Fresh Hope – 30th April 2020

Do you ever find your mind drifting back to situations that have already happened? Mine does. I’ll be doing something mundane and find my mind replaying old memories. Sometimes, they’ll be situations that I wished had ended differently. Things that were difficult or that have made me sad.

When something like that happened to me this week, I found myself thinking of a person who was no longer in my world and asking God, ‘why?’ And as I carried on with my mundane task – my skincare routine, if you’re curious – I felt the Holy Spirit whisper something to me: “If I have removed something, I will bring restoration.”

I stopped in my tracks. I feel like although that thought is not particularly new, it was profound for that moment.

  2 Corinthians 10:5 says, ‘We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’

Thinking over negative situations over and over is actually called ‘ruminating’ and research shows that it can have a negative impact on us – which is no surprise. That is not God’s desire for us.

That verse in Corinthians teaches us how to break that cycle. God wants us to be free and when we release those struggles to Him and bring our thoughts in line with His word, not only do we experience the peace that God has for us but we learn more of His nature.

Philippians 4:8 says, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.’

We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to negativity at the moment. You can choose how much of it you consume. If you find yourself stuck in that cycle, I pray that as you capture your thoughts, you’ll experience breakthrough today.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th April 2020

I have been taking you through a study of Psalm 23. Last week we looked at verses one and two, yesterday verse 3. Today we are looking at the first part of verse 4. There is a lot in verse 4 so we will save the second half for next week. 

Let’s take a look… 

‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.’

Here the psalm suddenly starts to get dark. It has been all green pastures and still waters up until now. This is a picture of the journey of life – it’s not always mountaintops, life includes dark valleys. The question is: are we following the shepherd (God) in both? 

Unlike green pastures, a valley is hedged in. You feel surrounded. How maybe some of you are feeling now. 

BUT…notice that David says, we WALK THROUGH the valley. We don’t camp in the valley. We walk through it and out of it with our eyes on our shepherd. 

‘Shadow of death’ – It isn’t necessarily death itself we are walking through; it is just the shadow of death. Death is now just a shadow, it lacks substance. It has lost its power through Jesus. A shadow of a dog cannot bite, a shadow of a sword cannot kill, and a shadow of death cannot destroy. 

‘I will fear no evil, for you are with me’ – as long as you are aware that your shepherd is with you, and you are walking in His presence, this knowledge should eliminate fear from your life. 

I recently went on a walk with a dog and its owner. I love dogs, so I was watching this dog’s behaviour very closely. As the master and the dog were walking, every five seconds or so the dog would glance up at the face of the master – checking for direction or instruction. He would look forward, then back up at the master’s face, over and over. The dog was in tune with itsowner. Ready and waiting to do whatever he said. 

What a picture of how we are to walk with our shepherd. Walking closely, watching closely, in tune to His instruction and direction. He leads, we follow, and together we walk through both the mountain tops and the valleys.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th April 2020

Last week, we unpacked verses 1 and 2 of Psalm 23. 

To briefly summarise, we learnt that God is metaphorically described as a shepherd many times in scripture. This is because he plays a similar role in our lives (if we allow Him to). He leads, guides, heals, tends and cares for us – His ‘sheep’. 

We learnt that when we understand the Lord as MY (personal) shepherd, we lack nothing because ALL our needs are met by Him. 

We read how it is the shepherd’s role to lead us to what we need and as we submit to this leadership, we find what we need and we find rest for our soul. 

Today we are focusing on verse 3: ‘He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness. For His name’s sake’.

Let’s focus on the word, ‘restores’. This word speaks of regaining something that was lost. 

It is in a place of rest (found by following the shepherd), that we regain what we lost. 

The shepherd leads in two ways – beside quiet waters, as we have read previously – so he leads me to rest, but he also leads me to ‘paths of righteousness’, which speaks of morals. The shepherd leads us to rest AND to right living! 

Many of us may feel exhausted, and depleted. Your soul drained. Perhaps it is worth considering if you have been leading yourself. Perhaps you have gone down a path that your shepherd isn’t leading you down. It is not a path of rest, because it is a path you have forged in your own self-effort. Perhaps it is time to submit to the leadership of a loving shepherd, so your soul can be restored, you can find rest, and be in right living! 

Remember, your shepherd knows what you need and where to get it! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th April 2020

Clark’s Botanicals is a high end skin care cream which features in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, and other publications. It has made its creator, Francesco Clark, an incredibly successful multi millionaire businessman! 

He started to create the skin care products after a crippling spinal cord injury from a swimming pool diving accident had left him a paraplegic. With his spinal cord severed not only was he unable to ever walk again, but unable to sweat, causing severe skin issues. After working with his father, a doctor, to create a naturally formulated cream that finally cleared up his complaint, his mother and sister soon started to use the cream and the idea to start selling it online began. 

Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand verses in the Bible such as James 1:2 ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds’, as they more than suggest some kind of benefit in trials and hardship.


The very meaning of life to most people is all about avoiding negative situations, while trying to steer towards positive ones. The problem with this is that Jesus didn’t come so we could have an easy life, but a full life! 


