Fresh Hope – 30th September 2020

The peace of God is powerful. Often we associate peace with all things still and passive, but in the kingdom, peace is powerful and active. Peace isn’t a feeling, it’s a person. One of the names of Jesus is ‘Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). When you are experiencing peace, you are experiencing the person of Jesus. In the world, peace is the absence of something – the absence of noise, clutter, and demands. But in the kingdom, peace is the presence of Jesus. 

The Devil is always trying to rob you of your peace. Yes, He brings fear, but He also loves to work with more socially acceptable feelings of anxiety and stress. If He can keep us occupied with stress, then our creativity is the first to go. If he can keep us anxious, then we are idolizing our circumstance, and diminishing Jesus. We have given more power to our situation or circumstance, than we have to God.

Mark 4:35-39 tells the story of Jesus on a boat with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee, ‘And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm’. 

What I most love about this account was that Jesus was asleep on His pillow. A little boat in a big storm – Oh what peace of heart He must have had to just be sleeping! And it wasn’t the storm that eventually woke Him, it was the stressed outcries of His disciples! 

Jesus calmed the storm, but corrected His disciples for not having faith, ‘But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”. The disciples had allowed stress and anxiety of circumstance, to take priority over the peace that was available to them in the midst of the storm. 

‘Anxiety’ comes from the Latin word which means ‘to choke’. A related word means ‘tightness or narrowness’. Fear works by choking and constricting the peace, life, lightness, and spaciousness of your life. This is not the model Jesus set for us. This is not the life purposed for us. 

In whatever stressful situation you are facing, fix your mind on the person of Jesus – the Prince of Peace.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th September 2020

Have you ever asked the question, ‘who am I?’ Have you ever struggled with knowing your true identity? I believe that in order to establish who you are, you must also uncover who you’re not.


Let me present to you three ‘who you’re nots’ today…
Firstly, you are not your issue. You may have an issue, but that issue is not your identity. You may be a wife who’s unable to conceive, but that is not the sum total of who you are.
You may be struggling with an addiction, but an addict is not your identity. It is possible that over time your issue has merged itself with your identity, but you need to know today that you are not your issue.


Secondly, you are not what others have called you. You may have been called ugly, stupid, worthless, a mistake, but none of those things are true about you. Just because it was spoken over your life doesn’t mean it gets to define who you are. No doubt it hurt, no doubt it has affected you in some way, but you need to know that the labels that have been placed on you do not determine your identity… you are not what you have been called.


And thirdly, you are not what you do.What you do does not define who you are. What you do is what you do, not the sum total of who you are. Yes you have a purpose to fulfil, and yes there is something amazing about a person who operates in their purpose, but it does not define you. Your value is not found in your occupation, nor is it found in your title, or lack thereof, it is found in who you are.

So who am I? You’re God’s creation. His child. His son. His daughter. Created in His image. Before you were born, before you could do anything, good or bad, His mind was made up about you. Your identity had already been set in place. You are His, and nothing you can do and nothing anyone can say can change that.


Who am I? You are not your issue, you are not what others have called you and you are not what you do. You, my friend are a child of God – that is who you are.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th September 2020

There is not a single person reading this today that will be exempt from temptation – in fact, everyone at some time this week will be tempted.

You may well right now be battling with the most severe temptation of your life and are doing everything you can just to stay afloat.


Temptations are like presents—they come attractively gift wrapped and they come in all shapes and sizes! They get delivered right to your door at the time when you are most vulnerable. The urge will be to open them as soon as possible.

Here are some misconceptions about temptation:

  • Temptation is sin—No it isn’t!  Jesus was tempted but never sinned. Temptations role is to lead us to sin, but it is not sin itself.

Hebrews 4:15 ‘Jesus…has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin’. 

  • I’m the only one struggling with temptation right now —No, you’re not! Temptation is common to all people.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear‘.

  • There’s no way that I can overcome this temptation—Yes you can!

1 Corinthians 10:13 ‘…But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’

  • I’m a very strong person so I’ll never get pulled down by temptation—be careful!

1 Corinthians 10:12 ‘So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!’

  • I’ll be glad when this phase of my life is over – This particular phase will pass, but temptation will be part of your life until the day that you die!

Luke 4:13 ‘When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him [Jesus]until an opportune time’.
Whatever you’re going through right now, be sure to know that you are not alone. Jesus has gone through it all for you so that you can overcome. Ask Him to strengthen you right now. 
Remember: there’s always free cheese on a mouse trap…so walk on by. 

If you are finding yourself overwhelmed by temptation of ANY kind, then be sure to call someone that you trust and tell them the truth about what you are going through. Make yourself accountable to them, otherwise you may well end up ruining your life as you travel by yourself down this very slippery slope. 

Ephesians 6:10-12 ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th September 2020

I wrote a couple of weeks ago from the life of Daniel. About how he set himself apart to pray and seek God… even though setting yourself apart is not always easy, in fact it’s often a sacrifice – God will always bless you.

