Fresh Hope – 30th November 2019

I love the book of Daniel.  It’s full of wonderful truths and teaching. I was reading it again this week and was encouraged by the account of the three guys Meschach, Shadrach and Abednego who were thrown into the fiery furnace because they wouldn’t bow down to a foreign god. 

Sometimes we find ourselves in a ‘fire’ unexpectedly, (which means we didn’t expect it) , it came from nowhere and yet other times we know that maybe,  through our brave decisions, we will be walking into a fire. That’s what happened to these three – they knew the consequences and yet still stood up for their God. 

I love what it says in verses 24-25 of Daniel 3. “Then the King leapt to his feet in amazement, and said “weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw in the fire? Look! I see four men walking around!”
There was another in the fire

Verse 27 “they saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor singed a single hair on their head, their robes weren’t scorched and they didn’t even smell like fire!” 

They were not harmed
When you go through a difficulty, a storm, or even a FIRE, you won’t be alone AND it won’t harm you. 

It says they weren’t burned, singed or even smelt like fire! That in itself is amazing, you only have to be around cooking and you know how your clothes can smell.   They’d been in a furnace that was so hot, it immediately killed the guards that put them in there and yet they not only weren’t harmed, they didn’t even smell like fire! When you go through it, make sure you don’t smell like bitterness or anger or disappointment or sadness… make sure you only smell like Jesus.  
Remember, Jesus is always with you and He will protect you,  “you will not be harmed.”

When they came out, everyone around praised their God; God wants be glorified through your fire.  
Give Him thanks today that He is always with you. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th November 2019

As an adult, the word Christmas normally becomes linked with the need for preparation. We prepare our homes, gifts or meals in the anticipation of Christmas Day, often not really thinking about much after the Christmas season. 

But what if the Christmas season wasn’t the end goal, but the starting line? 

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, prophesying: “I baptise you with water but one more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worth to untie”. John humbly and obediently served in preparation for Jesus. 

But before John, there was Elizabeth. Elizabeth was barren for many years until her miracle was fulfilled and she got her baby – John. 

Luke 1:36-38 And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren and here she is six months pregnant, nothing is impossible with God.

Before John prophesied, Elizabeth prophesied.

Before John showed humility, Elizabeth showed humility.

Before John prepared the way for the Lord, Elizabeth prepared him. 

Elizabeth showed John what it was like to live a life of faith and of grace and of power, no matter what her circumstances were. She was barren for years but still served and still worshiped God until her miracle came to pass. 

The way she lived her life had influence which had a knock-on effect. It cascaded further. When we live glorifying Jesus, there is always a cascade – think about the person that first invited you to church and the person that invited them and so on. 

Elizabeth prepared the way for John. 

John prepared the way for Jesus.

As we prepare for the Christmas season, consider who we are preparing for. Are we serving with a gracious heart? Are we loving people harder? Are we sharing the real reason for Christmas and inviting people to church? That invite could be the reason for someone opening their heart to Jesus and sharing Him with their circle. 

Consider the cascade effect.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th November 2019

One of the greatest desires of the human heart is to be part of a team. We want a squad of champions around us!

I’ve never met an emotionally healthy person who doesn’t want friends or that sense of family. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’d really like to figure out this tough situation all on my own without love and support please.”

God designed us to crave community. As a teacher I once underwent some training on how to recognise if our students have been groomed for radicalisation. When you get to the essence of the radicalisation of young people, it is really a young person looking for a sense of belonging. They want to be a part of something, even if it is a distorted version of community. It is the same with gang culture. At our very essence we are not designed to do life on our own – we crave being a part of something. 

We need team mates, community, people encouraging us, leading us, showing us the way, and in turn, we are wired to want to invest into others, and make a difference for someone else. 

A few years ago I was in church service in America. It was just a week before Christmas and the pastor asked any single mothers who wouldn’t be having Christmas unless God provides to stand up. All across the congregation single mothers stood up. Without any force from the pastor, more than half of the church (of about 1000 people), pulled out their wallets and went over to the standing single Mums, and handed them piles upon piles of cash. As the sobbing mothers took the offerings, I was overwhelmed with this powerful picture of community. It was such a profound moment for me. This was a true picture of family and community. Actively looking after each other, a heart to meet each other’s needs, and championing them in life. We are designed to figure out life with other people.

What is the opposite of teammates? Competitors. 

Competition with those around us violates our God-given design. We aren’t made to ride solo and be in it for ourselves. We aren’t made to win and make ourselves look good so others feel bad, we are made to inspire, to lead and encourage others to win in life too!

There is life-changing power in a community where we look after one another’s needs instead of merely thinking about our own!

In the spirit of the early church, ‘may we meet together and share everything we have’ (Acts 2:44).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th November 2019

At the start of the year I wrote a list of personal goals. I split the goals into categories: spiritual, health/fitness, relationships, financial etc. 