I truly believe we would actually appreciate the trials of this life a lot more if only we embraced difficult circumstances and looked for the opportunities that come by them, rather fighting against them all the time.


During this time of isolation, life for all has changed us all, to the point whereby in a recent poll only 9% of people want their lives to return to normal! That tells us one thing for sure — this current crisis has helped us to press reset and there’s no going back. 

Whatever your struggle may be today, just like Francesco Clark, there is an opportunity if we change the way we think about the situation to actually make the most out of it. 
I do believe that history will record that some of the greatest and most meaningful changes will come out of one of the greatest challenges of our time. 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ‘For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 


Fix your eyes on Him today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th April 2020

Have you ever thought about the word ‘reset’?
It applies to many different things in life and our homes even. For instance, if we have a power cut in our house, we have a digital clock on our oven that has to be reset. If some damaging spam virus thingy attaches itself to a computer or electronic device, it can affect that device negatively and often the way to deal with it, is to reset. Sometimes we are warned that our passwords on confidential documents or banking may get compromised and we have to reset. The most regular one and most annoying in our house is when the Wi-Fi connection drops and we have to reset things like the TV for instance.

Maybe, just maybe,  we are in a time right now where God wants to reset you? The word reset means to set again. It was once set, but due to something, it now needs to be re-set. 

Maybe, just maybe you’ve had a power cut, you’ve lost your connection with Almighty God, maybe you never had one in the first place. You need to take this time to be RE-SET.  

Maybe your life has gone a little bit crazy; maybe something that wasn’t good has attached itself to your life. Like bitterness or unforgiveness or sin? Maybe this time is a great time to RE-SET. 

Maybe, just maybe, you’ve lost strong connection with an Almighty God or maybe your signal is very low and unpredictable. Maybe it’s because the busyness of life crowded out your relationship, or ‘stuff’ took over and sucked the very life from your connection.
My friends, take this time to RE-SET your connection with God.

When we leave this current situation, (hopefully soon) we will have missed a fantastic opportunity if we come out of it the same way we went in. The best time to work on yourself is right now. The best time to RE-SET is right now. The best time to correct or improve or revive or develop your relationship with Almighty God is right now.
I hope that you are making every effort to come out of this time, renewed, strengthened and RE-SET ready for what the future holds. 

My clock may have been a few seconds or minutes out, it needed that power cut! My computer had become infected with all types of rubbish, it needed that wake up call! My wi-fi needed looking into, was it powerful enough to supply the demand we put on it? 

My friends, good things come out of difficult places. RE-SET!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th April 2020

A lock can be a very useful thing. We use them to protect what is precious to us, our homes and our possessions. It is designed to keep something in or keep something out, to prevent movement or access. However, a lock is not so good if you don’t have the key.

Fear is a lock, a very strong and powerful one.

Fear stops us in our tracks, we freeze. It prevents us from moving forward, it stops us from changing, keeps us in our comfort zone and sometimes keeps us where we do not want or need to be. Fear of the unknown or indeed fear of what we think we know. Fear of change; fear of sickness; fear of financial problems; fear of embarrassment or fear of rejection. 

Fear is a lock that holds us exactly where we are and that is not always where God wants us to be.

God knows how strong fear is in the human heart, that is why so many times in the Bible God says ‘Do not be afraid’.

Just one example is found in Luke’s Gospel.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God.’ (Luke 1: 28 – 29)

‘Do not be afraid’, and not just because an angel has just appeared in her room! As a teenage girl she is being asked by God to not only bear the Son of God but also to accept the bitterness, rejection, shame, social stigma and being a family outcast that being an unmarried mother at that time would have brought. God knew that fear would stop Mary in her tracks. She could not take this on with fear in her heart.

So what are you afraid of right now? Facing your boss; sickness; financial ruin; death? What is fear preventing you from doing? Asking forgiveness; stepping out into something that God has called you to do; fulfilling a promise; breaking an addiction; asking Jesus to be the Lord and leader of your life?

If fear is a lock, then Jesus is the key.

‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’ (John 14:27).

Unlock fear with the peace of Jesus and step out into what God has for you. Hear what God says to us today ‘do not be afraid’.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd April 2020

Yesterday I started a verse by verse break down of Psalm 23. Today we will unpack verse 2. 

V2: ‘He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters’. 

‘He makes’ – A sheep doesn’t know what it needs. A good shepherd recognises when the sheep need a rest and makes them rest. 

Equally, sometimes we don’t know what we need, and God provides for us what we most need, when we need it. 

‘To lie down in green pastures’ – A good shepherd knows the best places for his sheep to get rest. God faithfully takes us there. 

Interestingly, sheep do not lie/rest unless all conditions are in place. Because they are timid, they won’t rest if they are afraid. Because they are social, they won’t rest if there is friction in the flock. They won’t rest if there are flies/parasites. They won’t lie if they are anxious about food or hungry. 

Similarly, our soul does not rest if we are afraid. Our soul is restless if there is friction in an area of our life. We don’t rest if there is a virus. We don’t rest if we are worried about our next meal, or finances. 

