All posts by Champions Church

Mark & Gillian Burchell are the Senior Pastors of Champions Church, Dudley, England. With over 25 years in leadership and church ministry, Mark & Gillian are experienced and influential in their role as pastors. Their teaching is both inspirational and practical as they are committed to seeing ordinary people connect with an extra-ordinary God and become champions in life. With a contagious zeal for life, Pastors Mark & Gillian passionately believe in the potential of all people and are devoted to the cause of Christ and building His Church. Mark & Gillian have 3 children, Esther, Joshua & Caleb and reside in Dudley.

Fresh Hope – 20th October 2020

Famous failures…

Albert Einstein wasn’t able to speak until he was almost four years old and his teachers said he would “never amount to much.”

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, after which he went home, locked himself in his room and cried.

Walt Disney was fired from working on a newspaper for ‘lacking imagination’ and ‘having no original ideas’.

Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she wasn’t fit for TV.

The Beatles were rejected by Decca Recording Studios, who said “we don’t like their sound – they have no future in show business”.

Steve Jobs, at age 30 was left devastated and depressed after being unceremoniously removed from the company he started. 

How many times do we convince ourselves that we are failures based on what others have said about us? Don’t treat other people’s words as a prophecy over your life. 

What God says about you and your future is the most important voice that you’ll ever hear. 

When God called Gideon in the Bible, He referred to him as a ‘mighty warrior’. Gideon was shocked by the title that God had given him, explaining that He must have the wrong fella, as his family was the least in their clan and that he himself was the least in his family; Nevertheless God saw something in him that others could never see.
Always remember that when God calls you, he doesn’t do so in reference to your past but in recognition of your future. 

No matter what has been said over your life up until now, make a decision to listen to God’s verdict today…you’re a winner. 

Judges 6:12-16 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th October 2020

The gifts and talents that God has given you are not the same as those that He has given to anyone else.

Why do you keep being frustrated by looking at what God has done in someone else’s life, and then belittle what he has done in yours?

If you compare yourself with others, you’ll never be at peace; somebody out there will always be great at something you’d just love to be good at, but maybe you weren’t supposed to be good at that, instead, you were supposed to be great at something else.

One sentence, just one, was spoken to me many years ago, after trying to succeed at being someone that I wasn’t created to be. As I looked around at those that were doing amazing things with their lives, subconsciously I’d try to emulate what they were doing.

I’d listen to those that preached amazingly and tried to be like them, but all was in vain.

That one sentence went like this…’why don’t you just be you, because we like you just the way you are.’

In a moment, I realised that I was putting all my effort into being who I wasn’t, rather than using my energies to make a difference through who I was.

I was almost 40 years of age when that happened, but you don’t have to wait a day longer than necessary to have that revelation – be who you were created to be.

By all means change and be inspired by others, but don’t try to be a copy—you’re an original.

When you live happy in your own skin, the pressure to prove and to be approved lifts off you, and you become free to be you.

Remember: there will always be someone that can do what you do better than you, but there’s only one person that can do it just like you – YOU!

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th October 2020

Following on from my message on Sunday ‘The Fear of the 5000’,  (you can get it on You Tube if you missed it or on this app), I want to return to that final part.  In 2 Chronicles 20 vs 15 – 23, we read another amazing account of how God turned an impending defeat into a massive victory.  

Maybe you’re facing what you feel may be a defeat right now. God wants you to understand it doesn’t have to be that way. Our mind sees a problem, a difficulty, an impossibility and easily defaults to DEFEAT approaching.

No, it doesn’t have to be that way.  King Jehoshaphat was facing a defeat, but God spoke to him and told him very clearly  “you will have to take up your position, but you will not have to fight this battle” (vs 17).

Often, God will lead us to a battle, He will tell us to “take our position” but then He will tell us we don’t have to fight.  Many of us run from battles, we run and hide from the enemy, I believe God is saying it’s time to front the enemy, like it is with a bully, you need to front up to them. All the time, remembering this:

 -1 John 4 vs 4 – “He that is in me, is greater than he that is in the world”,

-Romans 8 vs 31 –  “If God is for me, who can be against me?”.

Don’t be scared of what you see. Believe, trust in whom is with you. 
I love that we read he goes on to worship, he gets everyone around him to worship. Many of us default to worry, or complaining… NO, spend time worshipping instead.  

See what happens: Verse 22 “as they began to worship, the LORD set ambushes against the enemy.” Who set the ambush? The Lord did. Your job is to worship, His job is to sort. Are you going to worship?

Are you going to trust Him today? 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th October 2020

Just last week, I’d been wearing a jumper at home and for a few minutes I’d been in the kitchen where my Dad was cooking. As I was getting into bed that night, I took the jumper off and realised it smelled of cooking – I’m sure you’re familiar with the experience! Rather than putting it straight in the washing basket, I put it beside my bed and thought I’d deal with it in the morning.

When I picked it up the next day, to my surprise, it smelled fresh, like it had been washed… initially I couldn’t figure out why until I realised that I had placed it on top of another item of clothing that had been washed. The fresh odour on the one item made its way onto the other and left that smelling fresh too.

The power of proximity!

If we were honest, we’d all say that we have areas in our lives that don’t smell so good… maybe it’s our short temper, pride, a negative attitude, and so on.

But as someone who has committed their life to following Jesus, one thing I have noticed as I walk with Him is that He rubs off on me. His forgiveness helps my unforgiveness. His humility helps my pride. The way He treats people shapes the way I want to treat people.

Am I saying that I’m now perfect and without flaws? Absolutely not! But I realise that being in close proximity to Jesus has changed and is changing who I am.

In the same way as my dirty jumper didn’t affect the clean washing, our issues are not too big for Jesus. It’s Him who changes us, not the other way around.

You can say today, ‘Jesus, change me. Make me more like you. Take the parts of me that don’t smell so good and help my life to produce a sweet aroma.’ I promise you this, if you allow Him to, He’ll begin to change your life, just as He is changing mine.

Caleb Burchell
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th October 2020

What is your crisis management plan? Sounds like a bit of an odd and heavy question but bear with me.

When something happens to a brand or company that could potentially tarnish their reputation, a PR plan is in place to limit the damage.

When a bad day comes along, or a time that is testing you, here’s how you can manage your situation and come out stronger on the other side:

1) Know who to speak to

Who is the first person that you speak to in a ‘crisis’? The spiritual answer is obviously God but if we’re really honest with ourselves, that’s not always true.

I encourage you, go to Him first. Let Him work on your behalf. The sooner you hand your troubles over to Him, the sooner you can celebrate those answers to prayer.

2) Watch what you’re saying

The Bible says that ‘death and life are in the power of the tongue.’

You may not have the victory just yet but…speak it out. Every negative conversation, every harshly worded social media status, pushes us further from breakthrough.

Instead, why don’t we form a fresh habit of seeking out and speaking up on good things, every single day?

3) Listen carefully

When a company is facing bad press or a PR disaster, the best thing that they can do is listen to the experts and do as they’re told. Considering we’re in a global pandemic, where the voices of experts seem to change on a weekly basis, it can be hard to know who to listen to.

In every situation and season of our lives, God wants to speak to us. He knows every situation we face, beginning to end.

In James 1, we learn that God gives wisdom generously. We can only receive it if we’re willing to pause and figure out what He is saying to us.

Whatever you are facing, (and we all have a lot to deal with right now),  no matter how overwhelming it may seem, be encouraged today. You have the victory.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th October 2020

In 2 Kings 6, we read the most amazing account of Elisha. The enemy, the King of Aram, is wanting to constantly attack the King of Israel and God’s people. But Elisha enquires of and hears from God and tells the King of Israel the enemy’s strategy.   

The King of Aram is mad and furious that he keeps getting robbed of the win, so he is out to get Elisha. He sends hundreds and even thousands of troops to take out one man!

BUT, he hadn’t understood this principle, that if God is on your side, the enemy can’t touch you.  In verse 15 Elisha’s assistant says “Oh no my Lord, what are we going to do?!”  I love Elisha’s response in verse 16 “Don’t be afraid, those that are with us are more than those who are with them.” Is Elisha crazy? There’s two of them and thousands of enemy troops. No, Elisha understands the fact that when GOD is on my side, nothing can touch me. 

Today, my friend, it doesn’t matter how big your enemy is, or may seem, understand that when you have faith in God. (Notice, he declares his faith “those that are with us are more than those against us”). God will turn up for you. 
The entire enemy was struck blind and Elisha was safe. 

Don’t underestimate the power of God. Don’t declare a loss before you have seen your victory.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th October 2020

Like myself, most of us are probably control freaks to a degree. Unless you have grown up in extreme poverty, abuse, or a war-torn country, life for you has probably always been fairly predictable and certain. Until Corona came. Suddenly we don’t have the control we thought we did. We cannot plan and predict like we thought we could. Things are uncertain. Our forward motion has been halted. 

We have lost our sense of control. 

Will the virus get worse? Will it fizzle out? Will there be a vaccine? When will there be a vaccine? What are the side effects of the vaccine? Is there an agenda behind this? What will happen to the economy? What is going on with long-term travel? Will I see my family again? Will life ever be the same? 

Most psychologists categorise COVID-19 as trauma. And the hallmark feeling of trauma is powerlessness, feeling like you have no control over your pain. And when people feel powerless, they often try and grasp for control.

My question for us today is: what if being in control is not actually good for us? What if control gets in the way of faith? 

Dare I say it, what if going through tough stuff is actually good for us?

What if being uncomfortable is good for us? 

What if, when we tell the story of our life in old age, and people asked what it was that made us who we are, we answered, “Living through 2020”?

There must be more to managing this time than just grasping for a sense of control. 

It’s said that the WW2 generation was the most relaxed and happy generation in American history. (Happiness levels peaked in America in the decade after the war). Experts also claim that Millennials and Gen Z – who grew up with more security than any generation in American history – are the most anxious generation of all time. 

Life involves trying and testing times. God never said life would be trouble free. In fact He said, ‘I can promise you there WILL BE tough times’. What He also said was, ‘do not fear for I am with you’ – not once, but 365 times! 

If there are three points for myself for not just surviving, but thriving in this time, it would be: 

1. Rest in God.

2. Open your heart to learn from this time.

 3. Live grateful, one day at a time.  – In the words of Jesus, ‘Don’t worry about tomorrow’ (Matthew 6:34). 

Recommended reading: John Mark Comer: ‘Holy Uncertainty’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th October 2020

The term ‘humility’ comes from the Latin word ‘humilitas’, a noun related to the adjective ‘humilis’, which may be translated as “grounded”, or “from the earth”. 

According to Genesis, man itself came ‘from the earth’. ‘Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person’, Genesis 2:7. 

I believe humility is remembering that without God, we are just dust. Anything we achieve or attain is because GOD breathed His life into us. To be humble, is to be grounded. It is to remember where you came from, and who your source is.

God would be foolish to entrust a prideful heart with more. God knows that such character cannot sustain a greater gift, more blessing, and produce fruit. On the contrary, God can do amazing things with a humble heart. With humility comes honour (Proverbs 18:12), wisdom and grace (the ability to do what you have to). In a position of humility, you will always be fruitful, growing, and moving into greater things. As Proverbs 11:2 says, ‘when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom’. 

Humility is not at the expense of your self-esteem, or value of self. That is false-humility. Humility is simply acknowledging that you are not God. It is living in the revelation that there was someone well before you who breathed life into your otherwise dusty, dead self!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th October 2020

God never wastes a hurt.

It’s possible to believe that your hurt has only one dimension to it—to hurt you. If that’s the case, you may have missed something. Your hurt is far more than just a hurt, it’s often two or even three dimensional.

First—it hurts you.
Second—it teaches you. 
Third—it helps you to help someone else. 

Your hurt is only wasted if you can’t see beyond its first dimension. When that happens it results in becoming the old adage…‘hurt people hurt people’.
The greatest thing that you can offer someone else in a current difficulty is the past hurt that you came through and lived to tell the tale. Pain is a wonderful teacher. In fact I would say that you learn the greatest lessons in life through painful experiences.

You never know when you are going to get called upon to share what you learnt, but be sure that that day will come. Just imagine if the only thing that you are willing to take on board from what you are going through is more hurt because you are hurt. That’s not the point of pain. The point is to squeeze every bit of meaning out of it and store it up so that you can lift someone else that is going through a similar experience.

If your only reaction towards what you’ve gone through is bitterness, then that’s all you’ve got to offer, and who wants a dose of that?

Today, make a choice to live and learn through life’s hard times and thank God for the experience that He’s allowed you to go through. Someone is waiting for you to help them get through what you went through earlier.

Don’t miss the opportunity to give someone fresh hope to live another day.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th October 2020

Entering into new seasons often sparks a time of reflection and change. We change our clothing, our home décor, chosen activities and food preferences. As we head further into autumn, we swap salads for soup, wrap up warm and watch the leaves change colour. 

Red, orange and yellow-leaved trees not only offer a great photo opportunity but they also symbolise a season of change. The beauty we see is a period of self-preservation for the tree. It’s going through a series of processes to prepare for unfavourable conditions to remain sturdy in them. It’s a period of transformation in order to withstand the season, ready for renewal in the next. 

Three things that trees do to prepare for winter:

1. They grow strong roots

During their prime time of growth, they form roots deep into the soil. In spring and summer, trees grow roots to take in water and nutrients from the soil in order to grow. The roots also form an anchor for the tree to provide stability. 

In good seasons, we should be rooting in Jesus, taking in the nourishment from His word. Those roots mean that in more difficult seasons we are anchored in him. As an anchor prevents a ship from being swept away in the wind and waves, Jesus is our strength and security who keeps us steady in the tides of life. ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.’ (Hebrews 6:19).

2. They slow down

Their metabolic process slows down in order to conserve energy. When we take time to stop and listen to God, we can be restored and refreshed. By slowing down, we allow time for God to speak to us and change us. We gain nothing by expelling our time, energy or emotions on superfluous things that God has already sorted. Exodus 14:14 says that ‘the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’ 

3. They strip away the excess to protect the heart 

In order to preserve the core of the tree, they lose their leaves. Leaves are good for a season. In the spring and summer they photosynthesise to provide energy for the tree but in the winter, they’re more likely to be damaged by the cold and use up vital energy. Therefore to protect the body of the tree, the leaves are lost. In order to be renewed, we have to strip away the unnecessary things we have held on to from the previous season. 

Ecclesiastes 3 says ‘there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away.’ 

Spring cleans aren’t just for the spring. Let go of the things that you don’t need to carry in the next season. Use your energy to protect your heart, be still in His presence and anchor yourself in Jesus.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th October 2020

A conversation arises in scripture where a bunch of people were arguing about who amongst them was the greatest. Jesus’ response was simply, yet profoundly, that the ‘greatest’ is the not the one who lords in their leadership, not the one who is served, but rather the one who serves (Matthew 23:11). 

Genuine influence is not about having a big profile. It is not about having a lot of social media ‘followers’. It is not being popular or ‘being at the top’. Genuine influence is about service. The degree of your influence is in direct correspondence to the degree in which you serve others. Want to gain influence with people? Serve them. 

Don’t be tempted by the model of our culture that convinces us that the only way we get to have influence in our world is by climbing and performing up a ladder to get to the top. The kingdom of God works differently. Jesus is different. 

Jesus, our model in everything, LAID DOWN HIS LIFE and He calls us too to be people who are ‘living sacrifices’ (Romans 12:1). 

Jesus was described as ‘highly favoured’ with both God AND man (Luke 2:52). Ironically though, his favour and influence didn’t come through climbing the ladder, it didn’t come through lording over or controlling people. It came through service – this is the power of the Christian church. 

Authority God’s way is not so much about what you get ‘to be over’ or what you get to control. Authority in the kingdom is for the benefit of someone. Authority in the kingdom is holding the posture of servanthood. If you want fruitfulness, the answer is not in you standing over people, exerting your control over them. 

The same favour that was on Jesus is on us. We use that favour to become a servant. We use our blessing and privilege to serve people. Reframe how you see leadership and authority. 

Matthew 28:20, ‘For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th October 2020

Often we conceal fear behind words like; concern or worry. ‘It’s not fear, I’m just anxious’ or ‘I’m just concerned about this’. 

Worry is fear! Anxiety is fear! And usually concern is fear! 

Studies have shown that around 95% of what we worry about never happens, and the remaining 5% we are well equipped to handle and work through. 

In the words of Mark De Jesus, ‘Fear keeps us living in constant protection of possible doom while remaining disconnected from present life… worry is a complete joy thief’. I would add to that and say worry is a complete life thief! 

Jesus actually told us not to worry about tomorrow. Jesus wanted us to be present today (Matthew 6:34). 

We are blessed to live in the comfort of the first world, but one of the down sides of an industrialised nation, is that more intense and competitive pressures arise for society to produce and perform at high levels. The statistics of stress and depression in first world countries is not to be envied and surely we must ask ourselves what we are doing wrong! 

Reasons anxiety, stress and depression are so high: 

1. We always need/have to be busy. We have no time to sit with the Prince of Peace.

2. We don’t have time to stop and process emotions and matters of the heart (which causes anxieties to build up to breaking point).

 3. We maintain relentless, ultimately unsatisfying consumerist lifestyles. 

4. We feed our souls with entertainment that does not build us up and edify us. 

We were not designed to carry any of the above. Fear, stress, worry and anxiety are not part of our DNA. 

There is an enemy who is out to choke the life from you through stress, worry, and anxiety. He knows that these things will stop you from being a powerful person, operating as your true self – someone who is bold, fruitful, and confident. 

Despite what is considered socially normal and therefore acceptable, tension and pressure is not. Peace, calmness and stability are our true calling. 

Be careful what you are feeding yourself with. Your thoughts have a source. Particularly in these days, we MUST hit pause, get in the presence of God, encounter His peace, process, and simplify.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th October 2020

I want you to imagine for a moment that my Sony television is broken and I need to get it repaired. I know this isn’t a two-way conversation, so I’m going to take a guess at what I think you’d advise me to do… take it to Sony!

Now if I replied saying I think I should take it to Panasonic instead, you would tell me not to. ‘Why would you not take it back to the company who made it?!’ you’d ask.

This sounds like a pretty obvious solution, but have you noticed that you and I do something equally as odd when it comes to seeking out answers about our own lives…

While we were created over here, we go in search of validation and approval in the opposite direction, from those who didn’t create us.

Did you know that you were created? Yes, that’s right. You were created by God. And the one most qualified to speak about you is the one who created you.So we must therefore stop taking ourselves to those who didn’t create us and instead seek out answers from the One who did.

If you’re in search of validation, approval, answers to questions regarding your own identity, I want you to see this:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.” Psalms‬ ‭139:13-18‬ ‭NIV

Let that sink in for a moment. Everything that God has ever made is wonderful, and you are one of His works.

So when you feel broken, when you feel as though there are missing pieces in your life, when you’re in search of answers, go back to Psalm 139 and be reminded of exactly what is true about you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th October 2020

Do you feel like you are in a hopeless situation today?

Is there no sign of change in the natural?

Remember, we serve a supernatural God.

What looks impossible with man is possible with God.

In the Bible, God told Abraham he would be the father of many nations, but in the natural this looked impossible. Both he and his wife were beyond child-bearing years. They had no reason to hope or believe that it would happen. They had nothing to go on in the natural, but one translation of this account says “hoping in spite of hopeless circumstances, he believed”.

…And the rest is history as we say.  Abraham finally had a son, Isaac, and his son, Jacob, had 12 sons who became the original 12 tribes of Israel, whose descendants outnumbered the grains of sand on the sea shore.

Today I encourage you to do what Abraham did and believe against all the odds. Hold onto that prophecy, hold onto that dream, hold onto that vision. Keep believing, keep praying, keep moving forwards. Don’t focus on the impossible circumstances, but focus on the God who makes the impossible possible.

Keep looking through the eyes of faith because HE has blessing and victory in store for you.

Romans 4:18-21 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd October 2020

It doesn’t matter what you’re doing right now, it’s what God has planned for you that matters.

David was a shepherd boy with a job that to some people would have been boring. Looking after sheep day in and day out. Yet God saw something great in David, He saw a willingness to be FAITHFUL in what he was doing and LOYAL to who he was looking after.

Faithful and loyal are two qualities that God loves. You can be faithful without being loyal and you can be loyal without being faithful…BUT when the two go hand in hand, that gets God’s attention!
David was faithful in the mundane, he dealt with anything that threatened his sheep (he killed a lion and a bear) .. he in turn took on a giant, when everyone else ran and he became a great King. 
Today, you may feel your lot in life, your job, your day in day out, is pretty unimportant. Don’t think that. God is watching. 

When I started by saying it doesn’t matter what you’re doing right now, it actually does. Because God is looking at your day in day out, He’s looking at your heart and attitude, He’s looking to see if you’re being faithful and loyal with that which has been entrusted to you right now. 

David could never have probably dreamt his future, when he was sitting on a hillside from dawn till dusk and we don’t know what God has in store for us. So what you’re doing right now, isn’t what you always will be doing, as long as you stay faithful. God was watching David and preparing a great future for him and God is watching you!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd October 2020

Like many men I don’t like bothering with complicated instructions. That flat-pack wardrobe? No problem! Who needs to check all the parts are there and do it in the right order? It can’t be that difficult. Can it? 

Several frustrating, angry hours later we end up with almost the right result and a few spare components. A bit wobbly here and there, but it will do!

Fortunately, Jesus tends to keep things simple and straightforward. However, we then try and make it far more complicated than it needs to be. In the Gospel of John Chapter 4: 49 – 53 we see a great example of Jesus keeping the instructions simple and to the point.

‘The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living.  When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.’

Just put yourself in the position of the royal official. Your son is dying, you hear of a preacher who has been seen to perform miracles and you journey to see him. 

You arrive to see Jesus and tell him about your son, Jesus says to you ‘Go, your son will live’. So without a further word you just accept this, turn around and start the journey home. I am not sure that my reaction would be like that.

There are a number of things to draw on here:

• The man had been on his way back home for around a day when his servants met him to tell him the news. From the passage we can work out that he had probably travelled for at least two days to see Jesus. How far are we prepared to ‘travel’ to see our miracle? Or is it too far out of our way and easier just to keep waiting where we are?

• After a long journey he turns around after just five words from Jesus. Are we expecting a book, a page, a paragraph when just one word accompanied by our faith is enough?

• He had complete faith in Jesus, ‘he took him at his word’ it says. Do we believe what Jesus tells us? Do we ‘take him at his Word’? Or are we so often guilty of second guessing and trying to use our ‘wisdom’ rather than just doing what we are asked?

• He did not see the miracle happen, it was waiting for him at his destination. How often do we ‘hang around Jesus’ and look for more words and reassurance rather than just obeying and moving on to the destination Jesus has given us? If we don’t go then we will not see the miracle and Jesus will be waiting for us when we get there.

Listen, Believe, Obey, Go – it is as simple (or as hard!) as that, and the result will not be at all wobbly!

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st October 2020

Biblical hope is the certainty that God will deliver. It is not wishful thinking. It is the living, daring confidence that God will do what He said He would do. As we approach the latter part of what has been a challenging year, we reflect on our lives, and consider our futures. Sadly for many, they believe there is little hope for their future. They are hopeless. 

As Christ followers, we have a mandate to be hope-bringers. I heard a quote the other day, ‘He who gives the most hope has the greatest influence’. How true! People are hungry for hope. They want a guarantee that good things are coming. They desire promise fulfilled. Thankfully, this is the business that Jesus specializes in. When you become that person that delivers hope, people are drawn to you and open to your influence because you have what they are looking for! 

Jesus has many powerful names, one of which is ‘Immanuel’ – meaning ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23). What a beautiful name; but Immanuel is not just a name – it is a role of Jesus. He was born to bring his presence to man.

Unlike many other religions and patterns of thought out there, the God of the Christian faith, is the only God that became flesh, and came down to be WITH US in order to save us. All other religions expect you to climb your way up to God.

All these years later, and Jesus is still living up to his name of Immanuel – He is truly WITH US… and this is our hope. That despite life’s current circumstance and despite what we think we are walking into, God is with us. He is not standing at a distance. He is not looking down on us. He isn’t off doing something more important. He is walking WITH us daily. Meditate on this profound reality, hope and promise – that whatever is ahead – God is WITH US! And He promises to never leave! 

‘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 or forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

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.


(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 and I’ll put you a copy in the post. 

Your friend and Pastor,

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.

Fresh Hope – 31st August 2020

Today we continue where we left off on Saturday. Here are five more questions that are frequently asked when wanting to know God’s purpose and plan for our lives:

6) Does my age matter? YES — but only to you. Your age is irrelevant to God. The biggest clue that your assignment isn’t over is that you are still alive.

7) Can I stop the plan?
Kind of, yes! You can stop the plan for you by your stubbornness and disobedience, but you can’t stop God’s ultimate plans. You can also delay the plan by your unwillingness to quickly say yes, but after God has waited and waited for you without a response, He will then find someone else who will fulfil what you refused to. 

8). When will it start? 
It has—You just didn’t know it! It’s a bit like when your parents bought you that surprise present for your birthday that you’d been asking for. You thought that they’d forgotten, but in fact they’d already got it. They had just kept it hidden from you until the right day came. 

Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

9) Do I just sit back?
No—His plan is a partnership. It’s reliant on you making a move towards it. You don’t have to know exactly what the plan looks like to make that first move. What often looks like your plan, is actually HIS plan flowing through your desires. 

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart. 

10).What if I’m unable to do what I’m asked?
Impossible. God will never ask can you. He will always ask will you. 
He already knows what you can and can’t do. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS ANSWER HIS CALL. 
Remember: God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
The moment you connect to God, you connect also to His higher purpose for you – it’s woven into the very DNA of your life. 


Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th August 2020

Over the next two days, I want to share with you 10 things from my own experience in wanting to know Gods will and purpose for my life:

1) What if I don’t know what God’s will and purpose is for my life?
That’s okay, most people don’t to start with. Think of it like a treasure hunt —look for the clues. One clue leads to another, which then leads to the treasure.

Sometimes it can take years to identify the treasure, but don’t give up—anything that will effect eternity usually takes time. Make it your goal to serve wholeheartedly for a time within a variety of things. You will soon discover the area of your gifting and passion as people begin to confirm what you are hopeless at and what you are good at. Results will always follow from the areas that you are most gifted in. Once that has happened, you can begin to look for further clues within that specific area, and soon you will be focussing on the very thing that you were created for. Remember that we are all good at a few things and not so good at a whole host of things. Don’t live your life trying to be a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. And whatever you do, don’t just sit around hoping for something to happen – find a need and fill it.

2). I’m worried that I may miss it. 
You’ll only miss it if you are content to live your life for yourself. Pray every day and be open for God to speak to you. You’ll start to see pieces of the puzzle coming together.

3) What if I don’t like the plan for my life?
You may not, to start with. Sometimes it’s the most unlikely thing that you had in mind, and even something that you may not initially feel cut out for. The reality is that once you get into it, you’ll fit into it like a hand in a glove. 

4) I’ve got my own plan, thank you very much. 
I certainly did. In fact, you have the freedom to carry on with your own plan if you choose to, but remember, it’s only when you fulfil God’s ultimate plan for your life that you will feel totally fulfilled. I have never looked back since surrendering my will over to God’s will for my life. That was over 35 years ago! 

5) In what form will God’s plan arrive to me?
Email, post, dream or sign at the end of bed?
It can come in many ways —but it will generally be delivered as a result of KNEE MAIL. 
Surrender your hopes, dreams, aspirations and all your fears over to God right now and He will make sure that He gets in touch with you regarding your future. 

Jeremiah 29:13 NIV You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Psalm 20:4 NIV May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

Proverbs 16:3 NIV Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Proverbs 19:21 NIV Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Remember…it’s not for you to DECIDE what you’re going to do with your life, but to DISCERN what God wants to do through your life. 

More coming up on Monday…

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th August 2020

I recently read the following statement
‘Worthiness is about love and belonging’

12 and 13 year olds in the US were asked to come up with ‘differences between fitting in and belonging.’
Their answers were very insightful.

‘Belonging is being somewhere you want to be, and they want you.’
‘Fitting in is being where you really want to be , but they don’t care one way or another.’
‘Belonging is being accepted for you.’
‘Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else.’
‘I get to be me if I belong.’

So it could be concluded that fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Whereas belonging doesn’t require us to change, but instead to be who we truly are.

We all want to be loved, known and appreciated, to know that our life has value and that we have been created for a purpose.

When we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, a whole new world opens up that challenges the modern day culture, view and definition of identity and the value of human life.
It is a journey of discovering a God who created us – who knows us and places incredible significance and purpose on our very existence.

‘Love thy neighbour as you love yourself’

You were created for a revolutionary kind of love and to demonstrate this towards others.
Firstly as Jesus followers (apprentices, disciples) you no longer have to try to fit in but know that you belong as a child of God in the family of God.

Secondly it’s important to live a life that points others to this too. In other words, don’t make others have to try to fit in to your ‘circle’, but accept people and make them feel valued no matter how different they are from you.

Be intentional; model a lifestyle, cultivate a culture that helps others belong too.

John 13:34-35
“A new command I give you:
Love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this they will know that you are my disciples , if you love one another.”

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th August 2020

Hebrews 11:1 says, ‘The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.’

Faith brings that which we hope for into our physical reality. 

Faith is the conviction in our hearts that what God says is true and we can build our lives on it. It is not a feeling or mental state, it is a relational trust in the nature of God. 

Faith is having spiritual eyes. It is looking beyond the physical and the natural realm, and seeing in the spirit realm. This means sometimes we act on what we see in the spirit. It means sometimes it doesn’t make sense in the natural, or others call us crazy. This is living by FAITH. We live according to an unseen realm. 

2 Corinthians 4:18 says, ‘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’.

Not living by faith is slipping back into operating in the visible, literal realm rather than the kingdom reality available to us, and accessed by faith. 

You are made to live by faith. Step out of the realm of your five senses and operate by faith (the unseen). Don’t be constrained by what you see and hear in the natural. There is more. We are called to pull from the unseen realm into the natural realm. 

If you see someone sick, by faith, declare their unseen healing into the seen/physical realm. If a loved-one’s life is going down the wrong path in the natural, see them with spiritual eyes and call, by faith, the unseen purposes of God for their life from the spiritual realm, into the natural realm. This is what it means to be people of faith! 

Even in disappointment, remain faithful to that which we may not physically see!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th August 2020

Can faith and doubt co-exist? 

Pause here, pull out your Bible and read Mark 9:14-29. 

Here is the story of a man desperate for Jesus to deliver his demon-possessed son. The son received his deliverance and healing. 

Whilst there are no copy and paste formulas for receiving healing, there are some important principles here that were in place in order for this man to receive healing for his son. 

1. He was desperate for God. He wasn’t complacent about receiving healing for his son. He was hungry. God operates through our desire. 

Being desperate for God to break through in your life is a great place for a miracle to start!

2. He was honest – He quickly admitted his doubts. 

Verse 24 – ‘Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Being honest with God is a great place for Him to step in.

 3. Despite the father struggling with doubt, he ultimately trusted God in his heart. 

A real hallmark of faith is not your level of intellectual belief. It is about your trust in God.  Faith is not a mental/emotional feeling. In fact, most times you will have to exercise faith when you mentally and emotionally don’t feel like it and you doubt. 

Faith is not a psychological state where we attempt to hype ourselves up into believing something. 

Many times our mind and emotions will not be in a good place, but in honesty and desperation, you trust God (hope in the nature of who God is). 

The security and foundation of our faith is in the God who is faithful. 

Psalm 88:3, Psalm 89:46 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th August 2020

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The Greek word used here and translated as ‘anxious’, is derived from another Greek word that means ‘to divide into parts’.

That’s such a great way of understanding what worry does to us all. It causes our focus on the things that really matter to be divided, and therefore diluted, because of the amount of worrying that we are doing. We have all experienced the feeling of not being able to think straight. Ask yourself, at what time in your life was that the case. It will almost certainly have been during a time of worry —your mind was divided. Stop and think about it for a moment: many of the things that you’ve spent time worrying about have never come to be reality anyway!

Paul, as he writes in this verse is telling us point blank — stop worrying! Tell yourself today that worry is worthless. It changes nothing apart from you. It breaks down your life.

Note also, the language used in this verse tells us to pray ‘in’ every situation. It doesn’t tell us to ask God to keep us free from problems, but encourages us that when we are stuck right in the middle of those problems…PRAY! In other words Paul is urging us all to break an established pattern of anxiety by going to God in prayer before you have chance to worry about it. Beware of ‘phantom’ anxieties too —they will play on your mind, but are actually just the product of your imagination.

You have the opportunity at the start of today to break the cycle worry in your life. So, stop worrying and start praying.

Even if your circumstances don’t change after prayer, you will have changed towards them.

Matthew 6:25-27, 34 ‘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? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th August 2020

We have all heard the saying “They look like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.” It’s quite possible that that is you as you wake this morning. Weighed down by the cares of this world, or to be more precise, weighed down by the cares of your world.

Burdens, concerns and stresses are something that cannot be avoided in this life. No matter how much you desire to live a stress free life, it’s impossible to do so. That’s life! 

Often the burdens and stresses of life cause you to feel like a weight is being pressed down upon you physically. Anxiety feels like a big load has been placed upon your chest. These are signs that you need someone to help lift them off you. Someone that will be there to supernaturally lighten the load and carry what you cannot cope with yourself. Jesus came to do exactly that! He is the burden lifter. He is the great burden carrier. All you have to do, is be willing to cast all your burdens upon Him and leave them with Him. 

How do we know that He is happy for us to do such a thing? We have it in writing!

— 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you. 

Not only that, as He has already sent out to you a personal invitation to do so —Matthew 11:28 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 

If that’s you, then accept His invitation and come to Him today. Make the exchange…your burdens for His peace. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd August 2020

In Mark 4 vs 35-41 is the account of Jesus travelling with His disciples to ‘the other side’ of the lake and in the meantime, on that journey there was a VIOLENT storm that produced great fear and uncertainty. 

Let’s look at verse 40… Jesus asked them “why are you so afraid?” Jesus wanted to know WHY they were afraid? Isn’t that obvious you may say? Not necessarily…. go back to verse 35 “Let us go to the other side.”

Jesus had a plan. It involved a boat, a boat ride, a journey and a destination. So in the middle of that journey a storm comes, yet Jesus’ word to them was “we are going to the other side.” Jesus didnt need their questions and doubts. He just needed their trust. “let us go to the other side” – He had already declared the ending. 

If we know the truth, why do we worry or doubt when things don’t go as we expected? 

A storm threw them into panic and confusion… WHEN it actually shouldn’t have, because Jesus had told them where they were going and in effect was saying, “we ARE going to get there and everything is going to be alright.”

So here’s my thought for you today: Don’t let the enemy ‘throw’ you into confusion. Instead, throw him into confusion!

He wants you to worry, fear, to be anxious, he even wants to take you out of your race. Instead be joyful, be at peace, let your trust in God be strong (no matter what the circumstances). Jesus is in your boat, He’s got this, He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. So why let the devil win? He is looking for you to be fearful, my friend. He thinks he knows how you will react. Prove him wrong!

My Bible tells me that if I resist the devil, he will flee. (James 4 vs 7).
An attitude of trust and being joyful in a storm, when the enemy thinks you should be doing the opposite, will always bring a BREAKTHROUGH. 
Make sure you know the truth – and throw the enemy of your soul into confusion today! 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st August 2020

“What we don’t handle today, will need to be dealt with in the future.” I read this phrase in a book  recently. We see this played out in many characters throughout the Bible like David and Solomon. We see this in the nation of Israel that didn’t obey God’s commands to drive out the giants in the land which led to generations of compromise. One of the most obvious examples, to me, is found in Genesis with the first family in the Bible.

Genesis 3 tells the story of Adam and Eve’s disobedience and God’s punishment of their sin. We read the devastating separation between God and humanity and today, we are still feeling the effects of their rebellion. This couple had been created and existed in perfection for their whole lives. Then, in a moment of weakness, they were forced out of their home and into the wild.

Genesis 4 introduces us to Cain and Abel sons of Adam  and  Eve. Abel offered a sacrifice that was accepted by God, but Cain’s offering was rejected. Cain didn’t handle this news very well and, in his uncontrolled rage, murdered his brother. Even though God warned him to guard his heart, Cain disregarded the warning, giving in to his basest desires. As a result of his actions, Cain was banished and forced to wander the earth.

The impulsivity from Adam and Eve is seen in Cain’s actions. The separation between God and man only increased from parents to children. I have no doubt that Adam and Eve told their children about God. They spoke of the beautiful place they had lived in and how they walked with God. After all, Cain and Abel were offering sacrifices to God before the Law was created that explained the rules of acceptable offerings. Yet, Cain’s rebellious nature wouldn’t be bridled and he brought physical death into the earth.

Life is much more interconnected than we’d probably like to think. I have picked up thoughts, ideas, quirks, and behaviors from others and I’m sure that others have picked up plenty from me especially our children and siblings. I believe that we have a responsibility and an opportunity to be more intentional with what we’re passing on. But before we can focus on what others are doing, we must first look at what has been passed to us.

In Genesis 4, God warned Cain about his anger issues yet Cain didn’t listen. If only he had humbled himself, listened, and repented. While we can’t change the world with a single decision, I believe that we can learn from Cain’s mistakes and repent early and often to create a better future ourselves and for those around us.

Thankfully, Jesus is with us and for us. He doesn’t long for us to live in sin and shame and has made a way for us to be set free. My prayer is that we would continue to remove those things that aren’t of him, taking on his character instead. May we be a people who pass on faithfulness, goodness, hope, and love to future generations. But that begins with prayer, humility, and repentance today.

Christine Mudenha 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th August 2020

The more we listen to the news, the more we are we are likely to get filled with despair. The more we listen to people’s opinions, the more we will feel despair. The more we keep studying the statistics, graphs and charts the more we will find ourselves spiralling downwards in our mental state. The pandemic has taken over our world, but more importantly it has taken over our thinking. 
How many of us would love to go back to hearing about Brexit!! I remember saying on several occasions, “what on earth will the news have to report on once Brexit is out of the way?” Well, now we know!

One thing is for sure – we have all been in despair at sometime or other. Times when you have felt completely adrift, and periods when you could see no way out of a situation. 

The word despair means to be ‘completely lost and without a way’. 

It’s interesting how Paul writes in the Bible when he penned these words to inspire us… 

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 

He understood something in his current situation whereby he could say, ‘we are hard pressed (struggling and stressed) on EVERY side but WE ARE NOT CRUSHED’. Friends today, no matter how much despair you feel, take heart because if God is for us, who or what can be against us?

What God said to Joshua, He is saying to you and I today: ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ (Joshua 1 v 9).

If you feel harassed and besieged on every side — take heart. 
If you feel perplexed and confused today, don’t let your mind lead you into despair. You have the victory in JESUS. You have overcome, because everywhere you go, THE LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th August 2020

Does your life seem to carry a running theme of relational drama? Do you always seem to be caught in the middle of issues with people? 

Here are some reasons relational drama could be creeping into your life (and some wisdom from Proverbs):

 1. Boredom. 

Some people love relational drama because quite simply, THEY’RE BORED! Relational drama gives you something to talk about and takes the focus off you and puts it on others. Stirring the pot can be amusing for some. 

Proverbs 20:30 says, ‘It is an honour for a man to keep away from strife, but every fool will be quarreling’. 

Proverbs 6:19, ‘The Lord detests a person who stirs up conflict in a community’. 

Proverbs 11:27, ‘Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favour, but evil comes to him who searches for it’. 

The lesson for us: STAY AWAY from business that is not yours. It is foolishness to get involved. 

2. You struggle to manage your tongue. 

The inability to manage your mouth will destroy your life. 

Proverbs 17:9, ‘Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends’. 

Proverbs 21:23, ‘Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity’. 

Proverbs 26:20, ‘Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down’. 

Proverbs 18:21, ‘The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat it’sfruit’. 3. You are quick to air your thoughts. 

Proverbs 18:1-2, ‘An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels. Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their opinions’. 4. Gentleness is gone. 

Proverbs 15:1, ‘A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger’. 

Proverbs 11:12, ‘Whoever belittles his neighbourlacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent’. 

Proverbs 11:17, ‘Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel’. 

Drama is draining, and much of it starts with our words!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th August 2020

There’s a popular saying that you’ll more than likely have heard at some point. It says, “even a broken clock is useful twice a day.”

In Exodus 4, Moses doesn’t have much to his name that he thinks would qualify him to approach Pharaoh. He was doubting himself and the burden of his past was on his mind, causing him to disqualify himself.

God has the power and willingness to still any storms that may be surrounding or approaching you today. He showed Moses that what he had was enough for God to use.

If you hand it over to Him and listen, He has a way to reveal to you that He can, and is able to use everything for your good, even if you can’t see much use for it.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th August 2020

When Jesus sent out the disciples, He told them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal (Luke 9:1). 

Every Christian needs to have faith in God to do the impossible. It is easy to read a book, or listen to a podcast, but can we WALK in faith? Walking in faith is a lifestyle pursuit. 

The impossible is totally possible for God. Just look at creation!

Matthew 19:26 says, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible’. 

Luke 9:1 proves that we have been sent out with power and authority. The basics/foundations of the Christian faith that Jesus built are:

 1. Proclaiming the kingdom of God

 2. Healing the sick. 

When stepping out in faith/the impossible, don’t look at where you need to arrive, focus instead on where we need to start. 

If we start, God will help us. 

To step out in faith: 

Step one: Start with God, not with us. 

So many of our plans rest on our ability. What does the Bible say? Romans 8:28-30 – God is SOVEREIGN. God is all powerful. He created and sustains the universe. He can do things that we just cannot do. 

God is GOOD – Romans 8:31 – ‘if God is for us, who can be against us?’. 

Step two: Obey! Unbelief is a form of disobedience. 

Obedience is faith and faith is obedience – you cannot separate the two. Obedience leads to faith. 

Even though we may FEEL in an unbelieving state of mind the fact that we step out in obedience proves that at a deeper level we are actually operating in faith. 

Don’t mistake your wavering emotions for unbelief – this is normal. The HOLY SPIRIT empowers us to step out anyway. 

God will respond to our obedience with His blessing. 

Step three: Leave the results with Him. Enter into God’s rest. 

Rest doesn’t mean we do nothing, it means we leave the rest to God. We do our part in obedience, and then leave the rest to Him to sort.  

Let the Holy Spirit be at work, after your obedience. If we don’t obey, God will not have the opportunity to do what we want Him to do. 

Success is measured not by results, but by obedience. Some results we may only see in heaven. 

We don’t have to be God, we just have to be obedient. 

God moves through action and obedience. 

So start with God, not you, then obey, and then rest.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th August 2020

How many times do we pray “Lord, I want to be more like you”, only to not like some of the challenges, times and seasons we go through, that God allows, in order for Him to change us?
Two things: I have to be humble enough and secure enough to be willing to change. 

Humble – because that often means saying ‘sorry’ because I was wrong. Owning my stuff, even when I mess up and admitting I need to change. 

Secure – to trust in Him enough that He knows what He is doing. 

People will challenge us in life – our spouse, a parent, a teacher, a friend, a pastor, a leader. Your reply will determine whether or not you will move forwards or backwards. Whether or not you are willing to change. 

So when God challenges me, what is my reply?
What happens when God says “bless someone with that…” What’s your reply? Is it… “Why?  … don’t you know God that they have more than me?… I blessed someone last month Lord!” OR is it “Okay God, no problem, I know if you’re wanting to get something to me, then you’re wanting to get something through me.”

You see, our response to a challenge is important. If you pray the prayer I mentioned at the start, which is “Lord, make me more like you” then you are going to be challenged. Because challenges are what make us (challenges can also break us). If I want to be a successful athlete, my coach will challenge me. I may not like it, but he’s my coach, he’s taking me somewhere. I hired him for a reason. 

Today, if you’re asking to be more like Jesus (which I hope you are) then get ready for the challenge, because they will come and then get ready to respond well. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th August 2020

As I prepare to take my dog for his morning walk his absolute tail wagging joy at the sight of the lead makes me think ‘is our home really that toxic of an environment that he just can’t wait to get out?’ Of course it’s because (I hope) he actually just wants to be out doing what he absolutely loves to do which is to sniff about and mark his territory. That’s what he does the entirety of the walk.