I recently reviewed the list of goals and was pleased to find that a lot of the goals had been achieved. Things that seemed like huge mountains at the beginning of the year really seemed quite trivial and attainable reviewing them on the other side of the year. 

I have already started considering what I might put on my 2020 goals list. While I don’t think our lives should be totally goal driven, I think it is important to have a sense of intentionality in what we are doing with our time and where we are going. 

Time is the only non-renewable resource we have. Once gone, we never get it again. There isn’t an unlimited supply of it. It really is precious. 

I believe one of the key characteristics of someone stewarding their time well is someone who doesn’t just let life happen, but carefully considers it and acts with intentionality and purpose. 

We may be facing overwhelming situations at the moment. You may feel like you are in survival mode and don’t really have the capacity for goal setting, but I believe God honours us and our goals when we commit our plans to Him and present specific requests to Him, even when we are just getting by one day at a time. 

Can I encourage you to pray over the last leg of the year for God to give you some fresh perspective, some fresh hope, some fresh ideas for the new year?

Practically speaking, if you are a looking for some handles on how to improve your use of time and operate with more intentionality, consider: 

What do I need to stop worrying about that is out of my control? 

What do I need to start including in my day that feeds my soul? 

Who do I need to unfollow – in life or on social media? 

When is the last time I got lost in the wonder of the word? 

What consumes too much of my head or heart space that is unhealthy? 

When is the last time I did something for my husband, friend or work mate – just to see them smile? 

What did I do today to prioritise my health (mind, body and soul)? 

When is the last time I did something for the first time? 

What can I start today to make a positive impact on my future? (saving, investing, reading or writing).

God always has something new for you, and His desire is to see you walk into 2020 with a fresh sense of faith for your future. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th November 2019



We’ve all heard the saying ‘it’s out of my hands’, meaning there is nothing more I can do about it now…I’ve done all I can.

This is never more true than in the parable taught in these few verses of the Bible….

Mark 4:26-28… ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces corn – first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.


Notice the ONLY involvement that the man had was that he scattered or sowed the seed. Once the seed left his hands it was literally ‘out of his hands’.

While he slept it grew.

While he worked it grew.

Whether he watched the seed or watched the TV it still grew.

Even if he forgot all about it…it still grew.

If he’d have hung onto the seed in his pocket, then the seed would still have been just seed today.

His ONLY part in this whole process was to SOW the seed…job done.

Several years ago, in an ancient part of Israel, an earthenware pot was discovered. It was believed to be around 2000 years old.

Inside the pot was a handful of seeds.

As an experiment, the seeds were placed in soil and exposed to the sunlight. To everyone’s amazement they began to behave in exactly the same way as they would have done two centuries earlier. They grew into perfectly healthy plants.

Everything you have right now is in seed form, but if you refuse to sow it you’ll never reap a harvest.

Love is a seed. Generosity is a seed. Kindness is a seed. Money is a seed.

You’ll never be short of anything in life if you learn to sow seeds.

Once it’s out of your hands, it’s into God’s hands.

Don’t have everything you need right now? Sow a seed today and watch it become the harvest that you need. 

2 Corinthians 9:6 Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.



Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th November 2019

One of the things that you notice whilst driving in the USA is that on the motorway (freeway) they have a carpool lane, which is called the HOV lane, it stands for ‘high occupancy vehicle’. 

It means that if you have two or more passengers, then you can use this lane and avoid the traffic jams. Genius! 

It’s especially helpful in cities and built up areas during peak hours where the traffic is really busy,  It’s there to encourage people to travel together rather than solo in their car. One thing I noticed on my recent trip, is the relief we experienced when we could use the HOV lane and speed past the rest of the traffic!

However,  another observation I made is that some people were happy to sit in the traffic jam when they could’ve used the lane, in other words they had more than two passengers in the car, but for some reason didn’t want to get to where they were going quickly! Why would you want to sit in a traffic jam and waste valuable time, when you could get to your destination a lot quicker?Because you have the very thing that you need to get you there, and that is the right amount of passengers.

God has given us everything we need to get to our destination quickly, directly and efficiently.

The children of Israel were given the option and opportunity to get to the promised land in approximately 11 days,  however due to their decisions and attitudes, they wasted valuable time when they could have got to their destination a lot quicker. It actually took them 40 years and some of them never got there at all.

Whilst being a passenger in the fast lane,  I looked at people in the traffic jam who could have been in our lane, and thought why… why would you not want to move over?

I wonder if God has the same feelings about us? Why would you make a journey last so long when you could get there a lot quicker? We have the tools we need, we can get the wisdom we need and we have the very one we need on our side. God himself.  

One final thought.The high occupancy vehicle lane is there to enable people who travel together, to get there a lot quicker. When you travel with the right people, you too can experience the same.  Life is better together.  Get moving!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd November 2019

How do you respond to Jesus?

In a short section of Mark’s Gospel, there are a series of well-known events in which we see a range of responses from those who had contact with Jesus.

Jesus calms the storm (Mark 4:41) ‘They were terrified and asked each other, “who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him!”’