BUT when we know God as ‘my shepherd’ (see yesterday’s Fresh Hope!), we know that He deals with the fear, friction, flies and famine! 

A lot of our fear and worry issues come down to the question of, ‘do I know God as MY shepherd?’ 

‘He leads me beside quiet waters’ – As a shepherd does, he LEADS. The thing with all leadership though, is that you have to submit to leadership to be covered by it. You don’t come under the covering if you aren’t following the leader. There is protection in following the lead of the shepherd – more on this in another Fresh Hope! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd April 2020

I want to write a series of Fresh Hopes, breaking down Psalm 23. 

Today we will start with verse 1. 

‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing’. 

‘The Lord is my shepherd’ – this is the declaration. 

‘I lack nothing’ – this is the result of the declaration.  

Let’s take a look at the word, SHEPHERD. 

God is metaphorically described many times in scripture as being a shepherd, and we the sheep. 

Why? 

Well, In Israel, the job of a shepherd would have been one of the lowest jobs of the time. Consistent with Jesus being born in a manger, this is again a reminder to us, that while God is the almighty creator of the universe, He also stoops down low to care for us. 

A shepherd’s job included; feeding the flock, guiding them, governing them, defending them, handling them, healing them, tending to them and caring for them. David knew this because he himself was a shepherd! 

A shepherd actually lived WITH the sheep. 

Likewise, God isn’t far off. He is among us. He is up close and personal in our lives. God as our shepherd, provides for us, He governs and guides us, He defends us, He handles and heals us, He tends to us and cares for us. 

Notice the use of the word, ‘MY’ in verse 1. ‘MY SHEPHERD’ – David knew God in a personal sense. It was not, ‘The Lord is a shepherd, or ‘the shepherd’ or even ‘our shepherd’. It is ‘MY shepherd’. 

We too should understand God as our personal shepherd. 

Let’s look at us as the sheep. A sheep isn’t a wild animal. Sheep were purchased and owned. They were of great value and bought at a price. 

Likewise, we are like sheep, belonging to our shepherd, bought at a great price, valued, and dependant on our shepherd for survival. 

Finally, the second phrase of the first verse, ‘I lack nothing’ this implies that in light of God being my shepherd, I do not want. Every need is met. ALL my needs are supplied in God – my personal shepherd. 

Stay tuned for more unpacking of Psalm 23! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st April 2020

There’s a story that I love in Matthew’s gospel, found in the New Testament of The Bible, where Jesus describes two types of people – one wise and the other one foolish.


The wise man had built his house on a rock, the foolish man had built his house on sand. One day a storm arose and beat against both houses; you guessed it, causing the house with its foundation on the rock to withstand the storm, and causing the house with its foundation on the sand to come crashing down.


I want us to notice how both houses experienced a storm. Neither one was exempt. And although neither were exempt, both were exposed.
You see, none of us will go through life without facing ‘storms.’ In fact, we’re all in one right now, and the structures of our lives are being tested. What a storm will do to us all is reveal our foundations. It will expose what our lives are being built on.


By telling this story, I guess Jesus was wanting to pose a question to us: ‘What is your life being built on?’ Is it being built on temporary things, is it being built on unstable foundations, or is it being built on something sure and solid?


My friend, that sure and solid foundation being spoken of here is Jesus. He is the rock on which you can build your life. He loves you, He is for you, and He wants to make Himself available to you today.


He doesn’t promise you a problem-free life. A life without difficulty, challenges or storms, but rather His message to you is, ‘if you’ll build your life on me, we can withstand the storms of life together, and more than that, we can thrive in this life together.’


Do you feel as though your life is shaking? Have you been building a life for yourself only to realise the foundation is all wrong? Jesus Christ is the Rock and let me assure you, you can put your trust in Him.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th April 2020

As we come into week five of lockdown, and with the uncertainty looming as to what the future may look like, I encourage you today to stop looking in the same places for your supply.

 
Globally, we are all faced with the very same challenge, whilst at the same time we are all faced with very different challenges too. Each person, each household, each nation and each day can look very different to that of my neighbours. 

In the Old Testament (1 Kings 17) we have the story recorded of Elijah who was announcing to the nation that there would be a drought. A drought that no one knew when it would end. A drought that meant that the normal way of living would be very different in the weeks to come. It was a time of uncertainty for all. No one was exempt. It would take years to get back to normal.

 
For Elijah, as a believer in God, and an outstanding man of faith, he had to be determined to be flexible in his faith. In other words, he couldn’t just presume upon God to perform the same miracles of provision for him day after day. Each day and each season of his new normal would require him to be flexible. Not flexible in terms of wavering in his faith, but flexible in terms of understanding that God can provide in very different ways through very different means on any given day. 

How many of you are right now are worried because you only ever see your supply and your security coming from your employer, or from your same old customers, if you are in business?
When the famine kicked in, Elijah was led by God to go and drink from a brook. At that very same spot God would also deliver to him ‘meals on wings’ every night as ravens would drop by with fresh meat supplies! 

