Fresh Hope – 30th September 2019

If we’re honest we place great value on WHAT we do.

We also view other people’s lives though their accomplishments, whether great or small.

‘Never judge a book by its cover’ is an old saying, but in reality that’s the gauge that we mostly use. We take a look at someone’s outward actions and we make up our minds about them on that basis.

However, God has different way of knowing what a person is really like, and for that He probes below the surface.

He is not so much interested in WHAT a person does as to WHY a person does what he or she does.

An act of kindness on the outside can actually be something quite different when the motive beneath it is laid bare.

Maybe it has its roots in pride or selfish ambition?

Could it be that what we do for others is merely for recognition in the hope that someone is watching, or are we driven by the guilt of our past failings in the hope that we can somehow cancel them out by our outward performance?

Solomon in his wisdom said it like this…

‘All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord’ —Proverbs 16 v 2

Your motive for doing what you do is actually more important than doing the thing itself.

Anytime that we do anything that conjures up the feeling that ‘I will look good if I do this’, can always be traced back to a pride issue that needs to be dealt with.

The greatest step that anyone can take on the road to success is a step down from self importance and walk a path of humility.

Before you start out today ask yourself one simple question: why am I doing what I am doing?

When our motives are right, everything else will fall into place.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th September 2019

Psalm 67 vs 8-12

Praise God, all you people, let the sound of His praise be heard. He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you O God tested us, you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads, we went through fire and water… but You brought us to a place of abundance.  

 

Whatever you’re going through in your life remember this:

  1. A) You’re going through it, so keep moving.
  2. B) God can bring some great things out of a bad situation.

 I look over situations that I see as ‘storms’ and I put much prayer into them…

Then after a short time, I stand back and look amazed at the wonderful things that God does through those difficulties.  Things that seemed impossible. He can bring beauty out of ashes.

 No hard time is ever wasted.

Look at those verses again… “we were in prison, men rode over our heads, we went through fire and water… BUT YOU brought us to a place of abundance.”

When you pray, God is working. You may not see immediate results yourself, but be sure of this, HE IS WORKING… and He will bring you to a place of abundance.

He often takes prayer requests from years ago and somehow weaves those answers now into situations that you never thought possible.  God’s timing is perfect. His plan is perfect.

Keep praying.  Keep thankful. Keep trusting.

 “For in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th September 2019

How many times have you made a snap decision based on your feelings? I know that I have. Spontaneity can be a wonderful thing but sometimes, throwing caution to the wind can have consequences. We all have the occasional off day.

Sometimes, when our prayers aren’t answered how we expected them to be, we spend time trying to figure out why. It’s easy to think that maybe God just didn’t feel like giving us what we asked for and we should try harder to convince Him, next time.

We serve an amazing God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Every single thing that He does for us is out of His love for us which never changes.

Isaiah 55:8 says ‘“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.’

God created us with emotions and the ability to feel. However, we don’t need to try to appeal to God’s feelings. We don’t need to convince Him that we are worthy, or to listen to us. We don’t always understand God’s ways but He is never careless with His children.

The more we seek Him, the more we learn His character and the better we know His character, the stronger our faith and trust in Him grows.

We can approach God in the confidence that the way He feels about us never changes, He always acts in our best interest (even if it doesn’t come packaged as we expected) and He never has an off day.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th September 2019

In 1 James 2, we are encouraged to consider it a joy to face trials! How is this seriously possible?

If you speak to a successful businessman or woman, they will tell you that a problem is actually an opportunity. As cliché as this sounds, it is this mindset that makes someone a success. They see setbacks as an opportunity to learn a lesson, which is invaluable to them, OR they see a setback as an opportunity to get better!

Too many of us are thrown off by a problem, failure or setback. If we truly believe that God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28), then problems shouldn’t scare us. They really are opportunities for God to break in. We should embrace them.

Part of being a ‘hope-filled’ person is knowing that there are multiple possibilities and potentialities in any given situation, and we can keep on trying until we find success.

This means that we must enjoy the journey to success, not just struggle to the destination. There is a beauty in confidently using failure us a tool toward the mountaintop of victory.

Look at Thomas Edison, he tried about 1000 times before succeeding and inventing the light bulb. When asked about his failures he said, ‘I have gotten lots of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work!’. Failure to Thomas was an opportunity to gain knowledge, and one step closer to his ultimate success. He valued and embraced the process of setbacks.

Deliberately and intentionally look for possibilities in every situation, rather than just jumping straight into the negative mindset. The more you practice this, the more of a habit and instinctively it will come to you when you face a challenge.

Luke 1:37, ‘For with God, nothing will be impossible’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th September 2019

I decided to keep a ‘thankful journal’ for one whole year. For an entire year, every night, I wrote down everything I was thankful for from that day. After a few months, something remarkable started happening. I started approaching my days, intentionally looking for things to be thankful for in order to write it in my journal at night. My brain actually switched to focus on what I had, rather than what I lacked.

It is easy to focus on the few things that are missing in your life, rather than fully appreciating all the things you DO have in your life.