Jesus then sends the ‘legion’ of demons into the herd of pigs (Mark 5:18) ‘Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region’, but in hearing the cured man’s testimony ‘all the people were amazed’.

Jesus then heals the woman who had been subject to bleeding (Mark 5: 33) ‘Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.’

We move swiftly to the raising from the dead of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:39) ‘Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep. But they laughed at him’. However, when she was raised from the dead (Mark 6:42) ‘At this, they were completely astonished’.

From here Jesus returns to his home town and preaches in the synagogue (Mark 6:3) ‘And they took offence at him’.

Clearly when confronted with the wisdom, power and authority of God in the human shape of Jesus, people who had the benefit of actually meeting him face to face had a range of responses from laughter and ridicule; astonishment and awe; hiding from the truth to fear; and those that took offence.

It seems that things have not really changed that much, I am sure we all meet those same responses as we carry God’s message and Jesus inside us into our daily lives. Jesus actually tells us that this will be the case. In Matthew chapter 10 he sends out the Disciples and tells them what they will face and that not all who they speak to will hear and accept the message of the Gospel.

We can’t change other people’s reactions – all we can do is faithfully witness to what we have seen and heard. The rest is in God’s hands. The one thing we can control is ourselves, so the question to ponder is how do I respond to Jesus?

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd November 2019

I love the sense of expectation as we approach Christmas. Our children are definitely excited at the thought of something ‘good’ coming their way.


I wonder what you are believing and trusting God for today. Is your attitude one that declares ‘I am in preparation for something…’ or ‘God is going to get something to me and I need to be ready’ or that He will indeed deliver ‘even at the eleventh hour’?


I am reminded of Mary, a young teenage girl whose life was changed forever when she discovered that God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus! Whatever her doubts and questions, her response can guide us as to what we can do when faced with the unexpected.
Luke 1:30 The angel said to her ‘Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favour with God.’ 


I believe whilst growing up, Mary would have heard and been told of countless stories of how time and time again God had favoured, honoured and rescued His people, the nation of Israel, how He guided and directed them. His favour had rested on kings and prophets, but also how he had singled out a young shepherd boy, David, Gideon, a reluctant warrior, Ruth a young woman who had lost everything and had an uncertain future but resolved to be faithful to Naomi. Stories of a God who favoured people that others would have overlooked – placing a value on a person’s heart and character instead of their position, stature and strength. 

In that moment Mary understood what Psalm 119:68 declares ‘You are God and what you do is good.’
She did not fully understand but she was determined in her heart to trust Him.
The future, though exciting, is not without its uncertainties and we will encounter situations and often question how and when God will work something out.

Whatever your situation today, know that there is a God who favours you and who longs to demonstrate His faithfulness and committment to you. You may not understand Him or the way that He works nor all that He does, but you can make a decision today to choose to trust Him.

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st November 2019

I’m sure you don’t need me to point this out, but much of our lives, if not all of them, are spent with people. With that in mind, I want to spend as much time as I can with the right kind of people.

The truth is, we don’t have control over who we spend all of our time with. Maybe you’re working with people who you wouldn’t have handpicked… maybe you’re living with people who you wouldn’t have handpicked! But when it comes to the moments we can control, as somebody once said, ‘get around people who celebrate you, not those who tolerate you.’
There are times when I have been around people who have taken from me instead of adding to me, and if you’re not careful, like me, you can grow accustomed to this kind of interaction, concluding that this is just how life rolls…

Maybe today is the day you take back control of your time and who you’re spending it with. Give yourself permission to hang around people who make much of your strengths and little of your weaknesses. I once heard someone say, ‘if people can’t make room for my mistakes, they shouldn’t be with me.’I need those kinds of friends! You need those kinds of friends!

Now if you’re wondering, how do I get these kinds of friends?You become that kind of friend. It starts with me and it starts with you.

Let’s make much of people’s strengths and little of their weaknesses. Let’s be those who create room for others’ mistakes and celebrate rather than tolerate.

As I said to begin with, not all of our lives will be spent with people who bring addition to us, so let’s be sure to create moments with those who do.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th November 2019

Aside from our relationship with God, the most precious thing we have on earth is each other. Investing into our relationships with each other is one of the greatest investments you can make. 

The definition of investment is: ‘the act of putting moneyefforttime, etc. into something to make a profit’. Investing is essentially putting in some hard work and sacrifice in order to reap a greater reward. 

I’m not suggesting that we make an effort with people so that we can selfishly gain something, but I am suggesting that there IS something precious to be gained in investing in relationships. 

Relationship is the essence of what God is all about. He shares in perfect relationship with the trinity (Colossians 2:9), He desires personal relationship with humanity (Genesis 1:26), He then made mankind relational in nature, stating that it ‘is not good for man to be alone’ (Genesis 2), and so passionate was His intent for relationship with us that He then made the ultimate investment in sending His only son to die for us (John 3:16). 