He may well have thought that this was the way it was going to be for the duration of the drought —not so. A short time later he was commanded to move on to an unfamiliar place from where he would get supplies from a poor widow – hardly encouraging when she had very little herself.


Are you doubting today that God can not only send you supply, but that He can also send you to where the supply is? Be careful that during this time that you are so rigid that you can’t see God doing anything different from what you’ve seen Him do before. Inflexibility in faith can break you. 

There is no normal with God. Everyday is a new normal. Don’t keep expecting God to turn up as He did last week or last year. He wants to open your eyes to see what He wants to do in and through today even though you’ve never seen it done this way before. 

The result of Elijah obeying God’s call to go to the widow for supplies, not only resulted in his provision, but in the never-ending provision for the widow and her son too. The little that she had never ran dry during the whole of the famine. 
Don’t keep trying to box God in today. He will break out and do something new today if you will simply listen to His voice and heed what He is telling you to do, after all, God specialises in things that are impossible. 
Trust Him today…He’ll not let you down. 

1 Kings 17:14-16 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.”’ She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th April 2020

The next few lines are an excerpt from a ‘fresh hope’ that I wrote in 2014. Yes 2014…


I drove to the office this morning, much of the route is narrow roads and streets where you need to give way to oncoming traffic. On three separate occasions today, I pulled in to the side to let the oncoming car pass and on three occasions, neither driver acknowledged the fact, waved, smiled or said “thank you” through the glass. What is it with some people and their manners? It’s almost like it’s their right to drive on and yours to stop. I find myself getting annoyed with such people.

 Unfortunately, a lot of society is not about putting others first, it’s just about ME ME ME. We seem to have lost the art of being thankful and courteous and mindful of others. I find it when I go into a store and speak to the person behind the counter and ask them how they are? Some people look at me strangely, and others will say “you’re the first customer today that has asked me how I am.” Come on friends, I know we’re all busy, but let’s not lose sight of being helpful and courteous to others. Let’s change the culture that society is putting onto us and let’s swing that pendulum back to one of being friendly and thankful.”

As I write today…April 17th 2020…I believe a shift is happening. Due to the current situation, we have been taking daily walks and everyone I meet I speak to and they speak back in a very friendly manner. Whilst queuing at the supermarket, we are having friendly words with complete strangers.
As we come outside to clap for the NHS on a Thursday evening, we are speaking to neighbours, who we have never ever spoken to before. I read about people taking care packages to others in the church who are in need, I read about people raising money to support each other and good causes, I see people taking time for OTHERS and I love it. I read an article today that said only 9% of the UK public want to go back to normal. God is causing a shift to happen and it’s great. 

Let’s start a new normal, a better normal, a kinder normal and let God be glorified through it all 
Romans 12 v 10 “Be kindly affectionate towards one another, in honour give preference to one another.”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th April 2020

In this unusual time of isolation, our routine can be lost and our minds can start to play tricks, paranoia can set in and we can start to wonder if anyone misses us. I’m sure we all agree, when you hear someone say ‘I don’t care what people think’ what they really are saying is, ‘I really care what people think but I wish I didn’t.’ 

In reality, what we think people think of us transforms how we feel about ourselves. What’s also true, and not helpful, is the saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. This often means the people closest to us, those who know us the best, the good and the bad, whose opinions we actually care most about, can make us feel less valued about ourselves. 

If your self worth is based on what people think of you, (even your most loved ones) you’re in trouble. But here’s some great news, God doesn’t judge, act or think like the world does, and God thinks incredibly highly of each one of us! 


Firstly, He gave his only son as a sacrifice to reconcile us back to him. Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, that means your actual worth is that of God himself! Think about it? You are truly priceless. Let your ego go through the roof.


Secondly, as it says in John 1:12 ‘to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’. He thinks of you as his child. This is true, familiarity breeds contempt, except when it comes to children. Marriage is very conditional. You make an effort to maintain and nurture it, you only have to forget an anniversary to realise how conditional marriage is. Children on the other hand, have our unconditional affections! There is no ‘familiarity breeding contempt’, only love upon love. And no matter what you have messed up, God sees you as His child with unconditional acceptance and love! 


Thirdly, however you may feel about how you look, you are created in the very image of God as it reads in Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness”. You are literally God’s gift to mankind. You may want to make changes to how you look, but God doesn’t, He created you and knitted you together in your mother’s womb, he’s intimate with our innermost being and thoughts. He desires to be in a relationship with you. 

However you are feeling about yourself today, in whatever kind of isolation you may be experiencing, know that God’s thoughts are always on you; He couldn’t value you more highly, you are the pinnacle of His creation and He desires to know you deeper. Seek Him today.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th April 2020

Proverbs‬ ‭3:5‬ (‭NIV‬‬) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;”
‭‭
Easier said than done, you may think. And you’d be right. We’re in a time where people are faced with a lot of fear and confusion. It can be unsettling when even those who usually have ‘the answers’ seem unsure.

I want to remind you today that it’s okay to close your eyes and let go, even if only for a few moments. For many of us, we find ourselves with the luxury of time – something that many of us complained about not having enough of. So devote some of that time to being still.