God is attracted to a grateful heart. He seeks to bless a grateful heart.

Research on the effects of gratitude on our biology shows how being thankful increases our longevity, our ability to use our imagination, and our ability to problem-solve. It also improves our overall health.

You may work with quite negative people, people who are always ‘hard done by’, victims, whiny, easily envious. Not only are these attitudes draining on the relationships around them, they are damaging on the brain and the life of the person who is carrying them!

Psalm 107 says, ‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is GOOD’. Again, 1 Chronicles 16 says, ‘Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!’

Notice that seeing the goodness of God, goes hand-in-hand with gratitude. God is good. That alone is enough to be very thankful! That is why when circumstances aren’t good, we STILL have reason to be thankful, ‘give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

I encourage you to write a list of everything that you are thankful for, and then another list of everything you are praying for. You will probably find that the things that are consuming most of your mind (the prayer list), is in fact far shorter than the list of things you have to be grateful for!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th September 2019

I heard someone recently place relationships into two categories.

You have ‘drains’ and you have ‘gains.’

‘Drains’ being those relationships that take from you. Possibly people that you’re mentoring, pouring into, or maybe even just difficult people in your world.

Once you’ve completed your time with them, you’re aware that you’ve given out (this can either be for positive or negative reasons).

‘Gains’ are those relationships that top up your tank. They’re the people who always add to your life. They encourage you, they build you up, maybe they even challenge you, but ultimately you leave their presence better than when you stepped into it.

In life, you will have the opportunity to have relationships that are both ‘drains’ and ‘gains.’ ‘Gains’ are the most attractive type of relationships, however depending on what you want to achieve with your life, I would say that both are necessary.

You don’t just want people who are adding to you, but you want people who you are adding to also.

However, I would suggest that ‘gains’ are the type of relationships many of us are less intentional about.

Much of our lives are spent giving out, so when was the last time you got around someone who was good for your soul?

I write this having just met a friend for coffee. We both are responsible for leading people as part of our work, however when we get together, we can be relaxed, informal, and simply enjoy one another’s company. I can’t speak for his experience, but whenever I get the chance to hang out, I always leave better for it.

It’s a relationship that I ‘gain’ from, topping up my relational tank, so that I’m better equipped to add value to others.

What I’ve realised for myself however, is that unless I’m intentional about being with these types of people, they don’t just fill up my calendar. I have to be the initiator.

It can seem like the selfless thing to constantly keep giving out, however unless you have points of refuelling, very soon you’ll have little or nothing left to give. Possessing relationships that provide ‘gains’ is in fact a selfless act, not a selfish one.

Can I encourage you today to take a moment to observe the rhythm of your life, and be intentional about striking a healthy balance between the ‘drains’ and the ‘gains’ in your relational world.

You and everyone around you will be better for it.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd September 2019

Good morning?

You hoped so, but then you decided to get out of bed.

Bad morning?

Shouted at the kids, took it out on the dog, found your work shirt in the ironing basket, late for the school run, no time for breakfast and it’s still only 8am.

Here’s the good news …things can only get better.

Fresh Hope is here to lift you, encourage you, help you, direct you, teach you and give you a God perspective.

History records for us how ancient cities were always built around a constant flow of water.
They’d figured out that no matter what battles they’d face on the outside, they could survive and even thrive because they had their own supply and would never die of thirst.

No matter how long you live, there will always be a problem. Once one problem is solved, before too long, another will rise up. If you don’t build your life around an inner supply then you will always fall at the first attack.

Taking care of the externals is what we do most in life, but without taking care of our inner selves we will have no resources to draw from each day; let’s face it, driving a nice car doesn’t help you one bit in a day of trouble.

When Jesus met the woman at the well in John 9, He asked her for a drink, and then replied with these words…”Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus is like having living, thirst-quenching water springing up within you so that at any time and in any circumstance, He can be an everlasting source of hope to you.

Do you have some battles that you are facing right now that you feel want to take you down? Then draw inner strength from Jesus with the words of this old song…

‘Got any rivers you think are impossible?
Got any mountains you can not tunnel through?
God specialises in things thought impossible
And He can do what no other can do.’

However your day has started out, stop right now and give it over to God, by simply calling on His name.

He may not get rid of your problem, but He’ll certainly give you the inner strength to get through it.

Have a blessed day.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st September 2019

Tough times don’t last – tough people do.  I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before.

It is true.  Tough times, difficulties, storms, will indeed pass. It’s during those times, that if YOU’RE strong, then you will remain steadfast. 

Most Saturdays, you will find me on my knees cleaning our bathroom floor. Last week I thought to myself, “this hurts my knees!” . Maybe I’m getting older, maybe I forgot to put down a mat to kneel on.. either way, it hurt!  I reminded myself, that if I wanted a great job done, hurt or not, then I needed to be on my knees to do a good job and get a great result.

I was reminded of prayer.  It may not be always comfortable on your knees, you may not feel like it, you may not think you have time for it, you may feel that a ‘quick’ prayer will do. However, like my floor, if you want a good job accomplished sometimes you have to get on those knees, however it may hurt.