We may feel lonely. We may feel like we are seen, but not truly known. We may feel like we are in a crowd, but don’t have true connection. May I propose that if you have people around you, but are struggling in feeling like you don’t have true friendship and relationship, that you consider the following:

 1. Get off screens, and get into real life. 

Social media can be great for surface level networking and creative inspiration, but it is not an appropriate source of genuine connection. We were made for relationship, and the hours spent observing the lives of others, is time you could have spent having real talk, coffee, and connection with someone. 

A recent study proved that on average people are spending at least two hours a day on social media. Over the span of a lifetime, that equals to 6 years and 8 months! For TV, it equated to 8 years and 4 months. That is a total of 14 years of our precious life in front of a screen! Yes, in the colder months, we can have the tendency to hibernate, but consider that for our mental health and fruitfulness of earth, we need genuine connection with people!

 2. Be vulnerable and real. You will not feel fully connected until you feel fully known. Put up a front that people might love, but your true self will never feel loved. You will not be getting the connection, encouragement and relationship that you actually desire and need. Be honest and real with the right people. There is no other way to do life.

 3. Make an investment. Consider how much of your time is consumed pursuing things for selfish gain.  Consider how much of your money you spend on people. Consider how often your language is encouraging toward others. Consider how much effort YOU make for them. What you sow, you reap. Harsh perhaps, but don’t expect a harvest of deep, meaningful friendships, when your investments have been few. Any relationship is built on the grounds of sacrifice. If you want beautiful friendships, it is going to cost you. The greater the investment, the greater the return. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th November 2019

Perfectionism is not from God! The roots of perfectionism are found in religion, which is essentially our attempt to please God through self-effort and striving. It’s performance – where our worth is tied up in the degree of our work. Jesus came to abolish perfection through works (Matthew 5:17)!

Perfectionism will offer you no rest. It will push you to work harder, do more, accomplish more, perform better, and then maybe you will achievea sense of worthiness… but truth is, you never will. Perfectionism is a lie. 

When Jesus proclaimed that He was rest for the weary soul, He was declaring that He was rest for a performing perfectionist (Matthew 11:28-30). 

He is rest from: – Working for approval- The need to achieve for praise- Performing for value – Accomplishing for acknowledgement – Striving for recognition 

Paul reminds us that our wholeness, freedom and true life is not found through us, but through the FINISHED WORK and the gift of grace of our good God (Ephesians 2:8,9). 

God’s approval with us is not based on our works, therefore if His opinion of us is the most valuable in our life, then our works should not be our driving force for a sense of worthiness. 

It doesn’t mean we are the worst version of ourselves – lazy, selfish, and doing a half-hearted job of everything. Infact,  the opposite! We work, serve, and pursue excellence because of His approval towards us, His kindness towards us, His love towards us, and His grace towards us has empowered us! Grace actually enables us to do more than a spirit of perfectionism ever could. 

Working from a place of rest (knowing Jesus finished our need to work for approval) looks like: – Working from love, not for love. – Working from acceptance, not for it – Working from approval, not for it – Working from identity, rather than for it. 

Say no to perfection, and yes to grace!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th November 2019

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

We could well find ourselves asking the question: what is a meddler?
Is there such a thing in the 21st century?

Why is it in the same category as murderers, thieves and criminals?
Whatever it is, it must be bad.

Here we go…
A meddler is a busy body; someone who interferes with or concerns themselves with something that is none of their business.
It’s basically a word that sends out a loud and clear message: mind your own business.

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

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

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

A modern day classic illustration would be found in the realm of social media.
Right now we are able to view people’s pictures, where they are, what they are doing and who they are doing it with. We can see what they’re having for breakfast, lunch and dinner and who they eating it with. We become party to their party and to top it all we’re even invited to comment.

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

People’s lives have never been made so accessible to so many.
We can spend hours everyday trawling social media to find out the latest gossip and info on anyone’s life that we so wish. We can’t go to sleep at night without mentally rearranging everyone’s life first.
Is it any wonder that meddling is such a modern day curse?

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

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

Murderers, thieves and criminals have one thing in common in that they are all facing a prison sentence.
Sadly, being a meddler is just the same; you are chaining yourself as you meddle with so many people’s lives that you are no longer free to sort yourself out.

When was the last time that you consciously stopped trying to live everyone else’s life for them and took care of your own?
The only time we should engage in other people’s lives in this way should be for the common good – to lift them, to care of them, to support them and to pray for them.

Meddling is a meaningless and energy-sapping mental distraction. Stop playing God and be content to practice leadership on your own life.
Make a conscious effort today to pull away from meddling, and use all that freed up time to make your own life count for the good of others.

Freedom!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th November 2019

 

You will only fully realise the potential of something when you let it go.

Too often we want to hold onto things, not realising that we will never see what we were meant to see, if we hold on.

 

A seed will only reach its full potential when it is sown. It will never do anything in your pocket.

When a farmer sows a seed, he doesn’t have a funeral for it – he has great expectation for it. So let it go.  Don’t be scared.