Stillness and quiet can sometimes feel daunting – especially when there’s something that we want to distract ourselves from. But it’s often in those moments where God can reveal things to us.

When you begin to feel overwhelmed, remember that nothing that is happening around you is a surprise to God. Allow Him to do something in you.

Replace your struggle with renewed trust today.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th April 2020

This week I received some heartbreaking news. I found out that my Uncle, who has had cancer for a number of years, must now move to a hospice where he will spend the last of his days (however long that may be). Only in his 50s, and leaving behind my two young cousins who I’m very close with, this is a lot to come to terms with. It’s horrible and painful. 

I also had some good news. For years, we have been praying that he would come into a personal relationship with God. This week I received the news that he has accepted Jesus as His Lord and saviour! 

As grim as the reality of cancer is, I have never been more thankful for the HIGHER reality of the cross. Yes, the overwhelming practicalities and statistics of Corona, (and cancer), stare us in the face, but the greater reality is the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross has the final word. Death does not. Jesus paid the price… and He didn’t just pay the price and then stay on the cross, defeated by death. He then rose from the cross. He literally conquered the grave. Death is no longer final for us. 

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how people process death without the truth of the gospel to steady their hearts and ease their minds. Life is short. Life is fragile. I’m thankful that there is an assurance and hope that is far bigger us… it is bigger than our failures, it’s above our social constructs (that we assumed so secure), it is above our sickness, and even above our death. 

One thing is certain for all of us, at some point, we will face death. It is foolish to not consider where we will stand on the edge of eternity. It is foolish not to consider our standing with God. 

Thanks to the power of the cross, I will see my Uncle again. Thanks to the power of the cross, I will still believe in the healing hand of God to restore his body. Thanks to the power of the cross, I don’t fear death. Thanks to the power of the cross, I have a hope. I hope you do too.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th April 2020

Seeing is not believing. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel still saw radical signs and wonders from God, yet they still died in the wilderness of unbelief. Satan and his angels have seen God and yet they remain demons and devils and don’t trust Him. The Bible tells us that faith doesn’t come from seeing, it comes from believing. Hebrews says in 11:1, ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen’ (ESV). Jesus himself said, ‘blessed are those who believe without seeing me.’ 

We don’t live by what we see or feel, we live by what we have heard God say. If God says that He is trustworthy, that is what we believe, not our feelings. We shouldn’t need to see a miracle to have faith for who God is. We relentlessly believe what God has said – this is how faith works. 

This can be challenging for our minds to get around, as it is a foreign concept for one to believe something that they have not yet seen, or don’t feel. We live in a feelings led society, where ‘if I’m feeling it, it must be true’. This is not how God operates. God’s kingdom operates on the currency of faith – the ability to believe the word of God, despite what we see or feel. 

We are seeing a lot of negative news at the moment. We are feeling a lot of fear at the moment. But in the midst of it, can we be people of faith? People who believe in that which we cannot see. People who believe in the word of God, above all else.

Do not let the state of the world determine the degree of your faith. Let the word of God set the tone. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th April 2020

Dear Friends, 


Many people in Champions Church and thousands across the world send monthly support to help tens of orphaned children in Rwanda and across the world. All of this is done through COMPASSION UK.


For less than £30 per month, we are able to clothe, feed and educate each child, as well as placing each of them in a good family. The sponsored child also attends a local church each Sunday where they are cared for spiritually by the local congregation. 


Please watch the short video below to see the impact that children and families have in sending their love and prayers back to you at this time.


If you would like to consider supporting a child in this way then please contact us for more information by simply messaging us at the email address here: connect@championschurch.org.uk


Thank you,
PM. 

Fresh Hope – 11th April 2020

In the book of Daniel chapter 3 , we read about three young guys, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego.  

They were thrown into a fiery furnace because they wouldn’t worship any other god but our God, the one true God. Notice it says in verse 19 that the King heated it seven times hotter than normal…imagine that!! AND they had their hands and feet tied.  There was no getting out of that.  But they did.   

You see, however hot the fire and however much your ‘hands are tied’, God is always with us. Maybe you feel right now that there is no way out and you feel helpless because your hands are tied.  Verse 24 says ‘Wasn’t there only 3 people that we tied and threw into the fire? So who is the fourth walking round? He looks like a son of the gods.’
Yes, it was Jesus in the fire with them.  

They not only came out alive, it says they weren’t burned, their hair wasn’t singed, their clothes weren’t scorched and they didn’t even smell like fire! That is a miracle my friends right there. You know you only have to cook a meal and you will smell like the dinner you just cooked!


Whatever fire you may be facing right now, remember you are not alone.  God promises to never leave us or forsake us.  
It goes on to say in verse 30 that they got promoted. When you go through a trial and you stay faithful, you’d better believe that you will get a promotion from God, because He blesses the faithful. When you stand up for God, when you remain true to His word, remember this…fire will not touch you and God Himself will bless you.  
So be reminded today that there is another in the fire and He’s standing with you right now… and you will come out of it UNHARMED.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th April 2020

I’ve heard a quote from the film ‘Ace in the Hole’ (disclaimer: I’ve never seen it): ‘Bad news sells best, because good news is no news.’