The strange thing is, as he’s doing the thing he loves more than anything else in the world (what it appears he was created for) he doesn’t actually wag his tail at all, I guess he’s too preoccupied. So it would appear he’s actually at his most ecstatic, maximum happiest, when he literally can’t sit still, not when he’s doing the thing he loves but when he’s still in the undesirable environment (not where he necessarily wants to be) but he’s hopeful as he sees the lead and he cannot stop the tail from wagging at the expectation of what’s to come! 

This is a great picture of how we should live as followers of Jesus, everything should be coloured by hope. We will never truly be satisfied here on Earth. It doesn’t mean we’re just sitting it out, it means we can live in the most free and expectant way. It means we can live our lives showing off the hope we have that master Jesus has got the lead in hand, and through faith we’re expectant of what we don’t yet have as we literally can’t stop our tails from wagging! 

Read these verses on hope and ask God to fill you afresh with the hope that is ours to carry.

Job 11:15-19  Then you won’t be ashamed;you will be confidentand fearless. Your troubles will go awaylike water beneath a bridge, and your darkest nightwill be brighter than noon. You will rest safe and secure,filled with hopeand emptied of worry. You will sleep without fearand be greatly respected.

Romans 8:24-25 
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Psalms 62:5-6 
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation;he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

Hebrews 11:1 
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Isaiah 40:30-31
Even youths grow tired and weary,and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lordwill renew their strength.They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,they will walk and not be faint.
We may be in strange times, it only gives us more opportunity to stand out against the darkness and point a world is desperate need to the saviour! 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th August 2020

Who is responsible for crafting your definition of “the good life”? 

Be alert to the reality that we live in a world that relentlessly sells us the message that “the more we have, the happier we will be… Get that new outfit, upgrade your model, get into debt for that thing, and you’ll be happier.”  

Our society has an insatiable desire for MORE. We feel we are just ‘one more thing’ away from contentment. 

It is a lie. 

It is a lie that if you have money and nice things, that makes you important, and if you don’t you are less than those who do. 

Watch that you don’t get your identity from the things you buy. You are not what you buy. You are not what you wear. You are not what you drive. Your things are not your identity. 

There is nothing wrong with owning nice things. Have fun with fashion. Treat yo’ self. Enjoy what you’ve worked for. Just watch that the nice things don’t own you. Watch what has a hook on your heart, takes your time, averts the majority of your attention, and has your focus fixed. 

These things may come with a hidden cost – not just financially. 

In the wise words of John Mark Comer, ‘what if more stuff actually equals less of what matters most? Less time. Less financial freedom. Less generosity, which according to Jesus is where the real joy is. Less peace. Less of what I actually ache for?’

Jesus said, ‘Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal’ (Matthew 6:19-20).

In other words, don’t spend your life consuming a collection of stuff that can be quickly robbed, snatched, lost, broken, or go out of fashion. Build a meaningful life of deep substance and eternal value first and foremost. You know, the kind of stuff that really makes you happy and edifies your soul.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th August 2020

Despite popular opinion being jealous of other people is not “normal” or “okay”. It actually goes against your design in God. 

The Bible has strong words of warning regarding the destructive power of jealousy in your life. It says things like, ‘where you have envy, there you will find disorder and every evil practice’ (James 3:14-16) and ‘envy rots the bones’ of our lives, pushing away our peace’ (Proverbs 14:30). 

Still think jealousy is no biggy? In Genesis 4 it drove Cain to resentment and then murder. In Genesis 37, it caused Joseph’s brothers to beat him up and boot him out the family. In 1 Samuel 18, Saul’s jealousy literally drove him mentally crazy! In Mark 15 we see jealousy put Jesus on the cross. Isaiah 14, Satan himself moved from heavenly worshipper to hell because he envied God!

Don’t normalise jealousy. It is ugly and does not end well. 

Unless you possess the pinnacle of everything on the planet, there will ALWAYS be someone ‘better than you’, with something you don’t have – a better body, a better face, better clothes, a better spouse, better kids, better holidays, better giftings, better friends… I could go on. Dwelling on what you don’t have and pining after what someone else has is as fruitful as chasing after the wind – relentless and never ending. 

The question is: is Jesus truly enough for our heart’s desire? 

Move from constant comparison to gratitude for WHAT YOU DO HAVE. Move from competition to celebrating the goodness of God evidenced in the lives of others!

Discover the peace of Jesus being your everything, of being thankful, of being satisfied and content in ALL circumstances and celebrate the wins of others! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th August 2020

I was so hungry as I walked into our kitchen to the smell of a roasting chicken in the oven. No one was in, so I didn’t know how long it had been cooking for. I couldn’t resist as I opened the oven and took the chicken out. It smelt so delicious that I just ripped a piece off and popped it in my mouth — 24 hours later I was in bed with salmonella food poisoning and was in bed for over a week!

My little taster of ‘not quite cooked chicken’ is a powerful reminder of the importance of waiting for Gods timing in your life. We often think we are ready as we sit inside the oven of the fiery trial that we have been going through for seemingly long enough. The kitchen light goes on and the oven door is opened, only to find that yet again, we are ‘not quite ready’. Door closes. Kitchen light goes off. All alone again. 

Don’t be impatient, as Gods timing is perfect and is for your own good. If you are releasedtoo early, you’ll simply be heading for disaster.
My instant craving for food made me break all the basic rules of health and hygiene that I’d learnt during my days in catering. Instead of being satisfied I was bed ridden and frustrated. My quick fix had come at the expense of my health.  One bite messed up everything. It took me weeks to get totally right again. 

Be careful that you wait until you’re properly ready. 
Going through a fiery trial today? Remember…it’s just Gods oven getting you ready for your future.
1 Peter 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th August 2020

A box of matches has no use until one match is taken out and ignited on the rough edge. 
Its power and potential is not in its size, but in its usefulness outside of its box. 

The box represents its safety, but it wasn’t made for safety. It was made to be the starter of a fire giving heat or igniting a candle, giving light. 
The rough edge of the box is what ignites it into action. 

All that matches do inside their safe environment is rattle around. They make a little noise, but are unable to achieve what they were created for. 
In just the same way, if you don’t live outside of your box, you too will never live to your potential. 
Sometimes it takes a rough challenge to ignite us into action.

In Matthew 25 we have the well known parable of the talents. In the story of the three men were given talents to use. Two of them went out and multiplied their talents through putting them to good use —one of them buried his and it just lay dormant. It never produced anything and Jesus gave him a dressing down. 

When asked why he hadn’t put his talent to good use, he simply said that he was afraid, so he buried it. 

Here are 4 common excuses that will cause you to bury your talent. To overcome them you have to step outside the box of your fears and only then will you live to your full potential. 

1. Self conscious. Stop being so conscious of your SELF. Forget yourself with all its problems and hang ups and focus outward on all the good that you could do if you’d only step outside of your box.

2. Self esteem.  It says to you that everyone is better and more confident than you. All you end up believing is that you have nothing to offer. Low self esteem is a box. Live beyond your ‘self’ and you will be amazed at how God can use you. 

3. Self indulgent. It’s all about me. It’s my talent and I’ll bury it if I want to. Understand that your gifts and talents are on loan to you in order for you to make a difference. Burying what you have been given is not only selfish, but is a sure way of your potential getting smaller and smaller.

4. Self assessment. I don’t like the way I look…I don’t like the sound of my voice…I’m not worthy. All of this sounds very humble, but in truth… it’s all about you. Get over yourSELF and step outside of your box.

Jeremiah 1:4-10 The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,before you were born I set you apart;I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’ ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.’ 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th August 2020

There are very few women who don’t know for a whole nine months that they’re having a baby, only to find themselves with one as a total surprise!

As a Mom of three, I cannot fathom how someone wouldn’t know. To me, you will know.
Having a baby requires preparation. You never used to say a woman was ‘pregnant’, you instead referred to her as ‘expecting’. Yes, that’s correct… she is expecting something. 

Something that is going to change her life forever. If you are expecting something, then you’d better get ready for it. You’d be foolish and very unprepared to bring that baby home from hospital with no baby bed, clothes or the thousands of other things that seem necessary. 
A woman who is ‘expecting’ a child, loves the preparation. Especially if it’s your first, it’s all very exciting. 

I’m going to challenge you and myself today about what are you expecting? (Some of us right now are struggling to expect anything. We have to shake ourselves and get back into expectant mode). Because whatever it is, you’d better start preparing for it. Preparation can be exciting, but it can also be costly and time-consuming. 

If you’re getting ready for something big in your life, what are you doing to prepare for it? If you’re expecting a nice dinner, you will have to prepare. If you’re wanting nice home decor, you will have had to prepare. 

Why is it, that when it comes to the things of God, we’re not very good at preparing? If as a farmer you’re expecting a harvest, then you will have prepared the ground with seed. 

If you’re expecting God to meet your need, then I would have expected you to have sown your seed.

If you’re expecting God to use you in some mighty way, then what are you doing to prepare for that? 

Today make sure you are EXPECTING something, but don’t just EXPECT without the PREPARATION. 
Because if you’re not ready, maybe God won’t give it to you. Maybe just maybe, He’ll give it to the person who not only expected, but prepared also. 

Pastor Gillian 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th August 2020

For things to be different, something has to change.

For most of us there’s something in our life we would like to change, be that big or small, but when change comes, we can have very different responses. For some, change can be seen as an opportunity, whatever that change may be. For others, change is something fought against in a will to keep things normal, especially when things change in a way we don’t expect.

The world changed this year. The world had to stop existing as it was. It’s not a thing that we’d ever have prayed for or imagined, but it changed and there were very mixed emotions about it. 

During lockdown many people have changed. The pace of life has changed, hobbies have changed, and priorities have changed.  At the start of lockdown, I was one of those who felt like it was going to put a halt on life rather than be a positive adjustment. However in lockdown my life has changed positively in many ways, including a miracle job change during a recruitment freeze. I’d never have expected significant life changes when the world seemed to be in such a bad way but the Bible tells us that beauty comes from ashes.

Last year, I went to Sicily and walked up Mount Etna. Although the surrounding views were lovely, the climb up Etna requires you to look down as the route is littered with volcanic boulders. Even though I felt like I was missing the views and staring at black ash for the afternoon, it forced my attention to the new life growing. Green plants emerged from the ash where a town once was. I was surprised to see flowers, trees and plants growing from the most desolate land. 

Volcanic soil is one of the most fertile soils, overflowing with nutrients to allow plants to thrive. For growth in this place, it took a change. It took everything to stop. It took the man-made element and human control to be halted to allow new life to grow.

Recently, normal routines for most of the world stopped.

In our lives, the things we have control over stopped. 

When things are wiped away, it leaves space for more things to grow. 

You may be facing a circumstance that looks like there is no hope; it may look desolate and lifeless when really it is a God-prepared ground. It is a ground cleared, overflowing with nourishment, ready to spring to life.  

Isaiah 61:3 promises us that God will bring beauty from ashes and bring joy instead of mourning. 

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th August 2020

I recently read a Mark Comer’s book, ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’. After so many people recommending I read it, I am now going to do the same to you!

I thought I would leave you with a few golden nuggets from the book, and elaborate on a few parts that challenged me. 

Everyone is wearing a mask right now (totally necessary, I understand). On the train, in the shops, the other day I got a massage and the girl massaging me was wearing a mask! I was in Spain last week and trying to speak simple English so the Spanish could understand me, with only my eyes showing, was a challenge! 

Wearing a mask is so not natural or normal, but it has become normal because everyone is doing it all the time. Isn’t it funny how the most unusual, unnatural thing can become totally normal and acceptable when everyone is doing it for long enough? Hurry has become like that. Everyone is hurried, everyone has been doing it for long enough – so it’s just normal now. But just because something has become the norm, it doesn’t make it right. Hurry actually goes against our design. And whenever we go against our God-given design, things don’t work. 

Our society is so hurried that we are too busy to live emotionally healthy and spiritually rich lives. A blunt statement perhaps, but hurry and being busy isn’t Christian, in fact, it is anti-Christ. Why? Because being hurried and busy has the exact same effect on us as sin – it cuts off your connection to God, to other people and even to your own soul. 

Love has the highest value in the kingdom of God, but love is painfully slow, consuming and demanding at times. Therefore hurry and love are incompatible. Think about it – your worst moments were probably when you were in a hurry!

Our modern day society does not celebrate slow. We have to fight for slow and simple. 

You were designed to live from a place of love, joy and peace. Hurry does not allow for these things. Hurry never advances your soul. Hurry is actually a sign of a disordered life and heart. 

And before you think it, the answer to eliminating hurry is not more time. The answer is to simplify your life to what really matters. 

Jesus was never hurried. Many of us want the life of Jesus, but are not willing to adopt the lifestyle of Jesus. Jesus led an unhurried life (and yes, He had many demands). He kept His primary focus on making time and space for God, and loving people. In fact, the more busy his life got, the more He actually withdrew away to the secret place. 

Jesus needed time in the quiet place – think about that. Perfect Jesus. How much more do you? 

Let’s work hard to rest well. Paul challenged us to ‘make it your ambition to live a quiet life’ (1 Thessalonians 4:11). Did you catch that? Not work hard to have a loud life, or an important life, or an impactful life. Work hard at finding, rest and peace! 

And yes, ‘to live a quiet life in a world of noise is a fight, a calm rebellion against the status quo’, but it is a fight not just for a good life, but also a good soul! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th August 2020

Whatever has your attention has your heart and soul. Be careful what becomes your focus, your centre of attention. 

What you give your attention to is that which has a relentless pull on your life. It could be a substance or activity that becomes so compulsive it ultimately interferes with your everyday life. 

Many of us have lost our awareness of God, because our attention is no longer on Him. We have become distracted. We feel far from God, we no longer hear from Him, we are struggling to remember who we ourselves are. 

What we give our attention to is what we become. When our heart and soul’s attention shifts from our maker to the various other pulls in our lives (distractions), we lose ourselves and connection to God. 

Bottom line, at the end our lives, our life was no more than what we gave our attention to. See how important our focus is? 

Every yes, is a thousand nos. Be careful what things you give your attention to. That which you say, ‘yes’ to. 

We achieve inner peace, when our attention is in the right order. ‘Seek first the kingdom and the rest will be sorted’ (Matthew 6:33). 

Distraction is the biggest threat to our faith today. It is not only damaging on our emotional health, but our spirituality. 

If you are feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, burnt out, experiencing little, if any, of the presence of God, the inability to make sense of yourself or life, then your attention could be out of whack. Maybe you are getting distracted by the wrong things. 

I have recently been trying to give, just 10 minutes a day, undistracted, to sit in silence and listen to God. I’m training myself. I have had let go of wildly ambitious attempts of hour-long quiet times, and I am aiming for a mere, but consistent, 10 minutes a day. 10 minutes where I don’t bombard God will all my wants and needs. 10 minutes where I’m not consuming content (podcasts, books, studies – as great as they are). Just 10 minutes where I’m not doing anything, I’m just listening and being! 

Maybe you too can give that a try now! Set your stopwatch. 10 minutes of attention on God – Go!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th August 2020

Happy Tuesday! I want to share this thought with you today: how you see someone will determine what you receive from that someone. Let me say it again…how you see someone will determine what you receive from that someone.

For example, a teacher’s role is to develop their student. If a student sees in their mind that their teacher is just there to make their life difficult, or to get them to do things that they don’t want to do, that student will shut themselves off from receiving all that the teacher truly wants to deposit into them.

Or let’s say that you attend a church and instead of seeing your Pastor as an authority in your life, you see them more like a friend. Just like the teacher, your Pastor has been given a level of authority that exists to serve people like yourself. But if you only see them as a friend, or a nice person, you can only get what they have to give at that level.

I say this because I don’t want you to limit what you receive in your life. How you see your boss, your parents, your team leader, matters. If you limit what they are in your life, you will limit the value that they can add to your life.

One of the saddest stories in the Bible is where Jesus goes to His hometown, sharing incredible wisdom and displaying miraculous powers. The people begin to recall how they know Jesus’ mother and His siblings because they’re from the area and they start to take offence at Him. And The Bible says, “Jesus did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

In other words, the people didn’t see Jesus as the Son of God, able to perform miracles and save them from their sin. They just saw Him as someone who they’d seen grow up in the neighbourhood, and this ultimately limited what they would receive from Him.

They saw Him as just a local, whereas if they’d have seen Him as the Son of God, they could’ve received from Him as the Son of God.

Today, don’t allow overfamiliarity of the people in your life lead you to dishonour and disrespect them. Instead honour and respect the authority that they have been given and you will find that your life will be much better off as a result.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd August 2020

No matter what you say about yourself, your reputation has already spoken ahead of you.
How many times do you feel that others have judged you harshly, or how many times have you shown contempt for those that have tried to point out a weakness in your character?

The stark reality for us all is that we cannot blame anyone else for making up their minds about us, as the reality is that our reputation has formed for them an opinion of us all by itself! If people call you lazy, they don’t do it for no reason. Just face facts—you’re  lazy. 

Mine and your reputation is all that people have to go on…nothing else. No matter how you try and convince people that you will be on time, if your reputation is one of being late them why would they believe your words this time?

What are you being labelled as of late? Untidy, moody, stingy, pushy, loud, flirtatious, unapproachable?  Those titles are not given to you by chance, but by choice —your choice! You have chosen to be what you have proved yourself to be.
Think about it for a moment; have you ever heard of anyone that is hard working called lazy? Have you ever heard a generous person being called stingy? Highly unlikely. That’s because their reputation has also spoken positively for them in just the same way that yours has spoken negatively for you.

So what should I do? 
Firstly, stop justifying yourself. 

Second, acknowledge your weakness.

Third, work on your character in that area of weakness.

Finally, Ask the Holy Spirit, and also an honest friend, to help you be accountable in any areas needing some work. You can turn around that old reputation and leave it well and truly behind. 

Here are a few choice statements gathered from people that made a huge impact in their day:
“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”― Henry Ford

“If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”― Dwight Lyman Moody

“Your reputation is in the hands of others, you can’t control that. The only thing you can control, is your character.”― Wayne W. Dyer

“A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.” ― Joseph hall 

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold — The Bible. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st August 2020

We have a bird house in our garden. I bought it a couple of years ago to encourage birds to nest in it.  I was told, that it would take time for the birds to feel happy and comfortable with making it their nest. This summer, much to our horror, it has been occupied by wasps.
 I ‘googled‘ this unfortunate invasion, only to find that it is quite common for wasps to ‘take over’ the bird house.  I suppose that while the birds are ‘thinking about it’, wasps just dive in and take residence. Getting rid of a wasps nest (as you may know) is not easy. I can be angry and annoyed at those wasps, but it doesn’t make any difference.   It needs proper attention. 

I was thinking, as I often do in the garden, about how God works.  My heart, just like that bird house, is made for good things. If I don’t keep it filled with the right things, like His love, His joy and His peace, then sooner or later, other things will take residence there. Like fear, worry, anger, jealousy, bitterness, hatred and the like. Then to get rid of them, is not so easy. 

This week my husband was mowing the lawn and hit the bird house with the mower.. out came the wasps and stung him! He said it really hurt!
If you don’t deal with stuff that has taken residence in your heart, stuff that is illegally there, it won’t just hurt you, it will hurt those who ‘bump’ into you also. Be careful my friend what you ALLOW into your heart. 

Keep your heart for the residence of God and His Holy Spirit…which equals good things. 
Keep invaders away at all costs. 
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the well spring of life, everything you do, will flow from it” – Proverbs 4 vs 23

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st July 2020

What are you growing? 

During lockdown many of us have been spending quite a bit more time in the garden, one or two projects, some new plants, weeding the borders, trimming the shrubs. I have to admit that I am not much of a gardener and would rather be sitting in it than working on it.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus describes the Kingdom of God as being ‘like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched on its branches’ (Luke 13:19). 

Jesus also refers to mustard seeds in relation to faith and we take from that account that the mustard seed is the smallest of seeds. Jesus is describing the Kingdom as something that starts in a small way and grows to strength and maturity when it is planted and nurtured.

In Luke 17:20 Jesus is asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come. The Pharisees were strict adherents to many precise religious rules and Jesus responds by saying ‘The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is’, or ‘There it is,’ because the Kingdom of God is within you’.

So we have two descriptions of the kingdom as something that starts as a tiny seed that is planted not in a garden but within us. That seed needs to be nurtured in a church community; fed by the word of God and watered with prayer and worship in order that it grows within us into a tall and strong tree.

Even though I am not much of a gardener I know that if I just sit, relax and do nothing then the garden will not flourish. It will turn into an overgrown, weedy mess. I know that I have to put the time and effort into nurturing the plants.

It takes care, effort and work to grow a beautiful, fruit filled garden. What am I growing in the garden of my heart? And how am I feeding and watering it?

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th July 2020

Jesus made it clear that our number one priority as Christians is quite simply to LOVE – to love God first and then to love people (Matthew 22:36-40). Most of us are okay with the idea of loving people, until it is hard to love people. 

It is easy for us to love people when they are like us. It is easy for us to love people when they agree with us. It is easy to love people when they look like us, talk like us, and understand us. 

But can we love when it isn’t easy to love? How deep is your love? When does your capacity to love like Christ loves reach its threshold? Is it when someone doesn’t agree with you? It is when someone backstabs you? Is it when someone treats you unfairly? Is it when someone acts differently to you? Is it when things aren’t going well for you? Is that when you reach your limit to love?

Can I challenge us, myself included, today, to push the boundaries of our love capacity? Get uncomfortable. Love, honour and bless people not just when it’s easy, but when it challenges you to the core. Go out of your way, against your feelings and natural instinct, and love people when they do what aggravates you. 

What is love? 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and alwaysperseveres. Love never fails’. 

Can you be patient when people test your patience? – Because that is what it means to love! 

Can you be kind to people who are not kind to you? – Because that is what it means to love! 

Can you celebrate others, rather than get jealous? – Because that is what it means to love!

Can you take a posture of humility around others?   –Because that is what it is to love!

Can you honour others who may have dishonoured you? – Because that is what love is!

Can you seek out the needs of others – when they’re not thinking about you? Because that is what it means to love!

Can you forgive those who have wronged you? – Because that is what it means to love!

Modeling how it is done, let’s look at Jesus. At the moment of his arrest, on the cusp of his cruixification, carrying the weight of all the sin of humanity, in that moment, he loved. Malchus was the servant of the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas who participated in the arrest of Jesus.One of the disciples, Simon Peter, being armed with a sword, cut off the servant’s ear in an attempt to prevent the arrest of Jesus. Jesus’ response was to stop for the one. Stop, even in a personally and spiritually heavy time for him, and love on a servant. Jesus healed Malchus’ ear in that moment. In a moment where he could have easily had his mind on other things. Right to the end, his mission was clear – to love. Can we say the same for ourselves? Can WE love people who come even against us? 

This seems radical. But, HELLO, that is the kingdom of God!

We aren’t going to look any different from the world, if we also just love others to the extent that they love us, or as long as they don’t offend us, or keep us happy. If this is the depth of our love, then we are no different from a world that does not know the love of God. Anyone can love people when they are loveable. It is perhaps the irrational, illogical love of God towards others that will truly set us apart. 

Let’s get some depth in our love. Let’s get some maturity in our love! Let’s not love based on feelings. Let’s love based on Jesus’ model.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th July 2020

I had the privilege of going to a Christian school where reading books like Rick Warren’s ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ was a compulsory part of the school curriculum. 

I read this book when I was 16 and it without a doubt laid some of the key fundamental ideas of my Christian faith. 

One of the chapters is called ‘Experiencing Life Together’. The chapter expresses how life is meant to be shared. 

Warren gives four keys to building healthy relationships with others: 

1. Be authentic. Surface level chitchat has its place, but we need to have relationships where genuine, heart-to-heart, gut-level sharing takes place. This happens when people put down their facades and get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives. You need to have relationships, and create space for relationships where people can share their hurts, feelings, failures, and acknowledge their weaknesses. 

Let’s create an atmosphere of honesty and humility in our lives rather than one of pretending, role-playing, politicking, and superficial conversation. Keeping your guard up is the death of real relationships. 

2. Build mutuality. This is the art of giving and receiving. It is depending on one another. You are not responsible for everyone in the body of Christ, but you are responsible to them. The Bible commands mutual accountability, mutual encouragement, mutual serving and mutual honouring. 

3. Offer sympathy. Sympathy is not just giving advice, or a quick fix. Sympathy is really stopping and engaging with how someone feels. It is sharing in the pain of others. To be sympathetic is actually a command in the Bible. Sympathy meets two fundamental relational needs – the need to be understood and the need to have your feelings validated. Every time someone understands and validates you, you build a bond with them. Every time you create a space to understand and validate someone else, you bond with them. Often we are too much in a hurry to fix things, that we don’t take the time to UNDERSTAND people. 

4. Give mercy and grace – Real, Godly relationships need to be spaces where grace and mercy are outworked. Forgiveness needs to be part of the culture. Mistakes are inevitable. We are all imperfect people. Therefore forgiveness is paramount. Bitterness and resentment will destroy friendship. We will inevitably hurt each other – sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally, either way, grace and mercy will be needed. 

‘Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ’. Galations 6:2

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th July 2020

Did you know that God cares about every little detail of your life?

I don’t just mean the big stuff, and I don’t just mean the ‘God’ stuff, I mean the every tiny detail stuff. God doesn’t compartmentalise your life into important and non-important things either— He’s passionate about every minute detail of your life. Whether you are asleep or awake.

It goes something like this; If it matters to you, it matters to Him. If it concerns you, it concerns Him. We are all prone to think that God is only concerned about all the major things, or at the other extreme, He’s not concerned about anything. But take this verse in the Bible for instance…

Matthew 10:29-31 ‘What’s the price of a sparrow? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail-even numbering the hairs on your head!’ 
Every insignificant detail He has time for. He even takes interest in your hair —now that’s what you call detail.

Some time ago, our youngest son, Caleb, lost his expensive sunglasses at an event that we had held in our garden. We searched the garden, the house and every other imaginable place several times.

Every few days we would have another look and ask ourselves how could they suddenly disappear?
The following Sunday we had just arrived home from church when my wife went to the bedroom to get changed. For some reason she started to pray about where the sunglasses might be. At the very same time, Caleb went to his room and felt compelled to pray about the very same thing. Whilst this is happening, I’m in the kitchen and at exactly the same time I hear God speak to me and say ‘go and look in the downstairs closet and you’ll find the lost sunglasses.’

Now remember, this is NOT a coordinated search party. None of us know what each is doing right now. As I kneel down in the closet to look in my tool box (the one that Gillian continually tells me shouldn’t be in there), I glance round to find Caleb standing in the doorway, asking what I’m doing on my knees whilst looking through my tool box. 
‘I’m looking for your sunglasses…God has told me to come in here and I’ll find them’.  
No sooner had I said it, when he coolly reached down to where I was and picked up the glasses as if from nowhere!

Now I know they’re only sunglasses, and I know that there are so many huge problems going on in the world right now, but once again God just wanted to give all of us today a glimpse of how much He cares about the small stuff. 

One of the greatest things that you should know about God today is that He cares…but even more amazing than that is He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th July 2020

One of the greatest mistakes that we are all prone to make is to talk too much and listen too little! Getting the balance right between these two things is of utmost importance for your personal growth.

If there’s one person that we all love to hate, it’s the person that doesn’t know when to shut up. Second in line only to this person, is the one that believes that every opportunity for a conversation is to make themselves look or sound good. How strange is it that those that need to listen the most, talk the most? However, when you think about it, it’s not that strange at all – they have become deaf to anyone else’s voice apart from their own, and have therefore rendered themselves absent of all sense and wisdom. As a result, you will observe that the people who have the most serious character flaws don’t change — they rarely listen to what needs to be said.

How many people make the mistake of meeting with someone for advice. They then feel that it’s their big moment to off load everything that’s going on in their world, when really it’s their big opportunity to listen to the wise words of advice being given. 

Over the years, I’ve tried to teach that one of the simplest and yet most life-enhancing questions that you and I could ever ask someone that you look up to, or even aspire to be like, is this one: ‘Is there anything that you need to say to me?’

When that question comes from you and you are willing to not only hear what is said, but also take on board what is said, then you will be on the fast track to change and growth like no other.

Now, only ask the question if you’re willing to take on board the answer, and only ask the question if you are serious about change and personal growth!

Make a conscious decision to seek out wise counsel from those who are ahead of you, and determine to spend 75% of the time listening and just 25% talking.

Don’t waste your life talking about yourself, instead enlarge your life by listening. 
Proverbs 20:19   ‘…avoid anyone who talks too much’. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th July 2020

God calls us to be brave. Brave and courageous. 

I’ve been reminded this week of how brave Esther had to be in the Old Testament. Brave to go and see the king on behalf of the entire Jewish nation. Brave enough to not let the fact that she might get her head chopped off in the process deter her! Her bravery brought about the deliverance of the Jews and a great victory!

To firstly get brave, she needed to pray, fast and put on her royal robes. You see there’s preparation to getting brave. Some of us may naturally ‘feel brave’ in certain situations and others may not. But when we spend time in the presence of an Almighty God and when we seek His face, then He gives us supernatural courage for any situation.

Maybe you’re feeling nervous right now about a new season, maybe you don’t know what the future will hold… be brave, God has the perfect plan.  Maybe you have to ‘deal’ with something, like Esther did, or confront a situation you know isn’t right. 

Today the word to you is simple. Be brave. 
Daniel was brave when he went into the den of lions, he did so because he wouldn’t bow down to foreign gods. The same for the three guys who got thrown into the fire because they stood for their God. 

David was brave in 1 Samuel 30, when he had to go and get back everything that the enemy had stolen. He did, and he got victory!
Don’t let the enemy tell you that you can’t do it, because you can!

You won’t see a victory, if you’re not brave. Pray and praise through it…and the victory will be yours.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th July 2020

Life is wonderful, enjoy it!

That’s a slogan we have in our lounge – ‘Wonderful‘ is written in large swirly gold lettering and the whole piece is in a simple black picture frame. It’s a great phrase and I love it. Except on the days when ‘Life is hard’.
That’s a great phrase too. Perhaps not so catchy, but one we can all relate to. We’ve all faced tough times, difficult seasons, and for some reading this, you could be walking through a difficult season right now.

It’s in tough times that I am thankful for the words of Jesus. Whether life is ‘wonderful ‘ or ‘ hard ‘or somewhere in-between’, Jesus’ words bring encouragement, comfort, hope and principles to live by, in every season.

Matt 11 v28-30 (The Message) gives us an example:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?Come to me. Get away with me and you will recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

What a promise when you’re feeling run down, exhausted, fed up, lacking motivation or just wondering how do I just keep going? 
In this passage, Jesus’ invitation is to stay close to Him; find him if you don’t yet know him and walk with him, and remain with him.

There are so many things that we can pay attention to, be distracted by and give our time to, with little gain or reward. Time spent with Jesus – a life that walks closely and is spent on getting to know Jesus – is a great investment. Few things in life truly promise to help us recover our peace, sanity of mind or sense of freedom, but Jesus promises all this! 

Take time to go over this passage today and respond to the invitation yourself – recover your freedom, stay light and be reminded that life in Jesus IS wonderful.

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd July 2020

The Christian life is a building site. The outworking of your faith is an ongoing journey. Whilst your salvation is perfected through Christ, the full expression of the work of Christ in you is a process. You are under construction! Your life is under constant construction!

When you are building, work is involved. If we are going to ‘build our faith’, there is going to need to be intentionality and work involved on a very practical, day to day level. 

The Bible talks many times about ‘building your faith’. 

Jude 1:20, ‘building yourselves up in your most holy faith’. Did you read that? Building YOURSELVES up. There is a personal responsibility on us to train ourselves, encourage ourselves, and build ourselves! 

Not only that, but there is also a call to build one another up! 

1 Thessalonians 5:11, ‘Therefore encourage one another and build one another up’. 

Ephesians 4:29, ‘Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up’. 

Hebrews 10:24, ‘let us consider how to stir up (build up) one another’. 

Building yourself up in your faith means: 

– Making intentional time to hear from God.

 – Making intentional time to read the word of God. 

– Making intentional time to find people who will build you up. 

When I train at the gym, it is to build myself up physically. 

Here are some facts: 

– I don’t always feel like going. 

– It is not always easy. 

– Sometimes I am simply doing it because I know it is good for me. 

Building yourself up in your faith, undergoing spiritual training, carving out time for God is not always easy. It is not always what you feel like doing. Sometimes you have to do it simply because you know it is good for you. 

It will cost you to build your faith, but it is well worth the sacrifice. 

Whenever I finish a workout, I never regret starting it. Likewise when it comes to building your faith, no matter how you feel when you start, you will never regret building it!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd July 2020

Often the first thing we let go of on our to-do list is intentional time with God. Popular culture rewards whatever is ‘outwards’ – that which is seen. But the kingdom of Heaven, the culture of Heaven, is upside down. It rewards what happens in private. It rewards the unseen – not the hustle, the grind and the productivity.  

We often neglect time with God because we know our gracious God will forgive us if we just go another day without time with Him. But what if time with God isn’t so much about what it does for God, but rather what it does for us?  

Did you know bamboo trees spend years growing their root system underground? From the outside you could look at a bamboo tree and think, ‘where is the fruit? Where is the growth? Why is it not being productive?’. Then all of a sudden, the tree in a matter of days will rocket up 80 feet! If you compared that bamboo tree to the way an oak tree grows, you would consider the bamboo tree a failure. Popular culture likewise looks for showy productivity in order to be considered a success, but sometimes you have to grow some things so deep, in the private, and unseen places of your life first.  

Perhaps we need to shift our efforts and focus less on outward production, and slow down, and invest on the unseen root systems of our lives.  

Intimacy with God, times where you allow God to ‘see into me’, does not just happen. Powerful men and women of God don’t just happen. They are built on the back of intentionality. Any relational bond does not just happen. It is built on the back of intentional time and effort – dates and schedules in the diary, conversations and time invested.   

Don’t get intimidated by the idea that you need to start spending 30 minutes to an hour every morning at 6am with God in order to grow. That kind of pressure is sometimes unrealistic and unsustainable. See intimacy with God as a training ground. Train yourself in the Lord. Spend less effort trying, and more effort training. An athlete doesn’t just run a marathon. They train and train and build up to it. Train yourself in intimacy with God. Start with just 10, undistracted minutes a day, and begin to see how your life changes. Then build from there. Schedule in that time like you would book in an appointment with a friend. If something else comes along, ‘sorry, I’m not free then’, should be your response. Prioritise time with God at all costs.  

Many of us are burnt out, stressed, overwhelmed in the soul, and venting to others that which we should be giving to God. Not making time for God is costing your emotional and spiritual health. Time without God will hurt you and time with God will heal you. 

Let’s not just be good at ‘asking God for stuff’, let’s train to become good at BEING with God and hearing from Him! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st July 2020

Imagine for a moment that I’m holding a £10 note. As it stands, that note is worth what it reads on the front and back… ten pounds.

Let’s say I left that note in my jacket pocket, hung up in my wardrobe and a few weeks went by and I presumed I’d lost it. How much is that note now worth? Still ten pounds.

What if I took that same £10 note and dropped it on the floor? It would still be worth ten pounds. How about if while it was on the floor, someone rode by on their bike and went over it? That note would still be worth ten pounds. What if… you get the idea.

What I’m wanting to communicate is that despite all that the £10 note went through, it didn’t lose any of its value – it was still as valuable as the day it was made.

Today, like that ten pounds, you may have felt lost, you may have felt abandoned, even trodden on by life, but I want you to know that in spite of all of that, you have not lost your value.

How can I say that? Because your value is not determined by what life throws at you or by what people say about you, your value is found in the God who created you.

And His opinion about you has not changed. When God sent His one and only Son, Jesus to die on the cross for you, as a way of demonstrating how valuable you are to Him, He knew everything that you’d go through. He knew the mistakes that you’d make and the hurt that you’d feel, and still, He poured out His love for you.

I want you to know today that your value is not founded upon changing circumstances or opinions, but it is built upon an unchanging God.
So if you were valuable when you were made, you can rest assured that you’re still as valuable today.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th July 2020

“I know not why God’s wondrous grace to me has been made known, nor why, unworthy as I am, He made me for his own. 

But I know whom I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able, to keep that which I’ve committed, unto Him against that day.”

Old fashioned words from a very old hymn (1880’s) but true as ever today. I don’t know why God’s grace, keeps on loving and coming after me, I don’t know why, even though I’m so unworthy, He chose me to serve Him. But I do know this, that I continue to trust in Him and I am persuaded that He is able to look after and care for me, to never leave or forsake me and to present me before the Father on that day I meet Him. 

There are some things we can’t work out, there are some things we will never know. BUT there are some things we can be certain of – because if God’s Word says it, then it’s good enough for me. 
Have you ever wondered why God chose you? You may not be man’s obvious choice, but you are certainly God’s. Have you ever wondered that even though you may doubt and mess up, He still ‘bothers’ with you? That’s amazing grace. The grace that chases you down when you didn’t deserve it. The grace that abounds every day. It’s undeserved favour and for that I am eternally grateful. 

Don’t worry about anything. His Word says that He is able to KEEP you. Knowing that God ‘keeps’ me is precious. Keep = to continue in a specified position or course. By His grace, I am a child of God. He will keep me that way until the day I meet Him face to face. 

Thank Him today, that even though you may not fully understand the wonder of it all, He loves you and He keeps you. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th July 2020

Florence Chadwick was a champion swimmer. In 1952 she attempted to swim a span of the peaceful Pacific Ocean between California’s Catalina Island and the state coastline. As she began the twenty-six mile journey , she was accompanied by small boats of supporters who watched for sharks and were prepared to help Florence if she got hurt or grew tired. Thick fog rolled in after about fifteen hours of swimming.

Florence recalled that after already having spent so many hours navigating the waters with her body, she began to doubt her ability. She didn’t think that she could make it, but she kept going. She swam for another hour before asking to be pulled out, physically and emotionally exhausted. She was tired, and in her mind the Californian coastline felt like it was a million miles away.

After she got into the boat, she learned she had stopped less than a mile short of her destination.

She couldn’t see the shoreline and the journey began to feel impossible.

“All I could see was the fog,” she told the news paper reporters the next day. “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

Today, you may be closer to your destination than you realise.

I often tell the story of part of my own journey of faith in order to help people. For 17 years of my life I believed that one day we would be able to build a church that would be fit for the 21st century. Every year I believed it would happen and every year it didn’t! There was never an end in sight, and at times I grew weary and wanted to give up. I knew that God had promised it and He would one day bring it to pass. That’s exactly what He did…but not until we had ‘swum’ for 17 years in order to reach the shore. Each time that I decided to quit, I would regain my strength and composure and start to believe it could happen again. It did!

Your next attempt could well be like Florence’s, who two months later actually made it, because she kept an eye on her destination albeit through another foggy day. When you’re in a struggle, keep your goal in sight. It may be physical, financial, relational or spiritual, and it may feel like that you’re never going to reach the shore of a new day.

You may well ask “if this is my God given destiny, then why am I battling to stay afloat with no sign of the destination?”

Remember: don’t take a life-storm as the absence of God; No one can see clearly in the fog, that’s why we must walk by faith and not simply by what we can see. The storm can make you stronger and give you confidence to handle future challenges.

When you get through battling, you’ll have more wisdom, more tenacity, more strength and more vision to take you forward.

Today, don’t get so distracted by your circumstances that you lose awareness of God’s presence, instead, let this challenge drive you to your knees, where you know you can find help in your time of need.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.

Pastor Mark 

A daily devotion for a better way of living. 

Fresh Hope – 17th July 2020

Every evening before I go to sleep, I pray. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I pray throughout the day too, but my evening prayer time is a time of reflection and looking forward. It’s the time I talk to God about my day and I bring to Him my list of daily prayer requests – the big ticket items. 

However, before I get started on my prayer requests, I work periodically through the day and say thank you. Some days these ‘thank you’s come flowing, other days, I have to scramble for the little things. However, no matter how bad a day has been, there are ALWAYS multiple things to be thankful for. 

Sometimes it takes the bad days to make you realise the little things we have to be thankful for every day – a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, a friend to go to, a church I call home.

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the goodness in that day alone, so I just need to express my gratitude. Other days, it can feel like I’m starting my conversation with God like this to not be cheeky – I don’t want to ask for big things without first saying thank you for what He’s already done. I don’t want Him to think I’m just asking for more. (Clearly on these days I forget He is God and knows my intention, no matter what words come out of my mouth.)

On occasion, ordering my prayer like this can quickly shift my sole focus from prayers that have been answered and blessings I have received, to the things not yet done. It’s like saying thank you, with a big ‘but’; “thanks for doing this, but you haven’t done the other thing I’ve been asking for.”Appreciation quickly depreciates and want takes over. On bad days, I can even start to question whether the things on my prayer list will even happen, particularly the things that have been on that same daily prayer list for years. 

Reflecting on those bad days, it amazes me how quickly I can go from gratitude to doubt. How can I be thanking the same God who has provided for me in the day, then question whether He will provide in the future?

It takes a fight to counteract those thoughts. It takes effort to remind yourself of the promises of God. It takes conscious competition to not let the enemy infiltrate your prayers – seems ironic that that’s the time the doubt can creep in. It makes me realise that on those days, they’ve become empty prayers. Prayers without faith are just words.

On those days I pick up my bible. I read the words God is speaking to me. I have there in front of me, in black and white, undisputable communication that God is for me(Romans 8:31), that He will work everything out for my good (Romans 8:28).

God knows our struggle; but our struggle is so diminished when we truly trust Him. 

Honour Him with genuine gratitude, daily. 

Whole-heartedly trust Him with faith-filled prayers and speak the outcome with conviction. 

There is proof of His goodness in every day and He works everything out for good.

Psalm 34:8 (MSG): Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good GOD is. Blessed are you who run to him.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th July 2020

God does not operate on the timings of the man, He operates on the timings and rhythms of our heart. 

If our inner man is full of grumbling, complaining, bitterness, unforgiveness, prejudice, resentment, or idolatry than God will lovingly keep us where we are, as long as it takes, to process our issues before we move into our promises. 

Thankfully you don’t have to process the inner workings of your heart alone. You have been given the Holy Spirit to help you with that job. Ask Him to ‘lead you to truth’, and show you what needs to be dealt with. 

Don’t be like the Israelites who had a mountain to overcome, in order to reach the promise land. Instead of facing, and scaling the mountain, they went around and around and around the mountain, complaining all the while, until the penny finally dropped and they learnt their lesson. When they had learnt their lesson. They overcame the mountain and reached the promise(Deuteronomy 2:3). 

 Be careful not to compare your process with the person next to you. Remember that a tree’s health and fruitfulness is determined by its root system – the part that you don’t see. 

There is more purpose in your season today than you will probably give it credit for now. Hindsight will show you later on. Stop and listen to what God is saying to you in this season. Ask Him what lessons need to be learnt. Ask Him what needs to shift in your heart. Trust that He is working together all things for your good right now! As crazy, as it might sound, take pleasure in the process. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th July 2020

What do you do when you are in a season that you don’t want to be in? 

You may be waiting for better days. Wondering why God has you here. Dreaming of the future, and disappointed with the present. 

Adding salt to the wound, you may be looking around at others further along than you. Others, in a season where you yourself long to be. Others, who seem to have life easier than you do. They seem more blessed or favoured than you. 

Whether we feel like it or not, the truth is that God promises to never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He also never goes to sleep on us (Psalm121). He also promises that He is working things together (Romans 8:28). He Promises that His plans for us are plans for us to succeed (Jeremiah 29:11). 

So what is God doing in the present then? 

The answer is that God is probably getting you to your promises through your present circumstances! IT IS CALLED PROCESS. Something we don’t like. Something that is not instant. 

While we are waiting on things to change around us, God is often waiting for something to change IN us. 

If you are struggling with the way your life is at present, that is okay, but also know that there is probably a process going on IN you.  

More on this tomorrow! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th July 2020

The camel is an unusual animal. It was created by God to thrive (not just survive) in hot, desolate places. I always thought that the camel’s humps were full of stored water – not so! In fact, they are full of fat that gets stored when the camel eats… so, when the camel has no food for days, it can call on its reserve and eat at the fat that has been stored. How great is our God!

The camel was also made with oval blood cells, so that it can also retain water in its body. A camel can actually go up to a week without water, but when it drinks, it can consume up to 30 gallons of the stuff!