 I love how no one else knew the answer, but Daniel (the Christian) did.  The sorcerers, the wise men of the day, the magicians, the people with the supposed knowledge hadn’t got a clue, so Daniel said to his friends “come on, we are going to pray.”

 Daniel 2 vs 17 & 18  “Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends…He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of Heaven, concerning the mystery.”

 
I’ve said it before and I will say it again… when you don’t know what to do, when you don’t have the answer, ask God, He will give the wisdom to those who ask.   James 1 vs 5 “if anyone lacks wisdom, ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.”


Right now, there are many people who are struggling for answers. Those who try to come up with some are even changing their minds days later. My friend, today if you have a relationship with the living God, then you have an advantage. 
You can get yourself into the presence of an Almighty God and talk to Him!


As a parent, if your child came to you because they were confused and needed help and answers, what sort of parent would you be if you ignored them?  How much more then does our God give wisdom to those who ask Him?  How much more does God want to help those who earnestly seek Him?


The biggest cause of unanswered prayer, is un-prayed prayer. Today, take advantage of the beautiful thing that we have – being able to get into His presence and have a relationship with Him.  
I have been asking God this week to speak to me about things. Guess what??!! He did. You only have to ask.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th September 2020

When I got married my name changed.
I took on my husband’s name, Cartwright. 
(nowhere near as cute or interesting as Mukoyogo, but way easier to pronounce).

When I fell in love with Jesus, I became a Christian and entered into a relationship with the Creator of the Universe Himself, God (aka Yahweh).

In the book ‘God has a name’ by John Mark Comer, he helps to illustrate the incredible privilege it is to be known and loved by the living God and in so doing helps us to recognise the true identity and name by which we should live under.

God ‘Yahweh’ is locked in a relationship with us. There is a symbiotic relationship between Yahweh’s name, his reputation and how we the people of God live.

As God’s people we are called by his name. We are in an incredible marriage-like, family-like relationship with the God of the universe. With that comes a staggering responsibility to mirror and mimic what God is like to the world!

He is after a godly people who are like the God they worship.
A people compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
A people who live in the tension of mercy and justice.

The above describes the nature of God s character, attributes that we who follow Jesus should desire to emulate.

How are you doing on that front? 
Take a look again at the description of the nature of God, as he describes himself in Exodus 34 v5-7.

You are a living breathing example to the world of what God is like,
You are a house of God,
You carry his name,
Everywhere you go,
In all that you do,
You are His!
And he calls you Beloved!

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th September 2020

Recently I have felt challenged to pray for the geographical area in which I live. I was hearing story after story, through various podcasts, of people testifying as to how they prayed for the geographical area in which they live and started seeing breakthroughs. They started to feel and see an atmosphere shift. Darkness to light. God started giving specific words of knowledge as to what was going on in certain homes, and how to pray for them, crime rates started to drop, notorious drug spots no longer were hot spots. Essentially, the kingdom of God came to the suburbs of these people, through prayer. God was speaking to me through these stories, asking me why I too was not praying for my streets – streets that desperately need Jesus. 

Did you know that God has determined the place in which you should live? The Bible says, ‘God determined the times set for you and the exact places where you should live’ (Acts 17:26). 

There is purpose in where you have been placed. 

The church was never made to stay in a little Sunday bubble, in a building. The church is called to GO OUT into the world and bring the kingdom of heaven (joy, peace, beauty, wholeness), to earth. This is our mandate (Mark 16:17)! This is YOUR mandate. We have been given a heavenly authority (Matthew 28:18) to pray into order anything that is not in alignmentwith the way of heaven. 

We are called to bring the kingdom of light into areas of darkness. If you live amongst crime, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, theft, lack of ambition and hope, dysfunctional families, generational poverty mentality, then you have been purposefully positioned to call forth the purpose of heaven to your geographical area. Rather than judge, criticise and complain, PRAY! Pray for generational cycles to be broken, pray for opportunities to change a culture – opportunities to encourage, be generous, and display the gospel. Pray for demonic activity that has been operating to leave! 

(A positive of all this mask wearing, is that you can literally walk around your shopping centre and grocery store, praying behind it without looking like a total freak!).

There is a heavenly responsibility on us as the church to not be self-contained, self-focused, comfortable people, but rather powerful people who shift atmospheres, change cultures and usher in transformation!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd September 2020

If ever there were a year where we lost all sense of control, it is 2020. Cancelled parties, rescheduled travels, post-postponed weddings, furloughed jobs… the list goes on. Every single person on the planet has probably had to let go of something this year. And is there an end date for when all this is over? No. We don’t know what will happen and when it will happen. It is beyond our control. Pretty scary, I know. 

It is easy for Corona to seem like the most powerful force on the planet at present. It seems to have us under its thumb, determining the course of our personal lives. Its movements impact us and we don’t know what it’s going to do next. 

Yes, things may be out of our control, but they are not out of God’s control. 

Corona is not God. Corona is not Lord of God. Corona is not on the throne. 

God always has been and always will be, above it all. 

Psalm 47:8 says, ‘God reigns over nations’. 

Psalm 9:7 says, ‘But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne’. 

