gobsmacked! I was convinced those words were what I thought them to be. I had learnt something, but learnt it incorrectly.

You can tell your child for years that 5×5 is 55, they can learn it, but it doesn’t make it right.

So we all can go through life thinking that we have learnt something… and we have, only we learnt it wrong.

Experience doesn’t always teach us great things. It can, and it has the opportunity to do so, as long as we make a conscious effort to learn well.

I’m in my 50s, I still can’t roller skate or Ice skate or Ski. Why? Because I have never learnt to. What you don’t learn, you’ll never know.
I can’t play the piano, even though I grew up with one. I can read music, I can play with one finger, but that’s about it.
You may have grown up with a great leader, a great teacher, a great musician or a great cook, but it doesn’t mean you can do it, you have to learn for yourself.
Who you choose to spend quality time with, will help determine your journey.
It will either help you or hinder you.

The Bible is full of great principles for us to learn and great truths for us to know. When you know God’s truth and when you apply it to your life, you really will start to learn and grow. When you go through experiences in life whether good or bad, ask God to help you learn from them. That’s when you will become the person that God designed for you to be.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th July 2019

Take a moment to read this passage from the New Testament…

 

1 Peter 4:15-16 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

 

We could well find ourselves asking the question…what is a meddler?

 

Is there such a thing in the 21st century?

 

Why is it in the same category as murderers, thieves and criminals?

 

Whatever it is, it must be bad.

 

Here we go…

 

A meddler is a busy body; someone who interferes with, or concerns themselves with something that is none of their business.

 

It’s basically a word that sends out a loud and clear message: mind your own business.

 

I have to admit, I don’t think that I’ve heard anyone ever talk about this in such a serious way, so why would the Bible make it out to be such an offensive thing and list it amongst criminal activity?

 

Is it not because you have your own life to live and take responsibility for, and therefore to use up your energy trying to poke your nose into everyone else’s business is like playing God with other people’s lives?

 

God is wanting to send us a clear message that what other people do with their lives should never take away your focus from what you’ve been called to do.

 

A modern-day classic illustration would be found in the realm of social media.

 

Right now we are able to view people’s pictures, where they are, what they are doing and who they are doing it with. We can see what they’re having for breakfast, lunch and dinner and who they are eating it with. We become party to their party and to top it all, we’re even invited to comment.

 

Self-esteem nowadays is subject to how many ‘likes’ we get on our statuses, and if it’s less than ten, our whole world crumbles around us.

 

People’s lives have never been made so accessible to so many.

 

We can spend hours every day trawling social media to find out the latest gossip and info on anyone’s life that we so wish. We can’t go to sleep at night without mentally rearranging everyone’s life first.

 

Is it any wonder that meddling is such a modern-day curse?

 

We are using up so much of our energy to internally fight over why they shouldn’t have said that to that person and why Paul shouldn’t be dating Lucy, and why that selfie is so unflattering.

 

Just think how free you could be become to use your energy and focus doing good with your own life if you’d simply mind your own business.

 

Murderers, thieves and criminals have one thing in common in that they are all facing a prison sentence.

 

Sadly, being a meddler is just the same; you are chaining yourself as you meddle with so many people’s lives that you are no longer free to sort yourself out.

 

When was the last time that you consciously stopped trying to live everyone else’s life for them and took care of your own?

 

The only time we should engage in other people’s lives in this way should be for the common good – to lift them, to care for them, to support them and to pray for them.

 

Meddling is a meaningless and energy-sapping mental distraction. Stop playing God and be content to practice leadership in your own life.

 

Make a conscious effort today to pull away from meddling, and use all that freed up time to make your own life count for the good of others.

 

Freedom!

 

Happy day.

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th July 2019

God didn’t need us. He wanted us. He didn’t have to make us, but He wanted to make us:

Why?

1. Relationship. Got wanted connection with us. He didn’t make us as pre-programmed robots, forced to love Him. He gifted us with ‘free-will’ – the power to choose relationship with Him. God desires genuine heart-felt connection with us. He wants us to choose Him, like He chose us.

Ephesians 1:4-5, ‘He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will’.

He didn’t just want to enjoy us, He wanted us to enjoy HIM!

Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). 

God is so passionate about our relational connection with Him, that when sin severed it, God gave His own son, to redeem it. ‘For God so loved the world…’ (John 3:16).

2. He desired to give us a purpose.

Everything comes from him, “and exists by his power and is intended for his glory” (Romans 11:36).

We aren’t saved by good works, but rather FOR good works. Ephesians 2:10 says, ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’.