What a great lesson for us here; the camel has a reserve and so should we. We may find ourselves in dry and difficult places, but it’s then that we can call on the reserve that we have. The danger is, is that if we don’t have one, then we are in trouble.
Every time you pray, you worship, you read God’s Word, you listen to God’s teachings, you are filling up your reserve. So that when you are in a difficult place, you can call on that which you know to be true. 

Don’t wait until you’re desperate to try to call on that which you don’t have. Keep your reserve topped up at EVERY opportunity. 

The camel doesn’t say “I don’t need to drink or eat today, because I have some in reserve.” No, it takes it, so that when it does need it, it’s there. 

Let this be a lesson to us today. Fill up your reserve…at every opportunity. 
Worry will rob your reserve? Anxiousness will rob it. Fear will strip it. Life in general will take from you. So each day, take time and make time, to keep it topped up. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th July 2020

Every new week that you live, you’re in the process of becoming. What you become depends on what and who you give yourself to. Before you head into yet another week, whereby you will have the potential to either remain the same or become someone better, consider these seven steps:
1- make a commitment to grow daily — it won’t be long before you see real change. Growth comes by what you read, who you listen to and how much value you place on the Bible and prayer. 

2-value the process, more than the event. Certain events may be helpful in making you have a growth spurt, but inevitably it will be the process that matures you into what God wants you to become. 

3-don’t wait for inspiration…it’s not always available! Sometimes you can run on excitement, but most times it will be commitment that will carry you through. 

4- if you’re willing to delay short term pleasure in order to have long term gain, then the results will taste much sweeter in the end. 

5- don’t limit God. By only focusing on your limitations you will magnify them and down size God’s unlimited power. The God that lives in you is able to do ‘…exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think’. (Ephesians 3 v 20).

6- learn to master your time. Since you can’t recover lost time, make every day count from now on. What difference does a few minutes make? Think about it —if you save even 5 minutes every day by streamlining your morning routine, 10 minutes by eliminating things that take your focus from starting the day, 10 minutes by avoiding other distractions and even people that just want to waste your time, and 5 minutes by taking a shorter lunch break — you’ll gain an additional 125 hours a year! That’s three 40hr working weeks that you can use for better things! You can double that by watching TV or scrolling social media for 30 minutes less each day. 

7 – life is filled with decisive moments when you have to trade one thing for another. Always trade up and not down. If it’s the case of choosing the lesser of two evils…chose neither. 
Want to achieve your God given destiny? Follow these steps.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th July 2020

Author, Alex Haley, has a picture in his office of a turtle sitting on top of a 2m fence post! The caption reads, “you can be sure he didn’t get up there by himself!”

Samuel may have been the greatest Bible prophet of his age, but you can be sure that he didn’t get up there by himself. It was the prayers and the influence of his mother, Hannah, that moulded him into a man of destiny. The same goes for young Timothy in the New Testament: 2 Timothy 1:5 ‘I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also’. The same goes for me and I’m pretty sure it goes for you too?

Do you remember who gave you your first encouragement and break?

Somebody saw something in you. That’s why you’re in the position you are in, enjoying the blessings you have right now.

Who was it? A loving parent? A perceptive teacher? A demanding coach? An appreciative employer? A praying pastor? Or just a friend who dug down deep into his pockets to come up with the help you needed? Whoever it was had the kindness and foresight to want to be part of your future.

Today, why not take a few minutes and write a note, or send a text of gratitude to someone who helped you? It will mean the world to them. Then take another few minutes to think about a person that you could give the kind of ‘lift up’ that others gave you.

Who knows, someday you might get back an appreciative note—one of the most gratifying things you’ll ever receive. But even if that note never comes, you will live on through the seed you sowed into somebody else’s life. Priceless.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th July 2020

Do you desire something so much you feel like you can’t be truly happy until it’s satisfied? Do you have a dream or a passion that you feel is the reason you are on this planet? Do you have a heart for something, a passion that consumes your thoughts and you can’t be content until you’re fulfilling that dream?

Do others seem to have it, and there’s no way they could appreciate it as much as you would? No matter how much you pray or work for it, it gets no closer. The more you try and grasp it, the further it seems away from you. 

You feel sick when you think about it, disappointment mixed with frustration. The last piece of the jigsaw of your life and it’s missing. Friends can help cheer you up and take your mind off it, but once they leave the despair is quick to greet you, waiting like an obediently trained dog. 
Then you read this proverb and it makes your blood boil: Proverbs 13:12 | NIV Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

You feel like an expert on the first part of this verse, you have a diploma on the subject of carrying unrequited love, being in a one sided romance. But the second half ‘a longing fulfilled’ is a foreign concept, a pipe dream. You can’t go on anymore, how long can you live like this?

You ask God, ‘why? I’ve prayed, fasted and sought you, I have this desire and I don’t know why I can’t have it?’  
God answers you ‘because I have something better! Much much better!’
‘What could possibly be better?!’

He answers loud and clear in the person of Jesus Christ ‘Me! I am your reward, and no one who puts their hope in me will ever be disappointed’ 
Lamentations 3:20-25 I remember my affliction and my wandering,the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them,and my soul is downcast within me.Yet this I call to mindand therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,to the one who seeks him;

The irony is, when you finally have what you’ve always wanted, it never truly satisfies. But…if we turn our hope to God, he can truly satisfy our hearts like no other, he fulfils every desire and can meet every need. 

I encourage you, if you’re feeling hope sick, if you’ve been left disappointed and in doubt, turn to him today, seek him with all your heart and all your strength, as Psalm 37:4 says ‘Delight in the Lord and he will fullfill the desires of your heart.’

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th July 2020

Recently, at work, I’ve been working quite closely with a team of software developers. Our jobs are all so different but we’re working towards a common goal: to get a particular website up and running.

I’ll always find it fascinating to see how they make things work ‘at the back end’ or behind the scenes, to change what the users see at ‘the front end’, which is the part of the website that is on display for all the world to see.

Part of my job is to go on the ‘user journey’ and pre-empt the possible scenarios someone would come up against, whilst they’re using this website and try to solve them in advance.

It got me thinking about God’s word. It forms a part of the behind the scenes of our lives and how we apply it changes what plays out in our worlds.

The more our relationship with God develops, the more roadblocks we can come up against and more scenarios we find ourselves in. God knew what our ‘journey’ would entail and created solutions in scripture all throughout the Bible for us to draw on and overcome.

However you feel today, you’ll find encouragement in His word, if you’re just willing to look.

‘Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path’ | Psalm 119 v 105.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th July 2020

Love assumes the best about others. None of us would argue that as Christians our primary mission is to love. I’m not talking about love as a feeling, I’m talking about love as an action. 

It can be difficult to believe the best about others when we have experienced an ugly side of people in the past. Maybe someone has broken your trust. Maybe you have even had recurring negative experiences with certain types of people. 

Even in our failures, when God looks at us, He believes the best about us. He is not blinded to our flaws. He is more aware of them than anyone else. He CHOOSES to focus on the gold on us. He chooses to see what we are, not what we are not. He chooses to believe the best about us over and over and over again. 

If you struggle with trusting every person you meet, if you have something critical to say about every person in your life, if you struggle to celebrate the success of others, if you are quickly threatened, if your immediate response is to see what people lack instead of what they have, then it is time to switch the lenses in which you view people. 

The entire religious law was summed up in two commands: 

1. Love God. 

2. Love people 

It is very difficult to do the latter if you don’t believe the best about them. 

Until that person violates your trust, until that person actually says what you assume they are thinking, until people actually do something for you to question their integrity, give them the benefit of the doubt.  Remove your heart of judgement and replace it with a heart of love. Ask God to give you the ability to see people the way He sees them – the ability to see the gold in them. 

Galatians 5:14, ‘For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.’

As you would want people to believe the best in you, let us believe the best in others. Let’s be quick to love, and slow to judge. Don’t believe the lie that being cautious and closed off is ‘wisdom and discernment’. This attitude will make for a lonely life with few close relationships as you struggle to be vulnerable, warm and open.  I’m not saying you bare all to anyone and everyone. I am encouraging you to see where believing the best about others will take you! You may actually find that believing the best in others in fact brings the best out of them! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th July 2020

I recently saw a billboard advertisement for an insurance company with the slogan, ‘FREE, NOT FREEISH’. 

Many of us have come to learn that nothing in life is really free. ‘What’s the catch?’ is our initial response if something is given away. Is anything really no-strings-attached free? 

When Jesus said, ‘Whom the son sets free is free indeed’ (John 8:36), he was not saying, ‘whomthe son sets free is freeish’… he was declaring that who Jesus has set free is COMPLETELY and utterly free!

Can I remind us today that if Jesus has set you free, then you are free indeed? There are no strings attached. This tells us that true freedom is found only through Jesus. 

Humanity is hungry for freedom. It is within human nature to want freedom. But anything outside of Jesus will only make you ‘freeish’, not truly free. 

It is in relationship with Jesus Christ, through abiding in His Word, and being His disciple that we find the freedom we have been looking for. 

Don’t think that because you have been a Christian for many years that you don’t need to be reminded of your freedom in Christ. Even seasoned Christians can too easily fall into the trap of believing that they need to earn their freedom or behave their way into freedom. You don’t set yourself free. The son sets you free. He is the only one that can do that. You can only make yourself ‘freeish’, the son makes you free indeed. 

If there is any area of your life that is not feeling free. If you are only feeling ‘freeish’ then can I encourage you to go to the one who sets you free indeed? Jesus.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th July 2020

“I am your constant companion, your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.

I will push you onwards or drag you down to failure, I am completely at your command. Half of the things you do, you may as well turn over to me and I will do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed. You must be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great people, but alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with the precision of a machine, plus the intelligence of a person. You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin – it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you. Who am I?”

You may have guessed it… it’s a habit.

There are good and there are bad. But actually it’s habits that will determine your future.

Cleaning your teeth and taking a shower are good daily ones, but so is reading God’s word, praying, worshipping and praising, being generous, encouraging someone, helping someone, declaring positive things over your life, exercising regularly, eating healthily and having a positive outlook on life, seeing the best in everyone and working hard. The list, my friend, is endless.

Ask yourself on this Monday: what are yours? Are they leading you to success or failure? Blessing and prosperity or lack? Health and strength or weakness? How are your habits affecting your family?
Show me your habits and I’m sure I can determine your future.

Pastor Mark’s current Sunday series “What Happens When You… ? “is encouraging and inspiring us. Don’t let your day just go along ‘as the wind blows you’. Be intentional in everything you do. Make some great habits. Keep doing the right thing for long enough and it will become a natural habit and part of your life – your life to success and significance.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th July 2020

Centuries ago, wine was stored in leather wine skins rather than bottles. When the wine skins were new, they were soft and pliable, but as they aged they became hardened and couldn’t expand. If new wine was poured in an old wine skin, the container would burst and the wine would be lost. 
When Jesus wanted to encourage His followers to enlarge the capacity of their lives, He reminded them, ” You can’t put new wine into old wine skins”( Matthew 9 v 17). He was saying that you cannot have a larger life if you have an old restricted mind. Don’t be fooled into thinking that having an old wine skin only relates to those that are older in age; You can be young in age, and yet still have thinking that has already got old and hardened.

Ask yourself this question: Have I already developed a mind set that says thatI’ll never do anything successful or enjoy the good things in life that I used to dream of?

Today, I encourage you to stretch your faith, your vision and your mind in order to get rid of that old restrictive stinking thinking — it’s holding you back from all that God has got for your life. 
Start to make room in your life for the much bigger things that God has in store for you. You must conceive them in your mind and heart before you can receive them in reality, otherwise they will simply pass right through you. 

This pandemic has maybe already caused you to shrink back with your life, but now you need to allow it to push your forward into all the new possibilities that God has for you. 
Ask yourself a simple question: If God poured a new dream into your life today would it just quickly disappear through the cracks of your old attitude?

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

Pray right now, and ask the Holy Spirit to drench you with His presence in order to soften your heart and make you pliable once again. 
Expect Gods favour to help you break out the rut that you’re in and expect to excel in whatever you do.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd July 2020

Last year I was invited on a 10k run that included obstacles through a muddy course – they call it a ‘Tough Mudder’.

I said ‘yes’ so as not to lose face and it was so far in the future I thought it would never arrive, unfortunately it did. I soon found myself amongst thousands on the starting line of the event.

The first kilometre wasn’t too bad, and I carefully ran around the mud and kept myself quite clean. Soon though we were passing muddier terrain and I wasn’t enjoying the anxiety of trying to keep myself free of mud and I found myself regretting being there.

A few kilometres in and I could maintain my dignity no longer. There was a swamp to get through and in front of us were hundreds of contestants queued up to their waists, stuck in the mud. At this point we realised the quickest and least energy-sapping way through was to lie flat on our backs on top of the mud like we were doing a snow angel (a mud angel) and then flipping over onto our fronts, then flipping again onto our backs, and so flipping over the surface of the swamp. 

Considering I wasn’t enjoying anxiously trying to stay clean at the beginning I was now strangely absolutely loving rolling like a pig in muck. Once I let go of my sensibilities and embraced the course and came to terms with the fact that I was in a state beyond repair, I absolutely loved the rest of the day and when we finished we all actually wanted to go through the whole course again.

Often, our approach and attitude to following Jesus can often be like me at first in the run, stifled as we try to maintain some composure and dignity, not totally committed as we try and get a sensible balance with church/family/work.

I want to encourage you (and myself), to let go! Let’s not waste time trying to keep our dignities. Jesus Christ has called us to lay down our lives and follow Him! 

If you’re feeling – in this strange quiet season -discontent, maybe apathetic and bored with life, challenge your approach and attitude. Life isn’t about maintaining a dignified appearance – it’s too late for that, let’s let go, get stuck in, give 100% to our passions and enjoy this amazing journey called life!

Stop worrying about what you can’t change and focus on what you can, stop trying to fit in; stand out, don’t allow fear to make you hold back but jump in with both feet and fall back in love with the reason for it all, Jesus Christ! 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd July 2020

Galatians 4:7, ‘…you are no longer a slave, but a son’. 

Slavery is essentially the act of being made to work by compulsion. 

Almost every ancient and economic civilization, throughout history, has sadly used slavery as a means to gain economic prosperity. 

Slavery meant that people could pay for their debts. You didn’t file for bankruptcy. You just worked as a slave in exchange for freedom from what you owed. 

But something happened – Jesus came.  

Jesus came to abolish slavery, both spiritually and economically. 

Historically speaking, as the power of the Roman empire (slave driven) began to decline, Christianity began to grow. 

Long story short, a slow transformation in society began to take place. Society began to change its heart around slavery and people who were once slaves, began to own their own property, and learn their own crafts to have their own means of making money. 

The economy began to change from one of slavery to citizenship. 

The church actually shifted things from a pagan/slavery model into a new economic model. 

Creativity was born. Ownership and freedom was born. 

Sadly, it did not stay like this. Division birthed a new system of slavery, yet again. 

The heart of God is for His people to be free. 

Jesus paid the ultimate price so slavery, could be exchanged for sonship. 

Freedom from being a spiritual slave means: 
– We don’t work to pay off our debts/sins/wrong doings. 

– We don’t work FOR our freedom. We work FROM our freedom.

 – We have the ability to take ownership of things. We have the privilege of being stewards. 

– We have the privilege of being creative and developing our gifts. 

Unconsciously believing you still are a slave to God means we:

 – Exhaust ourselves trying to earn our way to freedom. 

– We don’t have ownership of anything. We believe we haven’t been given any authority to steward anything. 

– We aren’t free to explore, get creative, operate in our gifts, and be our true selves. 

– We don’t use the authority we have.

 – We don’t access the resources we have. 

No only did Jesus free us from spiritual slavery. It gets better. We have been made SONS. 

Romans 8:15, ‘The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.’ 

As sons, we have been made ‘heirs’ (Romans 8:17). That means that not only are we freed from our debts, but we are receivers of reward and special authority. 

A true revelation of this has radical implications in every area of our lives. 

You are no longer a slave, you are a son. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st July 2020

‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’, Matthew 6:19-21. 

Jesus talked about money a lot. It was one of the topics he talked most about. Why? Because he knew the power it could hold over one’s life. 

When Jesus councils us to not store up treasures for ourselves, does he mean we shouldn’t save and should just give all our money away? No. Jesus’ message was more about what you’re spending your life working towards. Is your pursuit of money ultimately for earthly, temporary goods that can be easily stolen and taken? Or is your pursuit of money second to the pursuit of Jesus? Is your money under the Lord, or is money the Lord? 

Jesus’ point in the scripture you just read, is that right now, here on earth, we have an opportunity to build for our future. I’m not talking 20, 30, 50 years down the line. I’m talking about your ETERNAL future. 

Rewards in heaven are a real thing. There is a rewards system in heaven. You will be given treasures according to how you lived on earth. You will live with your heavenly reward for not just 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years, but for ETERNITY. What could be a better investment than investing into your eternal situation?! No wonder the Bible tells us it is better to give than receive (Acts 20:35)!

We have a very short, brief window on Earth to invest, invest and invest and to give, give, give, in order to live eternally in the reward of our sacrifice! 

Matthew 6:24 says, ‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money’.

Again, Jesus is not condemning money, He is condemning it as an idol in our life. He is condemning the love of money. He is condemning money having a hold on you, instead of you having a hold on money. 

Make sure you are making a good investment decision.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th June 2020

Recently I saw an America’s Got Talent audition of a man called Archie Williams who had been wrongly imprisoned for 37 years. Despite his innocence, he was sentenced to 80 years imprisonment for multiple crimes he didn’t commit. After 37 years, DNA proved he was innocent and he was freed.

During his audition he said that in prison he prayed and he sang, and that’s how he got peace. He said: “Freedom is of the mind. I went to prison but I never let my mind go to prison.”

His story reminded me of Joseph, who was also wrongly imprisoned. A couple of things struck me most about Joseph and Archie’s stories of glory through suffering.

 1. They didn’t let their minds go to prison

When wrongly accused of anything, big or small, it can be easy for us to get defensive. Aggression can build and bitterness can start to grow. Bitterness can easily start unnoticed by others but the unaddressed hurt quickly becomes a catalyst for our own bad decisions. If Archie had grown bitter, his life could have looked very different and he might not be walking free today. If Joseph had grown bitter and sought revenge against his brothers, he might never have had the opportunity to save his family and fulfil his Godly purpose. 

2. They stayed with God

Archie needed peace in a situation that was unfair and that he didn’t understand. He knew that praying was what was needed for his peace. 

Philippians 4:6 ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

Joseph became a successful man in prison because it was obvious God was with him. His actions and demeanour remained that of a man walking with God and he was promoted and trusted. Despite the situation, he didn’t let negative feelings transform his character and derail him from his purpose. Romans 12:2 ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.’

Archie’s audition won over the judges and the nation. His humility was so apparent. What impacted me was, when asked how he felt about being out of prison, he said “I’m still trying to digest the freedom I have right now.” 

Because he had been imprisoned, he remained overwhelmed by the freedom in which he now lives. In truth, we all live in that same freedom. Because we have not experienced physical incarceration, we don’t recognise it. We can, however, let ourselves become imprisoned by worries, decisions or circumstances. These things can stop us living, they can trap us without us even being consciously aware of it.

Galatians 3:13 (MSG) Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself.

Our freedom is a lot to be grateful for. Let go of anything that’s trapping you, and live the free life Jesus died for us to have.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th June 2020

If you’re reading this today and feel frustrated and uncomfortable at the confines of this current season, then I encourage you to read on and get ready to embrace change.

Did you know that a lobster can only grow by shedding its protective shell and growing a larger one to expand into?

How often do we all find that the very thing in our lives that protects us most, can end up being the very thing that stops us from growing and achieving greater things! This is a great picture for us…in order to grow, we have to go through a season of shedding our security blanket.
Lobsters only shed their shell because of discomfort. They grow too big on the inside, become uncomfortable, and so make the change. However, that same Lobster becomes very vulnerable once its shell has been shed, it’s often the reason that we don’t grow. We don’t feel it’s sensible to expose ourselves to a weakened position, but if the lobster doesn’t take the risk, its shell eventually kills it!

Be careful that you don’t confuse the current restrictive shell that you’re in believing that it was from God, whilst failing to see that it’s from a previous season. This can make you feel that it’s where we should live forever; but the life of faith is one of advancement and growth and that which was previously correct for us may now be restricting us. God always has new miraculous provision for you today. It’s a new season that you’re coming into.

In Luke 17:33 Jesus said ‘Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.’

The life of faith is a life of stepping out and taking risks. Be prepared to lay down your old life today in order to come into the real freedom of a new and much bigger one. You won’t be disappointed!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th June 2020

Did you know that you weren’t an accident? 

Did you know that you were born on purpose and for a purpose?

You may not have been planned by your earthly parents, but you were certainly planned by God. My parents were told that they wouldn’t be able to have children. I came along six years later. A miracle. God obviously wanted me born. I have a purpose to fulfil. AND so do YOU. 

God has had His hand on your life every day up until now…you may never have stopped to think about that. You may never have had any regard for God until today. He’s not fazed by that. He’s watched over you, protected you and He’s been with you, even when you didn’t realise it. 

You are not here today, reading this by accident. It’s part of God’s plan for your life. Your life may have been one of struggle and strife, but you made it! It doesn’t matter how much you messed up, or how those bad circumstances have affected you, because God has a beautiful plan for your future if you allow Him in. He’s a gentleman. He doesn’t force His way into anyone’s life. He waits to be invited. 

You can buy a new car, or a new kitchen appliance and ignore the manufacturer’s instructions. It will soon stop working, or even blow up. That’s like us, when we ignore our Maker’s instructions for our lives, we can get broken or lost or in a mess. 

Today, stop and thank God that He has been with you (even though you may not have known).

– Thank Him that He has a plan for your life (even though you may not yet know what it is).

-Ask Him to help you live your best life yet.

 -Invite Him in to be the Leader and Lord.

 -Ask for forgiveness for your past mistakes and mess ups. 

-Ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit. 

He has some great things in store for you. You were born ON PURPOSE. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th June 2020

The Aspen is a deciduous tree found in the northern hemisphere. Unusually for a deciduous tree it thrives in places that are normally reserved for coniferous forests. The Aspen tree has some features that make it able to survive where few other deciduous trees can.

Aspen’s grow in groves of many trees but within each grove all the trees are in fact connected by their root system. Each tree in a grove is actually part of the same tree, they are all shoots from the same interconnected mass of roots.

This gives the Aspen tree some unique attributes. It can survive forest fires and storms. The trees may burn or be felled but the root system simply sends up a new shoot to replace the damaged trees. Each individual tree may only live between 40 to 150 years but the whole root can survive for thousands of years. There is a grove in the USA that scientists believe is 80,000 years old, making it the oldest living thing on the planet.

The Aspen’s root system enables the tree to survive in conditions and through traumas that other trees cannot. The secret to that ability is it hidden underground interconnection.

In John 15:5 Jesus says ‘I am the vine and you are the branches’. Jesus is painting a picture of what it is like to be a child of God. He is explaining that through him we are not only connected to him, but to the root. The root is the source of all the nutrients that we need to survive. The root also gives us stability and an anchor to hold firm to in a storm. That root is God.

As we are all branches of the same vine, then not only are we connected to Jesus and the root but also through him to each other. Some of us are old branches, gnarled and rough to the touch whilst others are new fresh shoots, but nevertheless we are all connected to the same vine.

The fact that we can be so connected helps us, like the Aspen tree, survive through the storms in our lives. We can draw our strength, our hope, our joy and our salvation from our connection to Jesus and to each other. Jesus urges us to remain in him and he will remain in us. Through that invisible interconnection, our lives will ‘bear much fruit’.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th June 2020

The word, ‘worship’ comes from the word, ‘worth’. This means we worship what we value. What you deem worthy is what you will worship. 

You were born to worship. It is in your DNA. As natural as it is to eat, so it is natural for you to worship. Why are you a worshipper? Because you were created to LOVE. You worship what you love. 

The big question is: what are you worshipping? We all worship something, we can’t help it. 

When you love something, you make sacrifices. Sometimes the sacrifice is easy, sometimes it is hard. The point is that all through history, worship is connected to sacrifice. Love is connected to sacrifice. 

So if you want to know what you worship, look at what you will make sacrifices for. You could make sacrifices for good things like your job, or your family, but the question is, where does God fit amongst these things? Is He after? Is He somewhere in the middle, or is He worshipped ABOVE these things? 

Frankly, when we worship the wrong things, it is called idolatry. Yes, even good things can become idols. Your spouse can become an idol, your kids, your job, your church, your ministry, people’s opinions. 

All immortality flows from idolatry. What you worship, you end up obeying. What you worship, you end up becoming. Be careful what you make sacrifices for, and the order of your sacrifice. When your worship is disordered, your life becomes disordered. 

Ironically, when your sacrifice is in order, and is entirely fixed on ‘one thing’ (Psalm 27:4), and your ‘seeking first’ to worship God (Matthew 6:33), your life comes into order. 

Check the order of your sacrifice. Check the order of your worship. 

Romans 12:1, reminds us that in light of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, we in turn sacrifice our own lives (note, we don’t just sacrifice our Sundays, we sacrifice our LIFE), as an act of worship. ‘…By the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.’

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th June 2020

Could there be a more challenging scripture for today than that of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18?

‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’. 
1. REJOICE ALWAYS  – Not just when things are going well. Have great joy and delight ALWAYS. 

2. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING – That means praying non-stop!

3. GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES – When your circumstances aren’t your preferred circumstances, thank Him through it. 

These are incredibly uncomfortable and confronting scriptures for many of us. 

Was Paul, the author, totally out of touch with the realities of life and hardship? No. Quite the opposite. He went through more trials than many of us probably ever will (2 Corinthians 11-25). 

Many of us want to know what the will of God for our lives is. Well, here is it: rejoice always, pray non-stop, give thanks always. There is the place to start. ‘For this is the will of God for you’. 

We can rejoice always because our joy is not tied up in circumstance. It is tied up in the cross. We can pray non-stop because prayer is not and should not be exclusive to an occasion or an event. Prayer is all day, every day, constant communication and relationship with God. We can give thanks no matter the situation because through Jesus we ALWAYS have something to be thankful for. 

These actions may seem idealistic, impossible or even ridiculous, but perhaps that is exactly why they are in fact the most powerful weapons you could use right now. 

In the words of a true worshipper, David in Psalm 34:1, ‘I will bless the LORD AT ALL TIMES; His praise shall CONTINUALLY be in my mouth’. 

Rejoice, pray, give thanks, repeat!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd June 2020

Does this season of your life feel wasted? What feels like a wasted season right now could become your greatest season, if you choose to put in the work.

Imagine waking up today, looking at your physique and being disappointed that you don’t have as many muscles as you’d like. You then ask yourself, ‘why is that?’ After a few seconds of pondering you realise it’s because you haven’t worked out as much as you should have.

Now think about a farmer; you would call him crazy if he went out into his field one afternoon to find no crops. You then ask him if he remembered to sow some seed, to which he replies, ‘You know what, I forgot that part!’

The principle here is that you cannot expect to receive a harvest in one season if you failed to sow the seeds in the previous season.

Therefore the question I want to pose to us both today is: ‘what work are we putting in during this season of our lives that is going to produce results in the time to come?’ I want to say it again, what may seem like a wasted time in your life right now could become the greatest time in your life.

Maybe you want to see your friendships thrive. Use this opportunity to invest into them. Make that call, send that text, arrange that FaceTime.

Maybe there’s a skill that you’ve been wanting to develop. Read that book, watch that tutorial, listen to that podcast. Don’t just step into the future, create it.

Today, make a decision to turn this season around and work it to your advantage. Sow the seeds so that you can reap the harvest, and when you look back on the first half of 2020, you won’t see a time that was lost, you’ll see a time that was well spent.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd June 2020

The winds of adversity have been beating on the world for several weeks now and there have been many casualties in so many ways. As we enter a brand new week with all of its challenges, and of course its opportunities, I want to encourage you to stay strong as I remind you of just 4 verses from Psalm 92.

12-15 ‘The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’
Draw strength today from these simple yet profound words… ‘The righteous will flourish like a palm tree…’

  1. You can cut it, but you can’t kill it! The minerals and nutrients most trees need to survive are found on the surface, just below the bark. When you cut them, they die. But not so with the palm tree. Its life comes from within, so it flourishes even under attack.

2. It will bend, but it won’t break. Tropical winds can blow most trees away, but not the palm tree. The stronger the wind, the further it bends, sometimes all the way to the ground. Yet when the storm ceases, it straightens up again and is actually stronger in the place where it bent. What a picture! We were made to bend, but not break, because God gives us the strength to endure.

3. Its depth always exceeds its height. While the roots of the average tree go only a metre or so under the ground, the palm tree’s roots can go down hundreds of metres in search of water. Psalm 42:1-2 ‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…’ When you put your roots down deep in your relationship with God, there’s no guarantee that you won’t get blown around, but you’ll certainly never get blown away.

Joshua 1:7-9 ‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th June 2020

How many of you look at people’s shoes?

Some may wear the wrong colour for their outfit, some may wear some that are too big or too small, some people may wear really old ones that have gone out of style, some may have new ones every week…

I wonder what shoes you are wearing today?
Our purpose in life is a lot like shoes – God has the perfect fit for each of us.
Have you ever thought someone’s shoes were totally unsuitable for their age or stage of life? How many little girls loved to dress in ‘Mommy’s shoes’, yet obviously we wouldn’t allow them to wear them for school or even outside, they may fall and really hurt themselves. How many little boys have wanted to wear ‘daddy’s work boots’, yet again, only for ‘dressing up’.

What are your shoes like today? Are they suitable for you? You see, wearing the right shoes, and walking in the purposes of God for YOUR life is a perfect fit. You will go where you’re supposed to go, be who you’re supposed to be and fulfil the purpose that GOD has for you. One size does not fit all when it comes to God’s purposes for us.

We each have a different one. Yes, we are all created to love God and love people and bring others to know Him, but in doing that, we have each been designed specifically and beautifully unique. We all have the same mission, but a different part of it.

I love the story of David when he was going to fight Goliath. You can read about it in 1 Samuel 17 vs 38-40. King Saul wanted David to wear his armour; the offer came with good intentions and right motives, yet it was completely wrong for David. He had to keep his ‘shepherd boy’ shoes on and fight Goliath as he knew best, with a sling and some stones, not with some huge heavy armour.

You may like other people’s shoes. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that doesn’t mean they are right for you. Walk with the shoes on that God has given you to wear. Other’s shoes will be too big, too small, won’t fit, will hurt you, cause you to stumble, not be able to run and you will be ineffective in them, just like David knew he would be in Saul’s armour. Your shoes may not be as ‘flashy’ as someone else’s. I’m sure David was tempted by the offer of the King’s armour, but just because it looks good, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
You never see athletes swapping shoes. No, they have a specific pair reserved for them and them only, ready to run their OWN race!

If you don’t know what shoes you’re supposed to wear, ask God, He will help you – and if you’re trying to wear someone else’s, get out of them quick and into your own. For that’s where you will be most effective… and everyone will say “WOW, look at their shoes” and like David, you too will be a hero.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th June 2020

In Luke Chapter 4, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness. He ate nothing for 40 days and during this time, was tempted by the devil.

Although we may not be wandering around the desert, there are times in all of our lives where we find ourselves in the wilderness. The time we’re living in right now had certainly brought about uncertainty and nervousness.

Maybe you’re waiting on God for an answer to prayer or a promise from Him. The wilderness can feel like a lonely and uncertain place.

When Jesus was in the wilderness, He did things that we can learn from:

1) He clung to God’s word

40 days is a long time to wait. No matter how long your wilderness season lasts, God’s word never expires. When the devil tempted Jesus, he fired back at him with scripture.

See, when you’re feeling lost, having scripture to draw on is vital. Psalm 119, verse 1 says ‘I have hidden your word in my heart’; in your moments of desperation, there’s no time to look verses up.

2) He resisted temptation

This one is tough. Absolutely none of us are above temptation.
Jesus was shown ‘all the kingdoms of the world’ by the devil. It was of course, all an illusion.

When you’re waiting on God, you will often be faced with a quick fix, or an easy way out. The longest route out of trouble often comes in the form of a shortcut. If it looks too good to be true, or you know it isn’t God, flee.

3) He endured

Jesus’ resistance and obedience brought great reward.
In verse 14 it says ‘Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised Him.’

Did you catch that? God got the glory. Jesus was faithful and he came out of the wilderness ‘in the power of the Spirit.’ Not only did He see great things happen, following his time there but He was more powerful and effective than ever.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th June 2020

Some years ago when we bought a new fridge freezer, not only was I surprised to find that you had to have it plumbed into the water mains, but also that you had to fit a special water filter to the pipe work — something that no-one ever gets to see.

The filter system provides perfectly filtered water from the water dispenser at any time of  day or night – no more continually filling a water filter jug several times a day!

Every six months, a warning light appears on the front of the fridge to let you know that it’s time to change the filter. The filters are not only expensive, but changing them requires effort and time. I’m probably just the same as everyone else, in that I wait for the warning light to annoy me sufficiently before I make the change. This is usually about a month at least after the light comes on. 

Purity is something that you not only have to give attention to when you get a warning signal from the Holy Spirit, but it’s something that you have to actively work on and fight for within yourself on a daily basis. 

I have discovered that one of the greatest ways of maintaining a pure life is to be accountable to others that you respect around you. 
The people that I’m talking about will be usually further ahead and carry a greater level of maturity than you, although they will not always be older than you. 

Accountability operates like a filtration system. If you’re unsure about something, or if you find yourself in a difficult position that may compromise you, then by talking it over with a trusted friend you are in effect passing your thoughts through their filtration system of wisdom and sound advice. 

The benefit from being accountable is that you get shielded from making unwise decisions, and the decisions you do make are pure because of the process. 

Accountability also means that you get warned when others watch you going head long into an unwise decision or disaster. 
Don’t go it alone today and end up spending the rest of your life regretting the poor choices you’ve made, instead select some great people in your life to help filter out your impurities.

Proverbs 4:5-6 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th June 2020

Philippians 4:19, ‘…For I have learnt to be content in whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.’ (Philippians 4:19).

Let’s look at the context of this scripture – Paul was writing this letter to the church in Macedonia. Paul was not on his sun-lounger, drink in hand, sun on face, telling people to ‘be content’. He wrote this letter from prison. And it would not have been the first time he was imprisoned either.

‘…I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have travelled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm’ (2 Corinthians 11).

After Paul had endured all this, still his words, ‘I have learnt to be content in whatever the circumstances’ suddenly takes on a different meaning. Paul is not calling us to be content while life is ‘good’ or even ‘okay’. He is calling us to be satisfied when life is a challenge. He is calling us to be content now in lockdown, in the middle of 2020!

This doesn’t mean we stop praying and believing for more, it simply means our circumstances do not need to determine our level of happiness and satisfaction. Our happenings do not need to have a hold on us because we have strength in something beyond our happenings. We have strength in Christ. It is in Christ that we find contentment. It is not in the absence of a virus, or the presence of people, or abundance of finances. It is in God that we find contentment in EVERY situation and season.

If your strength and contentment is found only when you are in control, know the future, are back at work, and are around people, then you are in for a scary ride, because life doesn’t always guarantee those things. But if you can find strength in an unchanging, good God, then you will find contentment in whatever the circumstances.

Did Paul just have this understanding and ability to be content land in his lap? No, the verse says, he LEARNT to be content. We won’t get this perfect, we will have days where we struggle, but let us have the posture of LEARNING to be content in whatever we are facing at the moment.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th June 2020

1 Corinthians 13:1-8, ‘If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails’.

Love is the essential ingredient in all we do. We can do a good thing, but if the love is missing, it is pointless, useless and ineffective.

Love makes a powerful combo, when teamed with truth. In fact, truth and love must go hand in hand with each other. I love this quote from Timothy Keller, ‘Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical,unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace’.

Let’s look at the Bible – it reveals a realistic, sometimes unflattering picture of who we are. The Bible takes you by the scruff of the neck at times and addresses you. What we read in the scriptures challenges the core of who we are, but we know it is really the road to liberation. We cannot resist this power that truth has to blow the lid off and turn the light on to issues in our life. Equally, Jesus came with ‘truth bombs’, but he delivered them in love. His mission was to deliver truth, but with an unmatched affirmation that could heal the deepest wounds and hurts of your life.

Loving to speak the truth is different to speaking the truth in love.

Truth without love ruins unity, and love without truth gives the illusion of unity but actually stops the growth. The solution is GRACE – the experience of Jesus’ grace makes it possible to practice the two most important skills in the Christian walk: forgiveness and repentance.

Speaking the truth in love requires emotional humility and emotional wealth – a fundamental inner joy and confidence – this can only come from God… both his example and his empowering grace allow us to be this.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th June 2020

After more than 13 weeks in lock down, we have all been subjected to what can only be described as an exceptional set of circumstances. Living in each other’s pockets has been both an unexpected blessing and an unexpected strain at times. 

Spending so much time under one roof, with little opportunity for any outlet, has proved very challenging for many families as well as those living alone. I’m sure that you will have noticed that while emotions are running high, we are more prone than ever to do and say things that would not normally be an issue. 
By way of an MOT during this time, here are ten reasons why relationships fail:

  1. Communication breaks down. 
  2. Truth is violated 
  3. Integrity is forsaken
  4. Time isn’t invested 
  5. Risks aren’t taken (not social distancing risks I might add)
  6. Control rises to the top
  7. Trust is broken
  8. Self-interest is the rule
  9. Manipulation is allowed
  10. God is ignored 

How well did you do? Before you lose heart because you feel like you’ve failed, here are just three values that I find helpful in my daily thinking:

  • Become a good listener. In the book of James chapter 1 v 19, he writes… ‘be quick to listen and slow to speak.’ Sometimes the greatest gift that you can give to others, is to listen with not just your ears, but with your heart. Just ‘being there’ for someone, even if it’s just on their doorstep or on the end of the phone is enough. 
  • Speak the truth in love. Nobody likes to be corrected, but when you’re heading down the wrong road or settling for less than your potential, a true friend will have the courage to tell you. If you truly care about someone then you will make time to speak the truth in love even though it may cost you. 
  • Always believe the best. Love sometimes sees you at your worst, but never forgets your best. Love will often see you as far more wonderful than you know that you really are, but is able to see past your faults and failings. 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”. Love doesn’t sweep things under the carpet, but it does see beyond the dirt on the carpet. 

Whatever relationship challenges you are facing today, let’s be mindful that if we can learn to overcome the challenges in this season we will have learnt to overcome them in any season!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th June 2020

I was thinking about the story from the Bible in Matthew chapter 7 about the wise and the foolish builders. One built his house upon the rock, the other on the sand. Growing up in Sunday school, we regularly sang a song about the wise and foolish builders.

Along with many actions and sound effects, it told the exact story and that was that when the storm and the wind and waves came along, the house on the rock stood firm and the house on the sand fell flat. Matthew 7 teaches us that if our lives aren’t built on God’s word then we are like the foolish builder.

 You and I have to make sure our lives are built firmly, with great, solid foundations. For surely, life’s wind and waves and storms WILL come and what will be left? Hopefully we will still be standing firm. 

When my life is built on prayer, God’s word and a relationship with Him, then even when I’m tested (and we all will be) my life will still stand. My husband always says that what we learn in the light, we have to practise in the dark. Many people base their lives on feelings. This is too dangerous. For life isn’t always ‘happy’ and things don’t always go as we would want. But, when we instead build our lives on what GOD says, and not what I feel, that’s a firm foundation. When I listen to what He says and not what social media tells me, or the news media, then I am building the right foundation. 

God wants to build something great in you. Storms will come and storms will pass. You will remain standing… IF you have taken the time to build some great foundations. 

As children you may remember the story of the three little pigs…the same story as the Bible really. The wolf came and blew down the house of the homes that were built of straw. Yet, those that had been built with bricks, were able to stand when the wolf came. 

The enemy of our souls, the devil himself, may want to take you out. He may want to blow our house down with a big crash! BUT… he can’t if your foundation is strong. 
Check it today. Ask God to help you. Do something important that will last you forever. 

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

Fresh Hope – 12th June 2020

A few years ago, I watched a movie titled the Life of Pi. In it, a young boy is shipwrecked and finds himself lost at sea sharing a small lifeboat with some wild animals, one of them being a tiger.

Faced with dehydration yet surrounded by miles of water around him, the boy doesn’t drink any of it. He knows that although he faces certain death unless he can find something to drink, he would die sooner if he drank the sea water, and so waits for rain.
He was thirsty, yet surrounded by the very thing he was craving. He could touch it, feel the cool waves lapping on his skin under the hot sun, but hidden inside the water was salt that would kill him from the inside.

What are you thirsty for today? I, like many people, have been yearning for news of things settling down, and news is available everywhere you look. Information, both verified and unverified, and opinions are an unyielding torrent on social media, news channels, the sources are endless. But Proverbs 4:23 tells us to “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Guarding your heart and mind is especially difficult when you wake up to the heart-breaking news of the horrific killing of an unarmed man by police officers in America, and the resulting polarising protests demanding that they, and other perpetrators be brought to justice.

The assumption in the scripture is that we are going to act when it says “everything you do flows from it”, but what action do you take? How do you empathise with the hurt of another person, and make yourself vulnerable enough to feel their pain whilst protecting your heart and your mind? How do you let their hurt touch you enough so that you can feel enough compassion to become passionate, but remain rational? Proverbs 4 is an encouragement to get wisdom, and understanding; to allow things to touch you, and through God’s Word, discern which is the salty water, and which is the fresh, living water.

Let your prayer be that God gives us the willpower, strength and perseverance to come out healthier and stronger in our minds and relationships as we seek His wisdom and understanding.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th June 2020

When I was 18 and got my first proper job I remember looking into getting a mortgage on a small terrace house. I then decided against putting all my money into a house but should enjoy being young and so I got a motorbike. 10 years later, I got married and I remember wishing I’d gone ahead and invested in that house because I would own half a house that would have significantly increased in value! 

In this unusual time where it feels like our lives have been put on hold, there is an opportunity for reflection. You may be thinking like I was, ‘what have I been investing in?’ ‘What should I now invest in?’

Let me encourage you with this thought from the parable of the talents found in Matthews gospel chapter 25. 
Just to summarise the story, a master is going away and entrusts to three servants 5, 2 and 1 talent respectively. Then after a long absence returns to find that two of them have doubled their master’s money, but one (out of fear) buries it. His master is delighted with the two and very angry and punishes the latter. 

If you’re like me, when you hear this familiar parable, you hope that firstly you get trusted with the larger portion, but then secondly you manage to increase it. What’s interesting though is that we often overlook the fact that none of them actually got to keep the talents but had to hand them back. They weren’t theirs and never would be. What actually was said to the faithful servants was ‘Come and share in your master’s happiness!’

This was the ultimate reward not the talents. Therefore maybe in this life you haven’t been given the most, don’t worry, just be faithful with what you have, stop worrying about the size, and make sure you invest wisely. 

Okay, now here’s some math. Did you know that 1p invested in eternity is worth an awful lot more than £15billion invested today here in this very temporary world?
Also this is odd but 1p invested eternally is actually equal to £15billion invested eternally.

Because anything multiplied by infinity is infinity. 
Houses, cars and holidays are great, building a business or an organisation is fulfilling, but not necessarily eternal.

When you keep being faithful to God’s call on your life, when you invest in the community, feed and clothe people, when you continue to serve your local church, helping to man the spiritual life boat by helping to pull the drowning to safety, it’s eternal and you will reap a reward that will never perish.

Keep on serving in the church, keep on investing in people and remember: your pennies in eternity far outweigh any cost or value in today’s currency! 

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

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th June 2020

If you have ever purchased a real leather item of clothing, you would have noticed a removable tag that reads ‘genuine leather’ on the piece. This implies that the item is not made of imitation leather or a plastic material, that looks like leather, or “pleather” as I like to call it, but is the real deal. There is nothing like an authentic leather item – the quality, the smell, and the feel. On the contrary, a fake leather item, won’t last as long, can smell toxic and just doesn’t have the same feel. 

God hasn’t called us to be “pleather” Christians – doing the right thing, looking the right way, but without a genuine love.  Fake smells toxic, doesn’t last long and just doesn’t feel the same. 