When you apply Godly principles to your life, whatever season you’re in, then when those tough times come, you will remain steadfast.

When you need to see a breakthrough in prayer.. push that little bit harder, get uncomfortable if you have to. Because it is in those times that something like gold will be produced in you.

Do you need to see some great results today? Do you need to outlast the storm? Get on your knees before God… He will meet you there.

 Pastor Gillian

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th September 2019

Decisions, decisions! Life is filled with decisions. Some are easy decisions such as should you have the salad or the prime rib? Maybe not so easy for  some, yet some  are more  serous decisions  whether  job  related,  relationship  decisions. It seems a week never goes by without needing to make at least one important choice.

Consider the decisions before you right now.  Who are you turning to for guidance? Wouldn’t it be nice to have an arrow pointing us in the right direction, especially if we are in the danger of making a wrong turn? According to God’s Word, we have exactly that. When we truly desire to walk the path God sets us on, and we earnestly seek his voice, he promises to lead us in the right direction. God’s ever present  Spirit is right  with you, ready to guide you and put you  back on the path each time  you wander off.

When you need to make a decision it’s a smart move to seek God’s will on the matter. After all, God is infinitely wise, knows the future perfectly, and loves you beyond comprehension. Where better to go for advice?

Isaiah 30:21 tells us “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” This  does not  necessarily mean an audible voice  but  when  you allow God to  guide  your life, you  gain discernment or an inclination within you that recognises  the right  path  for  you.

The bible tells us the first step is to pray. Philippians 4:6-7 gives us the starting point for every decision and every endeavour for God’s help and guidance, it tells us “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.”

The second step is analysing, all the while seeking counsel from God’s word and God’s people. James 1.5 enjoins us to ask God for wisdom, quite clearly showing that God does expect us to apply our mind as well as our prayers in making decisions. James 1:5 –“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”

Finally when you have sought God and wise counsel and feel His peace, step out in faith. Decide! Do it! Don’t get stuck in gridlock awaiting signs. Trust Him!

Today make that decision  to  ask  for  His wisdom, to  be led by  Him  path that  is best  suited to  fulfil His plan and purpose  for  your life. Be obedient and fully trusting of him.

 Christine Mudenha
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th September 2019

A key to breakthrough is praise. Praise isn’t a cute little song, like you might hear on the radio. Praise is powerful. Praise is a spiritual exchange. When we feel like the enemy is coming against us, our weapon of choice should be praise and worship. Why? Praise is GOD focused, not Devil focused. It is a reminder to you, and to the enemy that over all circumstances and feelings, God has the final victory! …and you will sing it out!

Israel won the battle of Jericho through worship. Chronicles 20 tells how King Jehoshaphat led the people of Judah into battle with singing. His frontline guys didn’t have swords and spears, they had a song! They were singers! Jehoshaphat conquered with a choir! He understood that a spiritual song breaks something beyond the physical.

Acts 16 records how Paul and Silas were thrown into jail in Philippi. That night Paul and Silas sat with their feet in the chains and sang songs of praise. The prison doors were flung open, and the jailer was saved!

What is your go-to weapon in times of struggle? Is it complaining, gossip, pain-numbers, and blame? Let it be praise.

David also understood this truth. In Psalm 68:1-2 he says, ‘When God is lifted high in praise, His enemies are scattered’. It is not cursing and rebuking the Devil that causes him to flee, it is in fact PRAISE. If your problem is getting you Devil focused, shift your focus to the strength and ability of our victorious God through song.

As the lyrics in Bethany Wohre’s song, ‘Victory is Yours’ declares:

Our fight is with weapons unseen
Your enemies crash to their knees
As we rise up in worship
When trials unleash like a flood
The battle belongs to our God
As we cry out in worship…

What hell meant to break me has failed
Now nothing will silence my praise
I will cry out in worship
The walls of the prison will shake
The chain-breaking King will rise to save
As we cry out in worship’

Isaiah 42:10-13

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th September 2019

On September 10th, 2019, at Apple’s keynote event, they announced the upgraded systems of Apple products. Within just 10 minutes of the event kicking off, Apple had over 500,000 viewers, and at the live stream’s peak, when new iPhones were being shown off, Apple reached 1.875 million viewers. The opening quote of the presentation: Give people tools, and they will do wonderful things’.

This quote was one of Steve Jobs’ core beliefs – that ‘technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they are basically good and smart’.

A tool is just a tool. It is the application of the tool, by the tool user, that brings about the wonderful result. The real wonder of the tool is in us and our ability to use it.

There are spiritual tools gifted to us by God. And yes there are tools for everything we could possibly face. There are tools to fix relational problems, tools for parenting, tools for healing, tools for peace, tools for money management, and tools for breakthrough and success in every area of life.

God doesn’t ask us to do something, without equipping us with the specific tool to get the job done. But God needs someone to use the tool. The tool itself doesn’t get the job done, it is the person behind the tool. It is YOU applying the tool.