‘Workmanship’, speaks of purpose, design and intent. We were designed with a purpose and plan in mind. There is work for us to do. God can do all He needs to do without us, but again, he chooses to allow us the privilege of co-partnering with Him! With a ‘co-heirs’ with Christ (Romans 8:17). We get to work with Him and for Him!

Remember your original design in God. You were first designed for friendship with God, second, for function for and with God.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th July 2019

That turning, colour wheel! More officially known as the ‘Spinning Wait Cursor’. Few things give computer users that sinking feeling more than the sight of that turning colour wheel! You could be half way through a project that has taken you hours, then all of a sudden the colour wheel shows up. It starts spinning, and doesn’t stop. You know that if the colour wheel doesn’t stop spinning, stop processing, you will have to ‘force quit’ the program and reboot the computer, most likely losing your unsaved work! Once I left the colour wheel spinning overnight in the hopes that hours later, in the morning it would have finished its processing and I could continue my work. I was wrong. I was left with no choice but to force quit and start all over again!

How often does our headspace get stuck on the ‘spinning wait cursor’? For hours and hours, days and days, years and years, we go round and round, processing the same offenses, fears, frustrations and negativities. We’re not making progress. We’re stuck. That wheel will keep on spinning until we call it a day, and ‘force quit’ our cyclic thought patterns.

Some of us need a mental ‘reboot’.

The Israelites had their own spinning wheel problems. They had a mountain to scale, but they kept going around and around and around, until they finally learnt their lesson, and could then take ground (Deuteronomy 2:3).

You may have been spinning the same wheel for so long now that you can’t comprehend a way out. But God’s love and mercies are new EVERY morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). We are given a fresh, blank, word document every day. Free for us to fill in the blank. A habit of a lifetime can be broken. An offence of a lifetime can be broken. An attitude of a lifetime can be broken.

Jesus specialises in making all things new (Revelation 21:5). He is always doing something new (Isaiah 43:19). Therefore it is never too late to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th July 2019

Florence Chadwick was a champion swimmer. On 1952, she attempted to swim a span of the peaceful Pacific Ocean between California’s Catalina Island and the state coastline. As she began the 26 mile journey , she was accompanied by small boats of supporters who watched for sharks and were prepared to help Florence if she got hurt or grew tired. Thick fog rolled in after about fifteen hours of swimming.

Florence recalled that after already having spent so many hours navigating the waters with her body, she began to doubt her ability. She didn’t think that she could make it, but she kept going. She swam for another hour before asking to be pulled out, physically and emotionally exhausted. She was tired and in her mind, the Californian coastline felt like it was a million miles away.

After she got into the boat, she learned she had stopped less than a mile short of her destination.

She couldn’t see the shoreline and the journey began to feel impossible.

“All I could see was the fog,” she told the newspaper reporters the next day. “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

Today, you may be closer to your destination than you realise.

Your next attempt could well be like Florence’s, who two months late, actually made it, because she kept an eye on her destination albeit through another foggy day.

When you’re in a struggle, keep your goal in sight. It may be physical, financial, relational or spiritual, and it may feel like that you’re never going to reach the shore of a new day.

You may well ask “if this is my God-given destiny, then why am I battling to stay afloat with no sign of the destination?”

Remember: don’t take a life-storm as the absence of God; no one can see clearly in the fog, that’s why we must walk by faith and not simply by what we can see. The storm can make you stronger and give you the confidence to handle future challenges.

When you get through battling, you’ll have more wisdom, more tenacity, more strength and more vision to take you forward.

Today, don’t get so distracted by your circumstances that you lose awareness of God’s presence; instead, let this challenge drive you to your knees, where you know you can find help in your time of need.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th July 2019

Too many people quit right before success.

We’ve all heard the phrase…just before dawn is the darkest hour.

I was also told that when drilling through a piece of solid steel, the toughest part of the whole process is just before breaking through the other side.

Someone once said that you will know when you are about to get your breakthrough —it’s uphill all the way.

If you’re faced with seemingly unending days of pressure and struggle, don’t give in or give up, because right on the other side is just what you have been waiting for, believing for and hoping for.

I well remember making an offer on our second house. We were living in a two bed terraced house for eight years and already had two small children. We had been praying for some time about moving to somewhere bigger and eventually made a very low offer an another property. We felt the house was for us and I even told the estate agent that God had told me it was mine. He quickly brushed me off and the offer was rejected. That house was sold not once, but twice over the months, but each time fell through.

It was after more than 12 months of prayer, frustration and continual pressure that on one Saturday morning, whilst feeling particularly frustrated about the whole thing, we received a call right out of the blue and were informed that the house was ours.

We lived in that house for 15 years and now our daughter and son in law, along with our two grandchildren live there.

