Fresh Hope – 31st October 2019

From the moment we are born, we have to let go. We are let go from our umbilical chord, which connects us to our mother. We soon reach an age where we have to let go of being at home with our parents all day, and go to school. After those years, we let go of that era and move into the next – a working career. At one point we let go of living at home, and for some, have our own children, which we also have to learn to let go of.

Notice that in all these life examples of letting go (and there are many more) there are two common trends:

1. Letting go is a healthy part of growing up. Imagine a 40-Year-old man still at home with his mother drinking milk from a bottle, never having gone to school, because he was never ‘let go’.
2. You cannot move into the new season, unless there is a letting go of the present season. New ground correlates with letting go of old ground.

It is the same principle in our spiritual lives. We cannot move into the next thing that God has for us, unless we let go of something that we are comfortable with now. If we are still hanging onto something from an old season – old relationships, old habits and attitudes, old hang-ups and offences, old ways of doing things, it makes it very difficult for God to usher us into our next stage.

Letting go is about surrender. The degree to which you surrender, is the degree to which God is able to use you and move you into the new.

Matthew 16:25 says, ‘For if you choose self-sacrifice and lose your lives for my glory, you will continually discover true life. But if you choose to keep your lives for yourselves, you will forfeit what you try to keep’.

Surrender is a letting go of your agenda, letting go of what you think is best, letting go of yourcomfort, plans, ideals, your attitudes and issues, unhealthy relationships, and instead positioning yourself in a new, perhaps vulnerable space where God can grow and use you.

This tells me that the Christian life is not about seeking comfort. The opposite in fact. Letting go is rarely easy, fun, and comfortable. It is always a challenge, stretching and painful, but totally necessary if we intend on reaching our fullest potential. Letting go is a heart position of, ‘God, I trust that your ways are better than mine. So have your way with me!’.

Despite the initial challenge we all face in letting go, when we finally reach a point of surrender, we will find that it is actually quite freeing! And as promised, a catalyst for reaching your potential and finding life as God meant it for you!

‘Do not remember the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing’ (Isaiah 43:18-19).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th October 2019

Comparison truly is the thief of joy. Imagine how unhappy a fish would be if he based his value on his ability to hunt like he saw the lion hunting. Imagine how joyless a lion would be if he based his worth on his ability to hold his breath underwater like a fish. Imagine what a failure a giraffe would feel like, if he based his value on his ability to squeeze into an ant-hole.The problem is that we as humans do this. We look at someone else – someone with a completely different design, and wonder why we can’t do what they are able to do. Despite all being humans, we each have completely different designs, in order to fulfill a unique purpose for God.

In 1 Corinthians 12:12, Paul uses the metaphor of the body. The church makes up one body, but there are many parts to that one body. Each part is unique and has its own design, function and role. Each part needs the other to function in its own purpose. Imagine the toe feeling inadequate and worthless, trying to act as a brain. Or imagine the brain trying to function as a hand. It just isn’t going to work, and you will have a very unhappy brain and toe, because they aren’t functioning in their place of purpose, and ultimately the body will shut down – everyone loses out because parts of the body weren’t being themselves.

We are the body of Christ. When we aren’t being ourselves, playing our part, you lose out, and we lose out. When we compare our function, lives, gifts and abilities to another part of the body, not only do we forfeit the role God has for us to play, which then has detrimental effects on the whole body, we ourselves feel worthless, purposeless and unhappy. What part of the body are we looking at and wondering why we aren’t them?

There are 7.7 billion people currently on the planet. You are the only you of those 7.7 billion people. No one else has your eye-patterns, DNA, personality, stories, and fingerprints. God needs YOU. We need YOU. Only you can bring what YOU offer.

A krill looks like a prawn or shrimp. Tiny, perhaps insignificant – especially next to its predator – a whale. Yet krill is one of the most abundant and successful species on the planet. The total mass of all the earth’s krill is greater than any other species on earth. Next to a whale, a single krill looks like nothing, but together, krill weighs more than all the whales on earth! You may feel like a simple krill next to someone with a whale of abilities, gifts and profile, but you are part of successful team, known as the body of Christ. You play your part in contributing to the weight of influence on this earth.

You have a responsibility as an individual krill, a member of the body, as the only one in almost eight billion people, to take ownership for your unique life, and role. We need you to play your part. We need you to stay in your own line, focused on your unique journey with God, and His specific mandate to you as an individual.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th October 2019

For the most part, correction has a bad connotation attached to it.

Naturally speaking, we as humans don’t enjoy being corrected.

Some of us may immediately reject correction, either by ignoring it or becoming defensive about the issue at hand. Others of us may put on a brave face, hearing what is being said, only to walk away feeling upset by what we’ve just heard.

 

I’m sure most, if not all of us can agree that we’d much prefer to hear encouragement than we would correction… but I wonder what would happen if you and I changed correction’s connotation?

 

Let’s think about sports for a moment.

If a coach is constantly in a player’s ear, it is typically an indication that they see great potential within him or her. If the coach did not see a future for that player within their team, they would likely not invest much of themselves into them.

When a coach sees potential in someone, they will not be afraid to call them out when they’re not at their best so as to ensure that they keep moving towards their best.

 

A player should see correction as a compliment, and so should we.

 

I think we would grow more and grow faster if we didn’t hide from correction but instead welcomed it.