When God asked Moses to lead the Israelites across the Red Sea, He gave him the tools to do the job, the knowledge needed to do the job, and the ability to do the job. God didn’t just lead Moses to the Red Sea and tell him, “Okay Moses, here’s the Red Sea. I want you to cross it but it’s totally up to you to figure out how.”

Apply God’s word, and apply his wisdom to your life. Apply the tools and with them we will do wonderful things!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th September 2019

This morning I am going to show my age by referring to a song called ‘Go Your Own Way’ by Fleetwood Mac on their classic 1973 album Rumours. Now the song is a secular song about the breakup of a relationship but there are some very telling lyrics in it.

‘If I could I would give you my world, but how can I if you won’t take it from me?’

Revelation 3:20 ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me’.

Jesus stands at the door of your heart and knocks- He will not force His way in but He does stand and wait.

There is a very famous painting called ‘Light of the World’ that depicts Jesus holding a lamp standing outside a door. That door has no handle on the outside, the only handle is on the inside. This painting depicts a truth; you have to open the door from the inside to let Jesus in.

We are so often guilty, not just of not opening the door to Jesus, but also of closing the door in His face and then holding it shut. Perhaps we are scared of meeting Him face to face either because of who He is, or what He might ask of us. Sometimes we don’t open the door because it would be too inconvenient to let Him in just at the moment. ‘Perhaps tomorrow or next week I will let Him in.’

Am I too comfortable in my sin, my ways, my relationships, my life? As the Fleetwood Mac song says ‘you can go your own way’ or you can open the door and go Jesus’ way.

How differently would we react if this was not a metaphorical door? What if this evening whilst you were sitting down to dinner there was a knock at the door and when you opened it Jesus was actually standing there asking to come in to eat with you. Put yourself there, how would that change us, how would it change our perspective?

God has a whole world that He created for us, a life He wants us to experience and He wants to give us that world, that life. But how can He if we won’t take it from Him?

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th September 2019

Centuries ago, wine was stored in leather wineskins rather than bottles. When the wineskins were new, they were soft and pliable, but as they aged they became hardened and couldn’t expand without cracking. If new wine was poured in an old wineskin, the container would burst and the wine would be lost.

When Jesus wanted to encourage His followers to enlarge their visions, He reminded them, ” You can’t put new wine into old wineskins”( Matthew 9 v 17). He was saying that you cannot have a larger life if you have a restricted mind or attitude.

 You may class yourself as young right now, but beware, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your thinking hasn’t already got old and hardened.

 It may be right now that you’ve already developed a mindset that says that you’ll never do anything successful or enjoy the good things in life that you used to dream of.

 Today, I encourage you to stretch your faith and vision and get rid of that old restrictive thinking that’s holding you back from all that God has got for your life.

 Start making room in your thinking for what God has in store for you. You must conceive in your mind and heart before you can receive it.

 Ask yourself a simple question: if God poured a dream into your life today would it just quickly disappear through the cracks of your old attitude?

 The key today is to allow your heart to become pliable and supple again to all of the great things that God has in store for you. He’s never short on ideas for your life, but you may be short on space to contain them.

Expect God’s favour to help you break out the rut that you’re in and expect to excel in whatever you do. Let your stinking thinking go today!

 Open your heart at the start of this new day and become supple again in the hands of the master.

Expect great things from God…attempt great things for God.

Pastor Mark

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th September 2019

I’m sure you know about the life of Noah..the ark… the flood… the wiping out of all mankind and the saving of Noah and his family and all of the animals. It’s all recorded in the book of Genesis. 

As I am writing this now, people in different parts of the world are experiencing category 5 hurricanes, which bring death and devastation to all around. I can’t imagine what that must be like.  Think about Noah going through that, only even worse. EVERYTHING was wiped out around him.  Noah had just witnessed the drowning of all mankind.

 In Genesis 8 it tells us that after Noah had gone through this experience, which is very hard to imagine, he worshipped. He’d shut his ears to the wailing of the people and he kept his focus on God.  Some days that’s hard.   To take our minds off what is going on around us and to focus on God alone.  Noah was thankful that he had been saved, but I’m sure he was in a place of not understanding what had just happened.

We will often find ourselves in a place like that. A place of confusion or sadness. A place of questions and storms, yet sometimes you have to just shut the door,  shut out the noise and worship.

We all come from different circumstances and situations.  We have to learn everyday that we should shut out the world and all its distractions and “in all circumstances thank God”  (1 Thessalonians 5 v 18)

Be a worshipper in a storm, through a storm and after a storm.

God has everything in control. He is looking for your heart and attitude when things aren’t going great.

He wants you to shut the door, take time to just be with Him.  That’s where you will find peace, that’s where you will get your focus back.

Noah didn’t really know what had just happened and neither do we sometimes. It’s in the presence of God that we find answers and peace and strength to move on with the plan of God for our lives.

When you do that, something wonderful happens.

When God saw Noah’s worship, He said “never again will I flood the earth, never again will I curse the ground, never again will I destroy every living creature, as long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Are you waiting for a powerful promise? Get into worship. 

It’s amazing what follows someone who shuts out the world and concentrates on the one who made it.  