Revelation 19:16, ‘And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS’. 

God has the last say, the highest authority and the ultimate hand. 

We shouldn’t be looking to ourselves for a sense of peace. We shouldn’t be looking to our government for a sense of peace. We should be looking to God for our peace – our Lord of lords, King of kings, prince of peace. 

Watch what you allow to be the ultimate lord of your life in this season. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd September 2020

Aesop the Ancient Greek story teller observed “After all is said and done, more is said than done.”


How true this is. We can often boast about tomorrow as if it has nothing to do with what we are or aren’t doing today!


Another saying is The road to hell is paved with good intentions or an alternative form is “hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works“.


This sounds harsh, as though there’s something wrong with good intentions, but what it’s saying is there’s nothing wrong with them but there’s nothing right with them either if they don’t materialise into action. 


At my place of work we are always trying to move away from a ‘meeting culture’ where lots of people are involved in lots of discussion but there’s not always a lot of action resulting. A big danger to a business with a ‘meeting culture’ is a false sense of security that’s created as people feel something has been achieved but in reality nothing has changed. It’s the resulting actions being put into practice that makes progress.
The same can happen in our everyday life, we can feel better about ourselves and situations when we meet and talk with people about what we’re planning to do to move forward as if somehow by talking about it makes it feel like progress has been made. It hasn’t. We need to start moving, even if just little baby steps in the direction of what we want to achieve or do.


If you’ve been threatening to start a business venture for a long time I encourage you today to make preliminary calls, get quotes, scope out projects, create business plans, leaflet areas, make inroads, apply to banks, get the ball rolling and stop talking about it, just do it!


I’m not saying it will work, but you won’t know unless you try! Failure isn’t a problem, never trying is the problem. Failure leads to learning, lack of activity can’t lead to anything. If fear of failure is holding you back, let go, it’s better to have tried and failed than to have never tried. 
Maybe you’ve been talking or thinking about putting some things right in your life, making a call to a family member you fell out with 5 years ago! Stop reading now and put a time in your diary to make that first move.


Maybe you know you need to start the day better creating time to read and pray but haven’t yet made a plan, stop reading right now and set your alarm.


Don’t procrastinate, plan, apply, apologise, move!
Jesus has done everything necessary for us to live an exciting life of authority, stepping out taking risks and making things happen! Let’s move today and see what great stories we can create for us to talk about, instead of talking about what stories we would like to create. 

Just do it!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st September 2020

The word ‘isolate’ or ‘isolation’ has become one of the most used words of 2020. It’s always been a familiar word, but never has there been a time when its impact has been felt so strongly right across the planet.

By nature, many people before 2020 will have enjoyed their own company, perhaps more than they should have. In fact, whether it be physically, mentally or spiritually, each part of us needs interaction in order to best function—‘No man is an island’ is a very true saying.

One of the great temptations, when life’s path becomes difficult, is to isolate yourself. It is a natural instinct to try to pull back from your emotions so as not to feel the sharp pain caused by your crisis. If you’re like me in, when almost unbearable trials come my way, I feel drawn to retreat and become isolated. Even when I’m around people, I can withdraw emotionally.

Going through a trial, a temptation, or certainly this current turmoil makes us feel quite vulnerable, so it’s natural to want to put up your walls and hide behind them. But that never helps the problem and its little comfort to you and those closest to you.

Isn’t it interesting that since we have been forced into various lockdown situations, with more to come it would seem, that the prospect of being alone is now enough to drive us all pretty crazy?We didn’t mind isolation when we were in control of it, but how true is it that because we are being told to do it we now want to break the rules and keep our own sanity in tact.

When you least feel like being with others, it is often a sign that you need people most. If you’re struggling through a difficult part of your path, the best thing you can do is get into a positive faith-filled environment.

All over the world people are being governed by a very real fear that is coming from a very real virus. However, don’t let the fear of the very thing become bigger than the thing itself.

You may have a hundred and one questions as to why you can’t come back to church right now, but in just the same way that you have the need to go shopping in order to keep yourself from starvation, then the same applies to starving spiritually.

Don’t miss this crucial time of your church being open again —it’s there to lift you and encourage you—it’s your very lifeline. Of course, both shopping and church online are here to stay, however, the part that’s missing with any online experience is the much needed interaction with like-minded people.

Sunday’s coming — be sure to register.

We’ve missed you!!

Your friend and Pastor.

Mark.

(Why not make a plan to join Gillian and myself online this Wednesday Night@7.30pm for live information and inspiration?).

Hebrews 10 v 24-25
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more you see the Day approaching”

Fresh Hope – 19th September 2020

Maybe you have heard the phrase “sometimes you have to act your way into a feeling”.  Let me explain…


Sometimes we don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning, or brushing our teeth or taking a shower but we know we need to, so we have to act – even if we don’t feel like it. 

Having been a Pastor for over 30 years now, I have talked with many people about forgiveness and how they can sometimes struggle to forgive those who have wronged them. We know that God teaches us to forgive and that if we don’t, then we are the ones who will suffer, carrying around that unforgiveness. This is what I say: “Sometimes you have to act your way into a feeling”. You may not ‘feel’ like it, but you know it’s right.  