 

I have found in my own life that some of my biggest moments of growth have actually come not as a result of encouragement, but of correction.

 

Today, if you find a boss, a spouse, a friend, a leader, a parent correcting you, don’t put up a defence system, but instead, open up your heart, your mind and your ears to hear what they’re saying and then make the necessary changes as a result.

I’m not saying that what you hear won’t initially hurt, but if you allow it to, it can eventually help.

 

Approach your everyday life with a desire to get better as well as an understanding that if I’m going to grow, I must run towards potentially difficult conversations and not away from them.

 

Let’s endeavour together to change correction’s connotation.

 

Bring it on!

 

 

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th October 2019

Did you know that there is one question that God will never ask you?

He will never ask you the question…’can you’.

But there is one question that God will often ask you, and that is…’will you’.

There’s a world of difference between the two, as one is connected to your ability whilst the other is connected to your availability.

The reason He will never ask ‘can you’, is because He knows what you can and cannot do, so the only thing left to ask is…’will you’.

Think about it for a moment: why would God ask you to do what He knows you cannot do?

If He commands me to do it, then it must be within my power and ability to do so.

Here’s a great story that Jesus told to highlight this very issue…

Matthew 21:28-31 ‘What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.” ‘“I will not,” he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. ‘Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, “I will, sir,” but he did not go. ‘Which of the two did what his father wanted?’ ‘The first,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

How often do we make excuses as to why we cannot do what God is asking of us? There is only one issue here, and it’s not can you or can’t you, but will you or won’t you. It’s a simple question of obedience.

Maybe you’ve said NO in the past, just like the one son that we just read about; if so, change your mind, and say YES!

There are people’s lives right now that can only be reached by your YES.

They are depending on you.

If you will…you can!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 26th October 2019

Why do people blame God for them not being where they want to be?

You see, I could sit on my backside all my life, not get any education or never go to work and then blame God that I’m not a multi-millionaire. A simple illustration to show that if I’m not where I want to be in life, it’s not God’s fault.
It’s true that we don’t all have the same start and the same opportunities. Yet when we are all old enough to make our own decisions, then that’s where we have to make some right choices.
The people of Israel took over 40 years to get to the promised land, when it should have actually taken them 11 days.  Was that God’s fault ? No, it was a result of them moaning, groaning and complaining against God and their leader Moses.
When we are in a situation that we maybe don’t like, be careful what your attitude and words are like. We don’t want to go round and round and round, when we could actually reach the place that God has for us much quicker.
They were people who got frustrated. They didn’t trust God when they should have been trusting Him and they blamed Moses for doing the very thing that God had told him to do!
Maybe you’re in a place right now you don’t understand… instead of blaming God, stand back for a moment and ask God to show you and teach you His ways.

The Bible tells me that His ways and thoughts are far higher than mine anyway (Isaiah 55 vs 8-9), so that’s why sometimes I don’t understand – that’s where trust comes in.

Don’t be like the people of Israel – most of them never even got to receive God’s promise for their lives. How sad is that?

God placed the opportunity right in front of them to be in the promised land in 11 days and yet they missed it.
So the next time you think you’re not where you want to be, look at the choices and decisions you’re making, look at the people who are around you and the attitude that you’re choosing; take a ‘check up from the neck up’.

Don’t miss out on your future. It is bright with hope.  Stay close to Jesus. He will lead you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th October 2019

My wife loves a good murder mystery on television. I’m not so bothered, so I often end up walking in and watching from half way through. As I’m watching I’m trying to play catch up, trying to grasp the whole picture from what I am seeing, but it’s no good, I can’t make sense of it, having missed the main plot.

This is a great picture of the world in which we live. You just have to open up the newspaper to see the increasing confusion, people struggling to work out the plot of life, what’s it about and where is it going? There’s more and more misguided ideas about sexuality and gender as the world seems to be trying to make its own plot line. 

Even as Christians we can struggle, trying to work out what we should be doing, what’s our calling?  How does it fit in with work and family life, and how does this get prioritised along side the church? This creates stress in our lives, as we try to achieve some kind of balance that just doesn’t feel right and ends up pleasing no one.

The reality is that we too, just like the world, struggle when we fail to live with the bigger picture, fail to understand the plot of the mystery of life and the absolute truth of what it really is all about! Jesus Christ is ‘the way the truth and the life!’

He created us with a plan written for us before we were even born!

Ephesians 1:4 ‘For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.’

  • He stepped into the world He created in order that by His grace we could receive His spirit to guide us into truth!

1 Corinthians 2:12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

No matter how difficult life may seem at times we are certain that when we finally see him face to face all questions and confusion will cease and like the ending of a great murder mystery, we will all go. “…ahhhh! Now it makes sense!” 

Let’s not have to wait for this life to end to get the plot, that it’s all for Him and about Him. Look to Him today, see the bigger picture, trust and have faith.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th October 2019

The Bible frequently talks about fighting the good fight of faith.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith…

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…

At first glance, it almost sounds contradictory in that faith suggests that we just trust God, yet fighting suggests that we have to get involved.

The best way of understanding this is to see that often we will be called upon to fight wit hour faith. In other words, we don’t just sit back and pray a little prayer and hope for the best, no, we battle in prayer with great faith believing that God will come through for us.

When you have no resources, no opportunities, no solutions of your own, nowhere else to turn, it’s at that point that you’re in a battle, and you are forced to trust in God’s ability to provide and meet you in your time of great need.