 

Pastor Gillian
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th September 2019

Nothing that is happening in your life right now, good or bad, is a surprise to God. We spend a lot of our time being either blind-sided or pleasantly surprised by our circumstances.

This year has not looked the way that I thought it would…at all. I’ve found myself asking God ‘why?’ on more than one occasion. Yet I’ve had to remind myself that He knows what He’s doing.

Two things that I want you to remember are: 1) God does not exist within our perception of space and time – He sees everything beginning to end and 2) He always has a plan.

We can often find ourselves tossed and turned by the waves. This is one of the reasons that our alone time with Him is so important. Even if it’s just five minutes in the loo at work (trust me, I’ve been there). In those moments of turbulence, God is steady. He never changes. He isn’t phased by what’s going on in your world, so when external factors cause you turmoil, remember Psalm 91:1-6:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

Three things that will lead you into victory:

  1. Prayer – be specific… but even if a sigh is all you have, God still knows what you need.
  2. Praise – worship breaks chains. There’s a reason the worshippers were sent ahead during a battle, in the Bible.
  3. Promises  – find a verse of Scripture and speak it out throughout your day.

Spoiler alert: you win. Walk in that knowledge today. You are not a victim, you are a victor.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th September 2019

A few months ago on a trip to Belgium, we were trying to find a nice coffee shop. Google Maps had got us to the right street and we noticed a pretty shop front on the other side of the road. Naturally, we stopped to take a photo.

Google Maps was showing we were really close to the coffee shop so we continued to walk down the road. However, quite quickly, it looked as though we had gone past our desired destination. We turned around but found ourselves looking at the pretty shop front on the opposite side of the road. We must have gone too far back.

After a few times up and down the street and back-roads, each time being greeted by that same shop on the other side of the road, we decided that maybe the coffee shop we were looking for had closed down.

At this point, we turned around. We turned to see the shop directly opposite the pretty one that kept taking our attention, was the coffee shop we had been looking for.

Every time we walked back up the street, habit meant that we focused on the thing we had seen before, the place we had been before with no prevail. Our focus became the familiar. Our habit became to look across the road and feel defeated.

The regularity of that routine meant that our eyes were drawn to the familiar and we missed exactly what we were looking for.

Have you ever been so consumed with routine that you miss the thing that you are asking for God to show you?

The story of the Good Samaritan begins with two religious folk who are so busy with their lives, so focused on where they are going, they miss the severity of the man on the side of the road.

We have to live the ordinary every day; we have ordinary tasks and ordinary routines. We can become so focused on the familiar that we become blind to the things around us.

‘The word became flesh and dwelt among us’ John 1:14.

Jesus came into our ordinary world. He spent time with ordinary people, listening to their everyday problems. The extraordinary came into an ordinary world.

If we are living in the ordinary, we need to find Jesus there. By nature, He is with us in our everyday lives so it’s up to us to seek the extraordinary in our everyday life.

Be still. Look around. What is God trying to show you in your daily routine today?

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th September 2019

Intentionality means ‘to be deliberate or act on purpose’.

The opposite of being intentional is to be complacent, and indifferent. It is to ‘go with the flow’, holding the attitude of ‘whatever will be will be’. It is to live without a clear goal or purpose in mind.

The problem with this attitude, as ‘easy-going’ as it may seem, is that pretty quickly life gets a hold of you, rather than you having a hold on life. Being unintentional leads to distraction, wasted time, and arrival at a place that you didn’t plan to be in…simply because you had no plan in the first place!

Of course we can’t always control life, but God has given us clear direction on EVERY possible area of life according to His word.

Ephesians 5:15-17 says, ‘Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time… Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is’.

To live out our purpose means living intentionally. There is a responsibility on us to steward whatever is in our hands. Part of stewardship is to have a plan, purpose and some intentionality in handling what we have been given.

Are we intentional in how we manage our money, our health, our relationships, our job, our prayers, our marriage, and the people we work with? Do we approach these things with a clear mission in mind? Do we know where we are heading with these things? Or do we just let these things happen?

I would encourage you to take some time, even just once a year, to sit down and ask yourself some intentional questions, to encourage intentional living:

-Who has God put around me at work? How can I be intentional in showing them the love of God?

– What has God blessed me with? How can I now go and intentionally bless others?

– What is my mind constantly dwelling on? How can I be more intentional in my thought life, rather than just letting thoughts run wild in my head?

– Am I intentional and choice with my words or does my mouth just free-flow?

– Where am I going with my study of the Bible? Do I have a plan or am I just floating from scripture to scripture?

– Who are my friends? Who is having the most influence on me at the moment? How can I be intentional about choosing the right people to be in my life?

– Am I specific in my prayers? Or do I just ask for general roundabout things?

– Do I actively prioritise the health of my soul, or do I just let life happen as my body and heart tries to keep up? What do I need to put in my calendar so my health is a priority and I’m intentional in looking after it?

When God made you, He had a plan, He was intentional with His plan and design in creating you (Jeremiah 29:11). Let us now live our lives with the intentionality we were designed to carry.  