Ask God every day to help you.  Say out the words “Lord I forgive…”. Even if you don’t feel that you even mean it, the words you pray are powerful.   The more you pray the words, the more you will start to ‘feel’ like you are actually forgiving.  Believe me, I know this is to be true.  You will eventually start to feel like you can love them again and want no harm for them.  There’s “NO WAY”, you may say.  There’s always a way with God.  

If you’re like me, you like to ‘feel’ right. Feel the presence of God when you get up in a morning, feel like He is there when you pray and when you’re alone with Him. After many years of being a Christian, I know that there are days that I don’t feel Him right there with me, but that doesn’t stop me from praying, even if I feel like “are these prayers even getting to Heaven?!” The more I act upon that which is right, the more I will start to feel the right feelings. God wants us to feel loved, feel His presence etc but we may not always feel those things, but it doesn’t mean they are not right. 

If we had to rely on our feelings all of the time, we would be in big trouble!


Today you may need to ACT your way into a feeling. But when you do what is right and do it consistently, the rest will follow and you WILL be blessed. 

Pastor Gillian 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th September 2020

The phrase ‘chink in the armour’ has been used since the 17th Century to describe a weak spot – a point of vulnerability. 

Individuals would wear armour for protection in battle, so any gaps in the armour offered an opportunity for harm. 

Just like a gap in physical armour, a gap in our spiritual armour can offer an opportunity for attack. The enemy will find points of weakness and use the opening as a chance to damage us. Accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke prove that he even did this to Jesus during his time in the wilderness. 

Jesus had been fasting for forty days and forty nights; Satan saw His empty stomach as a weak spot and began by encouraging Jesus to turn stones into loaves of bread. Even in his hunger, Jesus didn’t fail. He responded by quoting Deuteronomy, ‘It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”(Matthew 4:4)

The devil continued to try and wear Jesus down. He was relentless and even quoted scripture back at Jesus. 

However, Jesus’ spiritual armour was greater and he continued to counteract every threat with truths from Deuteronomy, which is filled with protective instruction. 

Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with your soul and with all your strength.

We protect ourselves by wrapping ourselves in scripture. To love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength means there is no chance of giving any strength to doubts or insecurities.  

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

We don’t have to look hard to find scripture to put the enemy’s temptations at bay. The Bible is full of promises to us and about us that cover any point of lack in our lives.

Where are your weak spots? What are you hungry for? Focus on strengthening these things by equipping yourself with scripture to fight back with. Be conscious of your weaknesses; bring them to God and protect yourself with layers of protective spiritual armour.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th September 2020

I love the book —The Fred Factor — by Mark Sanborn.


It’s a book about how passion in your work place and in your very mundane life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. 

In it, he lists the Seven Be’s of great relationships:
They go like this…


1) Be real. Don’t try to impress anyone by trying to be anybody but yourself. Always do your best at being you. Let your actions come out of who you really are, what you truly believe in, and the things that you are committed to. 

2) Be interested. Being genuinely interested in others is always an appreciating asset in anyone’s life. 


3) Be a better listener. I always used to think that I had to have all the right answers for anyone that came to me for counsel; now I realise, that in the main, I just need to be a great listener.

 
4) Be empathic. The need to be understood is one of the highest human needs, but too often people either don’t care or don’t make the effort to understand how we really feel. 
Philo Judaeus was a wise man that lived 2,000 years ago. He said these words…“Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a tough battle”. There is never a truer word spoken then for now. 

5) Be honest. Be a man or woman of your word—that’s integrity. 


6) Be helpful. Go out of your way everyday to just be kind and caring to someone. Little things make a big difference. Lots of little things make a huge difference. 


7) Be prompt. Time is one thing many people have far less of than money. Helping them save time by being prompt is a gift of great value. 

Hope you enjoyed these seven points and felt impacted as I did.

Why not purchase your own copy of the book today from Amazon? Or even better, why don’t you drop me a line at info@championschurch.org.uk and I’ll put you a copy in the post. 


Your friend and Pastor,
Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th September 2020

In Acts 16 a slave girl followed Paul exclaiming, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved’. Appears to be truth doesn’t it? But her motives were off. Paul discerned the spirit behind the girl’s words and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!’ Sure enough, it came out. 

The girl was actually proclaiming truth, but it was rooted in evil! 

Motives matter to God. All through scripture God emphasises the heart. ‘Man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7). Paul speaks about all the great, Godly things we can do like selling everything we have for the poor, outworking our spiritual gifts, having faith and wisdom, but not operating from a motive of love. When our ambition is ultimately self-seeking, the ‘godly’ stuff we are doing is just a loud, ugly noise to God (1 Corinthians 13:1). 

In the words of Kris Vallotton, ‘It is possible to sacrifice in selfishness, or serve to self-serve’. 