If nothing went wrong in life, then we wouldn’t need daily to trust God.

We all live in a world contaminated by human sin and depravity; a world of temptation and disappointment. Sometimes it’s easy to have faith when everything is going great, but courageous faith is forged only when it’s tested.

Today, don’t just sit back with a mindset that says ‘whatever will be will be’, NO – fight the good fight of faith and battle over the things that matter most to you.

1 Peter 1:6-7 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd October 2019

 

The Bible talks about how life is not a destination, but a journey home. Much like a car journey home, we are driving towards our true home – ‘for we have no city here on earth to be our permanent home, but we seek the city that is destined to come’ (Hebrews 13:14).

 

Driving in our car (life) toward our heavenly home (heaven), we experience dead ends, stop signs, go signs, crashes, lane changes, GPS breakdowns, mountaintops, and bogs. We can get robbed and burnt, towed off, have to undergo serious repairs or maybe just a regular clean and polish now and then. We swerve.  We overtake others, and then others overtake us at times.  Sometimes the road ahead is straight and clear, other times it is winding or jammed. Sometimes it’s a clear day, then other times you cant see out your windscreen. Sometimes we’re waiting for things to heat up, other times we are waiting for things to cool down. Sometimes the road is a tight squeeze, other times it is spacious and free. There are times where you are on your own. Other times you are taking people with you. Fuel levels run low, or you may have missed the turn. You may feel old and used, and the day of driving out the show room sparkling and new, is just a distant memory. You may be a distracted driver, or maybe a passenger is guiding you. You may have had to pull over because you are falling asleep at the wheel, or maybe you need to read the manual again because things aren’t working. Whatever state your car, life, is in, whatever state you are in, you are heading in the direction of Heaven – our true home and ultimate destination. The journey is temporary.

We all have our own ride. We all have our own car experiences, but whatever our circumstances along the road, our God can intervene. He can step in as our driver. He can reroute us from a dead end. He is with us in the lane changes, the mountaintops, and the breakdowns. He gives us a new car when the old one is burnt, and repairs the small parts of us that need work. He’s really good at cleaning and polishing us up. He’s the master of restoration and making old things new. He makes a way in the jams, and by His Holy Spirit, He fills up our fuel tank and guides us like the perfect GPS.  His manual, the Bible, is there to remind us how things work. He pulls us over when we aren’t doing what is good for us, and sets us straight again. What an assurance we have in God!

Rest assured that in this wild ride of life God is with you on your journey towards the prize (Philippians 3:14). Remember that it is only a journey, and not the destination.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd October 2019

We know God can do anything. He is God! But what are some things that God will never do?

Five things God will never do:  

1. God will never contradict His word.

God can move in all sorts of ways, but His motivation will never contradict the word of God. When the Holy Spirit speaks, it always compliments the Bible. Hebrews 6:18 says, ‘It is impossible for God to lie!’

Yes, He may ask you to do something that is apparently crazy, but it would never negate or oppose scripture.

2. God will never change His mind on us.  

We will make mistakes, we will fail at some point, but God’s love towards us is steadfast. His love is not conditional, it is unconditional love. In the words of 1 Corinthians 1:9, ‘God is faithful’. It is impossible for our behaviour to dictate God’s affection for us. His mind is made up – He loves us!

3. God will never ask you to do something that isn’t good for you.

When God prompts us to do something, say something, change something, it is always for our benefit. God is a safe place. We can trust Him. No matter how uncomfortable what He asks of us may make us, at the end of the day, it is good for us. We must trust His nature. His heart is always to bring us into freedom! Now who wouldn’t want that? He is always working on something good for us! (Romans 8:28).

4. God will never look on outward appearance.

Our world, and minds are trained to fixate on what we see on the outside. We live in an appearance-driven world. The kingdom of God is upside down and inside out! While man focus on appearance, God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). God is interested in what your motives are. He wants to know what you will choose when no one knows, except Him. He will choose the person you disregarded. He will promote the person at the bottom of the pack, why? Because He isn’t driven by the external.

5. God will never override your free will.
It started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were given the choice as to which trees to eat from! God put a tree in the garden that they were told not to eat from. Why put the tree in the garden if you don’t want someone to eat from it? The answer is because God never wanted to remove their ability to choose. If so, he would be a controlling father and we would be robots. What gives our relationship power is the fact that we chose it! This makes you a very powerful person. Choose wisely. God in his goodness has given us the freedom to choose and will never force us into something.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 21st October 2019

We spend our lives listening to other people’s conversations.

Sometimes we like what we hear and sometimes we don’t.

How many times to we find ourselves judging people by their speech and by their actions, but when it comes to us we continually justify our speech, thoughts and our intentions as if we were above and beyond the very same rule that we apply to others?

The best way to live life has got to be found in the words of Jesus… ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matt 7 v 1-5)

As of today, take up the challenge to judge yourself first and foremost and in doing so you will have far less time to judge anyone else.

At the end of the day, the most important thing about our lives is to make sure that we are behaving, thinking and being right in our attitude towards God and people.

The next time that you want to judge someone else, firstly apply the same ‘criteria’ to your own life; not only will you find yourself with more friends, you will become a much more likeable person into the bargain. And if you ever keep wondering why people keep judging you, then now you know – ‘For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th October 2019

 

I’m sure when you were at school or Sunday school, you would have sung the song

 “I am H A P P Y, I am H A P P Y, I know I am, I’m sure I am” etc.