When you release your finances into God’s Kingdom, don’t be scared, don’t be fearful.

Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its full potential.

 Maybe you have a dream, an idea, and maybe you’re held back by worry or lack of self-esteem, or belief in yourself… let it go, let those fears and concerns leave you and step out. Have great expectation that what you believe for, will come to pass.

Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its ull potential.

 Maybe you’ve been hurt by someone and you’re not allowing yourself to love again, let that hurt go. Let those feelings of “it will never be any different” right out of your mind. God created us all to love and be loved.  It is in the letting go, that you can be confident that God will replace your fears with something much more special.

 Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its full potential.

 Maybe you’re holding onto unforgiveness, maybe you feel that it’s well deserved to feel that way. The only person that you’re hurting right now, is yourself.  God wants to set you free form that. Unforgiveness leads to hurt and bitterness and even sickness. When you let unforgiveness go, God will swap it for a wonderful peace.

Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its full potential.

 You see, when I let go of what I’m not supposed to hold onto, there is a divine exchange.

 What should you be letting go of today?

Don’t concern yourself with the letting go, don’t mourn over it.

Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its  full potential.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th November 2019

I love maps, especially detailed Ordnance Survey maps. Not only do they give me a great overview of where I am, where I am trying to get to but also all the little details on the way. Turn left here; turn right there; there will be a steep hill; a river to cross; marshy ground; a cliff edge; everything I need to know in order to have a safe journey and get to my destination.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a map for life? So that at every turn, at every moment of decision we could simply look down and there would be the answer, the right direction.

The reason maps are so detailed is because someone has been there before and seen the roads, the lie of the land, how high the mountains are, how dense the forest.

The problem is that you and your life are unique, no one has ever lived your life, no one has ever had to make the decisions that you have to make today. How could there be a map?

The other issue with maps is that your destination has to be on the map otherwise it is useless. Again your life is unique, God has a plan for us and we know our destination is eternity, but that plan can be revealed step by step ‘A lantern to my feet’ – not a huge search light.

What we need is a compass. A compass always points north. No matter where you are, how dark, how lost, how dense the forest, how steep the mountain, a compass will always point you in the right direction. If you know your destination then all you have to do is keep a careful eye on the compass and at every turn you will know which is the right way.

The word of God is a compass for your life.

Reading the word of God, hearing the word of God and thinking about the word of God gives us a clear set of principles by which to live, applying those principles daily always takes us in the right direction. The problem is that we stop looking at the compass and try to find our own way, we stop applying the principles that God has given us and we soon get lost.

The great news is that it is never too late to pick up the compass. No matter where you are or how far you have gone off course, the compass of God’s word will take you back in the right direction.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th November 2019

 

I recently pulled a muscle in my neck. Doesn’t sound too bad, although with a stiff neck you soon realize your neck is responsible for you being able to see properly, move properly, and interact with people and the tasks of life. An immovable neck makes for a challenging day.

The Bible actually talks about having a stiff neck! It is used figuratively in both the Old and New Testament, the word, ‘stiff-necked’ means ‘stubborn’, ‘not to be led’. This would have been a family idea to the Jews. You see, ox was the most useful and common animal. It was used for agricultural purposes (Judges 14:18, 1 Corinthians 9:9).

A ploughman would guide his ox with a pole upon the neck. He would use the pole to keep the ox straight, preventing it from deviating. If an ox was hard to control or stubborn it was ‘hard of neck’. Hence, the figure of speech is used in scripture to describe the stubborn heart of people toward the guidance of God (Exodus 32:9, 33:3, Deuteronomy 9:6, 2 Chronicles 36:13, Jeremiah 17:23).

In the Old Testament, Pharaoh was famously stubborn (Exodus 7:13-14), but his stiffened-neck did him and his nation no good. Stubbornness was also displayed by the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, who rebelled against God over and over, turning away from his love and protection.

The enemy will use a ‘stiff-neck’ or pride to hold you back. It is simply the decision to go your own way. Humility is what will keep you fruitful in life. Pride is saying ‘my way is better than God’s way’ – what a scary position to be in.

Just as I experienced a lack of full function and perspective in my physically stiffened neck, so also in the spiritual, pride and stubbornness will limit your perspective and mobility.

What keeps you agile, growing, healthy and free, is a soft and tender heart. A soft heart is sensitive to the voice and ‘guiding pole’ of the Lord.

Be aware of areas where you may have ‘stiffened’ your approach to God. Humble yourself toward his voice and ways for your life. Be easily led by His voice.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th November 2019

For years I tried to make myself like other people that I felt had it all together and whom I perceived to be popular.

I went through about five personality changes in order to be liked, ranging from becoming one of God’s clowns to becoming Mr. Serious. I was so like one particular person when I spoke, that it was difficult to tell one from the other. All of this was to no avail. I decided to drop the act and become who I was supposed to be – ME.

It takes a certain amount of vulnerability to be who you really are, but it’s worth every bit of the pain.

Why do we work so hard to not be vulnerable?