Don’t be fooled by people doing all the right things, ticking all the service boxes, and saying all the right stuff. The Bible says that a tree is recognised by its fruit (Matthew 12:33). Let the fruit in people’s lives be the telling of what is true and genuine. Do they operate in integrity in the unseen moments of their life? Is their private life fruitful? Is it a love for God and people that is compelling them or something else? 

We don’t need to have a critical approach towards people, but God has given us the ability to discern, through the Holy Spirit, to protect us. The Holy Spirit gives you the capacity to see through darkness and deceit. Watch out for noble acts done in the name of God, with an ungodly agenda. 

And may we too keep a pure heart in all that we do (Matthew 5:8). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th September 2020

There is power in praise. Praise means ‘to commend, to applaud or magnify’. It is expressing who God is, what He is done, and what He can do. 

Isaiah 61:3 speaks of the goodness of Jesus and that He would come ‘to give a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified’. ‘Garment of praise’ suggests that like clothing, praise is something that you put on. Praise isn’t always a feeling. It isn’t always just there. It is a choice to remember the truth of God and speak it out. 

Praise shouldn’t be reserved for just Sunday – it should be a lifestyle. Our declaration of the goodness of God cannot be determined by our mood or circumstance. In fact, it is in times of trial, that we should declare the goodness of God all the more! In Acts 16 Paul and Silas were in prison and began praising God. The doors of the prison they were in were opened, their chains fell off, the jailer and his family were saved, and they were released! This is a physical picture of the power if praise. Likewise, when we are in an internal prison, praise lifts us out of the oppression, and helps us out. Praise is a powerful weapon against the strategy of the enemy to let our circumstances overwhelm us and question the goodness of God. 

Even if we lost everything, we would still have reason to praise God. The price He paid for us is alone enough. 

Habakkuk understood this when he said, ‘Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour (Habakkuk 3:17-18). 

The Bible says that God inhabits in the praises of His people (Psalms 22:3). Since praise manifests God’s presence nothing grates the Devil more than rising above our feelings and choosing praise, declaring our victory, and speaking out the goodness of God. 

Psalm 18:3

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th September 2020

I wonder what mental picture you have of God as you wake today?

Could it be that the picture has been blurred over the years by the opinions of others?

Could it be that you started out with completely the wrong picture based on what you were taught?

It’s possible that your own experiences have somehow created a very different canvas of God. Maybe you have become bitter towards Him over the way that your life has turned out. Every single person on the planet has an understanding of God, even atheists, but often our understanding is nothing more than a ‘misunderstanding’ or ‘distortion’ of who God really is.

In 1936 the speaking clock was created for people that didn’t have a watch. They would dial the speaking clock on the telephone (123) and then receive a posh lady’s voice that told them the precise time in words. Would you believe that today over 30million people still use the service?I’m really amazed that anyone uses it at all, but then I’m reminded that the reason they do so is to bring their own clocks and watches into alignment with the ‘true’ time.

Just like the speaking clock, the Bible is the true picture of the nature and character of God. It’s God’s speaking standard by which we can measure, check and adjust our lives by every day.

If you’ve lost sight of the magnificence of God, then let the words of Psalm 145 help you to see more clearly again today.

Here are just a few of the amazing brush strokes found in just the 21 verses of the Psalm:

…the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

…the Lord is good to all.

…the Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving to all He has made.

…the Lord upholds all those that fall and lifts those that are bowed down.

…the Lord is righteous in all His ways.

…the Lord is near to all who call on Him.

…the Lord watches over all who love Him.


If you’ve ever travelled across a different time zone, then you will know that one of the first things you need to do is set your watch to the correct time of where you are going to, otherwise you’ll either be too late or too early for everything.

Want to walk in God’s time zone today? Then set your belief to His word — it’s the one certain thing that you can count on. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th September 2020

I’ve been looking again at the book of Daniel. I love how he ‘stood out’ for God. When he was summoned by the King to be trained in the Babylonia ways, Daniel decided he wasn’t going to be like the others.
 No, he was going to stand out…not by his fine clothes, but by another way. They wanted Daniel to eat the King’s fine food and drink the King’s fine wine, to fatten him up. But Daniel was having none of it. He only wanted fresh fruit, vegetables and water to drink.  After 10 days, he looked better than all the rest of them!

You see, there are times you have to set yourself apart, not go with the flow, go against the normal and do what you know is right. 

In a world that’s quite chaotic at the moment, the normal is probably fear, confusion and panic. Not for God’s children. We should be setting ourselves apart and showing a different way. 

Don’t let the ways of the world dictate to you how you should be. No, instead, set yourself apart and you’ll come out better than the rest.  In vs 15-16 – he not only looked better and was healthier, but in vs 18-21 – his gifting was also 10 times better. 

It’s easy to go with the flow, accept the King’s food… when actually it may be time for you to make a stand and take a stand and say “no” this is how I’m going to act… this is what I’m going to say, and this is what I’m believing and standing for. 
When you make a stand against the ‘norm’ you watch GOD work in YOUR life.  You will experience favour (like Daniel) blessing (like Daniel) protection (like Daniel) promotion (like Daniel). When I’m set apart for God, I’ll come out better than the rest!