Today, you may have woken up feeling happy or maybe otherwise. 

For most people, happiness depends on happenings… “If the sun is shining, I’ll be happy… 

If the children behave, I’ll be happy…. when I get a week off work, I’ll be happy, 

when I get paid, I’ll be happy…when I feel well, I’ll be happy.” 

 

If we let happenings determine our happiness, then most of the time we won’t be, because life isn’t always like that. 

 

There’s something far greater than happiness and it’s called JOY. 

Joy isn’t dependent on happenings.  Joy is dependent on my relationship with God, which means that however great the storm, however hard my circumstances, I can still be joyful, because I have an assurance of God’s peace and that He is always with me. 

 

“Why does God want me to be joyful in hard times?” You may ask… 

The Bible teaches that “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” (Nehemiah 8 vs 10).

In other words, when I am joyful, I am strong.  

God wants us to be joyful, so that we can be strong.  

Maybe you don’t feel very strong today? 

Maybe you have lost your joy.  

 

How do I get it back?

You’ll get it back by being thankful (in all circumstances). 

You’ll get it back by prayer and a relationship with God.  

You’ll get it back through worship and praise.  

Take your focus off yourself and your circumstances and put it firmly onto God.  

 

“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for THIS is God’s will for your life.”

 

God wants you to be strong today…whatever you are facing.  

Focus on Jesus. Focus on His joy.   

 

Pastor Gillian 

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living. 

 

Fresh Hope – 18th October 2019

Fearless. That’s the theme for Mankind Conference that starts today. I was wondering about this phrase, and thinking, ‘when do we start to fear?’ When I throw Zachary into the air, he squeals with delight and after I catch him, demands more, even though he was clearly scared whilst in the air. Spiders, wasps, bees, heights, nothing scares a child until they see how other people react to them. So, when do we learn to fear? When do we start to let our fears overcome the joy of knowing that we have a Father who will catch us?

 

Failure, if you allow it, can demotivate you, and cause you to become afraid of failure itself. It can cripple you so much that the thought of trying gives you palpitations, that’s easy to understand.

But success too, can become a slow poison that stops you achieving more because you become afraid of losing the success you have achieved. You stop trying for more because perhaps you’ve become accustomed to the familiar and it has become comfortable.

 

So whether it’s the fear of starting something new or fear of trying again because you’ve failed, or the fear of losing what you have, being afraid is something that can affect us all

1 Corinthians 10:13 says that whatever might be tempting you to be afraid, someone has been through it before, and God will always make a way for you to go through it.

 Psalm 91 is a great place to start to learn a new vocabulary. The vocabulary of a victor, a champion, a child of the living God. It’s time to unlearn the fears we have learnt from our past, and from others, and time to learn the fearless nature of Jesus, the lion of Judah. Time to stop focusing more, but less on those fears and become… fearless.

 

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th October 2019

‘With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially towards those who may try your patience’ (Ephesians 4:2 TPT).

There is a popular mentality that anything that doesn’t feel good, or you don’t like, you should just be bold enough to walk away from. I recently read a quote, ‘Walk away from anything that gives you bad vibes. There is no need to explain or make sense of it. It’s your life. Do what makes you happy’.

Whilst you should definitely not entertain any abusive or unhealthy relationship, God actually calls us to press into those people that test our patience, rather than just run away and do what makes us feel happy. Seeking ‘happy’ is not realistic. There will always be testing external circumstances and people, therefore truth (God’s word) must triumph over the pursuit of feeling of ‘happy’. The Bible promises that life will give us “bad vibes”. We are called to walk through them, steward them, and profit from them!

When Ephesians speaks of having a ‘generous love’, the Aramaic word for generous literally means, “stretching”. Paul calls us to demonstrate gentleness ESPECIALLY towards those who may test our patience. He wants a people who rise above what is comfortable.

Security in God is not marked with loudly voicing our opinions in a pushy desire to defend our own rights and advance our own agenda. True strength is marked with our ability to operate out of tender humility and quiet patience.  It is the ability to extend gentleness and generosity beyond what we feel comfortable with.  

May we be people who stretch ourselves in giving generously, especially to those who test us. As we approach the last couple of months leading up to Christmas, consider how you can give in a manner that challenges the boundaries of what you find comfortable. Consider how you can give to those who you find challenging. Seek out opportunities for ‘stretching’ generosity.  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th October 2019

To be entitled means believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

Yes, as children of God we are given special blessings. We are favoured, loved and have an inheritance in God. But these things have nothing to do with what we inherently deserve. We inherently deserve condemnation. Blessing, which God promises us, has to do with what we have inherited (been given) from God, through Jesus. Viewing what we have as a gift from God, rather than something we have earnt, changes our hearts. We live grateful, humbled, and thankful, rather than entitled, proud and self-righteous.

In Romans 12:3, Paul says, ‘I would ask each of you to be emptied of self-promotion and not create a false image of your importance. Instead, honestly assess your worth by using your God-given faith as the standard of measurement, and then you will see your true value with an appropriate self-esteem’.

Paul isn’t telling us to think less of ourselves, he is urging us to see ourselves for who we really are – people who are saved and blessed by grace alone, and are continually in need of God! When we see ourselves in this light, who we really are, it is impossible to be full of pride and entitlement.