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’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

 

Fresh Hope – 10th September 2019

Sunday church is not the purpose of the Christian life. Sunday church is the vital training ground for the game… The game being the rest of the week – ‘real life’ in the ‘real world’. We were not saved to sit in a comfortable bubble of like-minded people, never engaging with the people Jesus died for. We were saved AND then commissioned to GO OUT and change the world. This is not a mandate for just some Christians with a ‘special gift’ with people who are non-Christians, but this is the call of ALL Christians (Matthew 28:19-20).

So what does it look like to be a Christian when we are not at church, but when we are at work and ‘in the world’? What does it look like to be a Christian in an office where people think differently, maybe even despise your belief system?

Navigating the waters of ‘the real world’ can be a challenge, but one that we are none-the-less called to.

To be an effective Christian in the workplace, here are some thoughts:

  1. Be authentic. You can’t be something you are not for long. People who see you day in and day out, good days and bad days, will get to know who you really are. You can’tput on a ‘Jesus front’, and sustain it if it hasn’t really happened in you! Focus less on performing, and more on genuinely growing in God (through His word and relationship with Him), so you are effortlessly portraying what He has done in your heart, mind, attitudes.
  1. Love people. People can sense your motives. They know if there is a hidden agenda. They also know if you genuinely care. We aren’t about saving souls for brownie points, we are about saving souls because God loves them, and we love them. Thankfully a genuine love for people isn’t something that has to be forced out. It comes through praying for them, and then catching God’s heart for them. We then find ourselves showing kindness, care, consideration, honour, and respect as an overflow.
  1. Watch your small choices. People will watch how you do the small things and equate it with Jesus. They will watch your attitude, how you speak of others, how you handle your money, your relational priorities, your time management, and the way you carry out tasks in the work place. They will quickly spot when something is counter-culture and observe the fruit of your life. If you bring in a negative atmosphere, if you are stingy with money, participate in gossip, use people, and your work ethic is not one of excellence and integrity, don’t be surprised if people lose respect for you and your faith.
  1. Remember God is with you. You aren’t alone. You are co-working with God (1 Corinthians 3:9). You aren’t just working FOR God, you are working WITH God. You are in it together, to get a job done. Let that reality take off the pressure, and instead embrace ‘being in the world’ as being an adventure and partnership with God.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th September 2019

Is there anything worse than walking into a room full of people that are all chatting away to each other, but when you arrive they all go silent?

They each look up simultaneously for a brief moment, and then go back to their conversations.

They said nothing, but to you they said everything.

Of course, there are lots of worse things than that, but we all have to admit that that’s a fairly difficult pill to swallow.

The thought that you are nothing more than an inconvenience or even an annoyance to everyone else’s perfect lives is pretty degrading and even damaging.

Now we’re not asking to be the centre of attention, because for some that could actually be just as bad as being ignored, but what we really crave is to be accepted for who we are.

We don’t expect to be a conversation stopper because we are so important, but we would like to be included and accepted in the conversation.

Life can be cruel and so can people.

Today, I would ask you to consider the name of just one person that not only accepts you, but acknowledges you and even wants you to be a vital part of his world – that one name is Jesus.

Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples had messed up big time.

After spending three years with Jesus, he then, when coming face to face with the crucifixion, decided to run; but not only run, he would leave a trail of denial and profanity in his tracks, as he turned on the only one that had been his closest friend.

As he hid from Jesus’ haunting words that had previously announced that he would deny him three times before the night was out, he wept and saw no possible way back.

Fast forward now to the day of the resurrection.

An angel announces that Jesus wants a meeting with his disciples in Galilee, but knew that Peter would no longer feel worthy of being included. (Too right, you say…after all, he really showed his true colours)

But that’s not how Jesus does life.

Instead of beating people down further, he lifts people up higher, yes, even after they treat him with utter contempt.

Look at the Angels invitation closely…

Mark 16:6-7 ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’

The one that had made a right hash of things got a special mention on the invitation…and so do you.

Feeling dreadful that you haven’t lived up to the name Christian?

Lost faith?

Denied Jesus?

Bad language issues crept back in?

Anger problems?

Jesus says to you today…let’s meet. You are included in my plan.

Today if you only understand one thing, then understand that Jesus sees beyond our failings and includes us in his conversation.

Proverbs 16v24

…for though the righteous fall seven times, the Lord will lift him up.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th September 2019

I’m not sure if you have a dog – if you do, you’ll know exactly what I mean…

Our chocolate Labrador Snoop is a great lover of food. I mean any sort of food, anytime, anywhere.

It’s amazing, that we have kept his weight under control. He loves food!

When I’m eating, he comes and tries to sit at my feet, or gives me those gorgeous brown ‘puppy dog eyes’ that say “please can I have some.” If my husband sees him, he’ll send him packing… however I can’t resist that longing look. I may at first say NO, but then I give in.  

 It reminds me of the story of the persistent widow in

 Luke 18 vs 1-5. 

Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’

 “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’”

She kept coming and asking, he kept saying ‘NO’, however, due to her persistency he gave in!