What you may have to do, may be a sacrifice but the blessing will far outweigh what we give up.  
Sacrifice (obedience) will always bring blessing. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th September 2020

We are in the most unprecedented of times in so many ways. A word used over and over in the last six months. 

Not only are we facing unique circumstances, but the biggest problem seems to be the ever increasing division in society on the solution to the issues, whether COVID, race relations or other divisive ideologies. 

In 1 Kings 18, we read about Elijah addressing the people in another unprecedented moment in history when a famine was risking the lives of an entire nation. Again there was a division in the Lord’s chosen people on the best solution of either following God or the false prophets of Baal. We read in verse 21:
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”But the people said nothing. 

This is the same challenge to us today and we can’t afford to ‘say nothing’. Is Jesus Christ the way the truth and the life, or isn’t he? Is Jesus the only way to the father or isn’t he? Is he the creator and author of life or isn’t He? He is our reward and portion and our very meaning of existence or he isn’t!

Let’s be encouraged today that we can call on his name and he will answer us! Let’s be encouraged today that because of our faith in him, we get to be called children of the living God! He is the answer the world desperately needs and he wants us to be the carrier of this message.

Whatever you face today, whatever challenges you face, let’s make sure we don’t waver between two camps. 
2 Timothy 2:4 | NIV No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 

Let’s not compromise our faith by getting entangled in politics and external circumstances, but let’s be resolute in our internal conviction that there isn’t a secular solution to the world’s problems, but that his name is Jesus! Let’s remember we carry this treasure within us which is a hope for all mankind!

Let’s not become fearful and fret, getting involved in trying to build a secular solution, let’s stick to what we have been called to be, salt and light for our generation, a beacon of hope pointing to the true way, Jesus Christ!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th September 2020

It may appear that the world is in somewhat of a state of chaos lately. I don’t think that any one of us could say that we haven’t faced challenges in various areas of our lives – from finance, to relationships to mental health, we’re all just doing our best.

A popular quote that you’ve likely seen at some point says ‘we cannot choose our external circumstances but we can choose our response to them.’

Maybe you’ve found yourself wondering where God is, in the midst of everything happening around you. Be encouraged today, He is still everywhere.

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Every day, there are gifts from God with your name all over them. God’s love is not only extravagant, it’s detailed. He cares about the innermost workings of your life and if you look, there are tiny miracles everywhere. The parking space at the front of the building. The job you’ve been praying for, with no lengthy interview process. The financial blessing that was the exact amount you needed. The list can go on and on.

When you pray, be specific because He cares. And He will show up. Every time. Seeing and hearing God won’t always be shouts or roars of thunder; it’s in the quiet and seemingly ordinary too.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th September 2020

I wear contact lenses. When you put in a new set of contact lenses they are very comfortable to wear and you totally forget that they are even on your eyeballs! As the contact lenses start to get older, they start to get increasingly uncomfortable. For non-contact lense wearers, I would describe the feeling of old lenses as being like a gritty feeling in your eye – like you have a sand grain in your eye. It bothers you all day, and you cannot wait to get home and get the lenses out! If it weren’t for my eyes getting uncomfortable, I wouldn’t know that my contact lenses are actually getting old and know that they need to be changed. It is when they get uncomfortable, that I know it is time to be out with the old, and in with the new!

What are some areas in your life where you are feeling uncomfortable? Perhaps, like an old pair of contact lenses, the discomfort in your life is the trigger point for CHANGE! 

Humans are creatures of habit. We love consistent routines. If we follow the same pattern, it minimises mental stress and we feel comfortable. Leaving our comfort zone can mean risk and anxiety, which we don’t generally enjoy. 

But here is why we should be open to change and therefore discomfort: 

1) God is always on the move. He is alive, not dead. While the character of God remains the same, God is always up to something new and wants to include us in on the journey. If we are followers of Him, expect change. This is a privilege, but can be a discomfort if we are set in our ways. 

‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!’ Isaiah 43:18. 

2) God cares about character growth. Growth involves change. Growth and therefore change can hurt. Expect growth pains if you desire to step into all God has for you. 

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful’ (John 15:1-2). 

3) God loves to challenge us to think beyond ourselves, and our “feel-good bubble”. One area in which we may need some change in is our relationships. We love hanging around people like us – people who agree with us, and people who are what we are used to. This feels comfortable, but what if there are different aspects of God to learn in different kinds of people? What if there were different perspectives to be found in other people? Actively seek people who don’t just agree with you, but challenge you! A healthy diet doesn’t just consist of all the same foods. Imagine how boring and unhealthy a diet of just bananas would be! Be open to a healthy variety in your life. Be open to people that perhaps make you feel uncomfortable, but bring about healthy change in your life! 

Get comfortable with uncomfortable in order to walk into the fullness of all that God has for you! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th September 2020

For anyone who has built a house before, you would know the importance of laying down a good foundation, before you start with the other structural features of the house.  When there are issues with the foundation, there are likely problems elsewhere in the home. Buying a house with foundational issues means you’ll have more household repairs to contend with down the line – things like cracks in the wall, crooked doors and windows, broken tiles (which can lead to water leakage), and the list goes on – what a nightmare!