Millennials’ (of which I am one), have been handed many of the things the previous generation worked for their entire life. The character that previous generations built under dedication, commitment and resilience is missing in this generation, simply because we have been ‘gifted’, rather than growing under the sharpening experience of endurance. This is not always a bad thing, but there is a danger in that a sense of entitlement can creep in.

Christian entitlement is when we forget the price Jesus paid to gift us with something we will never have to pay for. When we forget how he endured for us, when we forget the source of our freedom, we live entitled.

Entitlement is ‘self-interest’ driven. On the contrary, the kingdom of God is ‘others’ focused. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3). Why? Because we remember who was humbled for us.

Instead of seeing what you aren’t getting, focusing on what you should be getting, and complaining for not having what you believe you deserve, start thinking about others. What can you do for someone else? Focus on how you can be a blessing, rather than focusing on getting a blessing. Instead of being the first to get jealous, be the first to celebrate. Instead of being the first to complain, be the first to say a compliment. Instead of being the first to take, be the first to give!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th October 2019

 

Sometimes it’s more difficult to stop doing something than it is to start.

There’s nothing worse than getting up everyday to do something that’s not working.

Maybe you’ve got emotionally attached to what you’re doing and are afraid to let go?

Maybe you’re hoping that tomorrow will bring about different results?

Are you flogging a dead horse?

Is what you’re trying to accomplish outside of your gifting and therefore will never work?

Maybe what you’re trying to resuscitate every day is not meant to be alive right now?

Are you just clinging on to what you’ve always done for fear that people may think you’re a quitter if you let go of it?

Remember the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again whilst hoping for different results.

There comes a day when we have to put a time frame on something and realise that if it doesn’t change by then, we’re going to call it a day.

Need some help to do so?

Luke 13:6-9 Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig-tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, “For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig-tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?” ‘“Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig round it and fertilise it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”’

Many years ago, we were hiring a venue to hold our church services in. For months, the numbers of people just got less and less and the services got harder and harder.

Eventually I had to make the difficult decision to quit on the venue and go back to the old Chapel where we had come from.

It was one of the best decisions I had ever made in those early days.

Going back helped us to go forward.

Admitting something is not working is really the best way of kickstarting a fruitful and successful future.

It’s wonderful to be faithful in doing something year after year with little results – it takes courage to do so; congratulations – but the bottom line is this: are you faithfully fruitful?

If not, maybe it’s time to rethink what you’re doing and why you are doing it. Don’t be afraid to make the tough decision of going back to go forwards.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th October 2019

Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer.

 

He was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and since has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence.

 

One day he was seen walking around the city square, staring at a huge block of marble. He would look at it from one angle and then from another.

 

As a crowd gathered to see what the commotion was all about, a person shouted out to him and enquired what he was going to sculpt.

 

“A horse” he replied.

 

“How on earth are you going to produce a horse from such a huge rugged block of solid stone?” asked the person.

 

“Simple”, he said…”I’ll just knock off everything that doesn’t look like a horse!”

 

…and sure enough, little by little, with great patience and skill, a magnificent horse appeared after many hours of work.

 

Is it possible today that when you look at your own life, you only ever see the rough edges?

 

Inside of you right now is a dream that God has placed within your heart, however, we have to appreciate that for every success there has to be a process.

Everyday as you surrender your life to God, He is in the process of knocking off the rough edges and removing everything that doesn’t look like Jesus, so that you can become all that He intended for your life. 

It’s a lengthy and painstaking process, but knowing that God is the master craftsman means that He will produce a masterpiece out of your chipped, cracked and broken life.

Each time you feel that you’re going through a challenging time, each time that you feel bad about the way that you are, each time that have to say sorry for doing and saying something wrong, remember that the master is at work on your life.

If you never feel challenged about anything in your life or never feel that you’ve let yourself, others or God down, then that’s the time to worry….you’ve become unworkable.

Remember: that every beautiful diamond was once a piece of rock that was put under tremendous heat and pressure.

Allow The Holy Spirit today to work on your rough edges and make something beautiful out of your life.

Psalm 139:23-24 MSG

Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th October 2019

Life is a journey, a journey signifies moving from one place to the next.

On that journey, you can choose which way to go.

 Each day you will make similar repetitive journeys. Have you stopped to think that each day you make that choice of which way to go to work, to school, to college, to the shops?

 In that plan of A to B you can choose how you will get there. You may choose the shortest route or the fastest route, the quietest route, the most scenic route.  You know where you’re going, but along the way you are making the choice.

For instance, some people will go to Cornwall on the south coast of England and from where I live, we can get there in around 4 hours via the motorway.

Some people however, will choose the scenic route which can take 12-14 hours.

Some people will stop at a Starbucks, others will choose to wait for a Costa and others will take a flask of tea.

You see there are choices that you make along your journey that are yours .

God has a plan for your life. The quickest and best route is to follow His navigation system and to listen to His instructions. “Take a break”. “Follow this route”.  “Avoid a traffic accident”. God is full of instructions along the way.

We have to be open to listen and willing to receive His advice.

No, we don’t actually know best!

 Our choices, our attitudes, our relationships will also affect our journey.

 My father nearly died many years ago, God literally raised him from death’s door and he went on to live another 11 years.