Why are we so afraid to be who we really are?

Maybe it’s because of the past we’ve come from or the pain of rejection that we’ve experienced? Both of these and many other life experiences teach us to be the masters of disguise.

Is it possible that you think that if people knew who you really were, no one would love you?

Look at the energy we spend hiding our vulnerability to protect ourselves from people that often don’t even matter!

After becoming me, I realised that people actually loved me and accepted me for who I was, far more than when I was doing my best impression of others.

Give yourself permission today to take off the mask and be who God created you to be.

You were born an original — don’t die a copy.

1 Corinthians 15:10 ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 12th November 2019

On my wedding day, my Dad gifted me with the most beautiful Tiffany and Co. pearl earrings and necklace. As stunning as the generous gift was, the way in which a pearl is cultivated is far less glamorous.

Pearls are made by oysters and freshwater mussels as a natural defence against an irritant such as a parasite entering their shell or damage to their fragile body!

That’s right! One of the most beautiful details of creation was formed under irritation!

Give a child anything he or she wants, whenever they want it and we all know that the adult they become will most likely be one of entitlement, and lacking in character. Why? Because the child has faced no irritation, it has been kept comfortable – it has got whatever it has wanted, whenever it has wanted it.

Irritation is good for us. It shapes us. One of the greatest dangers in becoming ‘comfortable’ in life is that our character, personhood, and faith, is no longer irritated, challenged and susceptible to beautiful growth. 

Pearls are what develop in the trenches of life, not the mountaintops. YOU develop in the trenches and pain of life. Giving thanks and praise during pain is not pain avoidance – it is acknowledging your pain and praising still. It is essential for your mental health, and the cultivation of ‘pearls’ of immense value in you.

‘Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing’ (James 1:2-4).

‘More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope’ (Romans 5:3).

 ‘I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:10).

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us’ (Romans 8:18).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th November 2019

I’ve met quite a few older people over the years that consistently behaved like they were children.

 

Everything about them told me that they were old — their hair, their skin, their health, their teeth and their habits. But something was happening inside of them that revealed a very different story; they had just never grown up.

 

Now there are some great attributes to being childlike; Jesus spoke about having childlike faith; Having a great sense of fun is also a great childlike quality. However, there is a vast difference between child-like and child-ish.

 

Childish people show all the signs of growing old, but they also show all the signs of never growing up.

 

They still think like a child, speak like a child and behave like a child.

 

Put them in a room with adults and what comes out of their mouths would make you think that you were back at primary school.

 

Today I challenge you to listen to yourself speak and see if you can hear child-ish language coming to the forefront of all that you are saying.

 

(Before you justify your behaviour, it’s important to know that there are plenty of young people and teenagers out there that are incredibly mature and changing the world as we speak).

 

Are you still thinking immaturely?

 

Are you still behaving as if you were a stroppy child?

 

Are you still talking baby talk?

 

If so, it’s time to take more than baby steps, it’s time to take radical steps in order to grow up.

 

The Bible puts the emphasis of our growth fairly and squarely on our own shoulders….

 

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

 

It’s time to put your childish behaviour behind you.

 

Don’t just grow old…grow up, and if necessary, get help.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th November 2019

1 Samuel 17 vs 37 – “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, will certainly rescue me form the hand of the giant Philistine.” 

The same David that had victory against the lion and the bear, is the same David that had victory against the giant Goliath.

His previous victory was not only recorded in 1 Samuel 17 vs 37, it was recorded in his mind.

 Someone once said “write your failures in the sand and write your victories in stone.”

I’m sure you’ve all had a day at the beach, whereby you’ve spent hours creating some castle masterpiece, moat and the works, or writing your names and declaring love in the sand. But, as sure as can be, that masterpiece will be gone as soon as the tide comes in.

That’s how we should deal with failure. Understand that forgiveness from God, means it has gone forever and we should not keep recalling it.

Too many people write their failures in stone. No, don’t do that.  Write them in sand.

Victories however, should be written in stone.  Firmly in your mind. So the next time you are faced with a similar situation, you can recall the victory you had and it will give you faith to take on the next one.

David, when faced with the giant Goliath, thought to himself, “I’ve done this with similar, I can do it again”. “God helped me before, He will help.”

Today, recall your victories, write them down and remind yourselves of the never ending faithfulness of God.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 8th November 2019

I love period action movies, The Last Samurai, 300, Troy, even Apocalypto, all firm favourites. Stories of gallant heroes, outnumbered and surrounded, but because of unflinching dedication to a cause, fighting to the death for God and country. That’s one of the reasons I love reading the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles in the Bible. They contain fascinating historical accounts of the conquests of kings and villains, depositions and rebellions, each chapter is a blockbuster in its own right. But just like modern life, interwoven in this tapestry of valour, are threads of lack of faith, fear, and doubt.

 

In 2 Chronicles Chapter 29, King Hezekiah set out to restore and rededicate the temple where they had previously worshipped God. He instructs the priests to prepare themselves, and recruits some help for them from the Levites in anticipation of the work ahead.