Even a perfectly laid foundation can be laid on poor soil.  If the ground begins to shift under the foundation – the house isn’t going to last long! Most builders perform a soil test to ensure that the foundation will stay in place. This process can take some time, and you can get impatient when you just want to see the house come together, but in the long run, it is well worth the time and effort it takes to lay a secure and sure base.  

The same is true of our lives. Perhaps you are constantly trying to plaster over the cracks, straighten crooked doors, manage water leakage and the broken tiles of your life. The issues of your life will only perpetuate until you lay down a solid foundation. A good foundation will influence the strength and security of your life. You can have a beautiful and impressive home, with all the trimmings, but if the foundation isn’t right, there will be problems when pressure is put on the house, or the foundation moves. 

The Bible is clear that in order for your life to have stability, it must be built on Christ alone. You can’t have a life built on the security of money, or power, or even people. It won’t last, and will cost you down the line. 

Multiple times in scripture God is referred to being ‘a rock’. Jesus uses this metaphor in Matthew 7:24-27 when He says,  ‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it’. 

Jesus is also referred to as “the Cornerstone”, such as in Isaiah 28:16-17, ‘So this is what the sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed’. 

The most secure, and sturdy foundation to build your life upon is on the word and nature of God. Test the soil of your life. Examine the quality of your house, and if you have to, knock down what you have already built, and start again with the right foundations. 

Psalm 62:2

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th September 2020

I’m pretty sure that all of us today are patiently waiting for a better tomorrow.  So far 2020 has turned out pretty disastrous, so is the hope of a better day ever going to come?
The answer is a resounding yes!


In fact, it’s waiting to happen for YOU right now! Every brighter tomorrow has to find itself wrapped up in one of your mundane todays. 


In John chapter one, each new section begins with the same three words, ‘the next day’.
The next day‘ appears three times in that chapter. 
Maybe your life at present is punctuated only by those three words: the next day. It’s possible that your very existence is being rolled into one big mundane experience. In fact, It would seem for most that each of the days in the last five months have been staring right back at us, and declaring that nothing has changed, in fact if anything, it’s just getting worse.  But then comes that breakthrough moment; a moment when the mundane ceases, and the miraculous comes knocking on our door.


John Chapter two opens with a brand new set of words… ‘on the third day’.
These four words not only open the curtains to a new day, but a day that announces fresh hope for us all. 

On this particular third day, Jesus performed His very first miracle for two very ordinary people at their wedding. Today, Jesus has a third day waiting for you too, no matter how ordinary you may feel, as we realise that at the very heart of the Christian message is a third day on which Jesus Himself rose from the dead.

I want to encourage you to be full of expectation that your third day is waiting just around the corner. Meanwhile, enjoy every moment as you wait patiently for your breakthrough. Invite Jesus into your day right now and allow Him to meet your deepest needs.  


John 2:1-11 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’ ‘Woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from eighty to a hundred and twenty litres. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’ They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realise where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’ What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th September 2020

“Behold I am doing a new thing… do you not perceive it?”  Isaiah 43 v 19. 

It’s a new season! Yes it is. September is the month of something new starting. Summer has gone.  Autumn is on its way.  In the natural, the nights are getting slowly darker, the leaves are changing colour, the weather is cooler and the children are back at school! We have to adapt to a new season. We have to wear different clothes. We have to put the lights on, maybe light candles and put on the heating. We cannot hold on to summer even though we want to. It’s gone. 

Another season has just passed. A season of lock-down. A season of strangeness. A season that we have never experienced before.  Maybe for you, it was a season of anxiety and concern. We have to get ready for the new season.  

God is about to do something new and fresh.  How do I know that?  Because everything the enemy meant for evil, God will turn it for good.  You can’t embrace or enjoy a new season, if you’re still in the mentality of the past. You can’t fully enjoy autumn, if you’re still hanging onto summer clothes and thoughts of long summer evenings.  Some of us are still hanging on to fear instead of stepping out in faith. 

God wants you to let go of your anxiety, your concerns, your fear and TRUST HIM for the new season.  “I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” – that’s an awesome statement.  It’s from God! It’s from His Word. We’d better believe it!


So today, decide in your heart. The old season has gone, I’m ready for a new one… and then show God that you are, by your words and actions.   Declare over yourself and your household, God’s word… and don’t miss what God is wanting to do in YOUR life.

Pastor Gillian 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th September 2020

If everything that you were praying and believing God for landed in your life or happened right now, would you be ready?

Every apparent overnight success is actually someone who spend a long time preparing. Take an athlete for instance; we may see them out on the track or field or court performing but what we don’t see are their training sessions, their ice baths, their early mornings.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a time for everything. In order to reap, you must sow. If this time during lockdown has taught us anything, it’s a few lessons about time. We’ve either been gifted the opportunity to use our differently, as we’ve been shut in the house or sadly, we’ve realised how short time can feel.