I remember saying “it’s not my Dad’s time to go” – and through a series of miracles it became apparent that it wasn’t.  I decided in prayer, that we weren’t going to ‘stop’ there, but I would ask God to intervene and let him continue his journey…and He did, for another 11 years.

 Too many of us are content to settle for where we are now, or are not too bothered where life will take us.

God has many things for you to experience, He has a destiny for you to fulfill.

Don’t settle for where you are today. Push higher and harder for greater things.

Walk through the storm… don’t camp in the valley of the shadow of death.

 Keep moving. Keep praying. Keep moving life forward. Follow His instructions.

 For where you are now, is not where you are going.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th October 2019

I love a gadget. I think that most of us do. The majority of us probably have a ‘smart assistant’ in our home or office now. Why get up to switch my lights on, when Alexa can do it for me?

I know people who rely completely on their digital calendar. If you ask where they’re meant to be at a particular time, they don’t know unless their phone tells them.

There are things that have been invented that make our lives easier. They save us precious time.

However, there are some things that there just aren’t shortcuts for. Sometimes, the long way is the only way. Take the farmer for example. They sow…and then they wait. That’s it. Sure, there are tools and machinery that make harvest time easier but nothing but time will make those crops grow.

In Ecclesiastes 3, we learn that there is ‘a time for everything’. Maybe you’re in a situation right now that you wish you could fast track your way out of.

Let me encourage you with Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

James 1:2-5 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 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.”

‭‭

Everything that God has for you ‭is worth waiting for. There are things that He wants to build into your character that won’t come overnight. Be encouraged today; persevere, so that you will lack nothing.

 

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th October 2019

Rahab was a prostitute (Joshua 2-6). She was a prostitute of the Canaanite city of Jericho, who found favour with God. She is also in the lineage from which Jesus was born!

Many writers have tried to prove that Rahab was different from the ‘harlot’ described in the Bible. Perhaps it is a hard pill to swallow – A prostitute in the genealogy of Jesus. But we cannot distort her story, in order to stomach the reality that salvation is not based on human goodness. Jesus not only came to save the sinners, but he also was born from sinners! Rahab was a sinful woman, who was saved by God and used by God!

Joshua sent two spies into the land they wanted to conquer. Rahab in her wisdom and trust in God, hosted these spies, protected and covered them, eventually allowing the spies to feed back information that caused the city to be taken for good. Rahab and her family were spared because of her act of faith toward the spies.

Despite her past, Rahab’s ultimate conclusion was, ‘For the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below’ (Joshua 2:11). It was this change of heart, this faith – coupled with the actions prompted by faith – that saved her and her family.

Paul esteems Rahab for her faith, “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:31). 

When we come to Christ, our past no longer matters. Rahab was a radical woman. She did what it took to protect her family, and facilitate the will of God.

Perhaps God is not after a perfectly behaved people, but people who are determined to stand for Him and facilitate His will no matter what! Rahab wasn’t passive. She didn’t just stand still and let things happen to her, she was proactive and attentive. She trusted God, but actioned her faith too.

Rahab proved that an ordinary person is part of God’s plan. Yes, she was a woman, yes, she was a prostitute, yes, she was considered to be ‘on the wrong side of tracks’ and was socially excluded, but God used her to help His people.

Maybe you can relate to Rahab. You feel like the outcast – the unfit Christian. The less-than-holy person. Or maybe you know a Rahab. Don’t exclude yourself from God’s plans for your life. There is favour for your family, and generations to follow. God is not after a squeaky-clean past, He is after sold-out followers, who are prepared to action their faith.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th October 2019

It is okay to be enduring something. To endure means ‘to suffer patiently’. Most of us don’t enjoy suffering. We want to get out of it as quickly as we can. Most of us struggle to endure too. We don’t want to wait patiently, we want to get something as quickly as we can! 

 

 Our brains naturally lean towards what is easiest; hard work is a challenge that requires intentional willpower and work. Suffering through bad traffic, an awkward conversation, a dark and cold winter, an intense workout, a difficult marriage, financial struggle, or draining job is hardly enjoyable. But what if the purpose of life isn’t always for it to be ‘enjoyable’? God is always good. God never brings bad, BUT sometimes He allows us to walk through struggles because it produces something incredible!  

 

John 16:33 warned us that troubles are a guarantee. God is not here to remove all troubles from us, he is here to walk us THROUGH troubles, producing something beautiful in us along the way.  

 

Please note, I’m not suggesting that we accept things that are downright from the enemy, or things that are within our power to change, I’m talking about challenging life situations that make you really uncomfortable, and are out of your control.  

 

Sounds crazy, but a mature Christian will welcome an opportunity to undergo endurance, because the profit of endurance is great (Romans 5:3-4).  

 

When you consider most worthwhile things, they never come without a degree of endurance – patient suffering. A fine wine, financial stability, a healthy family, a fit body, deep friendships. Everything of an excellent standard takes time, careful work, commitment and dedication to the challenge...including you. Sometimes your character needs to undergo the pruning process of life.  Endurance is necessary for you.  

 

You may be enduring in some area of your life right now. It might be really uncomfortable BUT know that as you walk it out, God is doing something marvellous in you. He is producing something. You may not know when and how it will end, but keep on walking it out, stay faithful, dedicated and committed. It is okay to be patiently suffering.  