But later in verse 34, “it turned out that the Levites had been more responsible in making sure they were properly consecrated than the priests had been”

 

This made me stop and think. Daily, we each conquer battles, for some, that battle is just getting out of bed and facing the world. For others, it’s going through another day without falling back into debt, addiction or depression. Maybe your battle is one you’ve never shared, and that has become another battle, the fear of someone finding out.

But during these battles, how often do we ask someone to pray with us, believing for a miracle, then it turns out that the person we’ve confided in has more faith than we do?

Hebrews 11 verse 6 says simply that when you ask God for something, ask with faith that you will receive it, and then act like you believe you’ll get what you prayed for, and overcome whatever challenge you’re facing.

 

As we approach Remembrance Sunday where we commemorate the contribution of the fallen so we can be free today, take a moment to reflect on the battles Jesus has brought you through, and let your faith rise, and let your actions reflect your renewed faith that you will overcome.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th November 2019

If you ever visit an iconic landmark or property such as the Vatican, Buckingham palace or 10 Downing Street, you will always find guards at the door. Why guards at the doors and not the walls? Because doors are a place of access. What you allow to pass through the doors is what you give a degree of authority too. Allow the wrong thing to pass through the doors, and the result could be devastating.

In Exodus 12:13 they applied blood to the doorways. Why did they apply blood to the doorways and not the walls? Because the doorways represented a place of authority and access. They were seeking protection over their family, via the blood (representative of Jesus’ blood) on a place of access in their lives.

We also have doors and gates on our lives. What do we give permission to enter? What goes in? What goes out? Are we vigilantly guarding?

The doorway of our life is our mind. We should actively be applying the blood of Jesus to our thought lives. No, this does not mean we get blood and physically put it on our doorways! It is instead a matter of considering our thoughts before they pass the doorways of our life. Are the thoughts we partner with in alignment with the price Jesus paid for on the cross?  Does our thinking come from the perspective of what was purchased for us on the cross/the blood of Jesus? If they are thoughts that don’t align with the price Jesus paid, we should probably be stopping them at the door. If the thoughts knocking aren’t thoughts rooted in freedom, wholeness, victory, and provision, turn them away!

The gateway to your life is your mind. The enemy has no legal authority to touch you, unless you open the door, and grant Him access.Watch out, He will go after your thought life. Apply the blood. Guard your gateway!

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th November 2019

Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us that ‘we will receive power’ (Acts 1:8). Either this was a promise or not! Therefore the Christian life should be marked by power!

Even the name ‘Holy Spirit’ can weird people out. As a result, often He is pushed aside or boxed in. Yet the greatest minister of the gospel – the greatest preacher, and teacher on earth is the Holy Spirit! True transformation is impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Everything else is simply behaviour modification which cannot be sustained like a heart transformation through the Holy Spirit can.

This should stir in us a hunger for an encounter with the Holy Spirit. Reigning in life starts with how we manage our internal world. There is a responsibility for us to allow the Holy Spirit to bring revival to our personal lives. Revival is essentially bringing what is dead to life. It is up to us to DAILY allow the Holy Spirit to come upon us so we can go out in power.

If your relationship with God seems lifeless, if you feel your Christian walk is lacking in power, invite the Holy Spirit in.
The Christian life was never supposed to be a boring, well-presented routine. The early church was actually birthed out of the fiery power of the Holy Spirit!

Don’t be a cardboard Christian – the form is there, it looks good on the outside, but the substance is missing. It looks like ‘the form of godliness’, but is missing the fire so to speak (2 Timothy 3:5). Don’t be luke warm – half in and half out. Jesus isn’t an add on to your life, He IS your life! (Revelation 3:16).

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, you have the capacity to change this city. What are you doing with what God has given you? Don’t settle for the crumbs, hunger for all that He has for you! The Holy Spirit works through desire and hunger!

Emma Burchell

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th November 2019

Earlier this year I decided to do something with the empty void that was our garden. I wanted to transform it into a great space for us as a family to be together during the long hot British summer that was just around the corner. I’m an optimist.

 

So I got a few quotes done for decking etc and realised it was going to cost a lot of money, which we didn’t really have. Then we went on our usual Easter holiday to St Ives, which with three children is never cheap.

 

One day we were visiting a beach and I was feeling a little heavy thinking about our finances, how much the holiday was costing and how I was going to struggle to afford any garden work. When we got back to the car I‘d got a parking ticket for £60! There wasn’t even a cheaper option if you paid it early! I was really fed up and it just added to my financial angst. Then I thought of the verse Romans 8.28 ‘God works all things for the good of those who love him!’ And I thought ‘how could this verse ever be true for this situation?’ So I irritatingly prayed “God how could you ‘work for the good’ a parking fine?”

 

Then suddenly I had a conviction rise inside of me, and in that very moment I decided to make the £60 fine an absolute bargain! I chose to make it the trigger for me to decide to transform the whole garden myself and save myself a whole lot of money!