 Notice what verse 1 says 

 “Jesus told them this story, to teach them it was necessary to pray and not to quit”

If you’re waiting for an answer, if you’re believing for a miracle, if you’re believing for a breakthrough,don’t let the enemy send you packing and tell you to give up. 

If we weren’t meant to be persistent like the widow, why would Jesus have told us to be?

Some of us give up too easily – at the first hurdle or at the first ’no’.

Don’t be like that!

Be like my dog.

Be like Jesus taught us to be.

Persistent.

 Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th September 2019

Driving to work one day on the motorway, I was forced to move to the inner lane by two police cars taking up the middle and outside lanes. They had their sirens wailing, and blue lights flashing making it impossible to miss them, and you had to move out of the way.

Behind the two police cars were a secure prison transfer van flanked by another police car alongside it, and two more police cars behind those.

What was quite remarkable was the number of police cars it took to surround the prison van and ensure that it had a clear stretch of road ahead of it and alongside it, and it could travel without having a siren itself. This got me thinking. Who were they transporting, and why was this individual or group of people so important, they needed such a noisy police escort? I’ve been overtaken by police cars countless times without thinking much of it, but there was obviously someone significantly important or high risk in the van they justified all the fuss.

I thought about breaking from the norm that everyone else was following and doing something to stand out but that wouldn’t have ended well for me, so I stayed in the slow lane.

There are times when deciding to stay quietly out of the way along with everyone else is a good decision, but there are times when you need to step out and reach for a reward that pushes you out of your current situation. To make a bold decision that challenges the long-held beliefs around you.

In Luke 18:35-43, a blind man received his sight because he first saw a way out of his situation (blindness) and stepped out in faith. Like the transfer van surrounded by police cars that made traffic move out of the way, Jesus was surrounded by people who could see him with their eyes but could not see the reward He carried.

We’ve all got something that we need God to help us with in our lives, better health, rebuild a relationship with family, a parent, child, sibling; a friend who used to be close, but things went sour; finances to help us get out of a hole we may be in, perhaps a better job. There’s probably something in your life that you’ve accepted as it is, and because of past failures in changing that situation, are now okay to sit on the side lines.

What stopped me from getting in the way of the police convoy was a fear that my life would never be the same if I did that

What stopped the blind man from staying out of Jesus’s way was a fear that his life would always remain the same.

Make the decision to call on Jesus today, and He will give you a new vision, and a reward for your courage.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th September 2019

On a recent trip to Greece we ventured on a guided tour to a near by waterfall attraction. Mid-way through our tour guide explaining the features of the surroundings, in broken English, he told us to “take off shoes”, and pointed to a narrow tunnel with water running through it. We followed his instructions, taking off our shoes, trailing behind his enthusiastic guidance into this dark tunnel. 

Anxiety quickly kicked in. It was one way. Totally dark. Narrow. And there was no end in sight. You could only hear the sound of water running over your bare feet. 

For someone who has a fear of rising water levels in enclosed spaces, everything in me wanted to turn around. But there were people behind me. The traumatic walk through the tunnel of doom, went on and on and on for about 300 metres!

The moment peace came was when I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew the end of was near. The hope of getting out was possible.

Hope is important. 

In the 1950s, an experiment was performed on rats. It was discovered that they could swim in high-sided buckets of circulating water for only about 15 minutes in order to stay alive. After that, they would give up and sink. But when the swimming rats were rescued briefly and then put back in the water, they managed to swim for up to 60 hours. How is that possible? It was concluded that it was because the rescued rats were given hope – the hope that they would be rescued. This hope empowered them to keep on swimming!

When the human spirit has no hope, when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, we sink into anxiety and depression.

Imagine not knowing if and when your dreams would be fulfilled. Imagine feeling like you are the only one in control of your future. Imagine not knowing if you will ever have enough. Imagine not knowing if there is more for you. Imagine not knowing what happens after death. Imagine not knowing if there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel you are in.  

Sadly this is exactly how many people live. They have no sure and certain hope. Their hope is in things that can be gone or have gone in an instant – people, money, themselves. No wonder anxiety levels are sky high! 

The story should be different for Christ followers – we have a sure hope. Regardless of the tunnel we are in, we see the light at the end and this gives us the courage and peace to keep moving on.

Romans 15:13, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’

Hope is not wishful thinking. It’s the assurance of fulfilled promise. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Guaranteed.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th September 2019

You can be book-smart, world-smart, have degrees up to the eyeballs, but lack wisdom. Godly wisdom (God’s perspective on life), can only be gained through relationship with Him, and His word. Worldly wisdom can be impressive, it can get you far in life, but it is bound to a human level. It is limited. Godly wisdom, however, is unlimited. It is ultimate. It is all knowing. It is timeless and will transform you and generations following you when applied. It is also available to you right now.

The rewards of Godly wisdom are:

Peace – ‘But the one who listens to wisdom, will live undisturbed in heavenly peace’ Proverbs 1:33.

Success –  ‘Only if you accept my advice and hide it within will you succeed’, Proverbs 2:1.