Now more than ever, this is all our news channels feature. Fear and anxiety are flooding people’s minds because they are constantly bombarded with bad news and uncertainty.

Perhaps it would be undignified for the news to report on people enjoying the sunshine or taking the time to connect with old friends, new friends or those somewhere in between. However it is our duty as Christians to share the hope of Jesus with everyone in our world.

We may be divided physically but we are unified in Jesus.
We stand steadfast on His Word.
We stand united in His promises.

Jesus carried the weight of sin, fear and darkness all the way to the cross. And there, he uttered the three words that shattered the world as it was.
‘It is finished.’

His work on Earth was done. The saviour of the world, successfully saved the world.

Whatever it is that you are facing today, it is finished.

He defeated the evil that was, that is and that is to come. Those three words put the devil in his place. Those three words broke through the darkness.

This is the good news of Easter. This is the time we celebrate the freedom we have (John 8:36), the unconditional love we experience (1 John 4:10) and the peace that only Jesus can bring (John 14:27).

Share the good news, because good news IS newsworthy.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th April 2020

Understandably most of our talk and attention is on the current crisis. Can we just fast-forward for a moment? This virus will pass, and when it does we will able to gather again for church services! Perhaps after experiencing church online, from the comfort of your sofa, new questions will arise, like, ‘why do we even need to physically gather for church meetings?’

I would like to point out a few reasons why physically meeting together is so important. (Please note, I am absolutely NOT suggesting we meet up before the government allows us to. Until we are told otherwise, let us honour each other, and the government by staying at home!). 

What is the value in meeting together?:

1. Some things aren’t just taught, they are caught. Online teaching is a wonderful tool, but there is nothing like being in the room. God is not bound by the walls of a building, but equally some things are imparted through the ‘laying on of hands’, or by being present in the atmosphere (Acts 8:14–19). 

2. Quite simply, God says so. And whenever God tells us to do something, it is for our goodand blessing follows! God tells us in His Word to “not give up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25). 

3. Corporate worship (worshiping together) is powerful. 

Jesus said, ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.’ (Matthew 18:20). There is a place for private worship, and there is a place for public worship. When we are all physically together, it reminds us that we are not alone, and that we stand as one part of many. An army. We build each other up in our togetherness. 

4. We grow more when we are around others. 

Being around people is good for our character. A rough rock only becomes smooth by rubbing up against other rocks. When we ‘rub up’ or get near other people it smoothes out our character. At present, we don’t exactly Facetime the people that irritate us. But this is exactly the problem. While we are comfortable we aren’t being sharpened. When we are around others, our rough edges are smoothed out. 

5. You cannot fully out work your calling. You are called to be the church (YOU are the church, not a building or meeting), and you are also called to serve the church (serve one another). You absolutely serve the church/one another outside of the four walls of a building or meeting, but gathering together also provides the opportunity to connect in person, build one another up, encourage one another in God and bring something to the table. Church meetings are like the family dinner where we feast, connect and get full before we go about our lives, operating as the church in the community. 

So please isolate in the meantime, but let’s anticipate the day when we can all get back together again, and see the value in it like never before!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th April 2020

It is in times like these where we should turn to the Bible to see how biblical characters handled similar circumstances. 

I recently listened to a podcast by Bill Johnson where he outlined different famines in scripture and the unique responses of people involved. 

Let’s start with Isaac. In Genesis 26 we see that famine hit the land. People were worried, scared, scrambling and holding onto whatever they could. Similar to what we see happening at Tesco at the moment! 

Yet scripture tells us that during this desperate time Isaac ‘sowed in the land’. This is the equivalent of opening up a new business venture while the whole country is losing their jobs during a health crisis! It seemed ridiculous and untimely. Well, welcome to the kingdom of God! 

You see, Isaac saw the famine with a different set of eyes. He was making some future investments for himself. 

As the narrative unfolds, we see that Isaac reaped greatly from his investment during the famine. 

Note, that this wasn’t about generosity (giving to others). This particular story is about investing in your personal self today, for the reaped reward tomorrow. Isaac’s strategy was actually a business and financial act of faith. 

Today, in the midst of a crisis, let’s take the Isaac approach. 

Use this season to invest when it seems like we should be grabbing and holding on to what we can. Sow as an act of faith! You will eat the seed you sow today, tomorrow. Invest in your business, invest in yourself… read a book to challenge you, take up an online course, create a fitness routine … do something for YOU in this time… sow some seeds, that you may reap the reward tomorrow! 

There are many more examples of how biblical characters handled crisis, but let me end with one more example. In Acts 11, famine again was faced in the land. When the church heard of this, the very first thing that they did was take up an offering. How counter cultural! Everyone else was grabbing and keeping, and the church’s response was an offering! 

Generosity towards others in times of personal need should be the mark of the church (the church is you and me by the way, not just a meeting on a Sunday). 