A simple value, but one that scripture speaks about over and over is that of ‘sincerity’. Romans 12:9 says, ‘love must be sincere’. 1 Peter 1:22, ‘…fervently love one another from the heart’. 1 Timothy 1:15 says, ‘The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith’.

One way to tell the difference between a real diamond and a counterfeit diamond is how it responds under the intensity of heat. Diamonds are one of the strongest materials on the planet and therefore they will be resistant to such heat. On a real diamond, heat will disperse quickly and the diamond won’t be affected by the change in temperature, on a fake, it will crack and break. A sincere person can withstand the pressure of trials and circumstance as their character and motive is genuine. 

If we are going to change the world, people need to feel that we are the real deal. Fake is toxic and doesn’t last. Before you do something good, don’t just do it, ask God for a heart of sincere love as you go and do it.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th June 2020

We’re not even half way through 2020 and this year has already been like no other. The year kicked off with the Australian bush fires, we’ve then launched into a global pandemic, and now another race-driven murder weighs heavy on our hearts.  I have seen and heard many people wishing 2020 away, waiting for 2021 where they can ‘start over’. It’s interesting how people desperately need to feel comfortable in order to believe life is good and they are good. It’s interesting how much we struggle with discomfort and want to run from challenge. The Bible contradicts this notion encouraging us to in fact ‘consider it PURE JOY whenever you face trials of many kinds (James 1:2). Why? Because tough times produce something in us! Like the purification of a diamond that is only achieved by fire, so we too produce something invaluable under heat and pressure. There is fruit only after the pruning. 

As crazy as it sounds, we shouldn’t wish the pressure and pruning away. As overwhelming as it is, let’s lean into what God is saying and doing amongst His people. Let’s suck the marrow out of the discomfort, so we can bear the fruit. Let’s embrace the heat, so we can produce a diamond. 

2020 has been wake up call, after wake up call, after wake up call – if you’ve allowed it to be. The saddest thing would be to let this year pass, and have learnt or gained nothing. There are lessons for all of humanity here, and there are lessons for you personally here. 

God is shedding light in the dark areas of our culture where the enemy has prospered. God is asking us to not turn away any longer. 2020 is an invitation. An invitation for all of us to humble ourselves and listen, to understand, to grow and to step into our divine calling and privilege of proclaiming freedom for the captives. 

‘He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations…
…You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice….’ (Isaiah 61).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th June 2020

A well known medical Doctor writes: “unresloved emotional pain wreaks havoc on your imune system, cardiac function, hormone levels and other physical functions”. He goes on to say, “we must make peace with our past, because our life may literally depend on it”.

Challenging words!

Here are four thoughts in order to help you deal with your past:

1- reframe it. Ask yourself, how did it make me stronger, what did I learn from it, what do I know now that I didn’t back then?

2- break the chains of shame. Shame isn’t feeling bad over what you’ve done, it’s feeling ashamed of who you are. It’s lethal. When God created you in His image He said, “this is very good”. (Genesis 1 v 31)

3-stop the constant dripping of regret. Stop punishing yourself with the ‘if onlys’. In the Bible David said these words, “Happy is the person whose sins are forgiven…whom the Lord does not consider guilty…” (Psalm 32 v 1-2) If you’ve opened your heart to God, and sought His forgiveness, then you have to not only receive His forgiveness, you have to forgive yourself. 

4 -move from grief to gain. Healing takes time, so expect some anger, fear and sadness. Don’t disown them and pretend that they don’t exist, they are all part of the healing, however, don’t adopt them either! You have to move on. You can’t move backwards into your future. The future that God has for you is ahead and contains more happiness than any past you can remember. 

Psalm 25:7-11 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good. Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. 

Isaiah 43:25 ‘I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th June 2020

Unfortunately as human beings, we have the tendency to dwell on negative things. If someone is ill that can become our entire focus. If money is tight and things are difficult we can easily focus on that. If someone has been mean to us, we make it a huge mountain in our lives. I have challenged myself many times this week to get my eyes off situations and on to Jesus. 

I was fascinated to read a surprising study from the university of California, whereby its researchers discovered that the feeling of ‘awe’ can actually counteract dangerous and chronic illnesses. 

The kinds of awe that they studied included people’s responses to nature and beauty, listening to inspiring music and viewing great works of art. 
These ‘awesome’ responses stimulated hormonal messengers that tell our immune systems to work harder and thus produce emotions that are associated with good health.

Whilst we have all known for a long time that a healthy diet, adequate sleep and healthy exercise bolster our body’s defence mechanism, this study is one of the first of its kind to state ‘the effects of a sense of awe’ promote positive emotions in the context of total wellbeing. 

Being awestruck is of course nothing new to a Christian.
Being a follower of Jesus cannot fail to bring us daily to a place of joy, contentment, love, compassion, amazement and wonder. But to receive those wonderful blessings we have to put ourselves in a place to receive. 

Psalm 121 vs 1-2 “I lift my eyes to the mountains, does my help come from there? no it comes from God”Psalm. 61 vs 2. “When my heart is overwhelmed (with stuff) lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

However, we have to be willing to be led there. 
Let’s never lose sight of how awesome God is and all that He has created for our benefit. 

Let’s never forget His faithfulness and His never ending kindness to us. 

Let’s never lose sight of how “awesome” it is, to get into His presence. What a privilege!

He knew exactly what He was doing when He inbuilt within us a sense of awe for all that He has done. 
Take your eyes off ‘your mountain’ and take a fresh look today at something that God has blessed you with and once again be ‘awestruck’.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th June 2020

There’s a lot going on in the world right now. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll have been faced with feelings of overwhelm at times. 

What can I say? What shouldn’t I say? Maybe you have big decisions to make about your life and business, since the impact of the pandemic. Whatever it is, there’s no doubt that the world is having an effect on your world. 

No matter who you are or what your circumstances look like and how fast things are moving around you, our God is the same. His word tells us to be still. 

Don’t allow your fear to freeze you into inaction. That’s exactly what the enemy wants.

There is nothing that we can’t overcome when we turn to him. James 1:5 says “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”


 Change is uncomfortable but God already knows what you need. 

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th June 2020

We all have rituals. It’s what makes up every day of our lives, they include cleaning your teeth, feeding yourself, your thought life, what you read and watch, where you go, people you do life with. The daily rituals of our lives make up a narrative that displays what we really believe, irrespective of what we say. 95% of our lives are generally unchanging day to day ‘walking the dog’ rituals.

The old testament is full of rituals. Law after law of do’s and don’ts, list after list of names and endless routines for the sacrifices, offerings and festivals of God’s chosen people.

As a modern day liberal Christian there’s a danger in thinking that Christ came to set us free from all this Law, but actually Jesus said, he didn’t come to abolish but to fulfil the law! All those rituals the Israelites were commanded to fulfil were there to help them break their ingrained pattern of Egyptian idolatry. To break the narrative of their previous slave lives and to create a new cultural identity. It’s a massive undertaking. Our biblical rituals (reading the bible, prayer, fasting, tithing) do not in any way earn salvation (forgiveness of sins) but they massively help us to break the idolatrous culture we have grown up and live in, and so helps us live in a different realm. The film Karate Kid has a great example of the power of rituals. 

The young hero Danny LaRusso is getting bullied so approaches Mr Miyagi (Karate expert) to learn to fight. But for weeks he doesn’t train him but has him doing mundane tasks such as painting his fence and washing his car.  He’s instructed very specifically on how to ritualistically complete the tasks. Using very deliberate repetitive movements, to wax on, wax off, when washing the car over and over. When Danny finally says he has had enough and wants to learn to fight, Mr Miyagi throws a punch and Danny blocks it without even thinking, using the ‘Wax off’ learned movement! His boring mundane ritual (that many push away because they have an unhealthy liberal Christian attitude that Jesus came so they could please themselves) was training his reactions so that when danger and difficulty comes, his natural  ‘wax off’ instinct serves him well. We must get an appetite for the seemingly mundane in order to live in the extraordinary! 

What are your rituals? What great habits do you have that you perpetually repeat day after day,  constantly reenforcing the positive reality of you really are, a child of the living God?

It’s not being religious, it’s not earning brownie points; it’s maintaining behaviours to position you in truth, they’re strengthening your inner posture daily so when difficulty comes ‘wax off!’ If you want your life to grow, if you are bored of the same old problems and want some new ones, assess what’s making up your day that creates your reality, good or bad.

Position good healthy habits to help maintain you in the constant reality of the grace of God. You’ll be amazed how differently you react when trouble then comes… ‘Wax off!’

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd June 2020

The Devil will do whatever it takes to stop you from walking into all that God has for you. Pride is one of the subtle strategies of the enemy to delay your growth, shift your focus, slow you down, and hold you back from receiving and producing fruit! 

Pride is dangerous! Some of the greatest men and women of God throughout history, with once powerful ministries, have quickly come to the end of fruitfulness, because of their pride. Even if you are doing a good thing, it is important to have regular heart checks. Pride comes right before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Don’t treat pride lightly!

Pride is actually a characteristic of the enemy and not a trait in our God-given design. Look at Lucifer, the Devil himself. He was an angel made for worship. His purpose was to magnify God, but his desire shifted to himself. He then wanted to become the one being worshipped! Pride was the very thing to rock heaven (Ezekial 28).  

God would be foolish to entrust a prideful heart with more. God knows that such character cannot sustain a greater gift, more blessing, and produce  fruit. On the contrary, God can do amazing things with a humble heart. With humility comes honour (Proverbs 18:12), wisdom and grace (the ability to do what you have to). In a position of humility, you will always be fruitful, growing, and moving into greater things. As Proverbs 11:2 says, ‘when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom’. Why do we become wise when we are humble? Because we have positioned ourselves to learn, we are teachable, and soft-hearted toward the voice of the Lord. 

Quick heart check: Am I open to correction? Am I teachable? Do I judge others, often thinking I am better than them? Am I self-focused most of the time? Do I honour authority (even if I don’t agree with them)? Do I struggle to say sorry? Do I struggle to associate with people of low position? 

If you have an area of pride, then you are sadly missing out on the more that God has for you. But there is hope in surrender! James 4:10 says, ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up’. 

Jesus is the ultimate picture of humility and whom we are called to imitate:

‘…Who, being in very nature God,
 did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
 he humbled himself
  by becoming obedient to death—
  even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
 and gave him the name that is above every name (Phillipians 2:6-9).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd June 2020

God is unlike anything or anybody. 

Humans can only understand something, by building upon what they already know. In the words of A.W Towzer, ‘we learn by using what we already know as a bridge over which we pass to the unknown’. Hence why in scripture, the authors often attempt to describe God by saying He is “like” something that we already humanly know. Even Jesus Himself used metaphors and stories over and over again, in order for the human mind to comprehend how the kingdom of God works. 

At present, our understanding of God, no matter how many years we have been a Christian, is finite in comparison to the great nature of who God really is. This is actually a very reassuring thought. 

God is creator. We are His created. To reduce all of God down to our level of understanding would be to make him as powerful as us. How comforting it is to know that my mind cannot fully fathom Him, because He is far bigger than me, and thus I can rest in the mystery of His almighty, sovereign nature. If He weren’t a mystery, then He would be no bigger than me. 

Yes we are made in the image of God, but scripture didn’t say, ‘The EXACT image’ of God. Just like a painting reflects the attributes and the mind and heart of the artist, but isn’t the artist itself, so we as people reflect the mind and heart of God, but are not God – and thank God for that! 

Often we want a God we can manage and control. But don’t try and reduce God to manageable terms. Rest in the mystery of His magnitude. One of the great paradoxes of God is that we can know Him so personally and intimately, yet so much of His ways still remain a mystery. In the words of Frederick W. Faber, 

​‘Darkness to the intellect

​But sunshine to the heart.’ 

In other words, there are aspects of God that the mere human mind cannot understand completely and rationally, only a heart can receive in faith, and then experience the love of God. 

In the gospel we see the helplessness of the human mind in understanding the mystery of God. Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 teaches that God can be known only as the Holy Spirit works in a hungry heart. 

‘For to us God revealed them (deep thoughts) through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God’. 

So stay hungry to understand more of God, let the Holy Spirit enlighten you on the ways of God, as you partner with Him. Equally, rest in the reality that you never will know it all – and that is the beauty of His mystery.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st June 2020

During this time of isolation, how many of you have thought (be honest), “I’m wasting my life, time is passing me by, I have too much life to live, than sit around and do nothing”?

My friend, you shouldn’t just be doing nothing. I remember many years ago, when our main church building was being built. For years, we saw no building going up, yet, there was a lot of preparation going on that wasn’t seen. Mineshafts were being filled. Ground was being prepared, surveys were being done and then the most important of all the things, were the foundations.

Yet I just wanted to see the building built! How many times have you thought recently, not only “what is going on?” But also, “I’m wasting time!” Don’t be impatient to see the rest of your life take place. I’m in my 50s, I could easily think these thoughts. You may be a lot older than me and thinking “I don’t have lots of time to waste.”

My friend, recognise what God is doing in the now. God wants you to use this time to make some adjustments down deep. He has some work to do on you that no one else may see. He wants to create some great foundations in your life.

Maybe some that weren’t there before. These things take time. When the building goes up, it will be beautiful. (And it is). But it won’t go up successfully unless the foundations are right. Remember the higher the build, the deeper the foundation. If you want to see and experience something new and fresh and something you’ve never seen or experienced before, then you’ve got to do something that you’ve not done before.

You’ve got to let God do some ‘foundation’ work and not see it as wasted time at all.
So get ready – because God always brings something better and bigger out of a difficult situation and out of a time of preparation. Don’t sit around bored or as if ‘nothing’ is happening.

Get on it! IF you use this time to prepare right, you will realise the best IS YET to come. No time is wasted. It’s all in the plan!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th May 2020

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

A few years ago at the Special Olympics, the competitors lined up to run the 100-metre dash. Everyone took off, but as they rounded the corner one of the runners fell badly and was left in tears, knowing that the race for them was over. Suddenly all the others stopped, came back, helped him up, then locked arms and walked across the finish line together. It was an unforgettable moment. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

What made the Special Olympic runners all stop and come back when perhaps in the regular Olympics they would have just all kept going? Was it not because they realised that they all had weaknesses? They knew that it could have been anyone of them lying there on the track, so they reached out to him. In a very real sense, all the runners won the race that day.

During this current time of crisis, I pray that we will have all had a wake up call to help us appreciate once more, that it is more important to help each other win, than it is to just be a winner myself. In fact, God is more interested in how much we are lifting others up, than He is in just putting me on a podium. I pray that our new normal will be more about running together, stopping daily to lift and encourage each, and treating people with respect that they deserve — that way we all become winners in life.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th May 2020

I’m a person that likes to know what’s going to happen. I like to be prepared. I’d ideally like to know in advance what will happen next so I can be fully ready and tackle it to the best of my ability. In some circumstances this can be a good trait, however in life, it’s not always. 

I love how the words in the Bible challenge us when we don’t know we need to be challenged.
Recently, I was reading Daniel 3. King Nebuchadnezzar created a golden image and commanded all men to worship it—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship anyone but God. As punishment for their defiance, they were cast into the fiery furnace.

If I were one of them, I’d think God was going to rescue me but I’d want to know how. I’d probably be staring into the furnace working out whether something was going to swoop in and save me, if the furnace was going to suddenly become cold or if Nebuchadnezzar was going to change his mind. 
Daniel 3: 17 (NIV) If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

Daniel 3:17 confirms their faith. They know God is going to deliver them. They stand affirming this to the man who is about to kill them.
The bit that gets me is the start of verse 18. ‘But even if he does not.’
It takes a lot of courage to be staring into the fiery furnace but then saying ‘BUT EVEN IF’ He doesn’t do what we are believing for, we still trust him.

They believed that God was going to deliver them one way or another. Either they’d get their earthly miracle and be saved from the furnace, or they’d be delivered home to God. One way or another, they believed God would deliver them from this situation.

Jesus guaranteed our rescue by stepping into the fire himself. He faced our choices and took our pain, and always trusted in God’s will. “Not my will, but yours be done.”

While we’d rather avoid suffering and the unknown, God promises to bless us and others through it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire unharmed and as a result, Nebuchadenezzar believed; “for no other God can save in this way” (Daniel 3:29).

We might not understand what’s going on right now, things might not have gone the way we planned, we might not see where the story is heading but we do know that there will always be blessings as a result.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th May 2020

In James 3:13, we learn that there are two kinds of wisdom – heavenly wisdom and earthly wisdom. Both operate very differently and have different outcomes. 

Earthly wisdom is decision making at the world’s standards – which is actually foolishness to God (1 Cor 1:20). The world’s wisdom is often based on whatever appeases the desires of the flesh – whatever feels good, and is most self-gratifying, which obviously is not always a good life compass.  

On the contrary, heavenly wisdom is out of this world – literally! It sees further down the line, it sees the bigger picture, and has a better outcome. It comes from God as we partner with Him. It puts God first, rather than self. The fruit is not destruction, but life and peace. It is limitless in outcome and sometimes seems irrational. 

King Solomon had the opportunity to ask for whatever his heart desired and he asked for wisdom.

God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honour, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honour, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” (2 Chronicles 1:11). 

What an example of how wisdom ushers in a life of success, peace and fruitfulness! As we seek first the kingdom, all the rest is added. Put another way, as we seek Godly wisdom first, ironically a successful life is a bi-product. 

Wisdom is more precious than jewels (Proverbs 8:11), yet the Bible says that if we ask for it, God will give it to us…and not just a bit… GENEROUSLY! ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him’ (James 1:5).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th May 2020

‘Authority: the power or right to give orders, and make decisions.’

Perhaps our immediate response upon reading this definition of authority is to picture a person of control, someone abusing their power, someone restricting and restraining from freedom and happiness.

Unfortunately many of us struggle with the idea of authority and hold negative connotations towards the word and idea. This is not uncommon for people of this generation.

Historically, many a time, authority has been oppressive, and sometimes abusive. Consequently, we have a generation today that has mostly rebelled against the idea of authority. It is believed that freedom and independence are achieved by breaking away from those who try to govern over us. When we are able to make our own choices, unrestrained by anyone or anything, then we think we are most free. This is wrong. Becoming a slave to your own feelings, ideas and opinions is quite the opposite of freedom. Your allegiance has simply shifted from an all-knowing, all-loving, all-protecting God, to your finite, limited self. How scary.

Authority is essential in the life of the believer, both the authority of God and of certain people. Instead, we have a people today who are disrespectful (culturally and broadly speaking) to the law/government/police. We have children exercising power over their parents in the home. We have women trying to assert themselves above men. We have teachers desperately trying to behaviour manage their students, and we have a cultural mentality of ‘let’s break free from the controlling government’. In whatever sphere there has been a historical abuse of authority, today there is a generational uprising of people rebelling and suppressing that authority in the quest to find identity and freedom. Sadly, their efforts are fruitless as true freedom and identity is found in our submission to HEALTHY and BIBLICAL authority.

The Bible speaks a lot about the value of authority in our lives. Not the kind of authority like we may have seen been abused in the past. The Bible has a different picture of what authority should look like. God has actually designed authority for our blessing and protection. Authority over us equals covering for us. When authority is abused, it hurts those under authority. In such cases, God ultimately will judge the abuser. But when it is exercised properly, authority blesses and protects those under it. Authority does not imply superiority. ‘Coming under’ authority or ‘subjection’ to authority doesn’t make us weak. It puts us in a powerful, protected position of freedom. If subjection means inferiority, then it would mean that Jesus Christ is inferior to the Father, which is heresy!

So what DOES biblical authority look like? Being in a position of authority means that you have a responsibility and a level of accountability. Those in authority have the weighty call of serving, leading and loving their people toward what is best for THEM. Ultimately, the people in these positions of authority must give an account to God on how well they did this. If they used their position and power for their own advantage, rather than blessing and protecting those in and under their care, then they have God to face for that one!

Some positions of authority that God tells us to honour in our lives, as we come under their covering:

– The word of God / God

– Our Parents

– Our leaders (both Christian and non-Christian)

– Our pastors

Here are rewards that are promised to those who submit to the healthy authority in their life:

Things will be well with you (Ephesians 6:2–3).

You will have a long life (Ephesians 6:1–3).

You will bring delight to the Lord (Colossians 3:20).

You will bring joy to your authorities (Hebrews 13:17).

You will receive God’s reward (Colossians 3:18–24).

You will be given clear direction (Proverbs 6:20–22).

You will be protected from evil people (Proverbs 6:23–24).

You will gain discernment (Proverbs 15:5).

You will receive praise from your authorities (I Peter 2:13–14).

You will escape the destruction of pride (I Timothy 6:2–4).

You will receive the grace God gives to the humble (I Peter 5:5–7).

Now who doesn’t want all that!?

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th May 2020

Part two – Life is too short to be average (Continued from yesterday)

The Bible says that Daniel had an excellent spirit, and he stood out among his peers because God was with him (Daniel 5:14, 6:3).
A spirit of excellence will cause people to notice that there is something different about you, because you are living to fulfil God’s purpose in your life.

The fourth principle for success is to choose the people you let into your life. Your friends will influence your future. It’s better to walk alone at times, rather than walk with the wrong people. 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ 

The fifth principle is persistence. You cannot succeed without persistence. Persistence can be defined as courage under pressure. I’ve found that it’s impossible to be courageous without fear. Fear gives birth to a courage that says “I won’t quit.”
 Remember: no one succeeds all of the time. You can’t live a significant life without living a persistent life. 

More or less everything in my life that has had any lasting value has been birthed out of a long hard slog. I call it the ‘God plod!’.

The sixth way for living a life of purpose is to have high values. Values are standards that you live by. They produce character, and character is how you act when no one is watching. Character means spending time alone with God, letting Him guide you and refine for your dreams and desires. 
My values come from the Bible. A long time ago I made up my mind that the most important thing in my life was to live for an audience of one – Jesus. 

My declaration today is this: ‘God’s power works in me every day, and I can excel at what He has called me to do if I will simply lay down my life and trust Him’.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th May 2020

Life is too short to be average – Part one of two parts. 

The world is filled with amazing people, but sadly most of us settle for being average. Living an average life is not annasset, as it simply means that you never reach your full potential. 

I believe that there are six principles that will help you maximise your ability to be more than average. 

First, you must discover God’s purpose for your life — you were born for a reason. You were not just born to make a living, you were born to make a life. There’s something that God needed done that required you. 

Second, you must develop a passion. Passion comes from purpose. When you discover your purpose in life, there’s a sense of passion that will follow. Martin Luther King Jr. became a leader long before his great speech… ‘I have a dream…’ and his dream came out of his passion.

He became a leader in a small church of 200 people when he spoke of his death threat on his life. He told his wife, “I’ve got a passion. Someone’s got to do something, and I’m willing to do it. If it kills me I’ll do it.” You wont change the world if you try to protect your life. Jesus said, “if you cling to your life, you’ll lose it; but if you give it up for me, you’ll find it.”

The third most critical thing for developing excellence is to make a plan for your life. Plan beyond what you’re doing right now. Find something that’s bigger than you. Don’t just make your plan; work your plan. Then discipline yourself to follow it. Pursue your dream with a passion to please God—you were born to make a difference. 

Maybe part of my story will help someone today…
I was just turning 20 when I felt that God was calling me to a very different life than the one I’d imagined. I was passionate about becoming a top chef in London and had already spent two years in training and was now climbing that ladder. I sensed that God was asking me to surrender all of that and to give my life to becoming the pastor of a church! I was shocked, as this was something that was never even on my radar. I just knew that I’d heard clearly from God.

Then came the crunch…would I follow through? In much the same way that I’d spent two years training as a chef, I now felt I would need to train for Pastoring at a Bible school. This took me so much out of my comfort zone, that I felt sick at the prospect of leaving home, and not least of all the girl that I knew I would marry.

I drove three hours for that first interview at Bible School, and got rejected there and then due to being considered too young! That was it, I drove home feeling elated that I wouldn’t have to go through with it. Twelve months later I was back again, and this time with a passion and a plan that it was now or never. I was accepted on the course and went home to tell my parents, my girlfried and my employer that I was leaving. The following two years came and went and two weeks later we got married.
I had followed the call, the passion, and the plan, and was now ready to completly change the direction of my life for ever. It would be five years before I became the full time Pastor of the now named Champions Church.

The last 30 years have been a roller coaster of incredible highs and lows, but I wouldn’t swap it for anything. I was doing what I was born to do — make a difference!

You will also have to make some tough choices in order for your life to count. They won’t be the same as mine, but nevertheless they will take the same kind of courage to do so. 

Here is my declaration today: ‘My life has a purpose and I will not settle for less than what God has for me.’

Would you like to make it yours too?

Part two tomorrow. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd May 2020


I am a firm believer in trust. I’m a firm believer in faith. I’m a firm believer in not doubting. My Bible tells me. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11 vs 6) I’d like to say, I never doubt and I never waiver in my faith. 

So… let’s be honest, sometimes when we do have doubts or questions, we wonder why? And then feel ‘bad’ or ‘guilty’ for doubting.

 I was reminded this week about Jesus. In Luke 22 vs 39-44, just before He went to the cross, Jesus took Himself away to a solitary place and He asked His Father this…“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” He was saying, “if there’s any other way” – in other words, “do I really have to die on a cross, the cruelest of deaths? Is this really Your will God?”

He was scared, He had doubts, fears even. We know that, because it goes on to say that He was anxious, so anxious that he sweat blood. (Vs 44) Now, I know He was going to the cross, something too hard to even begin to imagine (it makes our troubles seem like nothing) but if Jesus had a momentary lapse of faith, then how much more are you and I going to?

He addressed His concern to the Father. It says an angel ‘strengthened’ Him (vs 43) then He went on to pray some more. 
I think we all beat ourselves up if we doubt or get concerned or ask “why” questions. Don’t, it’s part of human life and we are indeed human. I am not perfect and neither are you. 
I love what Jesus says in full in vs 42 “…yet not my will, but Yours be done.”
Let’s get to that place of saying “okay God, I trust You, let Your will be done in my life.”

If you have concerns or questions, address them to the Father – just like Jesus Himself did. Get into His presence, because it is there He will surely help and encourage you. It is there you will find His peace. It is there in times of uncertainty, that you will receive strength. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd May 2020

In the last few weeks, we have been teaching our son to ride his bike without stabilisers.  I say ‘we’ but it’s been mainly my husband, a keen cyclist; whilst I look on and cheer.  I must say, sometimes it has not been easy to watch – especially when Zachary’s fallen off and he cries, but my husband assures me that he’s looking out for him and a few grazes on his knee are part of the learning process.  Soon he’ll be skilled and will enjoy cycling more. 

It reminds me of how we are experiencing this new season, a season that is filled with uncertainty. I’m sure I speak for most when I say our lives have taken a complete turn in the last few weeks because of this pandemic and it seems like our stabilizers have been taken away from us.  Simple things we used to take for granted like going to the supermarket, visiting friends and family, going to work, college, school or church have suddenly changed.  The routines we had and things that perhaps made us who we are, are no longer relevant.  Some are in a place of constant worry; what is tomorrow going to bring?  Is my job or source of income going to be secure? When is life going to get back to ‘normal’ again?  We all have asked ourselves at least one of those questions at some point in recent weeks.

I am reminded of what we have a loving Father in Heaven, who’s always got our back.  Like Zachary, we may lose our balance a few times, fall and even cry, but one thing he knows is that “daddy is right behind me and he will catch me when I fall.”

God promises us this in the following verses 

Isaiah 41:10 “I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’ Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

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 or forsake you.”

Even after several falls, our son will be able to balance on his own and cycle independently.  That is how we will also come out of this season.  When we balance our lives but adding Faith and Trust in God through a relationship with Him, the process becomes bearable.  It will become a season of great strength and we will come out of it stronger and bolder than we have ever been. 

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st May 2020

Without a doubt, Corona has swept in and totally interrupted all of our lives to some degree. It has cut in and shut down our usual routines and systems. Interruption can really shake us. At the very least it can be uncomfortable. It contradicts our usual flow, order and natural need for control.

Sometimes, and I would dare to say, often times, the Holy Spirit doesn’t operate on what is convenient to us. Yes He works within our schedules, but often He interrupts them. Are we open to such interruptions?

Many of us hunger for God to break through in our lives, many of us desire to be ‘used’ by God, and yet we are so determined to get through our daily schedule and personal agenda no matter what! We pack our calendars so full that we leave little room for interruption from God. We get to the end of the day and wonder why we haven’t heard from God, or been aware of what He is saying or doing. Could it be because we aren’t living open to interruption? We are so focused on our to-do list that we haven’t been aware of God’s gentle prompts and opportunities.

Do we see the interruptions of God in our day as an inconvenience, rather than an invitation?

Perhaps we encounter someone with a need, and we process our encounter with them as a delay to our day rather than recognising that we were just given an opportunity to allow God to work through us.

If we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, he was often on his way somewhere and about his plans for the day when he was then ‘delayed’ by someone in need. What was Jesus’ response? Well, he saw the delay as an opportunity to partner with God and then perform a miracle. Interruptions are often the avenues for miracles. The disciples many a time watched people interrupting their planned agenda for the day and rather than Jesus rushing them away, he stopped and engaged with the opportunity to partner with God. Jesus recognised ‘delays’ as the very purpose for which they were there.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to-do lists. I love order. I love productivity plans and fulfilled schedules. And I still think those things have a place, BUT let us be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit in the day, and let us be flexible to where and when God may interrupt our day-to-day comings and goings. Let us be Spirit driven, not agenda driven people. God is always inviting us into a partnership with Him.

Often we imagine God will fantastically and supernaturally lead us to a person in need, but if you look at the life of Jesus, often, it was simply Jesus and his disciples going about their very normal day and then having very normal interruptions where a need would then present itself and Jesus would step in as the solution.

As Jesus followed the gentle nudgings of God, he would be ready to minister according to the need that arose. When a need pops up in our lives, we don’t need a booming audible voice of God to tell us to do something. As people of God, walking with the Spirit, we recognise a need, and we get to be a solution to the problem.

We get to be inconveniently interrupted, and we are open to that. We get to put aside our agenda for a moment and do the work of God.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th May 2020

Your heart is possibly the most important thing about you! I’m not talking about the organ beating inside your chest, I’m talking about the heart as your centre of hidden emotional-intellectual-moral activity.

Your heart plans, makes commitments, desires and decides. It is your inner forum where decisions are made after deliberation. It is where a person engages in self-talk.

The Bible says that while people focus on outward appearance, God is searching our hearts. (1 Samuel 16:7, Jeremiah 17:10).

Our words create our world, and our words echo what’s going on in our heart. It all starts with the heart.

PROTECT IT against bitterness, GUARD IT against attitudes, CHECK IT against the Bible, EDUCATE IT by filling it with God’s word (Proverbs 22:17-18), and OPEN IT to what is good!

Fight for a healthy heart. ‘Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life’ (Proverbs 4:23).

Before we start trying to make modifications to our life from the outside, let’s start with the inside. Let’s start with the condition of our heart.

Consider, what does our inner world look like? Our outer world manifests what started in our inner world. A healthy heart springs out to a healthy life.

I wonder what our lives would be like if we invested as much time on our heart as we did outward appearance. Studies show that on average we spend about 30 minutes a day getting ready. 30 minutes, ensuring we look outwardly presentable. Imagine if we took just half that time, each day, to examine our hearts and inner world? Our outer world would truly be transformed! The Bible speaks many times about self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:28-32, 2 Corinthians 13:5, James 1:23-25, Lamentations 3:40).

Busy lives often keep us from facing the issues of our heart and inner world. As many of us are now in self-isolation, with perhaps some extra time on our hands, let’s use this season to process and consider the rooms of our heart. Many of you have been re-decorating, clearing out lofts, and cupboards lately. Maybe it is time to do a bit of that kind of work on our heart, and consequently – life. What needs to go? What needs to be re-built? What needs to have a break? What needs to grow? Once you have identified it, put in some practical steps to see it happen. It is time to work on some private matters, so when we go public, we are better than ever!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th May 2020

One of my favourite quotes is by Friedrich Nietzsche who said “He whose life has a why, can bear almost any how!”

Basically when there is a purpose behind the pain you are going through, it’s bearable. The pain of child birth is made bearable by a baby, the pain of studying is made bearable by passing those exams. 

But the opposite is also true, when your suffering has no purpose, it’s unbearable! Such as illness or loss of a loved one. In this current season where there seems to be so much fear and suffering, it can feel like ‘what possible ‘why’ can there be for this loss?’ and it may be unbearable.

The key is to (by faith) attach purpose to whatever it is we’re suffering. The story of how Doubting Thomas got his name can help. 

Imagine how confusing and disheartening it was for Thomas when first Jesus dies but then reappears to the other 11 without him there. Thomas must have felt, ‘this is Jesus? He knows all things, he knew I wouldn’t be there, couldn’t he have come two hours later when I was back?’ ‘I don’t understand, I’m hurting so I refuse to believe!’

Then when he finally sees Jesus, he worships him to which Jesus replies:
John 20:29 “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

We aren’t called to understand, we’re called to believe.

It’s difficult, I know, but when you’re in pain and confused, when you feel like everyone’s at the party except you, and it’s impossible to see how this loss could ever be worked for the good, stop and say to yourself, ‘hang on! This is an opportunity to believe without seeing!’ ‘I don’t understand, but this is an opportunity to be ‘really blessed!’

In this strange season we find ourselves in, remember: ‘he whose life has a ‘why’, can bear almost any ‘how’!’ Let’s always, no matter how things look, remember Jesus Christ is our why, and no one who puts their hope in him will be disappointed. We’ll never know all the answers, we just need to keep believing in the reason and put our hope in Him! 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th May 2020

It was a defining moment when Joshua said to Israel, ‘…choose for yourselves …as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24v15)

First, in our lives, defining moments usually come as a surprise and happen during a time of crisis. The crisis that we are facing right now is likely to be one of them. There will be other times too, like times of personal failure, taking an unpopular stand, suffering without complaining, being asked to forgive or making a hard choice. Sometimes, defining moments occur when we don’t see them for what they are. It’s only afterwards, as we look back, that we understand their importance. Either way, they define who we are.

Secondly, defining moments show others who we are. During these times we will let go of any pretence and let our guard down, revealing the real me. Our image means nothing, neither does our connections, or any type of spin that we put on something to make us appear better than we really are. Whatever is truly going on inside us is revealed to everyone. If you’re a leader, defining moments tell the people following you who you really are, what you stand for, and why you’re leading.

Thirdly, defining moments determine who we will become. You’ll never be the same person after a defining moment. That’s because defining moments aren’t normal or usual, and what is normal doesn’t work in these times. Defining moments are like a crossroads in our lives, they give us the opportunity to turn, change direction, and seek a new destination. They present options and opportunities. In these moments, we must choose. The choice we make will define us.

Be careful in these unusual and uncertain times that you make the right choices — they will define your life either for the better or for the worse.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th May 2020

God is for community, He is for being together. God never designed us to be alone. In the book of Genesis, right at the start of the Bible, He declares over Adam “it is not good for man to be alone” (Chapter 2 vs 18). He is a God who designed community. A Community of people who together, though we may be different, are all important to each other. 

Romans 12 vs 4 & 5 says “for just as each one of us has one body with many members, and these members don’t all have the same function, so in Christ, we, though we are many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

You see, I’m better with two feet and both of my ears and my arms and so in the same way, we as the body of Christ, you and I, are better together. 

Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking that you are better alone, you’re not. The Church is God’s idea, we are His bride, He is passionate about us. 

Why is it good to be in a great Church Community? Here’s a few reasons…

Galatians 6 vs 2 says “carry each other’s burdens and by doing so, you will FULFIL the law of Christ.” We need to be there for each other, in good times and bad. You may not have natural family relationships that are good or strong, or they may not be there at all, but when you have a Church family, they are your community who will love and care for you…we love and care for each other.

Psalm 133 v 1 says “How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity.” It’s GOOD to be together. It does something for you in your heart and spirit. It builds you up and helps you to become the person God created you to be. If that wasn’t so, it wouldn’t be so clear in the Word of God. 

Matthew 18 vs 2  says “For where two or three are gathered in MY name, there I AM in the midst “This is a clear indication, that when you are together, God is there! And where God’s presence is, then His power is there also…and then, take note…anything is possible!

So in this time of forced ‘isolation’, do everything YOU CAN to get into a online Church community – -a support network of God’s Church. 

Join in Life groups & prayer meetings and online Bible Studies & Sunday services …and soon we will be back together ‘in the flesh’ and the community of God’s Church will have been strengthened in the process and we will come out better for it. 


Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th May 2020

One lesson I believe we can all learn from this unprecedented time of ‘lock down’ is that we are (or at least should be) our ‘brothers keeper!’

We live in a very independent society that struggles to give up individual liberty for the sake of others. There is a very common secular train of thought that goes ‘you can do anything you want as long as you don’t harm others ’ but this current pandemic has, by enforcing social distancing, made all of us act on behalf of others, to take a certain responsibility for ‘your brother’, so to say. 
I am talking about the government’s message ‘stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives!’ but actually I want to encourage all of you who follow Jesus to continue in your hearts and attitudes to be your brother’s and sister‘a keepers! To stand in the gap, and be prepared to take responsibility for others not just for yourself.

In Genesis 4, God enquires of Cain ‘where is your brother Abel?’ Cain having recently killed his brother out of jealousy responds with the words ‘I don’t know! Am I my brother’s keeper?’ 

Cain’s words have come to symbolize people’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for the welfare of their fellow human beings. The story of the Gospel is that Jesus took responsibility for ‘his brothers’ shortcomings (that’s all of ours) so that we can live in the wide open spaces of God’s goodness. But this is on the condition that we too are prepared to extend that grace to our fellow brothers and sisters, that we would in some way take on responsibility for them.

One of the easiest ways to duck this responsibility and exclaim in a loud voice ‘’am I my brother’s keeper!?’ is criticism. We live in a very critical culture where rather than take any responsibility or ownership for issues, criticism places the responsibility for them firmly on the shoulders of anyone else. Criticism is the opposite of taking responsibility, the opposite of being your brother’s keeper!

This is why Jesus taught ‘behaviours of grace’ like, ‘turn the other cheek’ ‘Go the extra mile’ and ‘love your enemies.’ He taught these at length not for the sake of our enemies but to help us to break the learned pattern of behaviour of always looking out for our own personal justices and freedoms, but instead to allow God’s ultimate justice and freedom to reign and bring peace into our lives. 
I encourage you, take responsibility today, don’t judge, look for ways to love and look out for your fellow brothers and sisters! 

Galatians 5:13-14 | NIV You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th May 2020

Continuing with our verse-by-verse study of Psalm 23, today we reach the last verse of this chapter.

Quick recap; David expresses in verse 1 how he knows the Lord to be his personal shepherd and because of that he is looked after. He understood that the Lord would lead him to what he needed and provided ultimate peace for the soul (Verse 2 & 3).

In verse 4, David explains how through the mountain-tops and valleys, the shepherd (God) leads him through both. Because of this, he does not need to fear. There is covering and protection in staying close and following the lead of the shepherd. This includes correction.

Verse 5 – even in the midst of struggles, the goodness of God stands. Joy, refreshment, provision, and gladness is still available throughout trials and it is important to remember this as we walk through the dark times.

Let’s finish with verse 6 – ‘Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever’.

Mercy represents steadfast love. The goodness of God and His love follows us. We follow the shepherd, goodness and love follows us! Some of us are searching for goodness and love, and all we need to do is follow God, and those things will then follow us!

As long as we are seated at the table, our cups are always overflowing… God is always our provider…David had the expectation that this was for him ALL THE DAYS of his life. Not just in some seasons, But ALL the days of His life. God does not have a limit on His love and goodness.

‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever’ – house of the Lord, means ‘presence of the Lord’. As we LIVE and abide in the presence of our Lord, all the days of our life, blessing follows and it doesn’t end. It starts here and now on Earth and follows us into Heaven!

In reflecting on the beauty of this chapter, I hope that you can read it in a whole new light. There really is no other way to do life than walking with our shepherd, Jesus. Regardless of the highs and lows that we walk through, there is blessing, protecting, provision and covering in staying close to Him, and being seated at his table.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th May 2020

A group of businessmen went to a remote mountain retreat for a weekend of leadership training. Expecting graphs, statistics and pep talks, they were completely surprised when their boss, Mr Clarkson, asked them to trade their laptops for spades. “I want you to dig a ditch one meter wide and half a meter deep around the perimeter of my cabin”, he said. And with those words, he disappeared inside it.

At first, nobody said anything. But soon their silence turned into questioning. Then they started arguing about the exacting measurement which they felt didn’t really matter too much. They complained about having risen to the top of the corporate ladder, only to be forced to do manual labour.

Finally, John turned to the others in the group and said, “who cares why he told us to do it – let’s just do it and let’s do it with a good attitude. With those words, the cabin door flew open and the boss reappeared. “Gentlemen”, he said, as he grabbed John’s hand, “I’d like you to meet your new vice-president.”

There are three things that we can learn from this story today:

1-When God doesn’t explain something fully, it’s because you don’t need the details.

2-When God doesn’t speak, it’s because He’s watching, waiting and working things out.

3-When He tests you on one level, it’s because He’s getting ready to take you to the next.

So don’t question what He’s doing today…just obey Him!

Deuteronomy 8:2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th May 2020

Are you fearful? Anxious? Worried? It’s possible that during the past several weeks, these emotions have played a role in your life.
Maybe you’re worried about finance, anxious about your safety, fearful of what the future holds for you and your family.

Today I want to turn your attention to what I believe is an antidote to your anxiety, and that is, going for a walk. Now hear me out…this is far more than a ‘the fresh air will do you good’ kind of encouragement. I actually believe that peace and assurance can be found in you simply stepping outside and making the following observation.

When Jesus addressed the subject of worry, in the space of just ten Bible verses, He used the words ‘do not worry’ three times. (That’s a high level of emphasis!). But not only was that His instruction, He then gave us an exercise.
He said, “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.“ He then turns our attention to another part of nature. “See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon (the richest man to ever live) in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.”

Then He poses a rhetorical question, “Are you not much more valuable than they?” The answer to that is yes friend, you are far more valuable to God than the birds and the flowers.

So what is Jesus getting at? The next time you start to feel fearful, anxious or worried, or even before those emotions try to work their way in, go for a walk. And while you’re on that walk, observe the birds and the flowers. Notice how the birds’ every need (who doesn’t have a savings account) is met. Notice how the flowers, who’ve never passed exams or held down a job look so incredibly stunning. And then ask yourself this: ‘If that is how God looks after them, despite them not being as valuable to Him as I, how much more will He look after me, who is of far greater value to Him?’

Today, allow fear, worry and anxiety to lose their grip over your life as you understand that what God creates, He takes care of.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th May 2020

Over the past few weeks our dear friend, Thembinkosi has been in Intensive Care with Covid-19. Sadly, he passed away last night (9thMay). Over the time he was fighting the virus, we prayed relentlessly for him. We all had such faith that he would get up off that hospital bed and yet again share another testimony about the goodness of God. 

Thembinkosi was a husband. He was a father to two boys, Timothy (15), and Titus (12). And he was a friend to many. He was always full of hope, a joyful smile and a word of encouragement. He loved God with all his heart and soul. He was the kind of person that touched your heart and stirred your faith. 

When we got word that this mighty man of faith had passed away, we were all heartbroken. God was meant to heal this man of God. It’s a massive blow. 

Right now it is easy to think, ‘God failed us’, but I don’t think He has. Ultimately, death has not won. Death has been destroyed. This is why God sent His son. Thembinkosi is now healed and has now entered into eternal life. He is in heaven (soon to be joined by us). 

God hasn’t let us down. He made a way. Sometimes He makes a way in this life, on earth. Sometimes, He makes the way in Heaven. 

We prayed with everything we had and the healing didn’t happen. The testimony we imagined didn’t happen, and we don’t know why. But we cannot afford to question the goodness of God in this moment. The nature of God is not defined by our circumstance. Remember, if we understood God completely, we would be as big as God. We have to learn to live with the mystery and the “WHY?”. I believe that God will honour the faith we had for Thembinkosi’s healing. 

Yes, not having him hurts, but can you imagine how much he is loving Heaven right now? He would be in his element, fist pumping in praise! 

In the end, we did get a testimony from Thembinkosi. His life was the powerful testimony. He lived surrendered to God. He held a posture of humility and gratitude. He knew what this life was really all about – eternity. 