 Emma Burchell 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th October 2019

My friend was sharing with me recently about how they’ve started to accumulate a large number of ‘air miles’ with a particular airline, and because of that, they have now been able to start unlocking benefits with that company.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of air miles, they are simply what you gather each time you fly with an airline, and the more you fly, the more likely you are to be able to trade in your air miles for certain benefits. Such as: upgrades, access to lounge areas at the airport, and possibly even free flights.

Did you know, that like an airline has benefits, so too does God have benefits?

In Psalm 103, found in the Old Testament of The Bible, the writer David is reminding himself of the benefits that come with knowing God.

Knowing God and putting your faith in Him brings about benefits, as does flying with the same airline over a long period of time. But there’s a difference…

With an airline company, I have to work my way up in order to unlock different benefits along the way. But in a moment of putting my faith in Jesus, I have every life-changing benefit at my disposal.

David describes these benefits for us:

“…who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalms‬ ‭103:3-5‬)

 

And these are to name just a few…

Imagine choosing to fly with an airline for the very first time, and when you arrive at the airport, they inform you that you’ve been upgraded to first class. Simply because they want to and are so glad that you’ve chosen to fly with them.

In a much more significant way, this is the kind of exchange that takes place when you choose to put your faith in Jesus. I have access to a forgiver, a healer, a redeemer and a satisfier in accordance with Psalm 103. And the amazing part is that I didn’t have to earn it or work my way up to it, I simply believed in Jesus and then received the benefits that come with that relationship.

If you want to unlock the benefits that come with knowing Jesus and experience them for yourself, you can, by simply believing that Jesus is who He says He is and has done what He says He has done…

It’s an offer I couldn’t refuse, and maybe today you feel the same way.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

If this has stirred something within you, why not delve a little deeper? Head to the ‘Messages’ tab within the Champions Church app and search ‘Don’t Forget To Remember’ to watch the full-length message.

Fresh Hope – 7th October 2019

Criticism will either crush you or energize you.

As soon as I’ve been criticised, I simply get alone and ask myself one simple question: what should I learn from what has just been said to me or about me?

My thinking is this: whatever truth I gain from the conversation can be used to help me to become a better person.

The same wind that threatens the chicken, lifts the wings of the eagle above the storm.

If you’re facing criticism today, consider these things carefully:

Is it constructive or destructive?

Is is gentle or judgmental ?

Is it to make me look bad and my critics look good?

Is it done discretely in private or publicly in order to damage my reputation?

Sometimes you just have to smile through criticism as you discern the spirit behind the words.

It’s hard for any of us to receive criticism, so keep your attitude about your critic in check. Remember, bitterness will do more to damage you than any criticism levelled against you would ever do.

If you’re facing criticism today, take another look at how Jesus handled it, and ask Him to help you to do the same.

1 Peter 2:23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th October 2019

We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s his season, it’s her season.”

What does that mean? It means that things are going well for that person right now. You’ve heard it said of a football club or a business… “they are having a great season.” 

That may be good (and it is) but seasons are made up of days…

And it’s what you do in those days that will determine your season.

What YOU do today will help determine the season that you will have.

The choices and decisions you make, the way you act and behave.

For example, the farmer will be planting, the athlete will be training, the wise husband will be treating his wife well, the student will be studying, the business owner will be strategising.

 Seasons are important…but DAYS are equally as important.

 Did you know that there will come a season for the very reason of your life?

God saw a problem in this world and He had you born to sort it!

You were born on purpose, for a reason. 

So what you do today IS important. Those ‘great’ things are often basic and simple, YET very important to your season.

Today be a…

Pray-er. Make sure today you find yourself communicating with the one who made you.

Giver Be generous. Generous people will always prosper

Learner. Be a reader of God’s word. Get Godly wisdom and truth into your life.

Worshipper. Be someone who is thankful in every situation. Knowing that in good days and bad, God is always good.

Planner. Have a vision and a dream and go after it.

Lover. When you show love to people, you’ll receive it back.

You see, your season will be made up of the constant things that you put into your life daily.

Make them good. Make them purposeful.

Today is your day. Go after it!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th October 2019

Imagine embarking on a journey, a long walk, a hike up a hill, or a trek up a mountain. After a few miles or hours along the route you stop because of exhaustion or thirst or discouragement.

You perceive the end to be too far ahead and the task to complete the journey is overwhelming.

Imagine doing that and realising sometime later (once you had been rescued perhaps),  that had you gone just a little further, the beautiful view, the purpose of your journey, the prize or reward had been just around the corner!

If you are anything like me, you would wish that maybe you had had a few pointers along the way to say ‘keep going’ , or ‘not long now’, very much along the lines of when children on a car journey are

asking ‘are we there yet?’, in the hope that the destination is in sight.

Life is an incredible journey with ‘twists and turns’ ‘highs and lows’ and few guarantees in-between.

The Bible (life’s manual) shows us that there is a God who keeps his promises, and who guarantees to guide us in life.

He also reassures us that when we set out on a journey looking for him, there is a certainty that we will find him.

Jeremiah 29 v12-14 “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you”, declares the Lord.

Perhaps you are searching and looking for answers to the meaning of life.

Maybe you are already on a journey that inspires you to pursue your God-given potential .

No matter where you find yourself today, you have the assurance that there is a God who wants to be found.

He does not hide himself from you, but longs to reveal himself to you.