A full life – ‘If you want a long and satisfying life, never forget the things that I’ve taught you. Follow closely every truth that I’ve given you. Then you will have a full, rewarding life’, Proverbs 3:1-2.

Protection –  ‘For the Lord has a hidden store-house of wisdom made accessible to his godly lovers, He becomes your personal bodyguard as you follow his ways, protecting and guarding you as you choose what is right…If you choose good counsel, divine design will watch over you and understanding will protect you from making poor choices’ Proverbs 2:7-8 & 11.

Empowerment – ‘…You will discover all that is just, proper, and fair, and be empowered to make the right decisions as you walk into your destiny’ (Proverbs 2:9)

Just to name a few.

Wisdom can offer you all the above. But here is the catch: you have to want it. You are only influenced by that which you have value for. If you have no value for it, no desire to seek it out, you will not find it. Wisdom only has power in your life when you actively look for it, treasure it, and esteem it.

‘My child, will you treasure my wisdom? Then, and only then, will you acquire it…train you heart to listen…open your spirit wide’ (Proverbs 2:1-2).

People will spend thousands on health insurance, just for peace of mind, that if anything goes wrong, they are covered. People also spend thousands on university degrees, in an attempt to have a successful and fulfilling life. These things aren’t wrong. But why do people struggle to pick up the word of God when it is guaranteed to offer you greater reward, success, protection, and empowerment in all its wisdom?

Christians don’t pursue truth to be boring people, bound by rules. Quite the opposite. We pursue truth, because the wisdom of God promises to bring peace, success, life-fulfillment, and protection.

Let your heart hunger to know the perspective of God. Seek out His wisdom. God is generous in his impartation of wisdom on an open and ready heart.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd September 2019

“His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” was what people had to say about Paul, a hugely influential figure in the Bible.

23% of the New Testament has been attributed to Paul, who was also responsible for bringing the Christian message to Europe for the first time. Paul was a big player, but when it came to public speaking, people were happy to take him or leave him.

To add to Paul’s potential complex, he had a teammate named Apollos who was a very eloquent speaker. (Side note – your character will be tested when you’re alongside someone who’s gifted in an area in which you lack…

Can I encourage you to celebrate those people and not despise them? After all, as someone once said, ‘if everybody on a team is gifted in the same way, then the majority of that team are unnecessary.’)

However, it seems as though Paul didn’t have a complex about this, but rather he realised, ‘what I don’t have is just as important as what I do have.’

Paul’s writings influence millions of people still to this day, but we have to ask ourselves: if he’d have spoken it, would we have the opportunity to read it? Maybe it’s because he couldn’t speak like his colleague Apollos, that he ended up writing the way he did.

I think if you asked Paul today, he would tell you that he’s glad he was an unimpressive communicator. Because what people identified as his lack led him to discover his God-given gift. And ultimately it’s that gift that created for him a lasting legacy.

Today, instead of resenting what you don’t have, I wonder what could happen if you embraced what you do have…

Celebrate the Apollos’ in your world, look to improve in areas that you can, but learn to love who you’ve been created to be and not lose sleep over what you lack.

Maybe you too could leave a legacy that goes beyond the life you live.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 2nd September 2019

Prayer shouldn’t be a burden but a privilege – a privilege God has freely given to us because He wants to spend time with us.

 Jesus died to destroy the barrier of sin that separates us from God, and when we give our lives to Him, we have a personal relationship with Him. In fact, we only have access to God because of what Jesus did for us in his death and resurrection.

Isaiah 59:1-2 Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

He opened the way for us once and for all to come freely to Him.

 Central to any relationship is communication. A father that never talks to his children, or a married couple that never speak to each other is a recipe for defeat in any relationship.

 In a far greater way, our relationship with God involves communication – not just a brief hello, but a much deeper level of sharing our cares, concerns and requests with Him.

Prayer is simply talking with God; It’s a two way street just like any other relationship.

God, could of course, simply do everything on his own. He could make every problem go away, sort all of your burdens out, and then just shower you with everything you need exactly at the time you need it-so why doesn’t He? Because that wouldn’t be a relationship; it would be a completely mechanical and robotic one-sided acquaintance.

God has given us the privilege of prayer so that we will have a moment by moment friendship and relationship with Him.

 There are some things that my children have asked me for over the years that I haven’t been able to supply, but then there are times when I’ve sorted things straight away.

Often my phone will ring and the voice on the other end is saying, “Dad…can you…?!” The truth is that any Dad loves to be asked for things or to do things for his children. It’s the stuff of great relationships.

 

At other times the call comes from me to my children. Maybe I need to talk to them about something or give them some information; and so it is with God, He wants you to not only communicate with Him, but He also wants to communicate with you.

 Jesus demonstrated the importance of prayer by His own example when we are told that He got up very early in the morning, while it was still dark, to pray…

 

 Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

 

Today, I encourage you engage with God in the privilege of prayer. Speak to Him daily about everything. 

Remember: if it matters to you, it matters to Him.

 

1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.

 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.

 

You can join us for prayer every week at Champions:

 Men – Tuesdays at 6am.

 Ladies – Thursdays at 9am.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.