As the church in Acts silenced the voice of the famine, let us now silence the power of this virus and sow aggressively into people’s lives! In the midst of a crisis, let’s be found being radically obedient. The seeds of generosity you sow in these times are powerful. They are power-packed with harvest. The seeds you sow in this current climate are once in a lifetime kind of seeds. Don’t sow sparingly. Act in the opposite spirit, even if your feelings are saying something different.

‘Compassion for one another silenced the voice’ (Nehemiah 5).  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th April 2020

The first 11 verses of Matthew 21 describe Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey.  We now celebrate this occasion as Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Good Friday. A large crowd of people cheered Jesus as He made His way into the city, throwing palm branches and their coats in front of Him to create a makeshift red carpet.

In all the euphoria of the event, a lot of people would have joined in the carnival atmosphere just to say they were part of that extraordinary event, without knowing much of Jesus. 

Jesus was the centre of attention, but the centre of His attention was the task ahead of Him. He was completely aware of the crucifixion that was to come a few days later.

The days between the jubilation and the judgement must have been difficult for Him. He was surrounded by friends who were close to Him, but who didn’t understand why He had to go through the suffering. In the midst of the crowds, He must have felt so isolated and alone, culminating in His passionate cry on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” in Matthew 27v46.

A huge number of people around the world are in isolation in their homes at the moment, in a global attempt to save lives from a virus. Just as no-one was unaware of the events of that week in Jerusalem, no-one is unaware of the pandemic gripping the world.

Jesus went through isolation, pain and judgement so that we could find hope in times of trouble. 

He endured death so that by His resurrection, we can know that there is life. We have the assurance that although we may be bombarded by stories of death, He is alive. And through His victory, we are made free.

Easter is a time to celebrate what Jesus did on the cross. Take a moment to reassure someone and share joy this Easter.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th April 2020

You will likely have heard it said in one form or another that your input determines your output. In other words, what you put into your life will effect what comes out of your life.


Many of us right now have more time to fill than we’ve had in a long time, which means we have more opportunities to input into our own lives and the lives of those around us.


It is possibly more vital now than ever before that we ensure we are filling our lives with good things in order that good things flow out of us.


I heard this analogy recently; imagine you’re holding a bowl of water and someone walks by and knocks you, resulting in the water spilling out of the bowl. It would be understandable to blame the person who knocked you for the water being spilled, however the real reason that the water was spilled was because the water was in the bowl to begin with. What am I saying?


It’s easy to blame what is happening around us for the way you and I respond, but the truth is, whatever is spilling out of us had to be inside of us to begin with.
So what do we do? We must always, now especially so, be intentional about our input. Ask yourself, ‘what am I feeding my soul?’
Here are some things that I find helpful: reading my Bible and talking to God, exercising and reading books, FaceTiming with friends who are going to lift my spirits…you may be able to list other examples too.


The key is, that you and I are inputting the right things into our lives, so that when life knocks into us, which it will, the right things spill out.


Today I want to encourage you to check your input – you and those around you will be better for it!

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th April 2020

There is a very short verse in the Bible, short, but loaded with meaning found in Philippians 4:5 – ‘The Lord is at hand’.

I often whisper this verse to myself when I’m in an uncertain situation and I need reassurance of God’s presence.

Surely our greatest comfort on this side of eternity is the Lord’s constant presence with us. He is literally right there with us, all the time. Yet there are times, especially when things are difficult, that we struggle to feel, or connect with His presence. Life might not be going the way we want it, especially now when the world is so uncertain of what tomorrow will bring. So many are distressed and gripped with fear and anxiety, and people are battling for their lives or grieving for loved ones, some do not know how they will feed their families in the next few weeks. The world is desperate. When we find our prayers may not be answered the way we had hoped for, and we can start to feel as if God has abandoned us. But he is still right there, whether we feel it or not.

Five years ago, I went through the biggest challenge of my life when we sadly lost our first child Ethan after a 7-week battle in a neo-natal unit. Ethan was born preterm, and after he passed, my heart was torn to pieces. I could feel the pain in my heart as if it was being cut through with a saw. I felt so many emotions; grief, anger, disappointment, anxiety, fear and had so many questions that needed answers. I remember feeling like that was also the end of my life, I could not imagine myself smiling again or ever being happy again because the hurt I felt was so intense. I was desperate for the quiet times I spent alone, hoping to find God in those quiet moments, and for Him to bring some sort of answers and comfort, yet I struggled to find Him.

In those times when grief and loss overcome us, God can be so close, yet we struggle to see Him. We struggle and fail to hear His voice at that time. This can happen so easily in times of sickness or times of distress. But in the midst of our distress, in the midst of the storm, He is the still small voice. Our spiritual eyes need some time to get used to an unexpected set of circumstances. It may take time before we realise His closeness. But, take heart, the Lord is always at hand.

I encourage you friend to take this time to spend time in God’s presence. Just find a quiet space and read His word, put on some worship music, make yourself available to Him, get to know him more. His presence is uplifting, it brings perfect peace and gives a firm assurance that no matter what is going on, He is in control. And when God is in control we can rest.