God went to great lengths to make a way for each one of us to come to know Him…through His son Jesus and He is committed to fulfil that promise

So, whether you are running fast on an adventure with God, or slowly climbing in pursuit,  hold on to the promise that your efforts are soon to be rewarded, your prize is near…Him.

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 3rd October 2019

Yesterday we looked at the source of trials. Today we are focusing on one cause of trials – the devil. While I don’t like to give the enemy attention that he doesn’t deserve (I would much rather focus on God!), truth is that is he is real, and on a mission against us. When we live with an understanding of how he operates, it is easier for us to recognise him. While there is not a demon under every bush, so to speak, the Bible makes it clear that the enemy does come to ‘kill, steal, and destroy’ (John 10:10). That means that anything that is not bringing life, abundance, or building something, is not from God!

The Bible describes the devil in several different ways:

– Like a thief (John 10:10) – ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy’. . . The word ‘thief’ comes from the word, kléptō, meaning ‘to take, steal secretively’.

Imagine a pick-pocketer – Some of their strategies are that they steal by bumping, sending in their children as a distraction, or playing games to convince you to give money away … the devil is a master thief. Watch what he is taking from you when he knocks you. Watch what he is taking from you when you are distracted. Watch what he is trying to convince you to give away.  

The Bible also describes him as being:

Like a fowler (Someone who takes and kills birds for food). Psalm 91:3 – Satan may come against us like a fowler. The fowler is always quiet and secretive, never wanting to reveal his presence. 
Like an angel of light! 2 Corinthians 11:14 – He can come appearing glorious, good, and attractive, but with the intention to destroy!

  – Like a lion. Peter tells us Satan can come against us like a roaring lion, loud and full of intimidation.

1 Peter 5:8, ‘Be sober (clear-minded), be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, …’

For Christians, Satan is a lion who may roar but has been de-fanged at the cross (Colossians 2:15). Yet the sound of his roar – his deceptive lies – are still potent and he has the power to devour souls and rob Christians of effectiveness.

He isn’t just looking to lick or nibble on his prey; he wants to devour!

We don’t live our lives devil-focused, we live it Jesus focused, but there is a war that rages for your soul and we have to be alert. The devil hates that you are a child of God and will do ANYTHING to rob you…His mission is to rob you of joy, peace, favour, confidence… and he does this ‘Klepto’ style! Be sharp! Stay discerning!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd October 2019

When trials inevitably come, we must understand the source of the struggle. When we understand the source, we can fight the battle effectively!

Imagine going into battle, fighting with a toothbrush? Or imagine going in to fight something, and instead just falling asleep on the ground? Or imagine kicking and punching, using all your energy on something that you already killed? You need to know your battle in order to handle it properly!

Trials generally have three sources:

1. Life – God is always good, but bad things do happen. Thankfully God will use all things, turning a mess into a miracle. He will use life circumstances to increase you. God will use ugly situations as an opportunity to test your faith and stretch your capacity. Ask yourself, is God teaching me something here? For example, maybe I shouldn’t be running from that person that tests my patience and instead press into God, open to what He wants to teach me through the difficult person! After all, how do sharp rocks become smooth? By rubbing and knocking up against each other over time!

2. Me – If you have made a bad decision that contradicts the safety boundaries offered in the word of God, then you will find yourself in a tough situation at some point as you have violated your own design! Not because God wants ‘pay back’ or vengeance on you, but simply because He gave you protective measures in the first place that you rejected. It is like telling a child not to touch the hot stove. When the child does touch the hot stove and burns himself, it is not the revenge of the parent that causes the burn and pain, it is the rebellion and disobedience of the child stepping outside of the will and protection of the parent. Hence why we should LOVE the principles of God! If you are in a trial, ask yourself, have I got myself into this mess because of my poor choices that don’t align with the heart of God, and therefore I need to repent? Everything can be restored! God is gracious and always waiting for you!

3. The devil – He wants to destroy you and will use any means, including people to try and accomplish his mission (to kill, steal, and destroy). (We will look more at this in tomorrow’s Fresh Hope!)

 

Once you have recognised the source of your trial, you can then choose the most appropriate weapon.

Just to name a few:

Prayer and communion
Praise and worship
Repentance
Community
The presence of God.
A word from God.
The word of God.

Discerning the source of your trials is the key to responding to them appropriately. Not everything is the devil. Sometimes you have to steward the battle, sometimes you have to repent because you have caused the battle, and other times you have to wage war on the enemy!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st October 2019

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting watching a huge thunderstorm; as it passed over, rain poured, lightning flashed every few seconds and thunder rolled around the sky almost continuously. It was an awesome sight and sound.

It is easy to see why in ancient times people believed that thunderstorms were the gods fighting in the heavens, such is the power on display. Of course we now know that it is all to do with warm and cold air clashing, not the gods!

In 1 Kings 19, the Bible describes how Elijah is running for his life and he hides in a cave. God tells him to stand on the mountain because God himself is going to pass by.

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.’ 

So God was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire but He was in the gentle whisper.

How often are we looking for God in the dramatic, in the spectacular or in the huge miracle, when he is actually right in front of us in the small, in the quiet, even in the mundane? How often are we praying for the huge leap when God is actually in the very next step?

Of course God is quite capable of doing the spectacular but so often He works in the small things. Today, make a point of looking for God in the small, in the seemingly everyday things. Perhaps take a moment to be still and listen because His voice is just a gentle whisper. Maybe what you hear will be all you need to know.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.