I’m reminded yet again of how fleeting and brief life is for us all, in comparison to the weight of eternity. REALITY CHECK: Life is not about life. It is about where we are heading. Life is just the practice, the dress rehearsal, the entrée. The real game, the real show, the main meal, is Heaven. 

Just like Thembinkosi, we must live this life with our whole hearts, with joy, with unbridled passion, with deep gratitude, honouring and encouraging others at any opportunity we get. Let’s live light, free from offence and pettiness, because eternity is what really counts. 

As Thembinkosi would have it, let’s process his death through the lenses of eternity, knowing full well he is home with Jesus and we will meet again. 

We’re in this grief together. That is the beauty of being in community. Let’s live in light of eternity, and do everything we can to support his wife, Queen and their boys in the meantime. 

‘A Go Fund Me’ page has been created in honour of Thembinkosi, and in support of his family. We would love them to be financially covered and blessed during this challenging time. Please find the link here

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th May 2020

God’s timing is perfect! He is never late, nor early. We operate in time, God doesn’t.  Whenever I have been impatient about something happening, I always look back after the event and think “wow, God was spot on!”  Of course He was, He’s God. 

In Mark chapter 5 we read about a man called Jairus who came to Jesus because his daughter was sick and I mean, very sick. He pleaded with Jesus to go with him… in verse 24 it says that Jesus did.
However, en route, Jesus is distracted by a desperate woman who has been ill for 12 years. Her situation was hopeless and she was helpless.  Let me stop right there and tell you that Jesus is attracted to helpless & hopeless situations! So He heals the woman…awesome.  But then is late for the little girl and when He gets there, she is already dead. Was Jesus late, or was He right on time?

In our thoughts and thinking, He was late but to God, absolutely not. 
You see, Jesus can do whatever He wants to do, whenever He wants to do it and with whoever He wants to do it with.  

So my friend, never question the timing of God. Just trust. 

It says that people were wailing and crying and telling Him He was too late (vs 40). It also says that “Jesus put them out!”   He wanted no unbelievers around when there was a miracle to do.  

Today, be a person of trust. Be a person of faith.   And when you are tempted to think God has got His timing wrong, be reminded of this account and listen to the words of Jesus (in verse 36) to those who were worried and afraid “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”

God has never got it wrong yet and He never will.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th May 2020

Today is the 75th anniversary of VE Day, a day where we celebrate Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender and the end of World War 2. It marks the end of a period of fear and hardship for many families who had been living under the constant threat of death, and a day of hope, that news of the illness or death of loved ones would finally cease.

Today again, in the middle of a different battle, we hope to hear news that a cure for the Coronavirus has been found, so our lives can go back to normal, as we’re tired of living under the fear of losing loved ones, and hardship for many families who have lost their livelihoods once again.

The fear of pain, or loss, or death is not something you can run away from, but rather something, with God’s help, you can overcome. Living a life afraid of what might happen is not living.

In the first ten verses of the book of Ruth in The Bible, we read a tragic story of a married couple and their two kids whose story starts in a famine. Faced with severe lack and hardship, they make the brave decision to relocate their family in order to find food and shelter somewhere else.
The man’s decision to move his family from everything and everyone they knew and loved was an attempt to run away from what he saw as certain death. An attempt to run away from everything that caused him sleepless nights and made him afraid of losing his livelihood and his family. Unfortunately, when they arrive at their destination, the man dies, and never gets to enjoy the good things he had anticipated.
His running away in fear, and arrival in a different place alone was not enough to sustain him. That’s not to say that if they had stayed, he would have survived, but he defined his life not by the abundance or lack he was experiencing, but by fear.

The body’s response to fear is to produce adrenaline, which helps you to react much quicker, to run faster, and to fight harder than you could have done. All of which are reactions to help us during this time in our lives.

In Matthew 19:26, Jesus reassured us that whatever may seem impossible with men is possible with God. Ask God to help you overcome and turn your fears to your advantage until you have your victory day.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th May 2020

‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.’

In continuing with our mini-study on Psalm 23, we are going to look at verse 5 today. 

When David speaks of a ‘table’, this represents food, feasting, blessing and provision. 

David, in the valley, envisioned that rich table before him. He knew God as his provider even in the darkest of valleys. 

It is so important for us as we walk through the valley, to have a vision, and rehearse the promises of God for our life. 

‘In the presence of my enemies’ – God isn’t there just when the enemies are gone, when the conflict is over, or when the virus is over. God is providing for you and wants you to enjoy His goodness IN THE MIDST of trouble, hardship, trials and ‘your enemies’. 

God’s goodness doesn’t mean the absence of enemies, in means IN the presence of enemies God’s blessings are manifest!

Are we able to enjoy the goodness of God NOW? Or are we waiting for everything to be perfect? 

‘You PREPARE a table’  – Preparation speaks of thought, effort, care, a going before us. God goes before us in provision and fulfilled promises, as we walk through the valley. 

‘You anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over’ – In the east, people frequently anointed their visitors with oil or perfume and gave them a cup of choice wine, which would constantly be filled ‘until it ran over’. The overfilled cup showed that as long as they would abide in the presence of their host, they had an abundance of everything. This beautifully links with Verse 1 of Psalm 23 where David says, ‘I lack nothing’. As long as we are in the presence of our shepherd, all our needs are met, plus more. 

The anointing of oil was to show love and respect, and was also used as refreshment. Oil is symbolic of gladness. Even in the valley, you are anointed with gladness, you are refreshed, and loved! 

Oil is also used to protect. I recently discovered that shepherds actually use oil on a sheep’s head to protect them from a certain type of fly that can go through the sheep’s eye and into their brain!

What a powerful picture of how the oil of God covers our minds from those thoughts that attempt to take ground!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th May 2020

Recently I have been taking you on a mini-study of Psalm 23. So far, we have done a verse-by-verse break down of the following:

‘The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…’

If you have missed any of the studies, please feel free to go back and read them!

Today we will be focusing on the second half of verse 4,

‘your rod and your staff, they comfort me’.

The rod and the staff were tools of a shepherd.

The rod was a tool for protection, to defend the sheep from potential predators.

The staff was a tool for correction, gently pulling any straying sheep back into line and into the right direction.

When we submit to the leading of the shepherd, we come under his rod and staff, which offer us protection from predators, and correction.

We should welcome the correction of God into our lives. His staff is what keeps us from wandering off into danger zones, and his rod protects us from predators. They lead us to the green pastures that we want.

So why does David talk about the correction of the shepherd here, in the valley? Well, perhaps it is because it is the in the dark times that we can be most open to compromising – it is when we start questioning our shepherd.

When you are a child, your parents correct you when you misbehave, or ‘behave out of line’. Parents do this because the child’s misbehaviour is not in line with the values of the parents or what the family represents. It is loving, protecting, and a source of security for the child to be disciplined.

For example, ‘We the Smith family do not throw tantrums at the table, so we are correcting you so you come into line with what we as a family are about!’

Likewise, when we step out of line as children of God, there is security in knowing that God, by His Holy Spirit, pulls us back saying, ‘hey, as children of God, we do not behave like that. I love you enough to correct you. My correction will get you to where you want to go.’

In the valleys of life, welcome the boundaries and corrective rod of God. They will protect you. When you feel the Holy Spirit say, ‘hmmm that’s not what my son/daughter does’, take that as a reminder of who you really are.

There is protection in the correction!

As David said, His correction actually COMFORTS you. It gives you security because you know He cares enough about you to correct you.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th May 2020

One of the great mysteries of the universe concerns the much loved, or hated Avocado. Yes, before you ask, it’s a fruit — or more technically a single seeded berry! The avocado contains more potassium than a banana and is one of very few fruits that contain totally digestible protein – 4 grams per avocado.

Need to ripen your avocado? Sit it in your fruit bowl with apples and bananas – hey presto.

Now for the mystery…how to keep it from turning black once it’s been cut?

There are so many theories out there, some of which work, but my only point today is to mention that the ‘stone’ or seed inside is what actually keeps it fresh.

At the very heart of this amazing fruit is a large throwaway, dull-looking seed that once removed will ensure that your avocado goes black within minutes.

This led me to think about what is going on inside of you today.

Jesus said that your heart is the determining factor for whether you live a good or bad life.

Luke 6:43-45 ‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn-bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.’

Keeping your heart pure and clean is one of the greatest ways of living a blessed and productive life.

If you store up bitterness and unforgiveness in your heart then it will eventually destroy your life.

If your daily focus is only on bad things then your life will suffer.

If you are consumed with watching pornography you will end up a very unhappy person with no ability to form proper healthy relationships, let alone be satisfied within marriage.

Your heart needs to be taken care of both physically and spiritually for you to remain in good health.

If you find yourself in outbursts of anger and fits of rage then it will be a sign that you need to deal with the issues deep inside your heart.

Today, don’t fool yourself in the same way that you try to fool others into thinking that you’re good when actually you know that you’re bad on the inside.

Confess your faults and turn from your sins.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to keep you pure and fresh, lest you become like the humble avocado that’s turning black because its heart has been removed.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th May 2020

How’s your fear factor today?

Do you find like myself, that if fear is going to attack, it will usually be in the middle of the night?

Fear is very crafty, in that it knocks on your door when you are most vulnerable. When all alone and in the dark is when it will normally raise its ugly head.

It is especially true right now that many are reporting that the fear of catching the coronavirus is terrifying them. Maybe that’s exactly what is happening with you. At times, fear is nothing to be afraid of as it masquerades in the form of a lie that something is terribly wrong, when in reality there is nothing wrong. However, there are times like now that fear is simply pointing to something that really does exist and really is of great concern to everyone all over the world, yet its strategy is to bring you down to your lowest level and bind you with sheer panic and terror.

Whatever guise your fear may come in today, be sure of this one rock solid thing — God has got you covered!

There is nothing quite like the power of speaking out and repeating the verses and chewing on the Bible — this helps to stay focused in faith and overcome the fear that we all may face right now.

Why not join me today in starting the day with some incredible yet simple confessions from the Bible that will change the fear factor? Be warned, nothing may change in the outside world, but what will change is what’s going on in your inside world. Remember, your biggest enemy is often your inner-me.

The Bible records the words ‘fear not’ 365 times —that’s one for every day of the year. Have you ever stopped to ask why God continually has to remind us to fear not? Is it not because we fear so much?

Whatever it may be, here are just a few verses that will encourage us all to stay strong today. Here we go…lets do this together:

Psalm 91:1-7 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

Psalm 118:6-7 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Deuteronomy 20:4 For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.’

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.’

Proverbs 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?

Hebrews 13:5-6 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’

2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.


Let’s each take these verses with us throughout the day.

We stand together — in Jesus’ name.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd May 2020

Easter wasn’t too long ago.  The two days that are most remembered are Good Friday, the day that Jesus died and Easter Sunday, the day that He rose. 
But what about the day in between?  What about the Saturday?

The Saturday would have been very quiet. People who knew and loved Jesus would have been mourning, maybe even fearful, wondering what on earth just happened? 

Before He died, He promised them that He would rise again on the third day. They had to cling to that promise, maybe some of them did, maybe some didn’t.  

Saturday is the day between the fear and the promise and that requires FAITH. 

I believe we are experiencing a ‘Saturday’ right now.  In between what has happened that has caused people to fear and what we are hoping and believing for.  

We can’t afford to keep looking back and around in fear, we have to believe the promises of God and be in a position of faith.  
If Good Friday had been a stand-alone day, it would have been the worst day in history… but it wasn’t, it was quickly followed by Sunday, which made those two days, the greatest days in history. 
If we only think Friday, fear, Friday, fear, we are missing out on living by faith which will lead to the promise. 

Yes, something may have happened that you’re not sure about, or you don’t understand and it may seem like “where has God gone?”

What do you think the disciples were thinking about on Good Friday? The one they knew and loved had gone!

Maybe some of you are in fear over health or finances or family. God wants you to be in a place of FAITH.  

Don’t let your home be a place of fear right now, instead be a cultivator of faith. 

Cling onto the promises of God that say 

“I will never leave you or forsake you”

“Even though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me”

“God works all things out together for good, to those He loves and are called according to His purpose”

My friend, it may be Saturday right now, but Sunday is coming!

“Saturday was silent, surely it was tough  

But since when has the impossible, ever stopped You?”

God wants you to know Sunday is coming. 

You’re in that waiting time for the miracle… 

They may not have been certain about the Resurrection, but Jesus promised them and He always keeps His promises.  

 If God has promised you something… it will surely come to pass. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st May 2020

More than ever today, prayer should be seen as huge privilege—a privilege God has freely given to us because He wants to spend time with us. Here is the truth about prayer…God wants to hear from you! 
Now of course, prayer by its very nature often carries with it a burden; if you are praying for someone that is fighting off the coronavirus, you will have a burden for them that is driving you to your knees. However, prayer should not be a burden but more so a privilege. 

Jesus died to destroy the barrier of sin that separates us from God, and when we surrender our lives to God we have a personal relationship with Him. In fact, we only have access to God through prayer because of what Jesus did for us in His death and resurrection. He opened the way for us once and for all to come freely to Him. 

Central to any relationship is communication. Whether it’s a father that never talks to his children, or a married couple that never speak to each other, it’s a recipe for a relationship breakdown. The reality is that a father will always be related to his son or daughter and vice versa, but the question is will you be in relationship with them and they with you?

At a far greater spiritual level, our relationship with God involves communication; not just a brief hello, but a much deeper level of sharing our cares, concerns and requests with Him. Prayer is a daily, ongoing, and developing walk with God. 
To put it simplistically, prayer is talking with and listening to God – it’s a two way street just like any other relationship. 

God could of course simply do everything on His own. He could make every problem go away, sort all your burdens out, and then just shower you with everything you need exactly at the time you need it…so why doesn’t He? Because that wouldn’t be a relationship; it would be a completely one-sided acquaintance. All that we would need to do is give Him a nod to acknowledge His existence each morning and then leave the rest to Him. 

God has given us the privilege of prayer so that we will have a moment by moment friendship and relationship with Him that is deeper than any human relationship we could ever have. When we understand that, every human relationship goes to a whole new level too. 

There are some things that my children have asked me for over the years that I haven’t been able to supply — I’m limited and flawed as a father. But then there are times when I’ve sorted things straight away, because it’s within my means and power to do so. Often my phone will ring and the voice on the other end is saying, “Dad…can you…?” The truth is that any Dad LOVES to be asked for things, or asked to do things by his children. It’s what makes the relationship work. Then there are times that I will ask things of my children (usually internet related) and they are happy to help. Once again it makes for great relationships. 

At other times, maybe I will need to talk to them about something or give them advice or encouragement —and so it is with God. He wants you to not only communicate with Him as a child to a father, but He also wants to communicate with you. 

Jesus demonstrated the importance of prayer by His own example…
Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 

Today, I encourage you to engage with God in the privilege of prayer. 

Did you charge your phone today? Of course you did! You remembered to do it because it was important and you needed it to get you through the day. 

Did you pray today? Are you praying throughout today? You have, and you will, when you come to the understanding that you need a spiritual re-charge not only at the start of my day but throughout everyday as day to day life drains me. 

Be a person of prayer. Be a person that’s plugged into the power of God. 

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

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. 


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:

Thank you,

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.

Fresh Hope – 31st March 2020

Less than one hundred days into the year 2020, no-one would have imagined at the start of the year that in order to save and protect yourself and those around you, we’d all have to stay away from each other.

It may start to feel like the world is falling into an abyss with no end in sight, and the threat that’s greater than the Coronavirus to the wellbeing of thousands of families is the anxiety, stress and fear of losing their livelihoods, family members and friends.

The pandemic has the potential to kill you spiritually and mentally without even coming close to you physically. As we remain isolated in our homes, only allowed to travel to stock up on the essentials, there is one essential part of our lives that we shouldn’t neglect.

Isolation in our homes should not become isolation from God. Only by remaining connected to Him can we raise our faith as a shield around us.

His Word is as relevant, as alive, as powerful, and as unchanged today as it has been throughout the ages.

It is reassuring and comforting to know that God did not make a promise to a small group of people in the past, but to everyone who calls on the name of Jesus in times of trouble.

And when you call on Him, He promises to give you peace which can’t be understood in the midst of anxiety and distress.

To restore joy where there is sadness and weeping.

To restore a sense of security when the path ahead is dark because He is a lamp to guide our feet.

To reassure us in knowing that whatever was meant for evil, He will turn it for good.

Psalms 94:17-19 says

“If the Lord had not been my help, I would soon have dwelt in [the land of] silence. If I say, “My foot has slipped,” Your compassion and loving kindness, O Lord, will hold me up. When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your comforts delight me.”

Jesus knows what you need even before you ask Him, and He is always close enough to reach out for you when you feel like you’re sinking. 

Hope is still here.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th March 2020

It goes without saying that we are all living in a very different world right now. There is no one out there that can quote ‘…the last time we went through this.’

This is a first for everyone that’s alive right now. It’s unsettling for many and scary for most, but it is also a season of great opportunity.

Life may not go back to ‘normal’ for quite some time, so we have to be determined not to waste this season, but instead to make it count. Everyone of us is gifted with the opportunity of being able to read, learn, study, pray, love, clean, sort and not least of all, think and dream. When was the last time that you were gifted with the time to do all the things that you’ve been moaning about for years. Your theme song has been has forever been…‘I would do that, but I just don’t have time’ – well now you have!

Get up, get dressed and get ready to go to work without leaving the house!

Imagine a bank credits your account each morning with £86,400. It’s carries over no balance from day to day. At midnight, the account resets to another £86,400 and deletes whatever part of the previous day’s balance that you failed to use. There’s no guarantee you will ever be given another £86,400. If that were the case, what would you do? Draw out every last pound of course!

Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Each morning you are given a gift that is credited to your life of 86,400 seconds.

Every night, what you have failed to use is lost.

Time carries over no balance from day to day. Time allows no overdraft and you cannot hold on to what you did not use the day before.

If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.

I challenge you today to take a long hard look at your life in this unique season and ask yourself, what am I going to do with my time?

How and where do you spend it?

How much time am I wasting?

How much time am I spending just on me?

How much time am I investing in others?

How much time am I spending with God?

Everything in life has to to have a balance to it, but I’m sure that you will agree that it’s hardly a balanced life sitting in front of a TV every day.

Wake up; we only have one life to live!

Make an important decision today to not waste another minute.

There’s an old saying that says ‘time waits for no man’.

Write that book, dream that dream, make that call, clean out that junk, read those books, cook that recipe, love your children, learn something new, throw out that clutter, bag up those unwanted clothes, pray those prayers, listen to podcasts, study the Bible, love on others, send messages daily, believe in yourself and No.1 put Jesus first in all that you do.

Today has already been partly spent —what are you going to do today with the rest of your 86,400 seconds?

Make your life count.

Don’t delay.

Make a decision to come out of this crisis different than how you entered it.

This will soon be over.

Take courage my friend.

Be a world changer, but if not, be a home changer.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th March 2020

What happens when you feel like giving up? When you feel like you’ve tried and tried and prayed and prayed, but you can’t see much happening or you can’t see anything happening. 

Here’s something to help. In Matthew 7 vs 7-12,  Jesus teaches about prayer.  

Why? Not only to help us, but to teach us that there are different levels to praying .

It tells us to ask and it will be given, seek and you will find and knock and the door will be opened to us. 

I can ask you for something and hopefully you’ll give it to me (if I ask nicely and say please).  That’s like prayer sometimes, we can just ask and we immediately receive.  I love those sorts of prayers!

Then there’s the word ‘seek’. It’s like playing the game hide and seek. You won’t find the person straight away (unless you cheat), you have to put a little effort in to find them. 

That’s like prayer sometimes, you don’t always see the answer straight away. You have to seek a little.  Put some time and energy in. 

Then there’s ‘knock’, which speaks about persistence.  

There’s a story in Luke 18 about a lady who was persistent with a judge because she wanted mercy. It says she went to his house and kept knocking and knocking till she got her answer.  It tells us that he didn’t answer her because he liked her, no in fact it tells us he didn’t fear God or people, but he eventually answered her request because she was annoying and persisting and she wouldn’t go away. 

Notice what it says in verse 1 “Jesus told them this story so that they could see it was important to pray and not give up.” So Jesus told them this story to teach them about how important it is to persist in prayer!


before you feel like giving up, have you tried all three?


Because if something is worth anything, then it’s worth praying for, waiting for and fighting for. 

I like to think like this…


Pray Until Something Happens

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

Fresh Hope – 27th March 2020

In four days, a quarter of the year will have passed. I wonder how this 2020 is shaping up for you? You could be celebrating or you could be struggling, in this current season. It very much depends on your circumstances.

Last month, I received some bad news. It was completely unexpected. You could say I was momentarily blindsided by the news affecting a loved one. Of all the things anticipated for 2020, this had not been on my radar.

One morning I woke up with a real heaviness in my heart. I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt like this and can only describe a pain that gripped me like ‘grief’. As I sat in my usual spot praying that morning I simply said ‘Lord, I feel so sad…’
As I prayed, I was reminded of Psalm 42:11‘Why my soul are you downcast – why so disturbed within me?’
Reading on, I found treasure and light for my soul – ‘Put your Hope in God’

I had read those words so many times before but right there, that morning, those words flooded my heart and lifted the heaviness that I had been carrying.

I had a decision to make there and then, just as the word instructed me to. At that point I didn’t understand the situation and I still had no answers for the future, other than one; to shift my eyes from the problem and to fix my eyes onto Jesus –  He could and would fill my heart with hope.

Today, if your heart is weighed down with exhaustion, worries, the problems of this season, I urge you to do one thing. Change your position, shift your gaze and choose today to put your hope in Jesus. You can move from a place of being downcast and hopeless, to a place of being hope- filled.
Hope is Here. Hope is found in Jesus. 

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th March 2020

Yesterday, I shared a few ideas around arising to the occasion during this current crisis and shining our light as the church. The top tips continue below.  Let’s see this season out, carrying strength, peace, power, sensibility, and love in the process! 

5. Look for opportunity. 

Leaders see problems as opportunities. There is a once in a lifetime opportunity here for us right now. There is an appetite now for answers, and spirituality. People don’t need hype, they need hope. 

This is a moment, a window, where we can build trust with people. How we hold ourselves and carry ourselves during this will determine our relationship with them in the future…people are watching. You can build credibility with people by how you manage yourself through it. This will pass.

6. Be ready

Be ready to answer tough questions, be sharp and discerning – look for opportunities to love and serve others, guard your mind, be watchful, be vigilant, be realistic, don’t just be positive, be hope driven (hope means you know there IS a God looking after you, not you wish/fingers crossed there is a God looking after you). 

7. As you isolate  

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of negative things we could focus on right now, but for the sake of our mental health, we must focus on the once in a lifetime opportunities this situation also brings with it. As you physically isolate don’t just sit around watching screens for hours a day. Take the isolation as an opportunity to rest well, reflect, think deeply, process, having meaningful phone conversations with people, be creative, pray, do those things you never thought you would get the time to do, send a care package to someone. Use this time as well as you can. Take the unique opportunities that this crisis brings. 


Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th March 2020

Every social construct that we have built has come to a halt. The entire world has essentially shut down. 

As people who know God and trust God, it is possible for us to not only be fearless, but also rise to the occasion. 

This is our time as the Church to show some leadership in this crisis.  

The church was born for this hour. YOU were born for this hour. We can pray for God to intervene, but equally we are the hands and feet of God, and WE are the light.  We as the Church have a special grace and calling at this moment to step up and SHINE. This is an opportunity that we may never get again. 

People are literally being brought to their knees. People by the mass are losing everything they ever trusted. People are literally desperate for peace, protection and hope – now is our time to strike! Do not let this opportunity go. 

Matthew 5:14-16, ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’. 

This scripture is proof that WE are actually the light. We are the light TO POINT to GOD. That means that there is a mandate on us as the church in this hour to lead well. 

So what does shining actually mean? . . . 

1. Lead not react

The thing with leadership is that you feel everything everyone else does, but our response must be different. Reaction is to stockpile, to self-preserve and think only of self. 

Leadership is not reacting, it is responding. It is leading people to light in the midst of panic. It is putting others first in crisis. 

Our job as leaders in society is not to panic, it is to respond. 

2. Embrace sacrifice, not selfishness

The best leaders show sacrifice in times of crisis, not selfishness. 

Crisis will reveal what people are really made of. Crisis will either show the worst of people or the best of people. 

As the church, let it show the best of us. Let us show people what we are really made of – love, hope, sacrifice and generosity. 

3. Get wise counsel. 

Watch what is giving you your information. 

Some media is unhelpful at the moment. 

Watch your headspace. For your mental health, the worst possible combination is being in isolation and reading some of the things on social media. Be careful and smart. 

More than anything at this time we should be plugging into the word of God. We need the word of God at the forefront of our mind. 

4. Get your spiritual lenses on. 

Our battle isn’t against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness (Eph 6:12)… what if this whole thing isn’t actually just about a virus? What if this whole thing is about a Spirit of Fear getting a hold of people? 

Consider what is going on spiritually at the moment. Discern the times we are in from a spiritual perspective. Ask yourself: what is God doing in the midst of all this? I don’t believe sickness is from God, but He will use it to get people on their knees. Is it time for humanity to consider their lives and priorities?

To be continued on tomorrow’s Fresh Hope! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th March 2020

The job of the News reader is to read news. The job of the media is to report on the news. The job of the politician is to lead the country as best as they can in the light of the news. You will more than likely know all that there is to know about the coronavirus through these various means. We all know how bad it is out there right now. Our hearts truly go out to those that have lost loved ones or those that are suffering.

My job is not to do their Job. My job is to be ahope dealer

In doing my job, I want you to put on your God glasses today. Get God’s perspective. The glasses you wear have the ability to change what you see. Change what you see today by looking through the lens of God’s word -The Bible. 

Question: How many of you for years have been saying to yourself, “If only I could press pause on my life, If only I could get out of the rat race, if only I could spend more time at home looking after the kids?” Well here is your wish come true!
With the measures that have been put in place and with a lockdown this week, the reality is that the whole world has been gifted with a huge pause button that’s been pressed for us. Hidden in this crisis is a gift. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to re-set your life right now. Here is a gift to help you re-discover who you are and what’s important in your life. It’s an opportunity to sit down and think. Think about your priorities and where your life is going. 
You are gifted right now with a once in a life time opportunity to do meaningful things with your children and family. You now have the chance to ask yourself ‘what do I really believe?’ ‘Where is my faith in all of this right now?’

You are being gifted with the opportunity and the desire to read the Bible and to pray like never before. This is truly a gift to discover, rediscover and draw close to Jesus.
Friends, this pause button will soon disappear, and it won’t just be PLAY that will be pressed, but it will be FAST FORWARD. Make sure that you never go back to how you once were before. Get your life back on track in this season. 
I’m asking you to make Psalm 91 your lens through which you see the world right now. Pick up your Bible and turn to it.
V3 says ‘…that surely he will save me from the deadly pestilence( a fatal epidemic disease’) – This is no surprise to God. 
V5 ‘..You will not fear the terror of night, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, or the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you’. 
Get God’s perspective today and put on those faith glasses. 

If you need a Bible then simply reach out and request one by going to

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd March 2020

Matthew 14:22-33 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Whatever you feed, will ultimately grow. Feed your children and they will grow. Feed a plant and it will grow. Feed your dog and yes, it will grow. In fact, the more you feed something, the more it grows.

Get this — Feed your fear and it will grow!

Right now there is very little else to fill your mind with other than the fear that is being dished up daily. Hour after hour, you are being served such massive portions of fear that it’s spreading into everything you do and everything you say.

The word Corona means ‘crown’ and it’s definitely doing its job in more ways than one, as it seeks to be King over your life.

When Peter asked Jesus if he could walk on water, he was simply told “COME”. But then he was distracted by what he saw and what he felt going on around him. It caused him to lose his balance, his footing and his faith. The moment that he allowed fear to feed him, it grew to the point of overwhelming his faith.

Friend, right now don’t let fear cause you to lose the faith or the footing that you started with. You were so full of faith…and then you allowed outward circumstances to become king. Dethrone your fear right now by staying focused on walking forward on God’s word.

Instead of feeding every hour on the latest news, start to worship, get into God’s word. Stand on it. Believe it. Respond by trusting it. Ask yourself right now: what am I feeding myself with today?

Fear makes you sink.

Faith makes you rise.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st March 2020

Dear friends at Champions,

Since our government has enforced a ban on the majority of public gatherings in social settings, we are honouring their decision by closing our Church building on Sunday.

Our service will be available online via our App, Website and YouTube channel ‪from 10:30am on Sunday‬, so let’s utilise this opportunity to enjoy Church in our homes.

For the foreseeable future, all of our services will be online. As it has already been said, our church buildings may temporarily close, but the Church will never close.

All 4 Nights of Hope will be live streamed from

Keep on checking the app, to receive regular updates at this time.

We love you, are praying for you and look forward to seeing you soon.

Hope is still here!

Take care,
Pastors Mark and Gillian Burchell

Fresh Hope – 20th March 2020

Remember playing hide and seek? Hide your eyes and count to ten while everyone rushes off to hide. ‘Coming, ready or not’. Hiding in a cupboard or under the bed, so still, frightened to breathe, hoping not to be discovered. 

I for one have spent a great deal of time in my life playing hide and seek with God. Holding my breath and hoping he won’t spot me in the cupboard under the stairs. 

The first question that God asks humanity is ‘Where are you?’. In Genesis 3:9 we see that Adam and Eve have eaten from the fruit that God commanded them not to eat. They are afraid and ashamed because they are naked, they hide themselves from God. He is walking in the garden and can’t find them, He calls out ‘where are you?’. God has been asking that same question since that moment – where are you?

I am pretty certain that every one of us has been naked at some point. However, Adam and Eve’s nakedness was about more than the lack of clothes. Adam and Eve were suddenly aware that they were vulnerable and weak; that they were less than perfect; ashamed of themselves and what they had done; afraid of God’s reaction and hiding themselves away. I am also pretty certain that most, if not all of us have felt like that at some point.

There are times in all our lives when we feel naked, less than perfect; afraid, vulnerable and ashamed. 

Even then God still calls out to us ‘where are you?’. Just like Adam and Eve we try to hide from God. Perhaps unintentionally in the busyness of our lives. Or maybe intentionally, because we don’t want to do what He is asking of us.

The whole story of the Bible from that point on is about God’s incredible love for us and his search to find us. If in Genesis we see the first three words that God spoke to humanity at the other end of the story there are three more words that God speaks in form of Jesus ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30).

What was ‘finished’? His search for us was over. He came down to earth so that we can know him and he paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be reunited with God. Nothing we have done or can ever do will separate us from the love of God again.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th March 2020

Sharing the gospel with the unsaved starts long before we talk to them about God. It starts long before we have an invitation to church. Sharing the gospel starts in ourselves. 

The world are watching YOU. Your community is desperate for ‘another way’ and some answers. 

Here are some real practical ways you can demonstrate the kingdom of God in small ways, that speak loudly: 

– Watch your attitude toward money. Why? Because money has a hold on people. When you manage your money differently, it is obvious, because it tells them, ‘money doesn’t have a hold on me, I have found something of greater value. My security is in something more secure’. Do not get a reputation for being stingy! 

– Be yourself. Don’t put on a Christian front. Be fully yourself, alive in God.

– Be ready. We don’t have all the answers, but be as prepared as you can be. I recently asked some non-Christian friends for their honest thoughts and questions around Christianity. Their responses were: 

‘If God exists, why do people suffer?’ 

‘Why in church do they pass the collection plate around for money?’

‘If God is an all forgiving God, then why doesn’t He just forgive us at the judgement gate when we see that He is real and we ask for forgiveness?’ 

Why does God allow some people to have children, who are horrible parents, and then people who would be wonderful parents can’t get pregnant? 

Why does God allow awful deaths? 

These are the real questions that people have around our faith. We need to be prepared with a response. 1 Peter 3:15 says, ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you for give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’  

A few others… 

– Be grateful 

– Honour and acknowledge people from bottom to the top of the work place.  

– Don’t gossip. 

– Have a Spirit of excellence in what you do. 

– Operate with integrity in all areas. 

– Be solution based, not problem focused. 

Operating in these ways is totally counter-culture. They are very practical, and sometimes difficult, but send a strong message about the heart of God to a community looking for answers. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th March 2020

Many of us desire to change the culture that we are in for the better. We want to leave our mark, make our lives count, and point people to Jesus. As right and noble as this desire is, it is often achieved by very practical, understated means. 

If we are going to be a people who bring heaven to earth, shift a culture, and change the world, then here are seven very practical things that we need to be equipped with: 

1. Have a fresh word in your spirit. You cannot expect to stand, let alone come against an ungodly culture, without a fresh word from God burning in you. Your head and heart need to be strong, and DAILY aligned with truth. Practically and personallyspeaking, I recently joined an online theology course that has enabled me to go to new depths in my understanding of scripture. I also keep my Bible in my car and every morning before I walk into the workplace, I read one scripture that I can meditate on throughout the day. You do not have to do these things. My point is there must be practical effort and intention as to how we keep a fresh word in us in order to come against cultures that aren’t from God and usher in kingdom culture. 

2. Prayer. Prayer can do far more than you can. Prayer is partnering with God on cultural issues. Prayer cuts through the physical limitations and deals with things on a spiritual level. Prayer can do far more in a heart of a person or work place environment than we can image. Prayer shifts things around us and in us. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our battle isn’t always against the issues we are facing on the surface; our battle is often a spiritual issue. Dealing with a snake by setting a mouse trip is ineffective and exhausting. Recognise what the real issue is and deal with it using the correct weapon – Prayer! 

3. Don’t be afraid of standing out from the crowd. If you are going to change a culture, you need to care less about what they think. You can’t use their definition of normal to define your standard of normal and acceptable. If you carry the same spirit, you cannot bring a new spirit. Having fresh eyes, carrying a pioneering spirit, seeing something that others don’t see will feel lonely at times, but that is the price you pay for being the person to bring in what is needed or missing in an environment. You will feel like the only one at times, but look at the most innovative, progressive people in history. What allowed them to change the world was the fact that they were the only ones, they weren’t afraid to buck the norm, be different, and go against the crowd. Keep your eyes on Jesus, not on the crowd. 

4.  Razor sharp vision. Have specific and intentional vision for why you are where you are. Understand your overarching purpose and call for being there. Every day remind yourself what your greater purpose is in your job or community. Don’t waste a day. Use it well. Be strict – cut out anything that doesn’t fall in line with the purpose and reason for why God has you in a particular culture. Keep your mandate and mission at the forefront of your head, heart and day. 

5. Have healthy, regular input. As you give everything you have to serving the culture you are in, which can be exhausting especially if you are going against the grain. You need input from people who can fill your tank and fuel your fire. Find mentors, leaders, friends, and a community who ‘get you’. People who understand your mission, recognise what is on your life, and encourage you in your weak times. Have people remind you what you are about. Find people who are one step ahead of you and glean all you can. 

6. Walk in humility and love. People are not experiments. We don’t use the unsaved as a personal project for ourselves. We serve people because we love them because God does, and we want them to know that. You cannot love people if you are too busy judging them. You cannot serve people well if you are so busy thinking you are better than them. You cannot change a culture if you are too good to get down on your knees and serve them. Your degree of influence in someone’s life is directly related to the level at which you honour and love them. After being a teacher for nearly 10 years, and probably having had a few thousand students sit in my classroom by now, I can tell you one thing for sure, people do not care what you have to say, unless they know you care. If you are going to change the world, it starts with a posture of humility and love. 

Tomorrow, I will share some very practical tools on demonstrating the kingdom of God in the workplace!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th March 2020

On the inside of every person is a God-given gift that the world needs. Maybe that gift will serve millions, maybe it will serve a handful, but either way, you have something to contribute.

Don’t believe the lie that nobody wants to hear what you have to say, and certainly don’t believe the lie that the world would be a better place without you. Friend, you are of great value and can add value to whatever environment you find yourself in!

Whether it’s the classroom, the workplace, the home, these are all places that can be made better because of you.

Now, of course, we shouldn’t assert ourselves in a brash sort-of-way, but should approach every opportunity with humility.

I’m sure like me, you’ve encountered people who light up a room when they step into it. They don’t take from the atmosphere, they add to it. Particularly in the unique times we currently find ourselves in, our world needs people like this. People who add value, people who add perspective. Those who contribute joy and hope to any given scenario.

Today, don’t shy away, but be confident that you have something to contribute, and that your contribution can have a positive impact on the lives of those around you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th March 2020

Sometimes the most helpful advice when starting out in a fast is of a very basic and practical nature.

For most people, fasting is foreign and therefore we don’t know what to expect in terms of physical occurrences. Many turn back after the first day, simply because they don’t think they are cut out for this type of thing.

One of the most basic needs of the human body is of course for food – take that away and the body goes into meltdown.

The first thing that was said of Jesus after he had been on a prolonged fast was …he was hungry!

Matthew 4:2 After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Yes…the first thing that you will feel is ravenous. Even a piece of dry bread will be to die for. It’s normal.

Here are just a few simple guidelines on fasting that will help you on your journey, be it the first fast or hundredth you’ve been on:

– Fasting without being combined with prayer is little more than dieting. Set aside a few moments each day in prayer when you would normally be eating. Find a quiet room at home or go for a walk in your lunch break at work in order to pray.

– There will be days when your energy is sapped and you can’t focus on prayer. Don’t condemn yourself- Jesus sees your sacrifice.

– Fasting is like spring cleaning for the body – drink as much water as possible each day. I normally get a headache on the first 1-2 days of fasting; If you do it’s usually a sign that you needed to fast! Headaches come from burning off the toxins that have been stored up in your body. It’s also your body craving the caffeine that you normally give it daily. After three days, the headaches will usually disappear.

– Whenever you fast for at least three days, your digestive system shuts down and takes a well-earned rest. Some feel sluggish and can’t sleep and yes you’ll feel hungry, but after those initial days, if you’ll keep drinking plenty of water and juices, you’ll come out the other side into an amazing ‘sweet place’. You’ll begin to find a deeper relationship with God than you’ve ever known before and the thoughts of food and eating will take a back seat.

-Remember: if you’re already feeling like giving up, you’re not alone in this. There are lots of people right now joining together in this spiritual fast.

Whatever you’ve decided to fast during this next few days, push through and you’ll see a breakthrough.

Ezra 8:23 …So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

Why not join us over the next 10 days in praying and fasting for four Nights of Hope – Thursday 26th- Sunday 29th March?

For more info go to

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th March 2020

At one of the entrances to our local mall there are five doors, one is an automatic door that is on a sensor, so it just opens and the other four, you have to physically open. This week when I visited, I was shocked to see people queueing to get through the door that was already open, no one was attempting to try the other doors, so I made a quick decision to bypass the queue and go right to another door and open it. It’s not rocket science!
‘How funny’, I thought, ‘that people would rather queue and wait for the door that’s open, than apply a little bit of effort and open one themselves!’
You see, not every door that you encounter will be open; sometimes you have to apply a little bit of effort to walk through.

The four guys who wanted to get their paralysed friend to see Jesus, had to get into the house with a lot of effort, because when they arrived, the place was full, it was heaving and they couldn’t even get through the door.. so did they give up? NO. Did they wait and queue? NO. They made a plan, climbed up to the roof, took off some tiles, lowered their friend through the roof (just imagine!) and got the miracle from Jesus. What a load of effort they put in, instead of a load of excuses. 

Why is it that we want doors to open all by themselves? Wouldn’t that be lovely, if that happened all of the time? No my friend, you have to apply a little bit of effort, a little bit of pressure, a little bit of time spent in prayer, maybe fasting, to get that door open. So don’t give up when it’s closed. Just because it’s closed, doesn’t mean to say it was locked. Why would you queue with a lot of other people, who are going to hold you up, when you can just walk right through? Today let’s not be lazy, but let’s continue to try a few doors. Let’s see them open in prayer.

As we approach this season of prayer and fasting as a church, let’s see that same resilience that those four men had to get their friend to Jesus. Today my friend, that door that you thought was locked, is probably not. It may just be shut…and you can see it open by prayer. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th March 2020

With all that’s going on around us at the moment, it’s easy to be feeling unsettled and overwhelmed.

Here are three verses of scripture that I hope will inspire you as you draw closer to God and experience His peace.

Isaiah 26:3 | “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
God promises us peace in exchange for our trust. Steadfast means to be ‘firm’ and ‘unwavering’. So cut out distractions. Make a decision to take God at His word and stay focused on His promises.

1 Peter 5:7| “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

To ‘cast’ means to ‘throw’. So name your troubles and give them to the one who can really change them. If you throw a ball, it’s out of your hands. So when you let go of your anxieties, don’t go and pick them up again.

Philippians 4:6&7 | “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

These are such powerful verses because it shows how practical we can be in experiencing God’s peace. When we do pray, give thanks and bring our requests to God, an exchange takes place.

Be encouraged today. We don’t have to beg for God’s peace, it’s already there for the taking. Whether we declare and walk in it is our choice.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.


Fresh Hope – 12th March 2020

To set a precedent, is to set to a new standard. It is to put forth something that has never been put forth before.

You as a human being alive and breathing today are called to set a precedent on this planet. There is no one else on earth like you right now. There is no one else on earth that can do what you can do. 

Let’s start at the most basic level – your DNA. No one else in the world, even family, will have the same combination of chromosomes as you. No one on earth has or ever will have the same fingerprint as you. The shape of your ear is totally unique to you. Out of 7.53 billion people on the planet, the pattern of your iris is unique to you, as is your tongue and your walk! 

Now let’s look at your personality. No one else has had the exact same experiences that you have had. No one else therefore has the exact same collection of knowledge as you. 

Every individual is unique in the existence of the world. 

I believe our physical uniqueness is a sign and expression of our spiritual uniqueness and significance. Just as we have a unique fingerprint, we are called to leave a spiritual fingerprint on this world, that only we can offer. 

I’m not sure why then we watch and copy others so closely. I’m not sure why we imitate the behaviour of those around us. I’m not sure why we are copying the ideas, strategies and the creativity of what has already been done. Surely, in ourselves we have something to bring that only we can bring? Surely, if we are going to set a precedent that will leave a legacy, then we need to be fully ourselves?!

Coupled with this, let me also mention that you have the Holy Spirit in you. The Holy Spirit is essentially the mind and heart of God. He is operating in you 24/7, giving you wisdom, inspiration, solving problems, and guiding you into success! Can you see how powerful you are as a unique individual, carrying something that only you can bring to the table, and then injected with the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit? Your full expression is limited only by your mind. 

We should be confident in our individuality. We should be confident in our uniqueness. We should be confident in our ideas. We do not need to imitate, we only need to emanate! 

There is a quote, ‘the glory of God, is man fully alive’. In other words, God is most glorified in you when you are most yourself. You operating in the fullness of your unique personality, gifting, passion, and calling, is you fully alive and God fully glorified! Imitation dilutes the gift that you are.  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th March 2020

The outbreak of COVID-19 (Corona virus) has sent the world into an embarrassing panic. I sympathise with the fact that lives have been lost, and vulnerable people (babies, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems), are susceptible to contracting the virus, IF they came in contact with it. 

However, more than the virus, the most frightening situation is the physiological state of the world. Something is wrong when shop shelves are stripped bare of one of humanity’s most mundane items – toilet paper! Yes, the stuff that wipes our bottoms! People are fighting over the white rolls, even pulling knives on one another for it, and at the very least, stockpiling it in their homes. All in case they are unable to leave their house due to Coronavirus! This is what fear does… It sends people to do crazy, irrational things! 

I believe, at its core, the reaction from the world is actually an issue of identity. When I say, ‘identity issue’, I mean that people have forgotten (or don’t know) to whom they belong. Fear is a lack of knowing God or trusting in God.

When you forget who your Dad is…when you forget who your God is… When you forget who is looking after you, it is easy for fear to take governance over your life. Here is what happens when fear takes over: 

You become irrational. Your sense of rational perspective is the first to go. 

Put aside the fear mongering headlines of the media. Let’s get some perspective: 

IF you do contact the virus, only 5% of the cases are critical. 

On the same day that 108 people in China died of Coronavirus, 26,283 people died of cancer, 24,641 people died of heart issues, 4,300 people died of diabetes, and suicide took 28 times more lives than the virus did! 