What if we’d have given up and decided to go for something smaller or in not such a nice position?  We would have regretted it I’m sure.

Today, my friend, whatever you’re facing, have the tenacity to hang on in there and see God come through.

Your continual set backs in this season, can be your comebacks in your next season, if you’ll just sit tight, stand firm in prayer and see it through.

Luke 18:2-8 He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” ‘For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th July 2019

You can be in the same room as someone and yet in a different place, on a different page.
Have you ever spoken to someone and felt they weren’t really listening?
In the New Testament, in Acts 2, it talks about being ‘altogether and in one place’.
There is power when people are together AND together. It’s called unity.

Don’t you love it when people at your dinner table are all engaged with one another and not on mobile devices?
Don’t you love it when you have a great conversation with a team and feel that everyone ‘gets it’?

There is tremendous power in that.

The Bible talks about unity in this way “where there is unity, my blessing will flow” (Psalm 133) God will pour out His blessing. I want to live under that!

A football team that has unity off the pitch, will play better on the pitch. A group of musicians who love and respect each other, will play better on stage.

When you have a sense of unity with people, you feel that you can take on the world and nothing or no one can touch you and you’ll enjoy the journey much more.

The best person you need to have unity with, is the one who created you, the one who has a perfect plan and purpose for your life – God Himself.
When you have peace and unity with God, you can rest assured that “if God is for me, who can be against me?” (Romans 8 v 31) And  “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil 4 v 13)

You see, who you are in unity with is important. It’s a game changer.

Make sure today that you are in unity with the right people, make sure that when you’re with them, you’re present and not just present and most of all make sure you have peace and unity with God. He is only a prayer away.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th July 2019

Let’s talk labels.

Everyone wants to stick one on you at some stage during your lifetime.

Here’s the problem…

 

1) They stick very easily.

2) They don’t readily come off.

3)When they do come off, they leave their mark.

When we moved house several years ago, we found the best way of transporting all our stuff was to put a sticker on each box that corresponded to the room that the items came from. Once the box arrived at its new destination, it was just a matter of reading the label and placing the box in the correct room – job  done!

However, when we re-used the boxes to store different stuff in at a later date, the labels no longer corresponded to what was inside.

In much the same way, have you ever noticed how people readily want to label you from your past, but when you change, they still want to keep the old label stuck on you?

Jesus had the very same problem.

His family and friends who had watched him grow up had only ever known him as Mary and Joseph’s lad, but when He revealed himself as the miracle working son of God, they found it difficult to get the old label off.

The old label meant that they couldn’t come to terms with who He really was – God in flesh. The label became a major blockage to their faith and resulted in them being unable to fully accept Him and certainly restricted His miracle working power in their own lives.

 

TODAY, you are where you are, either because you have survived the labels or because you are still living with old ones. It’s now time to rip it off and take charge of who you have become.

If someone refuses to give you a new label, then simply refuse to stay where they want to keep you.

We all up have the right and the opportunity to change and be changed by the power of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th July 2019

Jesus often taught kingdom concepts using everyday metaphors. He once referred to relationship with Him as being ‘water’. Jesus used ‘thirst’ as a picture of the spiritual need and longing that everyone has.

Jesus met a woman at the well (John 4).  It was the middle of the day. You don’t fetch water at the well in the middle of the day – you go in the morning when it’s cool. She was riddled with shame. For being a woman, and for having a not-so-good past, she didn’t have the best reputation. She was hiding, but she was ultimately thirsty. As Jesus recognized, she wasn’t just thirsty for literal water, she was dry and thirsty spiritually. She had been trying to fill her void with a mere mirage of water – men. What she really needed was the ‘living water’ of Jesus.

Why does Jesus refer to himself as ‘living water’? Well, let’s consider the characteristics of water:

1. Water carries you. When a force of wind acts upon water, it causes a current – a movement of water. Currents of water are powerful. When caught in a current you will exhaust quickly trying to fight it, the best thing you can do is ride the current. Likewise, the powerful love of God carries you. Your efforts in trying to fight it are frivolous. You will never out-swim the intense current of God’s love. In whatever season, let the mighty love of God carry you. Rest and ride the rapid!
2. Water refreshes. Possibly the most obvious purpose of water is to satisfy thirst. At least 60% of the adult body is made of water. Every living cell in the body needs it to keep functioning. Your systems can only go a week maximum without water. Our souls are equally designed to operate on the living water that Jesus offers. We need it to keep functioning. We can’t go long without it. Anything else is a fleeting mirage of truly satisfying water.
3. Water cleanses. We use water to wash ourselves. It cleanses and cleans. It cuts through the grime and dirt, and eliminates opportunities for infection. When Jesus invites us to part-take in relationship with Him, as ‘living water’, it is an invitation to be cleansed and cleaned, to sort out the muck out, and position you for health.