I look back at how life has been restored in the past, how since then I have experienced my best days such as the birth of our son who is now five years old and await the precious gift that I carry. God has not only restored but replaced happiness with joy, pure joy that only He can give!

This too shall pass.

 Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd April 2020

I want you to think about how quickly God can turn a situation around. 

One day Joseph was in a pit, the next day he was running someone’s household. One day he was in a prison cell, the next day in charge of everything and living in a palace. 


Right now we are all part of a story. What does a story have? It has pages. God wants to turn the page of your life right now. The current page may have doubts on it or concerns or questions… But the page is about to turn and the future is bright with hope. 


It doesn’t matter what today looks like, tomorrow can be different. 
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. (Hebrews 12 vs 2) Yes, He’s your author and He only ever writes a GREAT story. 

God couldn’t make the switch with Joseph from slave to palace as long as he had a slave mentality. It says in Genesis 41 v 14 that he got ready to meet the king, so he had a shave, got out of his jail-cell clothes and put on palace clothes. You have to have a great expectation that tomorrow is going to be different. The only thing that Joseph had was faith in GOD that He wouldn’t let him down. He’d been in that cell for years. Imagine that, day in, day out.  

Yet his hope in God was alive and well. The only assurance that me and you have right now is faith.  
Faith that God won’t let us down.  

He had no idea why he was being sent for, after years of being in that cell…but his expectation urged him to PUT ON ‘palace’ clothes. He was about to meet the King. He was dressed for where he was going, not for where he was

So raise your expectation today…because God is about to turn your page. You had better be wearing the right clothes.  

Proverbs 23 v 18. Your future is bright and filled with a living hope that will never fade away.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd April 2020

Isolation is not a bad thing. Apart from the obvious fact that social distancing is preventing other people from getting ill, it has personal benefits too. 

Yes, the human spirit needs social interaction, and people, and community, but sometimes we also need to just get away and isolate. 

Jesus had to isolate many times in his ministry. He understood that it was in getting alone that He could be ‘re-filled’ to go out again, more powerful and more effective than if He hadn’t isolated. 

For the first time ever, the world has had to stop and has been forced to rest.  Yes, it isn’t under ideal circumstances, but let’s not waste this opportunity. Make the most of this once in a lifetime moment to process things that you have been sweeping under the rug. Deal with personal issues that the business of life has kept you from facing. Sit alone with God and ask him to speak. Spend the extra time exploring the scriptures at a deeper level. Have a phone conversation with someone you have been putting off talking to. Re-evaluate your priorities. Process your plans for the future. Give your soul the rest it needs. 

It is okay to be bored. In fact, creativity, brain repair, and healthy emotional processing actually stem from boredom and those ‘nothing’ moments! This crisis could actually be a catalyst for some healing in our lives! 

Hurried and clogged-up schedules had become the normal pace of life and it is time to stop and do some work on the more simple and meaningful parts of our lives and hearts. 

Like a caterpillar self-isolates in its cocoon before returning to the world as a beautiful butterfly, may we to emerge from this crisis, better than when we started!  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st April 2020

Let’s be real, at present, if we haven’t lost our job, we know someone who has. It is a scary time in regards to the future of our finances for many of us. But if we cannot stand on the truths of God during a crisis, when can we?

1. God is well aware of the importance of money in our lives. Jesus talked about money a lot. He is not embarrassed of it or ashamed of it. Money isn’t a bad thing. Money is actually good, but our attitude and approach toward it can be bad and dangerous. This is why Jesus wasn’t taboo in talking of the topic. In fact, money sits at third place in the lineup of topics that Jesus spoke most about! 11 of the 39 parables talk about money! Jesus was well aware that money had the potential to consume our lives. It has incredible influence over our day-to- day job, our thoughts, our worries, our fears, our freedom, and our big decisions and our small decisions.  Don’t think that Jesus is not aware or doesn’t care about your present financial situation. He does. He knows it is important and a big part of your life. 

2. Some of your deepest heart issues will be revealed in your attitude and approach toward money. If you have trust issues with God, this will manifest in how you handle your money. If you truly believe that He is true to His word, and He is looking after you, then you can rest assured that whatever tomorrow holds, God is your provider. 

Matthew 6:25-27, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’

For many of us in the first world, we never thought the words ‘do not worry about what you will eat’, would ever apply to us! But here we are today scrambling for food on the shop shelves! 

Now is the time to put into practise the essence of our faith. Do we really believe that God will give us what we need? 

3.   God is the master restorer. 

God specialises in restoration. He is able to bring back what has been taken from you and restore it ten fold. Zoom out and think big picture. Today may be challenging, but recall that God promises to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). So if things aren’t good yet, He is not done yet! 

All through scripture God has redeemed and restored that which has been taken from His people. ‘I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten’ (Joel 2:25).  

Many of the most successful people on the planet have soaring success post crisis. The answer is that they had an attitude where they learnt from their mistakes, and rebuilt from the ground up, with a resilient spirit – the spirit of an overcomer. As children of God, the nature of an overcomer is in our DNA. 

Romans 8:37, ‘In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us’.

1 John 5:4, ‘For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world’.

James 1:12. ‘Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life’. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.