Christian or not, let’s use our brains and not take what the media says as gospel. The Bible is the higher reality and the higher truth in our lives. We stand on the word of God, not the word of the world. 

I will tell you what IS scary, that people live just one media report away from chaos, panic, and self-preservation. 

Crowds or headlines cannot pull our lives. Our minds and headspace must be rooted in the truth of God. 

Romans 2:12, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’.  

You isolateFear will cause you to disconnect from others. It will cause you to lock yourself up from the world. It cripples your lifestyle and ability to have influence and make an impact. Rather than going out to change the world (as you have been called), fear shrinks your world down to the four walls of your home.  God has called us to walk in boldness and confidence, exercising authority over sickness. 

You fight for the crumbs … or in this case, toilet paper. As your world has become smaller, and self-preservation becomes your priority, you take whatever you can get. You will fight fiercely for whatever, fearful that you will go without…even toilet paper! You become desperate for paper that wipes poo! Now I can see why the prodigal son became desperate for a job cleaning up pig poo (Luke 15). He had forgotten about his Dad. He had forgotten who was looking after him! 

God has called us to live BIG lives, strong in faith, and generous in heart. Jesus set the standard of generosity when He gave His life for us. Meanwhile, we have people so afraid of lack that with a trolley full of toilet paper, they still cannot spare one pack for someone in need! 

It is time to show the world how it is to live fearlessly! We must trust that God, as our loving father, and as He says in Psalm 91, ‘will cover us and save us from the deadly pestilence’. His promise to us is that He is a refuge of safety.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th March 2020

No matter how good we are, no matter how hard we try, and now matter how right we do things, be sure of this one thing…you will get offended! 
It’s never a case of if, but when, and before long (if it’s not already happened) you will also cause an offence.

I can’t think of one time in my life when I have woken up and thought, today is the day when I’m going to offend someone. I’ve never gone out of my way to offend, but I do know that I have offended quite a lot of people along the way. 
How do you offend people when you don’t set out to do so? My answer is simple—you can’t be alive and not offend anyone!  It’s inevitable. It happens to everyone and it happens as part of life. 

If you’ve been offended recently then take courage from the Bible…
Luke 17:1 Jesus said to his disciples: it is impossible that things that cause people to be offended won’t come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 

Now that we know that we can’t protect ourselves from being offended, we have to prepare ourselves for when we are offended. 

Here are my thoughts…
-Chose not to carry the offence.
-Let go of the offence by quickly forgiving. 
-Don’t go around telling other people that you are offended, otherwise they too will become part of the offence. 

The golden rule is this: always be big enough to overlook an offence, but if you can’t deal with it successfully internally, then deal with it externally by privately addressing the offence with the person directly in a gracious and loving manner in order to resolve it.

Most of the time, offences come through simple misunderstandings, or by being misquoted or intentions being misconstrued.

None of these things are intentional, just inevitable. However, take special note of anyone that sets out to intentionally cause offence, be sure to stay well away from such a person. 

Don’t be an offence maker – just improve yourself in being an offence taker

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th March 2020

How you treat people can have a great impact on the degree of blessings and favour from God that you will experience.

You may have people in your life who have done you great wrong. You may feel as though your whole life has been stolen away by someone else; but if you choose to forgive them, you can overcome that pain and difficulty with love.

Many years ago, I had to go through the most severe trial of my life. For many months the pain of a broken relationship filled my every waking thought. People took sides, and decided that I was at fault, leaving them no option but to walk away.

I made a decision to not fight back, retaliate or to justify myself in front of others, even though that would have made me come out on top, as people would see that I was not to blame.

Instead, I decided to let God stand for me as I made a choice to forgive those involved; I also made a choice to ask for forgiveness from those that assumed that I had done wrong, as I wanted to have a clear conscience before them and God.

To be honest, it took months for me to get over the pain. I didn’t ‘feel’ like forgiving, but made a choice every morning to pray for each person involved to be blessed.

The more I prayed for them, the more I got released from the pain.

Today I am free, even though I walk with a ‘limp’ because of the experience. This non-physical limp helps me to appreciate that life and relationships are often fragile and need to be handled with prayer. As someone once said…’never trust a leader without a limp’. It simply means that they have had to battle through some stuff.

Romans 12:17-18 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th March 2020

How many of you are people who are always looking back?  Looking back to the good old days or even the bad old days. 

There’s something very important about not looking back. In Genesis 19, Lot and his family were instructed not to look back. Because of all the wickedness, God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. God promised to save Lot and his family as long as they didn’t look back.  Vs 17 “As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

The problem was that Lot’s wife couldn’t resist looking back at what she had left behind and she turned into a pillar of salt. It killed her. Maybe she cared more about the past and what she was leaving behind, than about the future and all God had in store for her.  What a shame.  She missed it!

In Luke 17 vs 31-33, Jesus tells them to not look back either and He refers to Lot’s wife On that day, let no one on the housetop come down to retrieve his possessions. Likewise, let no one in the field return for anything he has left behind.   Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.…”
There’s a big importance here in keeping your eyes forward!

You can’t do anything about the past, you only have the present and hopefully the future. The only thing that is promised is the NOW. 
You can lose your future by looking back.  Lot’s wife did. Stop it!

If your memories are bigger than your dreams you have a problem. If your old life is more important than your new one, then there’s something you haven’t grasped. If your old thoughts are more powerful than your new thoughts, then you need to change your thinking.  “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” – Romans 12 vs 2. 

Yes, by all means use the past as a learning curve for the future, but don’t keep going back to it.  
Frank Lloyd Wright the famous architect who designed the Guggenheim Museum was asked, when he was over 80 years old, which was his favourite creation?  “The next one” he said. 

Three things to remember:
-Don’t be someone who trades in their future and lives only with regrets.

-It takes strength and determination to let go of the past. 

– If we keep looking back at yesterday, maybe it’s time we started doing something significant today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.  

Fresh Hope – 6th March 2020

In an episode of the Simpsons (the animated sitcom about an American working class family) Homer Simpson, the father, is mixing in equal parts vodka and mayonnaise, preparing it to gulp down. His wife Marge suggests it’s not a good idea because of the consequences, to which Homer replies, “That’s a problem for future Homer!” Then after drinking the concoction says “Man, I don’t envy that guy!”

It’s funny because to us it’s a ridiculous notion that Homer is so ignorant that not for one minute does he think that he will end up becoming future Homer and have to deal with the consequence of his actions.  

Who of us would ever act so foolishly to gratify the flesh in the moment, completely ignorant of the future fall out? In reality, many of our daily decisions can have negative future fallout, it’s just that we tend not to verbalise sympathy for that future person who has to pick up the pieces. Whether it’s poor diet, addictions or some area of sin, we choose to satisfy the now at the expense of future self.

On the other hand, successful people all have one thing in common, the ability to delay gratification in exchange for future profit. They do the exact opposite of Homer by forgoing the now to bless the future. It’s actually called sacrifice, and if you read the Bible, it’s the theme throughout, from the story of Cain and Abel to Jesus being the ultimate sacrifice. 

Sacrifice means to trade with your future self, to forgo something today to increase the likelihood of some kind of gain in the future. Like a farmer sowing seed or a student working hard to get a favourable exam result. Sacrifice is a step of faith based on the belief in attaining something you can’t yet see.

I encourage you today to analyse every area of your life, from your diet, your use of finances to what you give your time and passions to. Firstly assess where do you gratify cravings without any thought of consequence, what bad habits (no matter how small) do you have that create or are adding to future problems? And secondly,  where are you trading with the future, stepping out in faith to create a larger life? What areas could you consciously make braver decisions to be a blessing to future Homer and not a curse? What are you sowing in order to reap? What are you speculating in order to accumulate? 

When you start to live a life of sacrifice as opposed to consumption, you’ll be amazed how quickly you start to enjoy the abundance those choices yield!

Proverbs 11:24 The world of the generous gets larger and larger

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th March 2020

Last year in a Moscow airport there was a tragic accident when an Aeroflot Russian plane made an emergency landing having just taken off. Before all passengers could be evacuated, the jet burst into flames killing 41 of 78 passengers on board.

One survivor, Mikhail Savchenko said he didn’t know what to make of his fellow passengers actions when it was found that some of the 37 survivors had held up the evacuation of the plane by first getting their luggage from overhead storage. 

He said “I do not know what to say about people who ran out with bags, God is their judge. But I really want to ask them not to persecute them, I am sure that it is very hard for them now.”

“I do not think that at least one person in this burning hell coolly and deliberately dragged suitcases.

“I do not know how the psyche works in such situations, [that is] a question for the experts.”

It’s uncomfortable reading, how is it possible that we as humans could choose to grab luggage, keep hold of personal possession at the expense of another’s life? Who could possibly do that and how could you live with yourself after? I feel this is a real challenge to all of us who are followers of Jesus but aren’t prepared to submit every area of life to him.

The reality is, we live out our lives as if on an aeroplane that will eventually be evacuated. And it’s vital that during the flight the passengers come to know the reason for the flight, to put their HOPE in Jesus Christ! But the challenge to us is this…is our personal possession (our luggage, the baggage we carry on a daily basis) the number one thing in our lives or is it getting people off the plane safely?

Are we carrying things around in our lives today we really should get rid of; maybe areas of sin we are struggling in, maybe hurt you just can’t forgive or maybe you’re just not prepared to trust God with your finances and refuse to trust Him in your giving? 

I plead with you today, let go of your luggage, write it off, forgive, repent! Our destination has everything we could hope for already prepared, there is no need for us to take anything other than as many passengers as possible! 

At Champions Church, on the 26th – 29th March there will be four amazing nights of hope, where people will get to hear about the life changing HOPE that is a relationship with Jesus! I encourage you today, pray for the passengers in your life and invite them to join you in March for a life changing night!

Hebrews 12:1-2 | NIV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th March 2020

Why is it important to God that we give? Surely as the creator of the universe, who can speak anything into being in an instant, He really doesn’t need us to be giving? Is He greedy? Does He want us to suffer? 

Of course not. 

There is one thing that God cannot make happen. He cannot make us love Him. He by choice has given us a gift called “free-will”… this means we have a choice as to if we love Him. If someone can’t freely choose to love someone, it’s not really love. It’s not love if God has to force us to love Him. 

Giving is a form of loving. It’s a free choice. We have the choice to give. When we give it’s an expression of our love for God. So really, when God asks us to give, it’s not our money He is after, He is after our heart. 

The seed you sowed yesterday is the harvest you are reaping today. The majority of Jesus’ parables were told using nature as a metaphor for kingdom principals. We get that a farmer has to invest seeds into the ground, in order to reap a crop in due season. Our money is the same, and anything else for that matter. Where we invest, is where we reap (2 Corinthians 9:6). 

The degree of seed we sow, is the degree of the harvest we reap. This means that even in times of struggle and challenge, we need to sow in order to secure our future. Giving when you are in need, when you don’t feel like it, when it’s inconvenient, is necessary in order to change the economic level of your life. Your short-term sacrifice, promises to reap reward. You can convince yourself otherwise, but it’s kingdom reality. Your circumstance can persuade you otherwise, but the word of God stands. 

Wealth is not determined by what you have, it’s about how you give. Can you love God in every season? 

Loving God freely is giving in all seasons. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd March 2020

Being wealthy isn’t about the accumulation of money. Wealth is more than riches. Wealth is more about a mindset. Wealth is about understanding who God is and who you are in relation to Him. 

I recently read these definitions of wealth in Kris Vallotton’s book, ‘Poverty, Riches, and Wealth’ – a book on moving from a life of lack into true kingdom abundance. I think they are fantastic descriptions of wealth: 

• Wealth is the ability (resources, strength, wisdom) to create positive outcomes in the midst of lack, poverty and/or emptiness.

• Wealth is light in the darkness, healing in sickness, prosperity in poverty, wholeness in brokenness, favour in obscurity, love for the unlovely, beauty for ashes, and victors among victims.

 • Wealth is a “can-do” attitude, a “more than enough” mindset and a “nothing is impossible” belief system. 

• Wealth is radical generosity, extraordinary compassion, sacrificial giving and profound humility. 

• Wealth is always thankful and never jealous. 

It’s very difficult to operate in these above points (in wealth), if you don’t understand your God. When you have a revelation that your God is creator of all things, supplier of all things, a God of not “just enough”, but more than enough, a miraculous provider, and loving and generous beyond our comprehension, then you start to live differently. 

You suddenly see poverty and lack as an opportunity for God to break through and display His true nature. 

You become aware of things that aren’t God’s design for mankind and you command order – pray for healing, desire beauty for ashes, victory for victims. 

Instead of feeling like a situation is impossible and nothing can be done, you have faith that God “can do”. 

You don’t worry about running out. You are able to live open handed and give big because you’re a direct heir to God’s unlimited resources (this includes, but is not limited to money – it’s also access to unlimited wisdom, gifts, peace etc). 

You are able to celebrate others wholeheartedly because you understand that God has more than enough for you too. 

You don’t need to boast or draw attention to what you have because you have nothing to prove to people. You are very sure of who you already are in God. 

If you’ve grown up around lack and poverty, it requires a fresh revelation of God’s nature to really shift your mindset around wealth. It’s very difficult to live in an ‘abundance mindset’ if most of your life was surrounded by “not enough”, stress about money, grabbing what you could, fear of tomorrow, parents with negative attitudes towards people with wealth, or perhaps a religious mindset that poverty somehow made you more holy. These experiences can breed deeply ingrained mentalities. It creates people who are afraid to receive good things, people who live for money, people who are afraid of being too generous, or people who give “just enough”, people who are comfortable living in lack, looking for what they can grab, not what they can give. 

If you want to stay there, you can, but God has so much for you! A wealth mindset will change your life and generations to follow. Don’t live like a pauper when you’re actually a prince. Understand the wealth you have access to as a child of God. It’s time to live in abundance and it starts with the knowledge of who God really is! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd March 2020

Faith is like a muscle —the more you use it the stronger it becomes. 

The opposite is also true — the less you use it the weaker it becomes, or shall we say the weaker you become in faith. 

Faith is also like a bridge—its the very thing that enables me to get from where I am to where I want to go. Now, if you don’t want to go anywhere or make anything of your life then you don’t need faith; you can do that all by yourself! 

Faith is for those that understand that they need to completely rely on God, and with such faith want to push through and make a difference.
Faith is the very substance of things that you want to see changed in your life time. 

Hebrews 11:1 ‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see’.
Ask yourself…do I have faith?

Here are some signs that will help you to know whether you have faith in God or not:
1) Whenever you face your daily problems and the only person to trust in is yourself —it’s a sign. 

2) Whenever you face obstacles, crisis, drama and dilemmas, and your confidence is only in the people around you to sort it — it’s a sign.

3) Whenever you are faced with a financial crisis and you only ever reach for your credit card—it’s a sign. 

4) Whenever you are sick and the first thought is the Doctor —it’s a sign.

5) Whenever you don’t know what to do and the first thing you do is to pick up the phone and ask six people for advice —it’s a sign.

Jesus never told people to have just plain faith in someone – but faith in God

Matthew 9:27-31 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’ When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you’; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, ‘See that no one knows about this.’ But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region. 

Today, I encourage you to build your faith muscle by stepping out in total trust that God will come through for you – do it right now by simply praying this prayer…
‘Lord Jesus, I bring my need to you right now. I ask you to help me by providing a miracle for me. I can’t sort this on my own, so I turn to you with complete confidence that you can hear me and that you can answer my prayer.  In Jesus name. Amen.’

And remember: all things are possible, only believe

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th February 2020

I heard a great quote this week from Bishop TD Jakes. He said “anyone can worship when things are going well, but only a real believer will worship when things aren’t.”

That’s so true.  When things suit you and are going well, then it’s easy to worship isn’t it? 
But when things aren’t going well? When someone is sick, you’ve lost your job, your marriage is all over the place, your children are not behaving as you’d like, you’ve lost a loved one, that’s when what is really in you, will come out. 
You see God wants us to have such a relationship of trust and love with him that WHATEVER is going on, I still have a heart to worship and say “thank you Jesus, you are good.”

Worship isn’t just about ‘doing’ it in Church when the mood takes us and we get carried along with everyone else. Worship is about what you do when you have an audience of one. Just you and God.  
God sees you, He hears you, He knows your thoughts and He knows your attitude.

I love the story of Jonah, but the bit I particularly love is when he is in the belly of the fish and he thinks he is just about to die (well who wouldn’t?!) when all is dark and he is extremely fearful, what does he do? He worships. It was that worship and repentance that God saw and acted upon. He got that fish to spit him out onto dry land. We all know that Jonah came out better, when he could have died bitter.  

So today, desire that relationship with God that says “no matter what, I will worship.”
God always responds to a worshipper. He can’t help it. He can change your situation in an instant because of worship.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th February 2020

Has it ever happened to you that you’ve offered to help someone, that you saw a situation that needed someone to do something, then after all your efforts, you find you are being criticised for going out of your way, or not doing it the way other people would have done it?

Something as simple as offering a seat to a lady or older person results in you getting a stern lecture because it has been misinterpreted as being patronising.  Such a situation can be frustrating, and demotivating, and can result in a feeling of resentment and dejection, and an unwillingness to help other people in the future. The hurt from the criticism of that selfless action sticks with you and becomes a scar that you are willing to show to anyone who asks.

When David fought Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, his task for the day was not to fight, let alone kill a giant. That was a job for soldiers, and it was made very clear he was not one. His job on the day was to deliver food to his brothers then return to look after his father’s sheep, but he goes out of his way to offer to fight the giant.

First, his brothers criticised him, then Goliath insulted him by asking if he was a dog that David should come at him with sticks.

If David had been offended and turned back because of what his brothers or Goliath had said to him, history would have been rewritten. David would not have been introduced to the king. He would not have been remembered as the giant slayer. People would not have sung about him in the next chapter about how Saul had slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.

There are certain doors that will open in your life only when you offer to do above and beyond what is asked of you, and take no offence when the same people you are helping show no appreciation of your efforts. Colossians 3 verse 23-24 says Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Be encouraged to do good, and watch what God will do in your life.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th February 2020

The enemy is after marriages. Marriage is designed to be a picture of the love of Jesus for His bride – the church (that’s you and me). As you can imagine, the enemy will do whatever it takes to sabotage this powerful picture. 

I believe one of the greatest demonstrations of God in society is healthy marriages. If the world can see healthy marriages, they can see God. One of the most generationally and socially powerful things we can do – is not heal the sick, give away everything, have a powerful ministry, it is in fact to have a healthy marriage. 

Two ways the enemy is working to dilute marriage is: 1. Causing us to question the origin of marriage. 2. Causing us to become discouraged about marriage. 

If you can question the origin of something, you can question its design and purpose. If we didn’t originate from God, thenwe no longer have a purpose in God, here’s why the enemy shifts the origin of mankind to “coming from monkeys”. Likewise, if the origin of marriage wasn’t God, then we don’t need to uphold God’s intent for marriage. Suddenly our ideas become warped, as origin is in question.

You may have heard grim statistics like ‘one out of two marriages end in divorce’. As a result many people have lost faith in marriage. They’re fearful of marriage. They’ve been scared off. And these statistics simply aren’t true! Statistics actually show that 72% of people who get married are still married to that one person. It’s never come close to 50%! 

Yes marriage requires discomfort, compromise and challenge, but this is good for you! This is the nature of covenant relationships. This should be welcomed into our lives. Marriage is a sharpening tool for our character (Proverbs 27:17). Marriage is supposed to work like this! Marriage makes you better. We shouldn’t be scared of it. 

Marriage is central to our success as a person, as a society and as a Christian demonstrating the gospel. (I’m not saying that if you are single you are not successful!). 

Let’s celebrate marriage and honour marriage for the gift that it is. Don’t lose hope in God’s model and design. Find people who can breathe life into your marriage – people who can encourage you, model healthy, fun and Godly marriage for you. People who believe in your marriage! 

God has given you everything you need to succeed.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th February 2020

Tonight I arrived at the airport for my flight. Travelling solo, I carefully checked my boarding pass to ensure I was heading to the correct boarding gate – number 20. I arrived at gate 20 and the waiting seats were totally empty. Not a staff member or person in sight, and the desk was roped off. Immediately I thought that I had got the gate number wrong. I frantically checked the screen with the boarding times and flights, and then my ticket, and then the screen again … 

How often in life to we need the reassurance of others, the reassurance of the crowd, before we believe we are doing the right thing? How often do we use the crowd as our compass and measuring stick? 

A mark of a true leader is their ability to stand alone knowing what’s right, without the crowd having to convince them or make them feel good about their choice. They stick to truth despite the circumstance. 

Human nature at its core fears exclusion and loneliness. It’s in our DNA to seek out approval, inclusion and acceptance in our community and crowd, but it should never be at the price of compromising on truth. 

We are fully approved, included and already accepted by God – the one whose opinion matters. So to stand solo is really not standing solo at all. To make a maybe lonely stand for truth, and what is right, is a stand maybe not backed by the crowd, but backed by Heaven.

More than ever we need the voice of God to be louder than the voice of the crowd in our lives. Be careful that you’re not looking to the crowd for direction. Don’t go by what is “popular”. History will tell you that just because there is mass approval, it doesn’t mean it’s right. Don’t be afraid to stand solo for truth. Don’t look to the crowd to define your truth. 

To be able to stand for truth, you actually have to know the truth, otherwise you’re definitely just following the crowd! Know the truth and stand on it with confidence. 

Despite my self-doubt, I was right. I was at the correct gate. I was just the first one to arrive. 20 minutes later, and the waiting area was filled with people! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th February 2020

If you look back on your life, I am almost certain that you can think about a time when a word you heard, read or saw made a difference.

It may have been a long and terrible day, your little one wrapped their arms around you and said: “I love you”.  Or a time when you made a mistake at work that made you feel so down and a friendly co-worker reached out and said: “it could happen to anyone”. Maybe it was a simple occurrence, like you’re walking down the street and a phrase on someone’s T-shirt caught your attention and touched your heart which happened to me a few weeks ago. 

The words we see, hear or read can indeed transform our lives forever. That’s why the Bible emphasizes repeatedly the power of words.

“A person finds joy in giving an apt reply and how good is a timely word!”

– Proverbs 15:23

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

– Proverbs 25:11

“The Lord God has given me the tongue of discipleship, to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens me morning by morning; He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple.”

– Isaiah 50:4

Words are powerful! In our fast-paced, ever-changing world we have the privilege to use our words in many ways to impact the lives of others. We have the technology to express words in new ways and reach more people. We can talk to a friend in need through text. And we can send an email to a distant relative or use social media to encourage absolute strangers on the internet! We can use the word of God to really transform the lives of people we know and those we may never meet.

In the last few weeks we have seen how words spoken have had an impact over people’s lives, sadly the impact has been so negative to the point of people feeling they are not able to face this life anymore. We can destroy friendships or relationships that we spend years building instantly with a few words.  We can also use our words to completely turn around someone’s day.  It is my prayer that the latter is true for us, that we are found to be those people who speak words that are life-giving and encouraging to others.  

Now if you think about that, ask yourself this: how are you using your words and the platforms you use to express them? If you are not completely satisfied with your word-score on this question, then look around you today and find someone you can touch with your words.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th February 2020

There are one of three ways that you can live your life today. 

You can be either a risk-taker, a caretaker or an undertaker.

Many people want to live out their lives by minimising the risk. They only feel happy if they can do things by having everything sorted first — a play it safe mentality. That’s completely understandable and necessary at times; but if you always only live life like that, you will find that it becomes counter productive in that you lose the passion for doing things and you end up just being a caretaker of your life.

The caretaker kind of person basically takes care of the present to make sure that everything is carefully thought through and water tight, yet has no dream for the future. 

The undertaker only looks back at the good old days and speaks of what used to happen; you tell stories of past achievements without releasing that you have no new material to speak of. 

Yet, the risk-taker boldly marches into the future and dreams of making a better tomorrow. They live life on the edge, they attempt great things for God and expect great things from God. 

All three have their own themes…
The risk-taker – God is doing a new thing.

The caretaker – I hope nothing unusual happens today. 

The undertaker just looks around and says “what happened?”

God is the greatest risk taker of all – He risked having His son, Jesus, die on the cross for those who may or may not accept and love Him. 
Romans 5:7-8 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

The person that takes risks walks by faith and not by sight. He doesn’t worry about what he sees as obstacles in the natural, but believes that the God of the supernatural will meet everyone that is willing to step out and take risks. 

I dare you to be a risk-taker for God today. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd February 2020

Your question this morning may be “why can’t I be happy?”

Someone once said “the road to happiness is always under construction” but if you have decided you’re not going to be happy then you won’t be. We trade in (even without realising we’re trading) happiness, for moaning, complaining and negativity. 

The moment you slip into one of those three, is the moment you just traded in some of your happiness. If happiness is dependant on happenings only, then none of us will always be happy, because things don’t always go right. There has to be something far deeper than that. 

However, the minute we allow feelings and thoughts to enter our head like “why cant I be happy? I’ll never be happy, everyone else is happy but me.” You’ve just slipped closer towards unhappiness because you made a trade. 
You may lean towards the negative because of parents, or the way you were brought up. You may lean towards it because you’re not positioned correctly now ie. you’re associating with the wrong people and you’re not in a great church. 

You may lean towards the negative because you have a bad attitude about people around you being happy and life “isn’t fair”. Whatever the reason for your negativity, CHANGE IT. You may not be in charge of circumstances, but you can choose how you react to them. 

Don’t live ‘under circumstances’. My Bible tells me I am seated with Christ in heavenly places. (see Ephesians 2 vs 6) which means the circumstances of life are actually under my feet as I am seated with Christ. What a beautiful thought. 

So today, change your thoughts from “why cant I be happy?” To “God wants me happy, blessed and to live a life to the full and today I am going to walk out that truth”.

Go on, I encourage you, don’t just read that sentence, speak it out!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st February 2020

It can be easy to fall into the trap of putting your life on hold while waiting for answers, years can be spent in a holding pattern, waiting on God for breakthroughs, maybe in your health or a relationship issue. 

I want to encourage you today to ask yourself ‘in relation to this issue, what direction am I heading in?’ Basically, what are you bringing to the table by way of an answer, no matter how small?

Let me give you an example of how just small steps in the right direction can transform how you feel about the situation. There were two men – one seriously obese, struggling with depression and low self esteem, the other is super fit, playing sport daily, a picture of physical health. 
Two months pass and our overweight man has finally decided to stopped smoking and drinking, changed eating habits and walks daily. He’s already fitting into clothes he hasn’t worn for years and he feels great!

Our super fit guy has suffered a slight injury, and unable to exercise has spent most of his time in the house comfort eating, he’s put on a little weight and his skinny jeans are a little too skinny, his self esteem is at a low.

Both our men are still in reality at opposite ends of the fitness scale, but as the direction for both has changed, how they feel about their circumstances is transformed! Your direction transforms how you feel about your circumstance! 

This is great news! It means whatever is going on in your holding pattern today, wherever you feel stuck, you don’t need a genie to magic up a long awaited answer, but by making a decision to at least move in the right direction, shuffling little by little forward, you’ll soon start to feel differently about the issue!

The best set of circumstances in the world cannot guarantee happiness, but going in the right direction guarantees peace! 

Think about your life today; are you waiting on God for answers, do you feel it’s difficult to move on with life until certain situations are resolved? I want to encourage you today, get moving, make a decision, do something to begin. Do what you can no matter how small.

It may well not bring overnight success but it can bring overnight peace. 

Proverbs 15:16 | NIV Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th February 2020

I’m currently sitting in Doha, waiting for a flight to Australia. 

Looking around there’s people wearing masks, protecting themselves from potentially coming into contact with the Coronavirus. News headlines tell me that in the last 24 hours alone, there have been 5,000 new cases of the virus in China. 

And I must admit, reading the headlines and seeing everyone around me wearing masks, it’s got me questioning myself, ‘maybe I should be doing the same?’. 

While I’ve taken precautions and used wisdom, we have to be careful not to let fear win over faith. 

When the Devil operates, he is showy, loud, fear breeding. He wants all our senses to be engaged – seeing masks, hearing reports, feeling fear. 

On the contrary, God works by faith, which is often NOT by sight. Faith is about trust in the character of God. 

2 Corinthians 5:17,

‘For we live by believing and not by seeing’. 

The challenge to us is, ‘what’s our first reaction to bad news?’ 

Do we instantly jump to fear, worry and panic? Or do we have greater faith? Do we truly believe the words of Psalm 91, ‘…He will save you from the deadly pestilence…He will be your shield …you will not fear the plague…He will command His angle to protect you’…. OR do the media headlines move us more?

We either believe we are covered by the protecting blood of the cross or we don’t. Sometimes it takes real life circumstances to surface where our faith levels are really at. 

Be aware that the enemy works hard to breed fear in people. Be aware that it takes courage and trust in God to operate by faith. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th February 2020

Did you know that God is referenced to be holy more times in the Bible than He is referenced being love? Of course God is love, but equally, perhaps even more so, He is Holy. 

Could we live up to God’s standard of holy? No, but thank God for Jesus by whom we are brought to God’s standard. 

This doesn’t mean God hates sin any less than He did before Jesus’ death. God isn’t less Holy today than He was pre-Jesus’ death.

God still hates sin today. Not because He wants us to follow rules, but because He made us and knows that sin violates our design. Fun, for a bit maybe, but the Bible says that the fruit of sin is ultimately death (not necessarily literally death, but lack of life in relationships, emotions, mind, heart etc). 

Holy isn’t a fun word. Our generation especially struggles with the reality that sin has consequences. An emphasis on God being gracious and loving is more palatable, and true, but let us not forget that God is also holy. We need to view God through the lenses of both love AND holiness. 

God is grieved by sin. We should live with a sensitivity to honour God and the price He paid so we no longer need ties to sin. 

At salvation we receive the Holy Spirit…and He LIVES and walks with us as we live out our everyday Christianity. 

If we are sensitive to His nudgings, we will feel when something is grieving Him. After all, He is the HOLY Spirit. 

Be careful not to project your version of God onto Him. God is not defined by you. He is self-defining, and He defines Himself as Holy. That means there’s something in us as Christians, who respect God’s hatred for sin and trust His intentions toward us. And God in His goodness has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us and protect us.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.  

Fresh Hope – 18th February 2020

What’s life if not the accumulation of the choices we make? In Deuteronomy 30 it says we all make a choice, life or death? It seems like a no brainer, who would choose death? In reality, the majority. Here’s just one example of two young men where the first chooses death and the other life. 

Both our guys are at the age where hormones are surging and all of a sudden the female form is everything. There’s two choices: to be disciplined and keep away from temptation, or instant gratification in the form of pornography.

Our first guy makes his choice and too easily accesses explicit images online leaving nothing to the imagination. Photoshopped, unrealistically perfected images that are difficult to unsee flood the mind. Instant gratification is soon replaced by instant guilt which creates a barrier of shame in his relationship with God. This then serves to make it easier to compromise moving forward and aided by the natural release of powerful hormones in the brain, very difficult to break habits are quickly formed. Not just a life of guilt follows but problems being intimate with any future partner are formed. The number one reason for intimacy difficulties in marriage is pornography. Failed relationships add to the catalogue of issues resulting from choosing death, this along with a life of guilt seem to mark out the whole of this person’s life. 

John 10:10 | A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy

Now the second has chosen life, with the same temptations and hormones, he makes effort to keep himself as far from any temptation as possible, he’s set apart not just for his future partner but for God. It’s not easy but it’s much easier in the long run than having to deal with the fallout of addiction and guilt of pornography. He makes wise decisions to be disciplined and to keep away from certain materials, making tough calls to sacrifice and not watch the same programmes that all his friends seem to have no issue with watching. A choice is made every day not to leer at girls and to have a disciplined mind.

In time, a relationship comes along and it begins in the best way; intimacy and closeness haven’t been compromised by the effects that come from indulging the senses with inappropriate images. A healthy fruitful partnership is formed as they serve God side by side for life! 

This is just one example of the choices we make, for some it may be poor use of money, chasing wrong relationships or substance abuse. You may feel it’s too late, that you’ve already chosen death, God is faithful and uses all things together for the good of those who love him. Repent today, make a decision to change bad habits, and little by little start making the choices that lead to life! 

John 10:10 | A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so everyone would have life, and have it fully. 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th February 2020

In the early 1900’s, cotton farmers in Alabama were facing the extinction of their crops. A tiny insect called the Boll weevil had migrated from Mexico and was eating its way through the cotton plantation.

The farmers tried everything they could to get rid of the infestation. They even tried to exterminate it with all kinds of new chemicals, but all to no avail. All they could do was to sit back and watch it happen.

As the darkest days for all the farmers lay ahead, one of them came up with an idea. He said, “instead of planting our normal cotton crops, let’s plant peanuts.” Everyone thought he was crazy; they knew they couldn’t even make a living from them, or so they thought.

However, as they went ahead with the peanut plan, they soon realised that the Boll weevils didn’t like the taste of them, and instead, the crops took off in a way they had never seen. Each of the farmers were now making more in a month than what they had previously done in a whole year before. In fact, many of the farmers never went back to the cotton trade again. They stuck with the peanuts.

At the time, everything for the farmers seemed bleak, but amazingly God used even the Boll weevil to bless them and bring them into a new level of prosperity.

Right now you maybe facing a setback, but God is really positioning you for a comeback. My encouragement to you is to stay in faith and God will turn things around. He works in mysterious ways. What may seem like that its sent to destroy you, God can use to bring about something far greater in your life.

Make your stumbling stones your stepping stones today.

We find in the Old Testament, the account of Isaac living in a double famine; not just one famine, but one right after another causing the land to be desolate. He could have just sat there and complained about his circumstances, but instead we read…

Genesis 26:12-14 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him.

Whenever I’ve hit a financial crisis, I’ve learnt that its not time to moan and complain but its a time to sow even more.

Whatever is going on in your life today, make a decision not to be intimidated by lack, but to see that God is going to bring about your deliverance through it.

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.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th February 2020

Everyone wants success. Success comes by knowing God’s Word and applying it to our lives. Joshua 1 vs 8 says “meditate on the Word of God day and night and then you will be successful in whatever you do.” Notice ‘and then’ – the principal followed by the promise. 

You’ll only know God’s word, if you read God’s word. ‘Why will this make me successful?’, you may ask…

The Bible gives us everything we need for life.  
It tells us how much God loves us and that He has a great plan for our lives. 
It tells me that even when I feel the opposite, I can trust in His word.  

It tells me that even when I feel like everyone is against me, He is for me. It tells me principals for life including marriage, parenting, business and money. It talks about forgiveness and healing.  
It talks about salvation and restoration. 
The Bible covers everything!

When I walk in the truth of God’s word EVERY DAY, I WILL be successful. But if I don’t read it, then I won’t know it. 

Romans 10 v 17 says that faith comes by hearing (reading) the word of God. Even if I’m in a situation right now that is not good, I can take the word of God, believe it and apply it. That in turn will give me faith. It’s better to walk in faith, than doubt. 

A double minded man (see James ch 1) will receive nothing.  
And when I am faith-filled and when I trust God, THEN I will live a successful life. 
Take God’s word today. Read it. Apply it. Love it. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th February 2020

There are three types of love described in the Greek language.

The first is Phileo.

This describes brotherly or sisterly love; the love of friendship and companionship; the affection between two friends.

Secondly is Eros.

This describes romantic love (this needs no explanation).

Thirdly, there is Agape.

This is described as the selfless love of one person for another. It is this description of love that best describes the love of God or Christ for humanity. 
Jesus demonstrated this love when he gave up his life willingly for humanity He stood in each of our place and took on the punishment and judgement that was rightfully due to us. His sacrifice demonstrated the love he was calling his disciples and his future followers to demonstrate.

John 13:12-17
Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Jesus was so close to death when he spoke these words. Fully God and fully man, Jesus knew full well what was awaiting him after his last meal. His last few hours of freedom were spent with people that would soon abandon him. Yet, with this knowledge what was his response? He wrapped a towel around his waist, bent down, assumed the posture of a servant, and washed the feet of, a betrayer (Judas), a denier (Peter), and 10 Deserters (the remaining disciples)
John 13:7 – Jesus said ‘You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ 
Jesus wanted his friends to understand and experience first hand the love of agape ‘I love you more than I love myself, and I do not demand anything from you.’ A love lavished upon them when they least deserved it. A love undeserved.

Later, most, but sadly not all, would look back and understand what Jesus was saying as he washed and rinsed their feet.
‘I forgive you in advance for your upcoming, epic fail. Though it will surprise you, remember that it does not surprise me. My love will still be here when you return.’

Today, I want to remind you that you are loved! Even on our worst day, God the Father is like the father in the parable of the prodigal son who demonstrates a relentless love that pursues us and unashamedly declares love for us. We ALL need this kind of unconditional, audacious love! It is a love available to us all when we accept Jesus and come into a relationship with him. The experience of this love and sharing it with others, has the power to change our lives and those around us. Ultimately, this love has the power to transform our world. 

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th February 2020

We all have a story. The fact that you are sitting and reading this means that you have experiences completely unique to you.

It is human nature to want to present the best sides of ourselves. It can be tempting to hide our struggles because we want to be perceived in a particular way.

A challenge for all of us today is to be our authentic selves, flaws and all. The Bible says that where we are weak, God is our strength. Your struggles could encourage someone else today.

That redundancy that you overcame? It may push someone experiencing unemployment to their breakthrough.

Those children that you prayed so hard for? They may just show other couples God’s faithfulness.

Your past mistakes and how God changed your life may show someone the way out of their sin.

You never know whose faith can be lifted by your story. The greats that we read about in the Bible faced major struggles and made huge mistakes – God still uses their stories to encourage us today, on our own journey.

‭‭‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬ ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”’

‬‬Never be ashamed of your testimony. God can use it in the most amazing ways. Nothing is wasted.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th February 2020

At one point or another we will all come face to face with disappointment. Disappointment is a product of unmet expectation, delayed dreams and hope deferred. It can be a real painful pang deep in our hearts and comes in all shapes and sizes. Maybe that promotion you’ve been working toward for years wasn’t offered to you, perhaps a loved one is ill and you are still waiting on healing, maybe someone you care about didn’t come through like you wanted them to, you let down yourself, or there is a promise from God that He seems to have forgotten. 

Disappointment is a reality of life, but it is so important that we learn how to overcome it before we find it taking root in our hearts and turning into depression, resentment or rebellion. 

So how can we deal with disappointment? 

1. Acknowledge it! Don’t deny your feelings of disappointment by covering them up and ignoring them. Recognise them and share them with God. Even David a mighty warrior and ‘a man after God’s own heart’ said, ‘My eyes fail, looking for my God’ (Psalm 69:2–3). Why would God include someone expressing their disappointment in Him, in scripture? I believe God is secure enough to let us know that disappointment is part of the Christian life and acknowledging it and expressing it to God is part of processing it. 

2. Choose joy! If ‘the joy of the Lord is my strength’ (Psalm 28:7) then that means the level of my strength is determined by my level of my joy. Happiness is to do with happenings, which changes all the time. Joy is choice. The level at which we believe God loves us, cannot be determined by our circumstance, it needs always to be defined by the finished work of cross! That is our reference point and reminder, and source of joy. 1 Thessalonians 16 – 18 says, ‘be joyful always’. ‘Always’ implies always – good times and bad!

3. Surrender! Nothing feels quite as good as just letting go. Coming to the end of yourself so God can carry you in the pain. Habakkuk knew what it was to surrender to God and choose joy. When it was revealed that his country would be destroyed, he concluded: 

‘Though the fig tree 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). 

Find hope today that truth reigns over your feelings. Trust the nature and goodness of God, despite what your feelings and circumstance tell you. 

Proverbs 3:5 ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.’

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th February 2020

Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken through, is a person who lacks self-control.

Every supermarket nowadays has a very basic range of products in order to appeal to shoppers that want or need to purchase goods at the lowest possible value.

We are all aware of entry level ranges that carry labels like ‘smart price’, ‘basics’ or ‘value range’.

Those special labels that we have come to recognise, help us to identify quality at affordable prices, knowing that there is not going to be anything of a better value than this. The supermarket branding is telling us that this is the lowest we can go. There is no need to search for a bargain, as this is it!

As we search in life for what is of great value today, we have to come to a point of understanding that there is a very basic entry level to which we can go and no lower. If we go any lower in the way we conduct ourselves, then we have passed the point of being effective and helping anyone out there today.

The basics of our faith can be displayed at the very least in three areas…our Mouth, our Mind and our Moods.

The labels on the value range of our faith have got to be displayed in us being trustworthy, having integrity, and living honestly.

If you are living below the very basics of who we are, then we are living below the ‘spiritual poverty line’. You cannot live any lower than that and profess to be a Christian.

Stop blaming everyone else for your mouth, mind and mood. The only way others can influence you is by you allowing them to.

One translation of the above verse, says…’ like a city whose walls are broken down, is a man who has no rule over his spirit’.

Its time to get back to basics and start taking rule over your own life.

Stop telling half truths which are really lies. Stop compromising your stance on things which really means you are afraid to be counted. Stop making lame excuses for being late, stop being in a mood and ripping into someone with your tongue again.

Your values have been compromised and there is no one to blame but yourself.

Ask God to forgive you right now, and then ask Him to fill you with His power so that you can be an overcomer. Now start to live a life that is worthy of Gods calling on you.

You can’t do it alone but WITH God all things are possible.

Colossians 1:10 … live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th February 2020

Discipline and routine is good. It develops character, creates the momentum for consistency, and brings order into our lives. 

Be careful with routine though. Routine risks us coming into a place of ‘just going through the motions’. 

How often do we give out of routine, or complacency, forgetting the ‘why’ behind what we are doing? In our routines we can become comfortable and complacent.  

If we are simply routine in giving – giving of money, time, energy, it no longer becomes a sacrifice for us. Our routine of giving is just something to ease our conscience, not something that costs us something, not a true sacrifice. 

The purpose of sacrifice is to transform us, not to ease our conscience. Our giving, our sacrifices, should be done with reason, not just routine.  God falls on sacrifice – that which we give him, that which has cost us something. When something truly costs us, it is challenging and uncomfortable. This is good. 

Be careful in your relationships that they are no longer void of costing you something. Our relationships should be causing us to sacrifice –our comfort, our time, our effort, our money (this does not mean you should be in draining, compromising or damaging relationships). Don’t just look for relationships that squeeze into your routine and comfortable bubble. God is moved by relationships that cost us something. 

God is moved by sacrifice. When giving challenges us, it is transforming us.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th February 2020

Do you remember your first encounter with Jesus? 
The word ‘encounter’ simply means to ‘run into’. When we ‘run into God’, that is the best thing that can happen to us. 
We need those encounters, because only an encounter with God can transform us and give us purpose and direction like no other.

Sometimes when life has beaten us down, we are worn out, or just tired of being disappointed, it can be hard for us to seek in those times or remember those times we have already had… Those times when we experienced God in a fresh and real way. 

Through His faithfulness in my own life, there are a couple of things I have learned about God encounters: 

  1. Don’t fear the encounter.

We often fear what we don’t understand. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1 v 7) 
Don’t worry that God isn’t going to show up. You will encounter Him. We spend more of our time worrying about life than actually living life. The recipe for God’s peace is clear.  Do not worry about anything. Pray about everything. Tell Him what you need. Thank Him for what He’s already done. (Philippians 4v6).

2. The promises He gives us are true 

God promises that He will always be with you and will never forsake you (Deuteronomy 31 v 8). Sometimes it can be really easy to forget the living presence of Jesus in our lives because we can get complacent or we can make excuses to not spend time with Jesus. We can easily forget what God has done for us. His word is full of promises, it’s when we spend time in His presence that He reveals those and speaks those promises to us. 

Let us all be patient between those God Encounters, expectant of future ones, and thankful for the miracles He’s already done in our lives. God Encounters often will come at the perfect time and often in ways in which we don’t fully understand. God chooses us all, but it is only those who respond and are available to that call that really encounter Him. We need to ask ourselves, “Are we available for Him?” 

Let’s start spending time with Jesus and His Word and as you do that, you will encounter Him… and those moments have the potential to be life-changing. 

Natalie Bloxwich

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th February 2020

Sometimes we can be presented with a chance to share something important and it’s up to us to seize the opportunity. 

I love the perseverance of Paul in Acts 20:7-12.