 

Immediately I was on the internet sourcing and ordering materials. The week we got back I was underway and after three tough weeks, I was over the moon to have a great looking garden with decking, planters, benches and even ‘up lighters’ for effect.

 

I sat back and thought what an absolute bargain for £60!

 

There may be situations in your life you just don’t understand, seasons of loss where you feel no possible good could come from it. I truly believe in everything we go through, whether our own doing or not, we get to choose whether it becomes an absolute waste or an incredible bargain! To stand up and not allow the situation to dictate to us, but to make a decision to make it an opportunity, not to be a victim but to choose to be a victor!

 

Seek Him today. It’s our choice on what we call the things that happen, every complaint is a decision to lose out, every praise (in spite of circumstances) is a decision to win. Use all things to motivate you to put Jesus at the centre, making the most of where you are and what you have!

 

Luke Cartwright

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th November 2019

Some time ago, a guy walked up to me and told me that he felt that I had stopped using a gift that God had given me.

 

At first, I was taken back and even pretty annoyed that someone who was not really even in my life had spoken to me like this, but after a time I started to mull over the sentiment of his words.

His approach had been made with kindness and humility, and therefore I felt that his assessment should at least be given some consideration.

Of course, not everyone that speaks into your life should be given the time of day, otherwise we’d be all be taken off track by some very weird and unwise characters that are around but something about this guy’s message to me rang true, and as I pondered it for a few days, I began to see that it was actually something sent to help me rather than harm me.

Messengers come in all shapes and sizes, and at first glance some people can look nothing like ideal material to give you a much needed jolt. However, even a quick flick through the Bible will reveal that this was often the case. Interestingly, on the flip side, the one guy that you would think ‘looked the part’ and had the credibility to speak into Jesus’ life, was dismissed with the words ‘get behind me Satan’. Those words were spoken by Jesus to one of his closest disciples, namely Peter.

We can, without knowing it, let the gifts that God has given us lie dormant and unused.

 

How are those gifts brought back to life, we may well ask?

 

Is it not sometimes by someone willing to be honest with us, leading us to stir ourselves once again in that department?

 

At this time of the year, we start to buy logs ready for our open fire in the lounge. It’s such a great centrepiece for any home, but the truth is if you walk out of the room and forget about it, the fire can start to die down and eventually die out. For every winter evening that we get to sit in front of the fire, I have to work at keeping it alive by fanning it back into flame and keeping it well stocked.

 

I’ve realised afresh this week that when I don’t keep my gift alive I am actually depriving many people from receiving what God has for them through me.

 

Maybe like me, you need a gentle reminder today to ‘fan into flame’ the gift that is within you.

 

2 Timothy 1:6-7 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd November 2019

Psalm 103 9-13

He will not always accuse, nor will He harbour his anger forever. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the Heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.  

Do you have a problem letting go?

I’m amazed at how many people let small things have a big impact on their lives.  Some of the offences and wrongs that we hang onto are so small in the grand scheme of things and yet we waste our energy ‘stewing’ over things.

I heard someone say recently, ‘will this matter this time next week? If the answer is no, let it go.’

”Oh” you may say, “it will matter”. Okay, let’s go back then to the verses at the start of this devotion…

He (GOD HIMSELF) doesn’t treat us our sins deserve, or harbour anger.

He removes our sin FAR from us because of His great love FOR us.

If God can do it, why am I different?

If God can forgive me and you for every wrong thought, action, word or motive, then what makes me bigger than God?

It’s time my friend to let it go.

Give it to God, not to several other people.

If you can’t let it go, the Bible teaches us that the person we need to speak with is the person who offended us and only them.  (See Matthew 18 v 15)

Today, be thankful for what God did for you and apply the same grace.

There’s a beautiful promise that will come to your life when you do.  (Matthew 6 vs 14-15)

 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st November 2019

Life sometimes feels like you are walking on a rickety shaky bridge, unsteady and unsure if in the next step you will hold up or everything around you will collapse.

Whatever you are facing or believing for, know that God is faithful and will show Himself to be more than enough in that area of your life. I have learned this lesson in many ways in various areas of my life, but this doesn’t make the shaky bridges I encounter look any sturdier. No matter how much experience I have gained in crossing rickety bridges, each new one I face always seems like the one that isn’t going to hold. This is why it’s so important to reflect upon all of the other shaky bridges that God has safely led you across. This is my favourite Bible verse for doing this is: Psalm 9:4 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart”.

If you are in that season of crossing the bridge, you must take a step out on to the bridge and believe that the same God who has carried you through so many other life trials is more than enough to carry you through this one. Keep focusing your thoughts back onto God. Be fully dependent upon Him to keep this rickety bridge secure. Your job is to keep walking and trust that God truly is in control, no matter what you feel.

As you meditate on God’s prior faithfulness, you lift up your shield of faith to block the enemy’s taunts that bring about fear in you. God tells us in Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God is with you wherever you go.”

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.