Wherever you are at in your faith journey, we all need the living water of God. Like we daily consume physical water, we need the living water of God to carry us, refresh us, and cleanse us.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd July 2019

Today I am leaving you with four powerful truths about who God says you are! Take the time to meditate on each one. Let the truths sink into your heart. This isn’t positive thinking . . . this is reality!

1. You are valuable. God designed you! He breathed into your nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7).

You were made in his image (Genesis 1:27), meaning you carry His DNA! You may have been a surprise to your parents, but you were well planned by God (Psalm 139:16). He knows the fine details of your life (Matthew 10:30), and you are worth far more than the birds who are looked after (Matthew 6:26).

2. You are new. You are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). You are not masted by sin (Romans 6:11). You are not a slave, rather a son. So you live free from guilt and shame (Ephesians 2:4-5). You are forgiven by the blood (1 John 1:7,9). You have right standing with God (Romans 4:5). This position is secure. Nothing will separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:39).

3. You are called. You are God’s workmanship – designed with a purpose. God has wired you for a mission – to do good (Ephesians 2:10). God has meaningful and fulfilling work in place for you. You are called to be a light on a hill, not hidden (Matthew 5:14). You have been seated with Christ (Ephesians 2:6), positioned in a place of authority. You are a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). His plans for you are good and so you can live with hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

4. You have been set free. Anything that ties you down, binds you up and shackles your heart, no longer has the right to be there! Christ has set you free, not just from your old nature, but anything that enslaves you (Galatians 5:1). Where His Spirit is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17), and you will be truly free (John 8:36). You can walk in freedom, for He has bought you into a spacious place (Psalm 119:45, Psalm 118:5).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd July 2019

How much do you love yourself?

Now I know that there are people out there that love themselves in a way that makes you feel uneasy. That kind of self love says…look at me…look at how amazing I am…I’m so wonderful and I know it!! 

I’m not talking about that kind of self love, but what I am talking about is the healthy love and balanced respect that you have for yourself.

A good question to ask would be this: ‘What kind of relationship do you have with yourself?’

 It’s likely that you’ve never been asked that question before, mainly because we’ve been trained by our upbringing, our culture or our church to think little of yourself.

But I have never yet known one person that fully loved others, whilst at the same time fully loathing themselves.

You’ll have heard these words before I’m sure….Mark 12:30-31 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’

These words from Jesus are a healthy reminder that the way we love and respect ourselves, will eventually spill out and become the way we love and treat other people.

The moment the penny drops on this one, will be the moment that you become well balanced and relaxed about who God has made you, and in turn be more focused on how you can live your life for others. 

Stop telling yourself that you are no good and that nobody likes you and that you’re ugly and that you’re stupid and you’ll never be of any use on this planet.

 Replace your self talk today with words of heathy respect for yourself and start to believe..that though many may be able to do what you do better than you, there’s no one that can do what you do just like you.

 You are unique.

 You are loved.

 You are needed.

 You are wanted.

 You are one in 7 billion.

 Start loving yourself and you’ll start to see people through very different eyes.

 Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

 Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st July 2019

Sometimes we can be scared by things and it stops us going deeper in our relationships. Sometimes we are scarred by things and that stops us going deeper also.
Some of us are satisfied where we are, in the shallow end of life and are frightened to venture into the deep end.
When you go on holiday, or to a public swimming  pool, the shallow end will be full of people having fun, because it’s safe.
It’s the place where we want our children to be, but adults are meant to go a little deeper.
I find it quite amusing to see some adults actually sitting in the paddling pool and probably using their toddler as an excuse and yet they are probably there because they feel safest.

God has so much more for us.
Notice that you don’t see lots of people in the deep end, only the brave.
You don’t see lots of people at the top of a mountain either.
Deeper and higher is where God calls us to be. Deeper in our relationship with Him.  The deeper your devotion, the deeper your relationship and the deeper your relationship with God, the higher you will climb.
Don’t be scared to get out of the comfortable and risk a little more.
Don’t just stay with what’s familiar and what doesn’t challenge you.
You’ll never experience anything new, if you don’t try.

A deep sea diver will see things that you or me will never see. Why? because they decided to go deeper.

The deeper an excavator is willing to go, the more diamonds he is likely to find.

The higher the mountain climb, the greater and more breathtaking the view.

Decide today… I want to go deeper with God.
Remember this: Private devotion equals public promotion.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.