Paul was speaking to the people of Troas but he wasn’t going to be there long so took the opportunity to use the time to the fullest and kept talking until midnight. 

However, the late-night talking and dim lighting got a bit too much for a man named Eutychus, who nodded off and fell out of a third storey window. 

Verse 9 (NIV) says ‘he was picked up dead.’

Not ideal for Paul during his message.

However, Paul went outside, threw his arms around Eutychus and he came back to life. The chapter then goes on to say that they all went back inside, had supper and Paul carried on telling faith stories until dawn.

Paul quite literally talked someone to death, rose them from the dead, took them back inside and carried on talking.

Paul had something important to say.

Sometimes we can feel like Paul. Sometimes we can feel like when we are sharing the good news to people in our world that it falls on deaf ears. It can be disheartening when the person we keep inviting to church doesn’t come. But Paul didn’t get disheartened by the death in the middle of his message. 

In verse 12, it says ‘the people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.’

Paul’s perseverance in sharing the Word of God resulted in people leaving greatly comforted, not annoyed that he’d (momentarily) bored someone to death. 

God didn’t punish Eutychus for not listening; his life was restored and he was given another opportunity. 

Like God perseveres with us, we should continue to persevere with others. Continue to encourage people with Godly words. Continue to invite people to church. 

Nights of Hope are approaching; it’s the perfect opportunity for lives and hope to be restored.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th February 2020

Afford yourself the luxury of having time to think.

Busy-ness is what seems to give us our identity.

When asked how you are, the standard answer always seems to be ‘busy thanks, how are you?’ … ‘I’m busy too, really busy.’

It’s as if the 21st century has inbred a sense of failure or weakness into us, if we are not constantly busy.

Being busy seems to be a way of hiding the real me. It’s a way of saying ‘I’m really needed’, ‘I’m important’, ‘I haven’t got a minute’, ‘I have a full diary.’ ‘I’m successful.’

Is it possible that you are a busy fool? Or maybe you are pretending to be so busy so that you don’t come across as unsuccessful, without any purpose.

One of the tensions in our house is trying to get my wife to sit down for a few minutes. Her standard reply is one of two things: “there’s too much to do” or “ “I feel guilty if I stop and sit down.”

My standard reply always goes like this: “if you feel guilty about stopping, then you have a problem.”

Every one of us needs to be guilt free when it comes down to making time to think.

Without thinking time, you lose your way in life.

Without thinking time, things get out of proportion.

Without thinking time, you lose perspective.

Without thinking time, you lose sight of God.

Without thinking time, you are prone to make wrong choices.

Dedicate a chair in your home as a thinking chair and stop seeing that ceasing from work is wrong and start to see that thinking is a necessary form of work that helps keep our lives on track.

Thinking punctuates our lives and gives them greater meaning and effectiveness. Sit down today and allow yourself a little luxury thinking time.

Proverbs 23v7 ‘As a man thinks… so is he.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th February 2020

Life can throw us some unexpected curveballs. Things can be different to how you imagined, prayed or planned. 

Perhaps we are living in the product of our poor choices, and it’s not good.  BUT there is ALWAYS hope with God. 

Romans 8:28 says, ‘And we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’. 

If you love God, and if you have been called (which you have), then God is working whatever situation you are in for good. 

God doesn’t just have a plan A and if that doesn’t work, then we are stuffed. God has a plan A, a plan B, a plan C and a plan D… and He can work the plan D to be as brilliant as plan A!

Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection was never plan A, as glorious as all that was… that was plan B. Plan A was walking closely with God in the Garden of Eden, in perfect unity and relationship, but sin brought plan B into motion, and God in His goodness made a way where perfect unity and relationship with God was possible again. 

God is bigger than you. His grace and abilities far outweighs the worst choices or situations you could possibly make for yourself. He works all things for good. So if things aren’t good yet, God isn’t done yet. 

Yes they’re consequences to actions, but with a repentant and surrendered heart, there is nothing God cannot move, shake, transform and remake. 

Instead of focusing on what has gone wrong, or what could go wrong, focus on what God can make right. Focus on the impossible that God can pull off, not just despite the bad, but actually USING the bad and the ugly, turning it into something good and beautiful! God said he will turn ALL THINGS for good…not some things…ALL THINGS!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th February 2020

Did you know that 90% of our communication with one another is done not through words, butbody language? 

Actions literally speak louder than words. 

People will notice what you do, more than what you say. They will hear your words, but follow your actions. 

Our actions are constantly communicating something. 

In our relationships we are saying something through our actions. If we say someone is important to us, but rarely make time for them, what we are actually communicating is that they are not that important to us. If we say we are available to someone, but don’t bother replying to their messages, we are really saying that they are not that important. If we say we value a friendship but forget important dates, and are never giving, then we are communicating that they aren’t worth it to us. If we are arriving late to appointments with people, we are communicating that we don’t respect them enough to honour their time. Our actions can seem small and insignificant, but constantly communicate loud and clear messages. 

We have all failed in communicating what we really want to. This isn’t to shame anyone. 

This Christmas just gone, the Queen gave her annual Christmas Day speech. Her overarching message, was ‘small steps not giant leaps bring about the most lasting change’. We crave the big, dramatic leaps of life – but it is in the small steps, the small choices, that bring about the most meaningful changes. The most lasting change is in the seemingly insignificant honouring of someone’s time, a thank you message, a reply or response, an honouring gift on a special date or just for no reason, an unexpected phone call to see how someone is going, listening carefully, following up on someone who has told you they are struggling. These small gestures make for a lasting difference. We want to change the world, but it starts with the small things we are already communicating. 

1 John 3:18 says, ‘…let us not love in word or talk, but in action and deed’. James 2:17 says, ‘…faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead’ and ‘be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves’.  

God is not looking for big, grand, noble acts from us, He is looking for the ongoing, daily personal sacrifice, and honouring of others. Jesus shines through how we do relationships. A transformed city (a big change), starts with valuing people in the small and seemingly insignificant things (small steps). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd February 2020

Pearls of wisdom for a Monday morning …

  • Upgrade to the size of your future
  • Don’t read your child’s school report as though it were a prophecy. 
  • Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen —Sir Winston Churchill
  • The most significant achievement of our age is not that man stood on the moon, but that God, through Jesus walked upon the earth —Astronaut James Irwin.
  • We stand tallest when we are on our knees. 
  • Stop everyday and look at the size of God. 
  • The future belongs to those that see possibilities before it becomes obvious. 
  • Giving is the highest level of living. 
  • Our confidence is not in answered prayer, but in the fact that God hears us. 
  • When your output is more than your input then your upkeep becomes your downfall
  • When Jesus said ‘ I am with you always..’ He didn’t make a promise, He stated a fact. 

And finally…If at first you don’t succeed – you’re normal.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st February 2020

Moses’ mother hid him in a basket because she didn’t want him to die.  That basket signified a lot of things, but one thing it shows us about his mother is that she was a defender. When God has a special plan or purpose, defend it.When God shows you something precious, defend it. When you see the significance you have in God, defend it. 

The Bible tells me that Satan comes to steal and kill and destroy.  (John 10 vs 10). Would we willingly leave our front door open for robbers to come and help themselves? Of course not! So why do we let the enemy steal from us?

Our joy – at the first sign of trouble or difficulty it goes out the window. Our peace – when we take our focus off God and not onto God, we lose peace. Our faith – when we start to let doubts in and don’t keep trusting His word.  

You may have played the part of a defender in sport, you are there to stop the opposing team (the enemy) score a goal.  A defender has to be switched on and diligent.  Not with their focus elsewhere or asleep.

The Bible says “we are not unaware of the devil’s schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2 vs 11)

Watch out my friend.  Be alert today.  Don’t get robbed of your joy, your destiny or your purpose.  
Be a DEFENDER.   Do whatever you can, with whatever you have, to defend the life of God in you and those around you. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st January 2020

In the last few years I have come across the term ‘FOMO’ (Fear of Missing Out). FOMO has probably been around since the fall of mankind, but the term has become more widely used over the last ten years. With the rise of the internet and social media, people’s feelings of anxiety have skyrocketed. Many feel they are missing out, they are being left out and their lives are not as wonderful and fulfilling as those of others. Comparison is the thief of joy and it brings nothing but feelings of anxiety, resentment and inner distress.

I remember reading about J.D. Rockefeller. He was an American billionaire, back in the early 1900’s. During an interview, his response to the question, “How much money is enough?” was “Just a little bit more.” Although he originally set out to make $100,000, but then discovered he had an insatiable desire to keep increasing his wealth. It was never enough to satisfy him.

We can learn from this in our current struggles with FOMO, powerfully fanned into flames in our social media age. We might think, “If only I had what these other people have, then I would feel happy”. But this is a lie.

Amazingly, long before the invention of internet, we find the answer to this problem in the Bible. Paul was able to share from his own experience of life, ‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation’ (Philippians 4:11-12). And the ‘secret’ to being content is a principle which applies to all situations always.

It is not having what we want which makes us content. Only appreciating what we already have can do that. Therefore, Paul was content, whether he had a lot or a little. And we can be like that too, when we thank God for what we already have. This applies not only to money but to friends, social life, marriage, relationships – every sphere of life. The miracle is that, when we thank God and appreciate what we already have, it suddenly becomes enough.

In this life we have Jesus with us always, in all circumstances, in all places. In our future life we will have heaven with Him. It is ours to enjoy forever. Whatever the world has to offer, it cannot compete with God. So, I believe that is impossible for us, as God’s children, to ‘miss out’.

My prayer for us all, especially the younger generation is that when we feel unhappy or discontent we choose to thank God for what He has already given us and for what He has promised us.  Matthew 16: 31-32 tells us: Do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Christine Mudenha 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th January 2020

Change is hard. My husband and I recently moved house and the stress was over the top. We had a two-week period of living at my parents and don’t get me wrong, it was pretty good because we had delicious meals, washing, ironing all done for us. But it was change.

The challenge came when we had to sort the shower schedule for the morning, with six people needing to use the bathroom all before 7am it was a crazy schedule. 

For quite a while, I couldn’t find my favourite jumper or my hairbrush. Oh, and my toothbrush? I just gave up looking for it and bought another one.

Having recently moved areas, it meant that I was no longer on auto pilot and I had to get used to a new journey to and from work. I spent a lot of energy trying to find a new direction and when there was traffic, I had to find an alternative route. 

Moving house has been overwhelming. 

On a daily basis we are all going through changes…

Relationships change.

Locations change.

Jobs change.

Our bodies change.

We change.

During our season of change, it’s taught me that life is fragile, uncertain and temporary but something that lasts forever is God.

“For I, the Lord, do not change”

Malachi 3:6

Whether you are moving house, changing job or experiencing a change in your relationships, we can always trust in God. He doesn’t change. 

Through my season of change this verse from Isaiah 40:8 really stood out to me

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our god will stand forever.”

We can find comfort in God, his plans are unshakeable, his word is dependable. 

You can trust Him to carry you through anything you face today. 

Psalm 46:1

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” 

Things may continue to change around us but no matter what changes we face, we must not fear. We must turn to our rock and anchor our unchanging God whose promises remain forever. 

I trust this devotion motivates you to draw closer to God during a change in your life.

Gabby Clarke

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th January 2020

In the story of the calling of the first disciples we see a check list that can help us assess our lives and see if we’re missing anything that could be causing a lack of growth or frustration in our walk with Jesus.

Luke 5:1-11 | NIV One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. 

Firstly they met Jesus! If you are reading this today as a follower of Jesus you can tick it off, if not I encourage you today to invite him into your life. 

Secondly he taught them. Every week we get great teaching in our churches on a Sunday, maybe a podcast or daily devotion like this one, also whenever we open our bibles in a set aside time, tick. 

Thirdly he performed a miracle! I’m sure most followers reading this can look at some point in your life where God has brought a miraculous provision or answer you’ve been looking for, tick. And again, if not, he is faithful and wants to meet our needs so I encourage you to today, give your needs over to him.

Fourthly, he called them! We have all been called to follow him, to live our lives in a relationship with God our maker through his son Jesus Christ, tick. 

So far so good, but finally is the tick box we easily over look. It’s finishes with vs11:
So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. 

Often I believe we struggle because despite being able to tick off meeting Jesus, having great teaching, seeing him act in our lives and being called, we can struggle to take the final step to fully lay down our lives and follow him. I encourage you today put all your eggs in the one basket today and surrender to him in every area of life, as 1 Peter2:6 says ‘the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th January 2020

On the evening before my 20th birthday I remember praying, asking God to bless the years of my twenties. Tonight is the eve of my 30th birthday and it feels like just yesterday that I prayed that prayer. Ten years have flown, and from the other side I can definitely say that God really has given me a blessed decade!  

I appreciate that people much older than thirty, with a lot more life experience than me, may be reading this, but I do think I have learnt a few lessons from my twenties. After all, it was in my twenties that I graduated university, started my career, taught hundreds of people, travelled to nearly thirty countries, got married, and moved to the other side of the world. Safe to say, in all of that I have learnt a thing or two.

So here are thirty lessons from my twenties. Some of them may seem like cliché comments, but they are not. I have carefully selected them from first-hand experiences: 

Lesson #1: The principals of God always stand (it may take years for you to see the fruit, but you will see it!). Always go God’s way. 

Lesson #2: Find mentors and models in every season. 

Lesson #3: Feelings don’t always tell the truth. Let the word of God be your standard of truth. 

Lesson #4: Love people. Aside from God, people are the most precious thing you have. You will never regret loving people too much. 

Lesson #5: Travel, experiences, nice things are fun, but don’t totally satisfy, and are not what life is about. 

Lesson #6: Leaders are people, who we honour, but like you, they are also imperfect. Leaders are not God. 

Lesson #7: No church is perfect, but she is still beautiful and Jesus still died for her. You need the church and the church needs you! 

Lesson #8: You reap what you sow. Where you invest and sacrifice is where you reap reward. 

Lesson #9: Have a vision for every area of your life. 

Lesson #10: Life goes quickly. Spend your time well. 

Lesson #11God loves you more than you know. He knows more than you know. 

Lesson #12Hunger for wisdom (the way God does things). 

Lesson #13Look after your body. Your health is precious. 

Lesson #14People all over the world are the same. All of humanity hungers for the same core things – to be loved and valued. 

Lesson #15Ask lots of questions. 

Lesson #16Don’t push your way into opportunity. Be faithful, and let God open doors. 

Lesson #17: Don’t take life too seriously. Have fun. Get over petty things. Regularly ask yourself, ‘in light of eternity, will this matter?’

Lesson #18Worry will rob you. 

Lesson #19Thankfulness will protect you. 

Lesson #20Being busy is not something to be proud of. 

Lesson #21God will use everything. 

Lesson #22The degree to which you honour people, is the degree to which you will have influence over them. 

Lesson #23Sometimes God has something else planned. 

Lesson #24The best things in life are not instant and easy. They require vision, persistence, patience, and help from God. 

Lesson #25: Live to give, not to get. 

Lesson #26: Love people through their flaws. 

Lesson #27: Work hard to keep your heart in a good place. 

Lesson #28: What is popular, isn’t always right. 

Lesson #29: Your attitude will take you further than your ability. 

Lesson #30: Your words are seeds. Careful what you are sowing, because it will start growing! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th January 2020

My mother-in-law had a new washing machine delivered, and my promise was to install it for her.

I was a little pushed for time, but she was eager to get it in place, so I popped in with a few tools one lunchtime.

I secured the water pipes, connected the electric supply and carefully pushed the new machine into a very tight spot underneath the kitchen units.

Everything was seeming to work fine, as I quickly tested it to make sure that the power and water supply were all as they should be. Job done.

For the next three days, I had calls from her telling me that something wasn’t right and that every time the machine went into its spin cycle, the whole kitchen would shake.

Like a Doctor, I asked her over the phone all about the symptoms and advised her about overloading it and anything else that I thought may be the cause.

Eventually, I decided to go back, take the washer out and start again.

It turned out that it was completely my fault.  I had overlooked the fact that I should have taken the very long transportation bolts that come with a brand new washer to hold the drum secure during delivery.

The bolts meant that there was no flexibility in the drum when spinning, so would violently vibrate, potentially damaging everything around it.

As much as it pained me to realise that I could have badly damaged the machine, I also realised that it was a great life lesson too.

Sometimes in our lives we have to acknowledge that we are being held back by the things that have never been removed during transportation.

I love the story in the Bible about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead; but then in the very next breath Jesus says…’take off his grave cloths and let him go.’

It wasn’t enough just to be brought back to life, until the bandages that held him tight in death were unravelled.

How many of us today have felt the effects, not of bandages but of bondages that have wrapped around us during transportation?

Unkind words spoken over our lives, bitterness about our past, unforgiveness over a broken relationship – the list goes on and on but what is true is that not only do these things hold us back, they also affect everything and everyone else around us. When we behave this way, we cause a ripple effect of negativity wherever we go.

We were not created to be restricted by our hang-ups, but to be set free to do what we were created to do by God.

Today, take a brief step back, in order to go forwards.

Ask yourself: what is it in my past that is causing me to behave in such a way today?

Identify the problem and then ask Jesus to be the solution. Allow Him access into your private world so that He can take off your grave clothes and let you go.

Be free.
John 8:36 ‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th January 2020

Have you ever met a double minded person? Of course you have. People who say one thing and do another; people who are ‘yes’ one day and ‘no’ the next. 

The Bible teaches in James 1 that we are not to be doubleminded, because if we are, we will receive nothing. This is what it says about being double-minded in prayer. Verses 6 & 7  “but when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.. that person should not expect to receive anything for the Lord”

  That’s a challenge to each one of us. How many of us have been in a prayer meeting, praying for someone who needs a miracle, then as we get onto the car park, our speech doesn’t match up to our ‘faith filled ‘ prayer?  “What a shame for that person etc, they are so sick, there’s no hope etc”.Or maybe you’ve asked God to meet your need and one minute you’re believing in prayer for a miracle, the next you’re speaking the opposite. 
Be careful.  The Word of God teaches we will receive NOTHING if we are like that.  

I noticed something this week just a few verses earlier in vs 2-4…(you should always read the context of the verses).
It says we should consider it joy when we face trials of many kinds, because it will produce perseverance…THEN it goes on to say about not being double minded.  

I wonder why?  It’s because when we face trials and difficulties it’s easy to get into two trains of thought…Will God or won’t He? Faith v doubt. Yes God can v maybe He can’t? Is He with me or not?

Today, be single minded. Even if you’re going through a trial. Be true to the courage of your convictions and what you know to be true. Stand firm on the promises of God. If you don’t believe it, don’t pray it. For a double minded person will receive nothing.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24 January 2020

How would you empty a lake? One bucketful at a time!

It sounds very simple, but in practice, it’s very easy to be cynical or show contempt for the little things in life, especially ones that don’t seem to provide big, immediate results.

In Luke 13 verses 6 to 8, Jesus tells a parable of a man who went through a vineyard he owned, and when he didn’t find fruit on one of the trees, demanded to have it cut down. The gardener instead asks to be given a year where he promises to consciously take better care of the tree in the hope that it would produce some fruit and thereby save it.

This gardener is a lot like us. He was in charge of the garden, but hadn’t been concerned with tending to the tree because his attention was focused on other trees that bore good fruit.

It’s well known that the best hardwood comes from slow growing trees. Each year, they grow new leaves, knowing full well that the leaves will grow and eventually fall off, but that knowledge doesn’t make them stop the process.

As we grow, we also go through seasons where we’re looking vibrant, full of life, and growth is evident to everyone looking at us.

Then seasons come where from the outside, it looks like you’re down and out, as if you’ve thrown in the towel.

Throughout the different seasons, the tree remains rooted in the same place.

Wherever you find yourself today, the dry season is not the time to give up and move away from the things God has spoken to you to do. He allows you to develop through slow processes, but you have to remain consistent in your prayer life, and faith that not only is God growing you, but He is preparing you for greater things to come.

As Napoleon Hill said, “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd January 2020

We have a generation on our hands that is hungry for success and significance. Where previous generations may have been content with a more ‘simple life’, we desire the big, the ambitious, the best. 

While the desire for success is absolutely from God, we must consider what our measuring stick is. What are we defining as success? Are we holding ourselves to a standard that actually is not from God? 

God wants us to be successful, or another word – fruitful. In fact, Jesus hated anything that was not bearing fruit. If God has created something, He has designed it to carry life and reproduce/bare fruit. Jesus cursed the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22). Why? Because it was bearing leaves, it had the appearance of life, it had the appearance of fruitfulness, but it wasn’t actually producing fruit. God doesn’t want us to have the appearance of fruitfulness (religion), but actually just be a bunch of leaves. He wants success to be a real part of our lives, because of who we are connected to. We should be producing fruit as we are a branch connected to the true vine (Jesus), John 15:1-8. 

So what is this true success then? What should be our focus? To find out what God defines as true success, let us look at the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. 

FACT: Three men were given different amounts of money in which they were told to increase. (This was a common way of investment for masters of servants in the context of this scripture). 

POINT: There is no point comparing to the person next to you, because despite what you may think, God doesn’t actually operate on fairness. He gives each of us something different based on what He believes we can handle. 

FACT: The third man returned exactly what God gave him. 

Point: Don’t think you can just give back to God what you started with. He wants to see increase in your life. 

FACT: Even one talent was a lot. 

POINT: Just because the person next to you may have more, doesn’t mean you haven’t already been given a lot in life. 

FACT: They had to give an account to the master, with what they did with their money. 

POINT: We will have to give an account to God on what we did with our life. 

FACT: The master congratulated them on being ‘good and faithful’ not once mentioning the amount of money that they made. 

POINT: God is not looking for numbers, or titles (things we may define as success), He is looking for character, heart and stewardship of whatever we have been given. 

‘Well done good and faithful servant’ is the definition of success. To hear God say to us at the end of our life, ‘well done good and faithful servant’, you were faithful with what you were given – you stewarded your marriage well, your relationships well, your mouth and words, your job, your money, your body – whatever you were given, you were faithful and managed it well’. THAT IS SUCCESS! 

It isn’t about the amount. It isn’t about the numbers. It isn’t all the facts and stats that is going to interest God. What God is looking for is – WHATEVER He gave me, I was faithful with it.  

At the end of your life, you want to ask yourself:  Did I do what God said to do? – Did I use whatever I got given? – Was outcome my focus or stewardship? – Did I hear Him say, ‘well done, good and faithful servant?’

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd January 2020

You may be aware of the fires currently raging in Australia. 1400 homes destroyed, 28 lives lost, 25.2 million acres of environment burnt to a crisp, killing 1billion animals. And with no sign of slowing down, these fires are predicted to continue into April. 

I personally know people who have experienced significant loss because of these fires. I also have friends who are fighting the fires, or rescuing whatever wildlife remains. Yesterday my Dad was photographing some of the most devastated areas. He commented on how silent the environment was – deep ash covering the earth,cblack poles for trees, and no sounds of blowing leaves or tweeting birds. Any remaining animals are starving as they root around for some remains to feed on. 

Amidst the dire situation, there is some hope. There are some seeds that are actually only activated by fire. Their species require fire for the seeds to sprout. The fire melts the resin on the outside of the seed. These cones/fruits can only open to release their seeds after the heat of a fire has physically melted the resin. More than 60 plant species, never before recorded in some parks, have flourished since the fires. Plants that were under threat before the fire, are now germinating prolifically. 

I wonder what new life is available amidst the fires of our lives. Even after absolute loss and devastation, there is a hope. In fact there is a new life and fruit in us that only a fire can produce. We may be burnt, we may feel completely devastated, but even after the flames, there is life that would have otherwise never existed if it were not for the burn. Your devastation now has unlocked something new. It can be easy to focus on the significant and heartbreaking loss, and the loss must be acknowledged and grieved, but what if God is able to bring about something new because of it? 

There are many occasions in the scripture where Jesus bought life after death. Jesus raised people from dead (John 11:1-44), even His life is a testament to life after death (Mark 16:6), and WE have the promise of life after death (John 11:25-26). 

When Jesus is involved, new life is an absolute. He removes the painful sting of loss, by providing a hope, a sprouting seed, while we stand in the ash (1 Corinthians 15:55). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st January 2020

If you’ve ever been made a promise, you will probably know that the level of expectation you have that that promise will be fulfilled is determined by the level of trust you have in the one who made it.

For instance, if someone with a not-so-great reputation makes me a promise, I will have my doubts that they will keep to it. But if a long-time friend who I have grown to know and trust makes me a promise, I can almost be certain that they’ll be true to their word.

All that to say this… a promise is something that you could argue against. What cannot be argued is a proven principle.

The Bible is full of proven principles, that if abided by can lead to you experiencing a better way of life. One of these principles is recorded in 2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:6‬ ‭and it says this; “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
Now you may not believe in God and therefore you might switch off at the inclusion of a Bible verse. However, this here is not a promise to be argued, but rather a proven principle to be applied.

Just ask any farmer, whether a believer in God or not, and they will tell you that the principle of sowing and reaping is a law of life. It is what it is. It works.

Ask any gym-goer, and they will tell you, what they put in determines what they get out.
I believe that God is the One who set this principle in motion, so that we might have a key to experiencing a blessed life. But the ball is in your court… how are you going to sow your words, your time, your money? Will it be sparingly or will it be generously? Because the harvest that you experience in your life of any one of these things will be determined by the level in which you give.

The choice is yours and the choice is mine… at what level do I want to reap? Once you decide that, you know what to do next.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th January 2020

It was not until we moved house several years ago that I had to learn a new skill…that of lighting a real fire.

It looked pretty simple to me, and I couldn’t wait for the winter nights to draw in, so that we could have our very own coal fire. It would bring back so many fond memories from when I was a child. A few pieces of newspaper, a pile of tinder wood and then finally the logs and coal – what could be difficult about that?

Several failed attempts later, I sought the advice of an experienced coal merchant that I knew. I soon learnt that it was all about having thoroughly ‘seasoned’ wood to start the fire, otherwise you would actually be putting the fire out more than getting it going.

I’d never heard of seasoned wood before, but soon gathered that it was wood that had stood outside in all weathers for at least 18months and then kept really dry before use. Seasoning wood effectively ensures that the sap is dried out and the wood is crisp and dry.

Since I learnt that lesson, I’ve never had a bad fire since, well that was until last week when it dropped particularly cold one night, and I threw some unseasoned wood on the fire to get it going in a rush and hey presto…it went out!

Ever wondered why your life seems to just smoulder and continually keep going out? Take a look at the people that you’re surrounding yourself with and that will be your biggest clue.

They all look much the same, just like pieces of wood, but if they are not well seasoned they are simply going to dampen the most positive spirit around.

Ask yourself at the start of this day: ‘how many people around me are unseasoned, damp-spirited people that keep causing my passion to die?’

Finding the right people can sometimes take time, as they often all look the same, but when you find the right ones you will see such a difference; that passion, that vision, that dream, that fire burning in you will be ignited and become red hot.

Ask God to send well seasoned people into your life in 2020 and then be willing to bring them close to you. One of those people may be right under your nose everyday, but you’ve never noticed them in the wood pile.

Don’t just align yourself with the newest friends on the block, they haven’t yet been seasoned, and could well put your fire out, instead embrace those whose lives are lived with passion, and you’ll soon discover the effect they have on you.

Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th January 2020

Have you ever heard the phrase “you don’t get because you don’t ask”? Well, guess what? It’s true! You won’t get more dinner if you don’t ask for seconds, you won’t get a discount in a store if you don’t try, you won’t get a refund if you don’t return the item and ask for one and sometimes as a Mom, you may not get a hug if you don’t ask for one!
We have to go through life asking- think about it.   Several times a day, we are asking.  “Please do this, please go there, please can I have this”. Our lives are made up of ASK.

There are three levels in the Bible; they are ASK, SEEK, KNOCK.

 You’ll find them in Matthew 7 v 7. “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Ask is entry level – bring your requests and ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. 
Seek is the next level – like in the game “hide and seek’ – you have to make time to actively seeking and not giving up until you find.

 Knock is the persistent higher level – keep knocking until the door gets answered.  

There are times when my praying has been all three. That’s how it works.  Jesus is obviously happy with all three, as He taught us that way.  
Is it okay to keep bothering God with my request? Absolutely.  Do I need to not give up after one ask? Absolutely. Is it ok to get earnest and persistent? Absolutely.  

Some answers may come after one ask…that’s great and it’s refreshing. But if everything was like that, we wouldn’t learn persistence and patience and God’s timing.  

Today, be someone who ASKS.  Not someone who doesn’t receive because they didn’t.  

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

Fresh Hope – 17th January 2020

Recently I read an online newspaper article about a young 26 year old woman with a PhD and a great job in a laboratory who according to the article took her own life because of bullying. A tragic and more and more common story. There were hundreds of comments left by people online, and they all pretty much said the same thing, ‘the bullies must be held to account’ ‘we must eradicate bullying from society’ basically they were all saying the issue in the story and society at large is bullying, and if we could just stop them then what a better place the world would be. 

This is the predicament in today’s culture. Trying to make life better by removing any adverse situations rather than looking at the real issue. The problem with this thought process is if you remove all adverse scenarios you will have no life left. Bullying is an awful human tendency, but the reality is if you get rid of all the bullies you would need to eradicate the human race. If you have ever made a cheap joke at someone’s expense then you’ve bullied, and if you’ve ever been made to feel uncomfortable then you’ve been bullied. 

The real issue in life is simple, we don’t really know who we are! We don’t realise just how incredibly important and immeasurably precious we are. If only this girl knew the truth of how she was loved and what hope there was in a relationship with her maker in heaven, she would not have even contemplated what she did. 
In Johns gospel we read the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet, what’s interesting is the 2 verses before he begins to serve.

John 13:3-4 | NIV3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 

Jesus lived his life 100% from the knowledge of who he was! He served and gave himself, not to earn or receive anything, but from the secure knowledge that he was the son of God! I want to encourage you today in what ever season you find yourself, live from the safety of knowing you are a child of God! Understand circumstances can be tough, and as long as you’re alive you will have tough circumstances, don’t live a frustrated life trying to create a perfect environment, but instead wrap a towel around your waste and in the knowledge you were chosen before the creation of the world, serve and live in freedom!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th January 2020

‘Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him’ (Psalm 34:8). 

When David invites the reader of this Psalm to see that God is good, using language like ‘taste and see’, we can learn several things: 

1. Tasting and seeing are experiential, not intellectual. Relationship with God isn’t always rational or intellectual, it is something that is to be interacted with and experienced. The goodness of God isn’t just an idea. It is something for us to experience.

 2. Tasting is a test. David invites us to call God out on His word. If God promises us that He is good, let’s put it to the test and see that He is good. Let’s test taste, and expect His goodness. 

3. When we taste something it is a sample of something more. When we experience the goodness of God, it is only a taste of something more. We have only had a sample of all there is to Him and His goodness. 

4. Tasting and seeing are personal experiences. I cannot taste for you, and you cannot taste for me. You cannot see for me, and I cannot see for you. David has called us to have a personal experience of the goodness of God in our lives, not just see others experience the goodness of others. He has something for you that only you can taste. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th January 2020

There seems to be a popular idea that ‘hustling’ or being busy and stressed is necessary in order to achieve. Juggling plates, missing sleep, living off of coffee, and calling it ‘hard work’ is the new normal, and sometimes even celebrated as an esteemed quality.  

In Jesus’ ministry on earth, I never read of Him being in a hurry. In fact, much of his effectiveness and fruitfulness was a direct result of being UNHURRIED. He stopped on many of his journeys to pause and talk, heal and deliver people. Equally, there were times where he stopped listening to the demands of people, as valid as they may have been, to get away to the quiet place with the Father (Mark 1:35-39). Jesus didn’t hustle. What he did do was ALIGN. He aligned to the voice of the Father. When God said, ‘stop’, he stopped. When God said, ‘get away’, Jesus got away. The voice of God was His primary priority, regardless of whatever else was pulling on Him. 

Our lives would be far more productive and fruitful, if we pursued the voice of the Father, rest, time in ‘the secret place’, and alignment, rather than ‘hustle’ to the point of exhaustion. 

Alignment means to ‘place in a straight line’. In order for you to make something straight, you have to align it up against something perfectly straight as the standard. To rule a straight line in a book, you need a ruler to align your pencil. To hang a picture on the wall straight, you need a spirit level as the standard as to which we measure the frame to. Our lives need alignment and the voice of God does this for us. 

When our schedules and energy levels are in shambles, we must question, ‘what are we aligning ourselves against?’. Is it the voice of God, or is it the demands of people and life? Our lives should be pulled into the alignment of His priorities for us then ‘He will make our paths straight’ (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th January 2020

There are over 7 billion people that occupy this world today, and yet you are totally unique. 
You have a unique purpose and destiny that is distinct from anyone else who has ever lived. 

You can have a dream, a plan, a role and a vision that will make a contribution to humanity. 
Have the courage to be uniquely you! 

Don’t just settle for an easy life, that requires no effort on your part; I know it’s much easier and far less stressful to be mediocre and to blend in. 
Everything within you at times says don’t make waves, just swim with the tide and go with the flow. 

No courage is required just to be normal, but all that does is neutralise what God has planned for your life. 

Being courageous doesn’t mean you will never doubt or afraid, quite the opposite; the one who has courage pushes through the fear and keeps moving forward toward the goal that you were created for. 

Destiny is not only a destination, but a process taking place within you.

You need to see yourself doing what you were born for, before you actually do it.

Long before you get married you need to see yourself at the altar. 

You need to get educated, if you are dreaming of that degree. 

You need to see yourself as the supervisor before you get the title; but if you don’t behave like a supervisor you will never become one, even if you do get the badge. 

If you believe you are called to be a communicator then start to prepare a short message that you can try out on the dog or even a tree before being let lose with a bunch of human beings.

If you are to become the musician that you believe you are called to be, then don’t wait for the stage. Become skilful with your headphones on, shut away in your bedroom, while all of your friends are out partying or watching TV. 

A surgeon is only able to pick up and use the instruments that are already clean and at hand in the operating theatre. In the same way today, God is looking to use those that are prepared, clean and ready to be used.

In 1982, I waved goodbye to my career in order to go to Bible college for two years. I did so in the belief that God was calling me to pastor the church, and therefore needed to train for the future. I didn’t want to get the point whereby God was ready for me to step into that role, but I was not ready myself. 

Do I recommend that everyone does the same? Of course not, but I do recommend that you do everything you possibly can to become the best in the field that you are called to be in. 

Did you know that if you read and study a particular subject for just one hour a day for seven years you will become an international expert in that field?

Instead of just praying the prayer…’Lord use me today’, why not change it to…’Lord make me usable today’.

My prayer for you is that you will have the courage and determination to make a difference by being prepared for who God intended you to be. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th January 2020

Once a young guy observed a man in his eighties planting an apple orchard. The old man lovingly and painstakingly prepared the soil, planted the tiny saplings and watered them. After watching for a while, the young man said,”you don’t expect to eat apples from those trees do you?” “No”, the old man replied, “but somebody will”.

As I get older the more a realise that my actions today will either help or hinder all those that are following on behind me. How often do we have an attitude that just wants to please ourselves. We live in a day whereby it seems like for most people that as long as it’s not hurting anyone else then it’s ok for me to do it. When you think about it, it’s totally a backwards way of living. What we should be saying is …”how can ensure that what I’m doing today is going to help everyone else around me and behind me”.

The decisions, plans and even the culture you are building into your life and that of your family can literally shape the generations to come.

Living a life of integrity may seem like old fashioned nowadays, but anything less will always come back to bite you.

When you serve people and influence them positively you literally create a chain of impact that can outlive you.

Some people want to put restrictions on themselves according their talent, intelligence, or experience. Others worry about their age. But with God, one person can always make a difference, regardless of circumstances or situation.

When Jesus fed the five thousand, a little boy provided the food for the miracle. When Noah was six hundred years old he provided a boat for the miracle.

You’re never too old or too young to make a difference, and it’s never too late to start.

Make a difference today and change a generation tomorrow.

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

Fresh Hope – 11th January 2020

2 Kings 4  1-7 

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbours for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you give God a space to fill. Elisha the prophet asked the widow what she had… her reply was “nothing”.

Many times we feel we have nothing, when in fact we all have a little “something”. 

She then went on to say: “except a little oil in a jar.”.

Notice what happens; he told her to collect some empty jars and not just a few. When God wants to do a miracle, he doesn’t just want to do something small, He will however respond in accordance to your faith   

Believe for a little, and you’ll get a little. 

He filled exactly what she gave him to fill and all of that out of her “nothing”.

Give God what you have and watch it multiply!  

Her supply was not in her husband (he had died) – her supply was not from anywhere apart from God.  

Today, trust Him again. Be obedient to what He asked of you, and watch Him do a miracle with what you bring.

God doesn’t just match what you give Him, HE MULTIPLIES that which you bring.  

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

Fresh Hope – 10th January 2020

At times in life, things can get complicated. Scheduled gets busy. To-do lists get long. Diaries fill up. We overcommit to things. A straightforward project produces an unexpected problem.

At the top of the year, let’s begin to notice the moments where we’re being pulled in many directions and learn to get on top of it.

We can take our cue from Jesus himself who was often known to break away from the crowd to be alone with God.

Start the day right

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

Start the day in conversation with God and entrust your day to Him, before you take in everything else that’s going on in the world around you.

Let the Word encourage you

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Even five minutes in God’s word can give you a fresh perspective and a renewed hope.

Make prayer a priority

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6

If we’re honest with ourselves, one of the hardest things to do when life gets hectic or we feel overwhelmed is make proper time for prayer. The Bible never says that prayer ought to be complex. Write down what God has done already and thank Him, then tell Him what you need.

Switch off and embrace the silence

Being still and silent is profoundly simple but biblically powerful too. Just sitting in God’s presence is enough to renew our strength but we have to make time. It’s amazing what God can tell us, if only we’d be quiet enough to hear His voice.

I hope that these few things help you to unplug this year and draw nearer to God.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
‭‭James‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NIV

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th January 2020

In John 12:25 Jesus says, ‘The person who loves his life and pampers himself will miss true life! But the one who detaches his life from this world and abandons himself to me, will find true life and enjoy it forever!’ (John 12:25). 

By ‘detach from his life’ does Jesus mean he wants us to quit our jobs, sell our homes and flee to the forest? Definitely not! This scripture is a matter of challenging our priorities. 

As many of us ‘reset’ for a new year, review the year gone, where we are at now, and cultivate new goals and ambitions in alignment with where we want to be, let us ask ourselves: 

What are we building towards? What really matters to us? Who does our life belong to? Is our life about our own feeble plans and goals, or God’s plan for us? 

A life built on pleasuring and pampering self is futile and ultimate completely unsatisfying. It is also a waste of a precious life. A life surrendered, a life ‘let go’ to God is fruitful and ultimately fulfilling. 

Abandoning yourself to God is scary, but like a bird spreading its wings and leaving its nest, it is also freeing. 

As you look forward to the year ahead, consider the plans that you perhaps need to ‘abandon’ to God. 

In Ephesians 1:2, Paul speaks of Jesus imparting ‘total wellbeing into our lives’ or in another word, ‘peace’ into our lives… But it isn’t a worldly peace. It is more than just a feeling of tranquility. Hebrew peace (as in the context of this scripture) is referring to a steady heart and complete wellbeing in soul, and mind. 

Ephesians 1 goes on to talk about how God has a plan for us. 

If you were to highlight key words in Ephesians, you would find words and phrases like (Passion Translation): Spiritual blessing, chose us, riches of grace, plan of His heart, redemptions promises, unfailing purpose, destiny, future inheritance. 

Ephesians wasn’t written to people who weren’t Christians yet, these words were for devoted Christians, people following Christ already – there was more for them. God had big plans for them. Equally, He has an inheritance for you. He has chosen you, has a destiny and future for you. There are ‘redemption promises’ and ‘riches of grace’ for you to tap into in 2020!

There is more for you on the other side of letting go.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th January 2020

In Psalm 133, unity is described as being like ‘precious oil’. The thing about precious oil in this context is that it would have smelt really good. Unity carries a spiritual fragrance. When the world looks at the church and sees a picture of unity in diversity – the smell is beautiful and attractive. 

Being a Christian and growing up in the church, you get used to the sweet smell of unity. It becomes normal. I’m not saying the church is completing protected and void from any kind of division, but when a culture of unity is promoted it becomes the standard – building alongside different people, and overlooking silly differences for a greater cause. 

Substitute God’s model of unity, and I have been shocked at times at how quickly people outside a ‘unity mentality’, can get offended over petty matters, are quick to cut off relationships, ‘unfollow’ if someone challenges what they consider right, or struggle to work with people who are different. God’s love changes how we do relationships, confrontation and boundaries. 

There is beauty in diversity operating in unity. Imagine trying to create a powerful car that was only made of only steering wheels? Impossible! Imagine a functioning body of only hands? Impossible! Power and function comes through diversity working together! 

We don’t tolerate different kinds of people, we celebrate the differences because we couldn’t actually function without them. Diversity is necessary and healthy. 

On its own a car brake is interesting, but has no power. On its own a steering wheel has great potential, but has no power. On its own, an engine is a great concept, but it has no power. 

On our own, we have no power. Without being unified with those different to us, we lack power and purpose. Our purpose is found in our connection and function with others. One part is not better than the other. To reach my fullest potential, I need you, and equally you need me to reach yours!

Although it isn’t very fashionable to talk about the Devil, he does exist and he is on a sneaky mission to bring division to relationships. We can think a person is bringing division, but actually it is the distracting work of the enemy. Remember that we are not in a flesh and blood battle, but a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12).  If your words or actions aren’t promoting love, celebrating people who are different, and carrying the fragrance of unity, think about whose work you are advancing.

Let unity be one of the highest values we esteem in our lives and in the church!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th January 2020

Just because you have all kinds of thoughts going through your head today( you don’t have to think them. Let them pass through!

Just because you feel that it’s not going to be a good year, you don’t have to live out the year governed by your feelings.

Just because you started the day wrong, it doesn’t mean that you have to punish yourself for the rest of the day. It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters.

Maybe someone spoke something negative over your life yesterday – remember that they don’t have the final say today.

Did you wake up in a bad mood this morning? Remember: it’s only a mood, talk yourself out of it.

Got a difficult meeting today? Remember that it’s not the end of the world, no matter how bad it may turn out.

Centuries ago whenever a city was being built it always started in the same way; a plot of land was identified only when a source of water was found within its boundaries.

The spring of water was the life of the city, and as the walls went up the people were secured from outside attack. They knew that if all else failed, they would have a constant supply of water from within. There was never a need to go outside for sustenance.

Today, it can be just the same for you and I.

If you are already defeated from within, then you will always be defeated from without.
If you have all that you need from within, no matter what comes against you, you can defeat it because of your inner source.

The power of these thoughts are only realised when you know the one who has the living water to give to you.

John 7:37-38 ‘Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’

Today, if you find yourself searching outside for the answers to life, then turn to the one who can fill you and sustain you with living water from within.
You’ll be amazed at how life can take on a whole new meaning by drinking from the source of living water.

He is the source, the force and the course of everything.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th January 2020

What you do today matters.

What you say today matters.

Someone’s life may be dependant on what you do and say today.

Be a difference maker.

I have to admit that one of the low points in my life happened a couple of years ago.  

Gillian had been asking me for some time to go to Dudley Market to get the batteries replaced in a couple of our watches that had been lying around for months.

The guy we had used for years was always pleasant and was known for his ‘while you wait’ service, let alone being cheaper than anywhere else.

On the afternoon that I managed to get to him, I noticed that he was not his normal self. He seemed to have lost his spark and his usual smile had disappeared. As he tended to my watches, I asked him what was wrong. He simply looked up, smiled and carried on. I felt compelled to persist with him, and so I repeated the words twice more. As he handed over the watches in a small bag I asked him what had happened for him to look so sad.

Reluctantly he leaned across his work table and told me that it was family problems. He went on to explain that illness that had not only taken his mother in law, but was now about to take his mother.

I offered him my condolences and asked him if I could add his name and that of his mom to my daily prayer list. He agreed, and in doing so his face seemed to brighten and a smile broke out.

Four days later he took his own life.

I asked myself many questions as to why I didn’t say and do more on that day, but whatever answers I came up with could not change the tragedy that I had been so close to possibly doing something about a few days earlier.

My story I’m sure can be repeated in different ways by thousands today all over the world. The truth is we all have missed opportunities to save precious people’s lives.