What seed can you sow or action can you take towards the things you’re believing for today? What course can you take? Who can you speak to who has a resource that you need? Who can you be a blessing to?

God has incredible things for us all but our relationship with Him is a partnership. Ask Him how you can be a good steward of what you have in your hand while you wait for more.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd September 2020

Growing in our faith, means growing in spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is not about age, it is not about achievements, and it is not about appearance. 

Here are some markers of spiritual maturity:

 – You can serve without needing recognition. You may have the serving thing down pat, but if you still need people to recognise you and acknowledge you for it, then you are missing the point. Colossians 3:23 says, to go about your job as if you are doing it for God, not for man. This is a very liberating place to come to as you no longer become motivated by the applause of man, but instead you work FROM the approval of God, FOR His glory!


– The highs and lows of life don’t throw you off track. You will notice that babies cry hysterically at the drop of a hat, over something quite simple – like food or dirty nappy. As we grow and mature physically and emotionally, painfully crying over small things like a milk bottle shouldn’t happen any more. Spiritually speaking, as we mature, we develop a resilience and consistency within us where the trials and tests of life don’t impact our walk with God. We should know how to celebrate on the mountaintops of life and walk with God through the valleys. We aren’t in, then out, up, then down, committed and then uncommitted. We don’t crumble under pressure or drama. We are strong in the Lord! 

– You don’t fear when situations are out of your control. You trust in the faithfulness of God to pull you through all seasons and circumstances. You have seen him do it before, and you trust the nature of God to do it again. Rather than worry, you pray and trust in the sovereignty of God. God is your reference point, not the media or the news or the atmosphere in the office. 

– You value the unseen and simple things. Much of growing up is unlearning things – detangling the simple things that we have complicated. Maturity is understanding that often times the most valuable things are not the glamorous, exciting, mountain top moments of life, but in fact the private, simple, personal and deep times spent in meaningful conversation with God, and people. Things like prioritising quiet time, prayer, studying the word of God, being generous, worship and community. These are the things that count. Consistent intimacy with God is utmost priority. The simple gospel.

 – You listen more than you speak. When you are secure, know whose you are, and walk closely with God, you don’t have the need to always been seen and heard. You are comfortable with shifting the focus from you to others. It doesn’t have to be about you. You listen to understand others. You listen to learn from others. Maturity understands that your perspective is limited, so you are eager to glean from others. 

So how do we mature?

 1. Time with God

 2. Time with His word (the Bible)

3. Trials and tests in life

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd September 2020

How to deal with difficult times according to Philippians 4: 

1. Be cheerful and joyous in every season of life (verse 4). How? Because you are united with Jesus 24/7, so regardless of your ever-changing world/circumstances, your connection to Him is constant! 

2. Let gentleness be evident in your relationships (Verse 5). Why? Because you don’t know when Jesus is coming back or when your last day is! Being brutal or harsh is the opposite of being gentle. If today was your last day, have your interactions with others been marked with gentleness?

 3. Don’t be pulled in different directions and worried (Verse 6). Being worried is when your mind goes into different directions/thought tracks. Keep your mind steadfast and focused on ‘prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude’. 

4. Tell God every detail of your life (Verse 7). Why? Because the peace and answers of God enter your life as you process it out with Him. 

5. Keep your thoughts fixed (Verse 8). Fixed on what is authentic and real, honourable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind AND on the work of God. 

6. Follow the example left for you in the word of God (Verse 9).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st September 2020

Are you needing some wisdom from God? Are you needing an answer from the Almighty Himself?    If so, this will encourage you…The book of Daniel is a mighty one.  

Mighty for the fact that Daniel was not even touched when he got thrown into a lion’s den! (God will protect you when your enemy surrounds you). But it’s about prayer and seeking God for answers. Answers that others may not be able to get, you can, by prayer. 

In Daniel chapter 2, the King needed his dream interpreted. No one could do it… so in verses 17-19 we read that Daniel went home and said to his friends, ‘we need to pray, we need the mystery to be solved.’

They knew that if they couldn’t, then their lives may be ‘on the line’. During that night and during prayer the mystery was revealed.


I love how Daniel DID NOT go home and panic or worry, instead he said “let’s pray”. If you focus on the problem, the problem gets bigger. If you focus on God, the problem gets smaller and smaller.  
God will always answer His children.  If you’re a good parent and your child comes to you for wisdom, help or knowledge, you’re going to give it. How much more will our Heavenly Father give to those of us who ask?


Don’t stay confused or worried any longer. Get to prayer! Even if like Daniel, you have to stay up at night and take time to talk to God, do it.  Maybe it’s so important, that like Daniel, your life or your future is on the line. Don’t see prayer as a last resort, see it as the FIRST thing you do. 

See your problem decrease and your wisdom increase. See the path you need to take. See the answer from the one who knows everything. 
God is ONLY a prayer away. When no one else can seem to figure it out, you will. Because you took time out as a child to go to your Father.  

Pastor Gillian 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.