Today is a not only a new day, but for many the first working week of a brand new year. It is my hope and prayer today that my story can inspire you to join me in understanding that what we say and what we do matters.

Let’s go all out in 2020 to be difference makers and not just people with good intentions, which, if we’re honest, is an excuse for doing nothing.

Ephesians 5:15-16 Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th January 2020

Recently I was sitting in a traffic jam with my husband, we had driven that same way, maybe for 35 years – the same duel carriageway, going the same way at the same speed. Yet on this occasion we had to unusually stop due to traffic. I looked around at the homes in my view and I noticed threehouses that I had never seen before.  I was amazed! I said “I have never seen that before, yet must have driven past it hundreds of times.”

Recently, I watched one of my favourite christmas movies (that I watch every year) and yet saw something different that  I hadn’t seen in the 20 or so times I watched it before. 

I want to challenge you at the start of a brand new year, to read the Bible again. I have just finished reading it through in one year and seen things I had never seen before. I want to challenge you to take a ‘familiar’ passage, one that you think you may know everything about and re-read it.  Challenge yourself to be open and ask God to reveal something new to you again. 

God’s word is new every day. It will speak to you in different situations about different things. It has NOW words and it reveals life to those who read it. Take a moment to do something usual and let it turn into something ‘un’ usual. Linger for a moment, follow His leading… you will be refreshed.  

Psalm 23.  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters.  He refreshes my soul.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd January 2020

Perhaps it is the Christmas break, perhaps it is just the ticking over of the clock and sounding out of Big Ben at midnight, signalling in another new year. For whatever reason, this is often a time for reflection, for planning and making resolutions. Resolutions, that if you are like me, you have probably already broken!

When Adam and Eve were faced with the ultimate New Year, the beginning of creation, God had set out very carefully the world that they were to live in. 

‘and the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (Genesis 2:9).

God had provided a world that was both beautiful and fruitful, that provided all they needed. Including a close and personal relationship with God (He walked in the garden in the cool of the day). However, it was a world that had choice at its centre. In the middle of the garden were two trees, one leading to life and the other leading to knowledge of good and evil.

Now knowledge of itself is not a bad thing, but this knowledge speaks of our human belief that we know better than God, that we can be self-reliant and have all the answers. The serpent says ‘you will be like God’. Adam and Eve chose not to obey God and that is often our downfall.  

Resolutions should really be called choices. Choices about how we are going to change from this moment forward. We are faced with the choices at the centre of our ‘garden’, that is the world God has placed us in, every moment of every day. It is a beautiful world that has all we need, but at its centre is choice.

The other tree at the centre of the garden, the tree of life, was not forbidden by God. It reminds me of another Scripture, Deuteronomy 30:19 ‘I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life’.

I pray that each choice I make today will be to obey God and choose Jesus who is the ‘life the truth and the way’.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd January 2020

Our technology-centered world is making it increasingly difficult for us to learn how to be patient. Social media gives us immediate feedback. Anyone, anywhere in the world can be contacted in a matter of seconds. Anything can be delivered: food, flowers, furniture, and fashion. Instant answers to all questions are available on Google.  

The diagnosis of ADD in children has skyrocketed in the last decade, and adults are equally finding it increasingly difficult to focus. 

Studies have shown that if an Internet video or advert doesn’t ‘grab’ a viewer in the first two seconds, the viewer doesn’t have time to watch the rest and scrolls right on past it. 

Patience is something that has to be developed and grown. Hopefully from an early age we start learning the discomfort, yet essential quality of being patient. When your parents don’t give you whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted it – this was good for us! The ability to say no to instant gratification and keep your focus on something bigger and better is essential to our maturity. 

Today we have fewer waits in our daily lives, but it is also giving us less patience for other things. 

Why do we need patience? Because most good things take time. Most things that provide instant gratification, also only offer fleeting satisfaction. Think about it – your phone lighting up with a new message, your pizza order arriving, that quick fling with someone you know isn’t right for you. Most things that offer lasting satisfaction, take time, effort and a whole lot of patience… Working towards a healthy body, a meaningful friendship, waiting to have sex, a lasting marriage, saving for a house, raising a child – these are deeply fulfilling experiences of which we were made for, at the end of being patiently focused. 

God’s way of doing things is contrary to the way the world is doing things. God isn’t driven by the need for ‘things to happen quickly’ and He is not a quick fix, feel-good-instantly God. God is more interested in us developing a strong character. A strong character includes the ability to be patient. 

Are we willing to wait? Are we willing to wait for the right spouse? Are we willing to delay gratification for something better? Are willing to wait for God to speak? Are we willing to wait through the processes that God needs to take us through? 

Perhaps you are waiting for breakthrough on some things, and perhaps God is just waiting for you to wait! 

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

Romans 12:12, ‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer’. 

Psalm 37:7, ‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st January 2020

A couple of years ago I purchased an expensive, beautiful houseplant. It has been fairly low maintenance until recently when I noticed it starting to lean awkwardly to the side. 

The plant had grown so much that it needed to be repotted into a larger pot with more supportive soil. 

I had to uproot the plant in order to get it reestablished in a new pot. This plant is now sitting in my bathroom looking rather brown, and if I’m honest with myself, I think it could be on its way out.  Why? Because I ripped it from its roots. I took it from where it was established and being fed, and broke its system of security! 

It is much the same with us. When we are not rooted and grounded, we quickly die. 

Maybe we aren’t rooted in God – our security is found in other things that can’t nourish us. The Bible calls us to ‘be rooted and established in love’ (Ephesians 3:17).  

Or perhaps we aren’t rooted in a church community and so we aren’t experiencing the nourishing encouragement of others. 

A root system is about connection. It is the connection of the plant to the soil – that which offers it nourishment. We should be deeply rooted (connected) to people and to God if we are to flourish and thrive. 

The Bible speaks of tree/person that is plugged into a source of nourishment – the word of God. 

‘Blessed is the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers’ (Psalm 1). 

We all desire to produce fruit and prosper. The key is being grounded, rooted, established and connected to God, and the right people. 

‘Have your roots planted deep in Christ. Grow in Him. Get your strength from Him. Let Him make you strong in the faith as you have been taught’ (Colossians 2:7).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st December 2019

In the late nineties, a sense of excited panic gripped much of the world as the year 2000 approached. The fear of computer systems crashing because of the Y2K bug bolstered the anticipation of a new era after the big crash, of pandemonium, lawlessness, and the beginning of the end of the world as we knew it. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

Sadly, since that huge anti-climax, the sense of excitement preparing for the new year has been replaced by a predictable comparison of the fireworks displays around the world.

In 1 Samuel 17, a young shepherd boy named David was sent on a dull errand, to deliver cheese and sandwiches to his brothers who were, as it turned out, not fighting a war. A giant soldier from the enemy camp mocked and challenged them morning and evening for 40 days, but they cowered in fear. The sense of excitement and anticipation David’s brothers had when they joined the ranks of soldiers marching to battle had been replaced by a dull existence eating sandwiches camped out in tents.

David overturned the dull mission he started out on, and ended up killing the giant, because of the vision he saw for his future. The vision of a promotion from a shepherd messenger to the king’s son-in-law propelled him more than the fear of Goliath, or the negativity that was coming from his brothers held him back.

What exciting, audacious goals have you set for you to testify about God’s power in your life in the ‘20s we’re about to enter?

Like David, when the vision you have in front of you becomes clearer and more important than how you started, what surrounds you and what is behind you, God’s Word is the only power you’ll need to move forward.

Your success in your relationships, finances, health, emotions is not going to be determined by how well you’ve been trained to fight, but by the value you see in what you are fighting for.

Who you are, and what you have is enough! God never made anyone inadequate! David had to go to find some stones after he accepted Goliath’s challenge, so remember as we enter this new year, take on what God puts on your heart, and as Philippians 4:19 says, He will provide what you need, when you have a need for it.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th December 2019

TODAY we will form opinions of people.

TODAY people will form opinions about us. 

If we’re honest, we often don’t like the opinions people form about us, but in reality, those opinions are not without a reason. Opinions aren’t random. If you don’t believe me, ask why you have formed an opinion of someone else? Is it not based on what you have seen, perceived, or heard about that very person?

Now admittedly, we can form wrong opinions of others because we judged them wrongly or decided to base an opinion on hearsay, a lie or mere gossip.

I wonder…can you change what people’s opinions are of you?
The answer is yes!

Take for instance, the opinion that you are stingy rather than generous. How did people form that opinion? The answer is simple…you are stingy!
In one sense, people’s thoughts about us don’t matter and yet they do. Their opinions are really a gauge to let you know how you come across to them. 

Over the 35 years of our marriage, both Gillian and myself have at times said things to each other that we have later regretted. 
One such conversation would go something like this…”When you said that you hurt me” to which the reply came back, “but I didn’t say it like you heard it”…to which the reply comes back…”I can’t help how I heard it, but you can help how you said it!”
As painful as those conversations are, there is a great truth contained in them – you can’t help how you hear things, but you can help how you say things. 

If people have formed a wrong opinion of you, don’t be too harsh with them as they have based it on what they saw, heard and perceived about you. On the brink of a brand new year, take a moment to listen to yourself in an unguarded moment — you may be surprised to find that you don’t like how you come across either. 

Always be humble enough to admit that you got it wrong and be willing to change; you may be the last person to see the change, but others will soon spot it and be happy to review their opinions of you. 

As this year’s Christmastime soon comes to a conclusion, ask yourself, what would you like to be known for and then give yourself a personality makeover. If you think you’re perfect, ask a close friend to tell you the truth. 

Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted,but an enemy multiplies kisses. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th December 2019

In Luke 2, we read the story of the birth of Jesus and in the same chapter (vs 41-52) we also read some 12 years on when Jesus went to the temple with his parents and they lost him!

His parents were in relationship with him (obviously) yet still managed to lose him. Notice how and where they lost him…by observing customs and traditions. It was their custom to go to the temple for the feast. They were busy doing what they had to do and even though what they were doing was good, they still lost him. We need to all make sure that Jesus does not get lost in our customs or traditions…the way we always do things, even though they seem good…we have to be careful, because we can still forget Him in the midst of our busyness. 

In verse 44 it says “they presumed he was with them” – presumption is the sin of over- familiarity. They thought he was with them. Presumption is dangerous, it can lead to many mistakes and upsets. Notice it took them one day to lose him and three days to find him! I love what Jesus says back to his parents (v 49) “ I wasn’t lost, I was here in my Father’s House” In other words, I wasn’t lost, you were. Jesus is always near, if we feel He isn’t, guess who moved? 

As one year comes to a close and another begins, make sure Jesus is close, make sure your customs and traditions and busyness haven’t got in the way of Him being in your life and working in your life. 

Don’t presume He is with you… make sure He is. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th December 2019

Maybe you are pulling up to the end of the year feeling exhausted, and a bit battered and bruised. We can all reflect on the year that has been and undoubtedly recall moments that weren’t easy. Days that were not planned on January 1st 2019. Days where you needed God – empty tank days and desperate days. 

We can reach the end of a year and feel like we are ready to kiss it goodbye and start with a January 1st clean slate. But like the January 1st before it, the New Year promises a year of both highlights and lowlights – this is the reality of real life, and the life that Jesus told us we would experience. What is important is how we walk out every season – our attitude and approach. Psychologists have concluded that our quality of life is more about our attitude and approach amidst difficulties, than it is the difficulties that we encounter. 

So what should be our approach?

Firstly, God promises us that we should not be fearful about the future. He tells us not to worry about ANYTHING (Matthew 6:25). 

God has plans for you this year. And they are plans to allow you to fly (Jeremiah 29:11). He promises that as we trust Him in 2020, He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

Consider His goodness towards you in 2019. His faithfulness. His voice in the dark times, the fact that you are alive today with another year of lessons under your belt. Reflect on the times that God showed new mercy and grace to you. Be grateful that the best is yet to come.

Before we brush an entire year under the mat because of burn-out, struggles or disappointments let us continue to be prayerful for the future, and so thankful for the year that has been (Philippians 4:6-7). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living. E

Fresh Hope – 26th December 2019

The Christmas spirit can motivate us to be generous, and while this most definitely isn’t a bad thing, our giving should include and extend beyond the festive feels. The Holy Spirit invites us into a lifestyle of generosity. 

Being made in the image of God, who is unfathomably generous, it is in our nature to be people who are open handed and open hearted. Does God want us to give everything away? No! He blesses us for us sometimes, and He also blesses us so we can be a blessing to others. That is the beauty of walking with the Holy Spirit – we discern day-by-day, opportunity-by-opportunity what is for us to partner with Him on. 

When we talk about generosity, it isn’t just referring to just giving away money. Generosity with finances is certainly something God calls us to, but equally He invites us to be generous with encouragement, the honouring of others, with time, and talent. 

A person with a generous spirit will actively, and attentively look out for the needs and genuine interests of others. They will eagerly look for an opportunity to display generosity. At the heart of generosity is a desire to honour God, and honour people…And not that we just do it for this – but naturally there is a blessing and fruitfulness when we do give. Why? Because generosity is a sacrifice, and God is drawn to sacrifice. His fire and favour rests on sacrifice. 

A closed hand cannot give out, and it also cannot receive. A closed hand cannot sow, and it cannot reap. But as God opens His hands and heart towards us, we too can open our hands and heart towards others – yes, Christmas time is a great time to do this, but also beyond. 

In Acts 2 we read of a church family where miracles, signs and wonders were a regular part of the church culture. 

Acts 2:43, ‘Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done…’

As the church witnessed the generous hand and heart of God, it overflowed into their personal lives. Acts 2:45, ‘They sold their possessions and their goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need’. The power of God is evident here because Jesus became much more important to them than their possessions. The person next to them who was in need became much more important than what they had. They lived attentive to the needs of others. 

In the spirit of Christmas, and in living a life that is Spirit-led, consider the sacrifices you can make in 2020 in order to display greater levels of generosity – is it offering your time and talent? Giving money? Spending time with someone that isn’t ‘easy’? Thinking of yourself less and developing an awareness of others more? 

If you’re struggling to maintain a generous lifestyle, then first discover the generosity of God toward you and you will find it difficult to not emulate His goodness.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th December 2019

TODAY in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2 v 11)

Happy Christmas!

As we celebrate on this very special day, just take a few moments to THINK and to THANK right now. 

Think about the fact that no human birth could have born a saviour to us. That would be no different to you or I standing up today at the Christmas lunch table, stating that God had made us the saviour of the world. It is simply something we cannot do, as we too are in need of a saviour — a drowning man cannot save another drowning man. 

God had a special plan. He would choose an ordinary woman and do something extraordinary through her. 

The Virgin birth is central to the Christmas message, not because it makes a nice scene in a nativity play, but because it was the only way God could send His son into the world. 

Jesus had to arrive a different way, a way in which He would not just be another human being unable to save anyone, but someone that bypassed the sinful bloodline that each one of us carries since the fall of mankind. 

Jesus, born of a virgin, was not the product of an earthy father, but of God, His Heavenly Father.
…Luke 1:34-35 ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 

Jesus was no ordinary man, prophet, god or a deluded person believing himself to be a saviour; He was born in such a way that excluded him from being born in sin, whilst at the same time including him in the human race in order to come down to our level. 

You may well ask: how on earth could that ever happen?
That’s exactly the question that Mary asked…
‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ (Luke 1 v 34).

The answer came back…’for nothing is impossible with God’. (Luke 1 v 37)
As we think and thank on this Christmas Day, let’s never lose sight of the awe and wonder of the Virgin birth – it’s the only way our Saviour could have arrived.
…and remember, whatever impossibilities you may be facing today — with God, all things are possible.
Pause for a moment right now and thank God for the wonder of Christmas. 

Have a magnificent ‘Saviours’ day. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th December 2019

When the Angel Gabriel delivered the news to Mary and Joseph, he told them that the name of their baby was to be Jesus. There were no other names suitable for this special baby, He had to be named Jesus —why?

The name Jesus means ‘God saves’. When the Angel announced the name, he also wanted everyone to be quite clear as to why…’for He will save His people from their sins’. The message didn’t just stop there though, as just a few verses later into the Christmas story, the Angel further announces that He will be called or known as Emmanuel.

Everyone of us is named one thing and called another from time to time. Jesus was no exception; what He would be called and known for was more than just the name Jesus, as Emmanuel means ‘God with us’.

Can you imagine the breathtaking news that this day brought – not only is the world getting a saviour, but this saviour was to be God in the flesh. God so wanted to come down to our level that He came as Himself in the form of Jesus. WOW!
Today, the same is still as true as it was then, in that every Christmas that comes and goes is yet again a reminder that God is with us. Maybe you only ever think of God as somewhere out there, someone that exists, but cannot be personally known. Jesus’ arrival changed all that in that He made it possible to be known, yes, personally known.

His arrival into Bethlehem is actually an open invitation for you to come to Him and allow Him into your life. Jesus is the ‘knowable’ God. 
The Inn keeper is one of the best known characters in the nativity play, as he was the fella that said ‘no room’. Don’t be like him today as you get caught up in the busy-ness of Christmas, but be like the shepherds that put their own lives on hold just to come and see.

Take a look at Jesus this Christmas – after all, it’s His birthday that we are celebrating. 
Maybe the last words of the old carol, ‘in the bleak mid winter’ will help you in making that decision today…
What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; Yet what I can I give Him: give Him my heart. 

May I take this opportunity today to personally invite you to the very special family CHRISTMAS EVE service tonight at 6pm. (Doors and coffee shop open at 5pm). Ample offsite overflow parking is available.
I look forward to seeing you.  

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd December 2019

I heard someone say recently, ‘people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’

I’m sure you know this to be true. If you’ve ever had someone correct you, or even encourage you, it is always received better when you know the person’s motive to be pure.

This Christmas, at every opportunity, show people how much you care. Maybe you can’t do so through a gift, but we all have words. Use what you do have to communicate your care for the people in your world.

One of the lessons that my Dad has taught me is that people don’t remember so much what you say to them as much as they remember how you make them feel.

I don’t want to see others as a means to offload everything happening in my life, but rather I want to be the one extending a listening ear, giving people the time of day, letting them know that they matter.

And when the time comes for a difficult conversation with a loved one, or a moment for me to share from the knowledge or experience I may have, people are fully aware, this comes from someone who cares.

Do people know how much you care? Do they feel better after spending time with you?

This holiday season, don’t show people how much you know, show them how much you care!
I pray this Christmas is your best one yet.

Caleb Burchell
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st December 2019

This week I have been thinking about the shepherds from the Christmas story, you can read about them in Luke chapter 2. The King of the Universe, the one who made the Heavens and the earth and everything in it, arrived on planet earth in the form of a human baby and the first people he wanted to know about it were shepherds! Not kings or ‘special’ VIPs but shepherds. They were on the lowest rung of the social ladder, they would have been paid very poorly for their work and they would have lived a very humble life…and yet God chose them to announce His birth to and they were invited to be the very first to meet the KING of KINGS himself.  

That gives me hope. However unworthy you may feel today, God wants you to know that you matter so much, He wants to have an encounter with you.  

I love what verse 19  says “and Mary pondered all these things in her heart” – what things? The fact that she too from a humble background had been chosen to give birth to the Saviour of the World and maybe also that the first visitors that God in Heaven had chosen were lowly shepherds. She must have had great anticipation that this was going to be a very special season because of a very special Son.  How precious is that?

I pray that in this very busy season of Christmas, you will make time for an encounter with God yourself. One that will make you sing out “Glory to God in the Highest” and one that as you come out of Christmas, will make YOU ponder all these things in your heart. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th December 2019

As we approach this Christmas time, think about what you’re putting value on, because it determines whether you will end up feeling disappointed or encouraged. As we fast approach 2020, let’s be aware again that whatever we put value on will determine whether the year is a triumphant success or again a disappointing let down.

In 2 King 17:15, we read ‘They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.’

Whatever you value in life, attaches a value or meaning to your own self worth. If all you dream about and work towards is for example holidays, you will feel good or bad dependant on that. Ultimately when the very temporary holiday is over, you feel empty.
Here’s some great words to help us approach Christmas and 2020:

John 1:9-12 | NIV
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

The more we learn to put our value on Jesus, the more worth we feel in ourselves! As it states ‘children of God!’

Our family and friends are great blessings, but they aren’t the meaning of life; if your children are your sole focus, you will forever be disappointed and will end up feeling worthless.

Houses, jobs and holidays are great as well. But if they are your primary dream of 2020, you will judge 2020 based on these and ultimately end up struggling for meaning as you become as worthless as the idols you pursue.

Today in all the busy Christmas preparations and excitement, let’s focus on these words of Jesus in John 6:35 ‘Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Let’s realign our hearts today, let’s not put our hope in creation but the creator, let’s not seek blessings but the one who blesses.

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Let’s make sure today we choose to give our primary attention and value to Jesus, and in doing so we will become of all value ‘children of God’.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th December 2019

James 3:11&12, ‘Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sister, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs, Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water’. 

There is something to be said for purity. The more pure a diamond, the greater its worth. The more pure the water, the more healthy it is to drink.  A lifestyle that is both salt and fresh water is not only impure, but also impossible. It is either pure or it is not. Our lives are either salt water or fresh water. God is not after perfection, but if your lifestyle isn’t a picture of purity, perhaps there are some things at the source (the heart) that need to be checked. 

Christians can full into the trap of trying to muster up pure behaviour. This isn’t sustainable. It is like pouring salty water into a glass and then distilling that glass of water into purity before finally enjoying drinking it. How exhausting. You are better off going to the source of the water coming out the tap, and bringing that into a place of purity so you can enjoy endless glasses of pure behaviour because the source is in a healthy, pure place! 

You cannot have a life where fresh, pure water is flowing if your heart is in a salty place. 

Some of us arewondering why we can’t love people. Yet in our heart, we are judging others all the time. Salt and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring. You cannot love people if you are too busy judging them! 

Some of us may be struggling with promoting others, but it’s because we are too busy promoting ourselves to have the time to look out for others. Salt and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring! 

Some of us may be struggling to have influence over people, but in our heart we aren’t prepared to serve under people. Salt and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring. 

Some of us are struggling to speak positively about people and life, yet in our hearts we are harbouring negative attitudes and slander against people. Salt and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring. 

If you feel like your life is in conflict to what you really desire, check the health of the water source of your life – your heart. If you heart is in an unhealthy, salty position, don’t expect fresh and pure water/ behaviour to flow out. It is impossible – it is either one or the other.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th December 2019

The beauty of family is that we are not bound together because we all see eye-to-eye on everything. What binds us together is that we are family. It is love that connects us, not agreement on everything. 

There’s nothing like a federal election to bring out the vocal opinions and passionate viewpoints of people. Our convictions come from our deeply rooted belief systems, so it can be easy to get offended or take it personally when someone challenges what we hold so closely. Our immediate reaction is to disconnect with people when they voice their conflicting values and priorities. 

One of the greatest challenges of this generation is that we can so easily cut off, ‘unfollow’, or ‘block’, people who we disagree with. This is not a healthy way to relate to people. To be able to listen, disagree, and still maintain a loving, respectful relationship is a mark of maturity and a sign that love surpasses all. 

Confrontation, different belief systems and challenging discussions, are not only possible, but also healthy. Our personal world will become very small if we only surround ourselves with opinions and people that make us feel comfortable and never challenge us to think another way. We should in fact seek to understand where people who are different to us are coming from. We do not have to agree, but an attempt to understand and hold honouring conversation is good.   

Consider the grace shown towards you by an all-knowing God. I’m sure he could easily look at our ideas at times and think, ‘Pfft! She has no idea what she is talking about! How small-minded and ridiculous! How dare she have that perspective after everything I have done! What ignorance!’. But in His grace and love, He remains connected to us and seeks out relationship with us above all. He doesn’t dishonour, block or unfollow us because of our beliefs. Why? Because agreement on ideas isn’t what he is primarily after. Relationship and connection is what He is after. Likewise, as the church, we should model the same heart. 

When we feel that people are ignorant, watch that we don’t: 
-Demonise people we disagree with.

 – Create an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. 

– Spiritualise the demeaning of those with different persuasions. 

In today’s political climate where tension and emotions are high and different views and contrasting opinions are vocalised, let the church be a picture of a family marked by grace and kindness, regardless of political stand points. Be aware of your thoughts and words. Watch what you partner with in conversations and over social media. Remember, the enemy will take any opportunity to bring division in God’s family.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th December 2019

One of my childhood memories of the Christmas season was centred around a huge fitted cupboard in my sisters bedroom.

The cupboard, known as the ‘big cupboard’, was built across the whole width of the far side of the room. It came up from the floor to about three feet in height and had two hinged lids that could be folded right back against the wall. We would spend hours pulling out old stuff from that cupboard, in order to make space for the incoming toys, cars, games and puzzles that myself, my brother and sister hoped would be coming out way that Christmas.

We ended up rarely throwing anything away as the old stuff seemed to have more of a magical attraction than the new after it had spent a year or two hidden away from sight.

Many a boring Saturday throughout the year would be spent propping open the lid and digging deep to see what we could find that had long since been forgotten. Toys and games from many a Christmas past were often bought back to life and played with just as if we’d never seen them before. If ever there was a childhood treasure chest then that simple cupboard would be one of them.

The big cupboard reminds be so much of the hidden treasures contained in the Bible; no matter how old they are, they are able to bring something fresh and alive to us, know matter how many times that we may have read them before.

I have personally read through the Bible many times over the last 30 years, but no matter when I read it, there is always something new to inspire, teach and transform me on any given day. Sometimes it feels like that I have never read it before as its pages take a hold of me just as if they were freshly written that day.
Digging deep into the Bible means that you have to set aside some time each day to uncover the hidden treasures that God has placed within its pages just for your own benefit and blessing.

I have acquired so many books over the years and I’ll often have about three on the go all at the same time; yet when they have been read once I rarely read a book a second time.

The Bible is unique in that you can go back to it time and time again and discover pearls of wisdom and truth, and more importantly discover the living Jesus on every page.

The Christ of Christmas is just as real today as when he first stepped into this world 2000 years ago.

Make a decision today to lift the lid on the Bible and find real life, fresh hope, inspiration and wisdom on its pages – it’s Gods treasure chest to you every day.

Luke 2:16-19 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th December 2019

I’m sure that we will all take part in a Christmas quiz or two over the next couple of weeks. In fact, our family Christmas parties rarely go by without a pretty well organised quiz, even though they usually end up with heated arguments over the right answers!

While you’re getting yourself in the Christmas quiz mood, here’s a question…
What was the very first words that God spoke in the Bible?

Answer: Let there be light.
It’s one of the biggest clues to the very nature of God in that He doesn’t want you to be in the dark.  There’s also a little more to it than meets the eye too; the word translated light from the original text is the word ‘order’, and the word for dark came from the word meaning ‘chaos’.
Think about it for a moment…the first thing that God wanted for this world was to light it up so that the chaos could be bought to order.  In fact740 years before Jesus came to earth, we read these words…

Isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 
Now, if we skip to the New Testament, we find the fulfilment of that promise…

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ John 8 v 12 
Have you ever wondered why, when everything seems to working in your life just fine, that there’s still a longing for something more?

Have you ever wondered why in a very brightly lit world why you feel as if you’re in the dark?
Maybe you would describe your existence like this…’everything is working, but there’s just something missing’.

That something is what Jesus called the ‘light of life’. He said that if you find it you will never walk in darkness again. WOW!

That, my friend is the greatest gift that anyone could ever possibly give you—to step out of the dark and walk in the light from this moment forward. 

I’m sure that we’ve all been in a power cut from time to time. What’s the first thing that you reach for? A candle? A torch? The light from your phone? The truth is that everything comes to a standstill until the power comes back on. Whilst it’s off, your life is disorientated and even quite fearful, yet just one light can dispel the darkness.
Having the ‘light of life’ means that your life comes alive and you begin to see clearly where you’re going for the first time; Your life comes ALIVE.  

My question to you during this Christmas season is simply this: Have you got it? Have you found it? Or is life just one big puzzle?
When a popular town plans a date to have its Christmas lights switched on, it usually invites a celebrity to do so.
The one most important thing that you could do today is to invite the greatest person that ever walked the earth to switch your light on so that you will never walk in darkness again and in doing so this Christmas will become the most meaningful ever and 2020 will be like no other. 
Everything changes when the light goes on.
Invite Jesus into your life right now.  He’s just waiting for you to ask.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th December 2019

Make sure you’re listening!… that’s something we’re all familiar with I’m sure.  Those ladies with husbands… you know they can hear you, but they’re not listening, those parents with children, you know they can hear you, but you also know they’re not listening. I’m sure you all know exactly what I mean. 

It’s also easy to get distracted.  When someone is talking to me, I always try to make a point to focus and listen to them and not get distracted.  I’m sure we’ve all encountered or been that person, who asks a question, but then doesn’t listen to the answer…and how about that person who you’re talking to, but they’re on their mobile device and don’t even look up at you.. don’t be that person!
But what about when God wants to speak to you and you’re so distracted that you don’t hear? Some of us can be so busy we miss out on those special moments in life, because we don’t hear what we are supposed to. 

Recently, I was on a train with my daughter, we were so busy chatting, that we didn’t hear the announcer say “the next station is…”.  Oh my word, we missed our stop and had to go to the next station. That was so inconvenient, as my husband was waiting to pick us up and had to drive to the next station!

How often do we miss God’s instructions for our lives, because we are simply not listening.. and then we end up in completely the wrong place because we didn’t hear?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to go to the wrong stop, to take a detour. I don’t want to be that person, who is so focused on stuff that doesn’t matter, that I miss the things that do. 
Tune your heart to the Holy Spirit today.  
Make sure you’re listening… and even in the busy-ness of this season, don’t miss out on His instructions. He has some great places to lead you to. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th December 2019

In the gospel of Luke we have this story of Mary and Martha.

Luke 10:38-42 | NIV
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself ? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This is a great example of how we can be so easily distracted, even with serving and doing the right thing, that we miss the point of what it’s all about!

As we approach Christmas this year,with all its busyness I want to encourage you to stop! Right now stop and take your time. Turn your attention to who this season is all about! Sit at his feet like Mary, stop worrying about so many things. Make sure that in all the chaos of family, friends and Christmas preparations that we don’t lose focus of the true reason for the season!

I have often been disappointed around this time of year, we build up our expectations, we spend money we don’t have for this one off occasion and so often it’s a let down. Not quite Christmassy enough, or maybe people haven’t appreciated our efforts enough. 

The opposite of disappointment is appointment. So to be diss-appointed means to be taken out of an appointment, removed from a position you felt you should have. Mary’s position that she chose was at the feet of Jesus and I love what Jesus said about her choice, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Whatever your holidays are like this year be sure to put yourself at the feet of who the holiday is for, choose what is better, don’t get disappointed this Christmas, but start today as you mean to go on, at the feet of Jesus – it is the one position no one can take from you! 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th December 2019

It’s not always easy to trust, when you can’t see the outcome.

A lot of the time, walking with God is a case of
moving one step at a time, trusting that what you’re doing is right.

When I was younger, I used to love watching a programme called Art Attack. There was a segment on the show called ‘Big Art Attack’, where the presenter would create a masterpiece in a very large area, such as a warehouse or a field. He would collect seemingly random items and place them together. From the ground, the masterpiece wouldn’t make much sense. However, when the camera zoomed out, he would have made something like a peacock or a juggling clown.

It used to be frustrating, trying to guess what
these small items, carefully positioned, were eventually going to become.

Life can be much like this. Sometimes, where we
found ourselves or what God asks us to do just doesn’t make sense to us. Our life is made up of many small elements; different relationships, conversations, challenges and victories. It can all feel a little bit random.

Remember today that God sees beginning to end. Not only that but He has a purpose for every experience. You may find yourself asking ‘why?’. When we’re ‘zoomed in’ to our lives and living the day-to-day, we can’t always understand what is going on around us.

Be encouraged that when you ‘zoom out’ and look at your life from Heaven’s perspective, God has been creating a beautiful masterpiece, all along.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

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Fresh Hope – 11th December 2019

Recently, I was driving along and must admit, I wasn’t entirely paying attention – I was just eager to get out of the traffic and get to my destination as quickly as possible. As the traffic lights turned green and I pulled off, I realised that my car has slowed right down and had started to beep loudly!

In a flash, my thoughts had raced to the worst case scenario – “I’ve broken down and I’m going to have to be rescued.” “I’m going to miss this appointment.” “This is going to cost me a fortune.” But as I looked to see which warning light was flashing, I realised my handbrake was still on! I simply released it and off I went.

Often in life, this is how we react to stressful situations. Something doesn’t ‘feel right’ – as in our peace is gone or we’re in a state of stress. Then the ‘beeping’ starts — which usually manifests itself in worry and anxious thoughts and trying to figure out what’s going on. Then, when we take a moment, we may reflect and realise what is happening. And that is the point where God can come along and set us free…or release that handbrake!

Imagine if I’d sat at those traffic lights for another hour, waiting for the RAC, only for them to come along and release my handbrake! What a waste of time and resource. Yet, that’s how we approach our circumstances at times and we find ourselves unable to accelerate.

Let me remind you today that whatever you are facing, you already have the victory and God wants to take your burden.

Matthew 11:28 says ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ He wants to take those things from you that you’ve taken up yourself.

So take a moment to surrender today and stop driving with your handbrake on. You’ll be in for a much smoother journey.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th December 2019

How often in life do we miss out on something wonderful because we are completely ignorant of it – sometimes by choice? I can personally think of many times where I have chosen to remain ignorant and missed out because I haven’t taken time to explore and discover. I’ve settled for the easy and comfortable option. I didn’t bother reading reviews, checking offers, ensuring the deadlines, researching what the Bible really means in its true context. Rather than seeking out truth, I have passively been feed ideas from media and others sources, allowing these means to form my opinions. Ignorance and choosing to not seek out knowledge is dangerous. 

I recently considered how people who are not interested in the Christian faith probably don’t understand God and Christianity simply because perhaps they have never truly been curious or interested enough in it. Maybe if they had a genuine interest, taken the time to consider life’s deeper questions, and truly explored, then I imagine relationship with God might be very hard for them to deny or resist.

In short, when we choose not to explore and learn we actually miss out on something wonderful! Some people would rather remain as they are, then actively seek out and discover something that would change their life. 

Ignorance leaves you where you are – comfortable and small. Seeking out knowledge and understanding propels you forward and opens up your world. 

Proverbs, the book of wisdom, speaks over and over about the importance of having a hunger to learn more, and gain wisdom and understanding. 

‘An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge’, Proverbs 18:15. 

‘A man of knowledge enhances his might’, Proverbs 24:5. 

‘Blessed is the one who gets understanding’, Proverbs 3:3. 

We should have a curious heart, hungry to learn, eager to search out truth, knowledge and answers. 

Part of ‘loving the Lord with your mind’ (Luke 10:27), is using it to gain wisdom and understanding, and refusing to remain ignorant! Imagine the rich reward that waits on the other side of understanding! 

There is more for all of us than what we know now! Ask God those big questions, seek out the answers, research the wisdom of God on topics, speak to experienced people. Grow in wisdom and understanding and develop a love for learning!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th December 2019

The king of kings, the saviour of the world, was born not in a palace, not in a castle, not with a big, grand royal announcement, but in… a barn. Surrounded by animals. With the smell of poo and hay in the air. This is how the most precious and powerful person of all time entered this world. Jesus was birthed into a mess. But even his birth was a prophetic statement about who he was. 

Jesus came as a humble servant. He was king, but He came as a man to serve. He wasn’t after a platform, a stage or grand entrance. He came as a representation of you and me – born perhaps in unexpected and humble circumstances, but called. He also came as a representation of God – a God who isn’t afraid to get involved in our mess. 

The first lesson we can gain from Jesus’ birth situation is: 1. Don’t ignore the assuming. This could be those unassuming people around you, or perhaps it is yourself! God loves to use the most unassuming and humble people and situations to do the most powerful things. We are trained to have our attention taken by the shining, sparkling, perfected aspects of our society, but that is not where God was found. He was found in a pile of hay in a random town. Don’t assume that the greatest gifts in life are going to come from perfect places. They could come from something very ordinary or even messy. 

The second lesson we can gain from Jesus’ birth situation is: 2. Be prepared for mess. Mary had agreed to carry the saviour of the world, taking on all the drama and judgment that would have come along with it too. You think God would have at least rewarded her with a really nice place to birth the saviour…not a barn! Surely God could have pulled off something a little less messy? Buuut God had a message in all this. Beautiful things are birthed in mess. The perfect, clean-cut circumstances around your life aren’t what determines the value of who you are and what God has for you. Messy life circumstances don’t change who you are! 

Jesus is no less the messiah based on where He was born. 

This Christmas, if your life feels a little messy, perfect! Consider what God may be birthing through it all. 

I think God was so intentional about Jesus’ birth being in a mess. I think there is part of all of us that can connect with a God who comes to meet humanity in a mess.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th December 2019

Have you ever felt stuck? Have you ever got to a place of feeling you’ve hit rock bottom? If so, don’t despair, there is hope!

In  Luke 15 vs 11-32 we read the story of two brothers; one decided that he knew best, took his share of his father’s inheritance and off he went and blew the whole lot on riotous living.  
He was so desperate and hungry that he ended up with a job feeding pigs. It was there in the ‘pig muck’ that he came to his senses.  Whilst he was at the lowest of the low, he had two choices. Do I stay where I am and blame God? Or do I admit that I was wrong, made a wrong choice and messed up and go back to my father?

Fortunately, we are told “he came to his senses” (vs 17) and went back home.  He decided that even the servants in his Dad’s house would be eating better than him. 

Two things to notice about His Dad. 1. He let him go willingly. That’s like God with us – He lets us make our own choices, even when he knows they are wrong for us. It’s called free will. 

2. He welcomed him back with open arms, no judgement, just grace and mercy…gave him the best clothes and threw a party! That’s like our God.  He just wants us to come to our senses and often he will allow a ‘pig muck’ experience into our lives so that we will realise it. 

If you’re in the muck today, good. It’s an opportunity to make a new decision, a new choice.  The right decision, the right choice. It was the muck that made this guy see what he needed to see. 
Final thought: never be too proud to go back home. It’s where you belong.  God is only a prayer away. 

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

Fresh Hope – 6th December 2019

Matthew 6:34 says ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

It’s completely normal to worry but it is not something that God wants you to live with.

At the beginning of this busy season, it is quite possible that you have already thought ahead to how the next few weeks are going to pan out.

If you are anything like me, you plan your days and make a note of things that you need to get done. There will definitely be things on your list that you would rather avoid.

Don’t allow worry to spoil the day that God has for you. We can live in the peace that no matter what, God goes before us. We can’t go ahead in time to make sure that everything will be okay… but He can. Matthew 6:34 is a reminder that God’s grace is sufficient for every single
day of our lives. He has everything that we need ready for us, if only we will ask. So replace your worry with prayer.

Today, I encourage you to take your day and invite God in. It may be something that we only do in passing but God is in the detail and cares about even seemingly insignificant things. Worry does not add one second to our lives but when we hand our cares to God, He steps in to
do what we can’t.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th December 2019

I’d love to be free from pain.
I’m not physically ill.
I don’t have a broken bone or have arthritis.
I’m not taking medication for anything. 
The pain I feel is therefore nothing to do with my physical body, but is something that is part and parcel of living a life for God. 
The pain I’m describing is not exclusively mine as it belongs to us all.

None of us ever sign up to follow Jesus because we are attracted to pain, but often because we want to live a life free from pain, however, the pain I speak of is the unavoidable and inevitable pain of the daily trials that we all face. 
I came to a conclusion many years ago that ‘there will always be a problem’.
It’s not a faithless statement, but it is a realistic statement that helps us gain a proper perspective on what it’s like to live a daily life for God. 

1 Peter 4:12-13 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful and fiery trial that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 

How many of us are so surprised when we find a painful trial sprung upon us?
Yet the Bible is advising us that we shouldn’t be – in fact, it’s actually teaching us that trials are our friends and not our enemies.

By virtue of the fact that this verse says that we shouldn’t think that ‘something strange is happening to us’ when we go through trials, indicates that we should embrace difficulties as character makers, rather character breakers

My friends today, if you are in the middle of pain because of a trial that you are facing, then don’t dismay, but understand that every Christian is in just the same boat.

Our trials will be different and will come at different times and seasons in our lives, but be assured of this, they are not a sign that God has left you, but is right there holding your hand to bring you out the other side a better and stronger person for it. 

James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th December 2019

Christmas time evokes all sorts of feelings and emotions for us. For some it is the most special time of the year – family, food and friends. For others, the painful realities of their lives are highlighted – lonely, broke, another year of no progress, perhaps forced celebrations with people who we don’t particularly enjoy, or maybe the deep pain of losing a loved one.  

Yet perhaps the festive season has a purpose in forcing us to face such emotions! It highlights that yes, we have needs, yet we equally have a more overwhelming hope. As beautiful as the gifts may be, delicious as the food is, and as frantic as the retail hype is, Christmas is actually about remembering that in our consuming situations and emotions, a hope was birthed for us! Jesus was gifted to us! 

I recently heard a heart-breaking comment made that the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth, is ‘just a myth’ and the real meaning of Christmas is about time with family and friends. Aside from this comment being historically inaccurate (we won’t go into it), I found it saddening that someone could live in this broken world without a hope in something beyond us! Yes family and friends are a beautiful aspect of the festive season and should be thoroughly enjoyed, but what if you don’t have family or friends? Or what if your family and friends fail you? What then is your hope? 

Without a strong hope, our soul (mind and emotions) are tossed to and fro by the storms of life. Hebrews 6:19 says, ‘Hope is the anchor to our soul’. The surest hope we have is in Jesus. He is our security this Christmas. 

Yes – make amazing dinners this Christmas, yes – enjoy time with those who are precious to you, yes – buy presents and share, but as wonderful as these things are, don’t neglect to remember the hope that was given to you, and don’t forget topass it on, for this is the real meaning of Christmas!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd December 2019

We don’t date God. He isn’t an event, an occasion, the walk-in centre at the hospital when we find ourselves in desperate trouble. In His grace, He will make Himself available to us at an event, an occasion or when we find ourselves in desperate trouble, but this isn’t God’s full intent for our lives. 

I’m sure we all know of people who claim to never believe in God, but when they find themselves in a time of great desperation, it’s Him they turn to, praying, and asking Him to intervene. Then once on their feet again, they forget about Him, cracking on with their own, self-sufficient lives. 

From the beginning of creation, God’s intent for us has been that we would ‘be one with Him’. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve shared in perfect relationship with God. Sin then broke this union, putting up barrier between God and man. Jesus then restored that union. Today we live in perfect union with Christ. Romans 6:5 says, ‘we are permanently grafted into Him’. 

Grafting is a horticultural technique whereby tissues of plants are joined so as to continue their growth together. A bud is taken from one plant and grown onto the ‘root plant’ of another. The result is two plants that appear as one plant. 

When you are unified with something, it is impossible to make that something an occasion, or an event. Union means you are tied to that thing. To be in ‘union’, means ‘to be joined together’. It doesn’t leave you, you don’t leave it. He doesn’t leave you, you don’t leave Him. You are grafted. 

We don’t go to church to meet God, we met Him at salvation and He never left us. Our lives should be an ongoing conversation with Him, an ongoing acknowledgement that He is always with us! 

In Galatians 5:16, we are encouraged to ‘walk in the Spirit’. This means to walk – go about the mundane day-to-day activities of our lives, acknowledging the voice and presence of God. 

As long as we treat God as a date – someone we pick up and drop off, making no commitment, is as long as we will not fully experience the intimacy and fullness of relationship that is available to us! 

God is not a feel-good fix on the side of our lives. He truly is the centre, the source, the ‘root plant’ of our lives.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd December 2019

Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken through, is a person who lacks self-control.

Every supermarket nowadays has a very basic range of products in order to appeal to shoppers that want or need to purchase goods at the lowest possible value.

We are all aware of entry level ranges that carry labels like ‘smart price’, ‘basics’ or ‘value range’.

Those special labels that we have come to recognise, help us to identify quality at affordable prices, knowing that there is not going to be anything of a better value than this. The supermarket branding is telling us that this is the lowest we can go. There is no need to search for a bargain, as this is it!

As we search in life for what is of great value today, we have to come to a point of understanding that there is a very basic entry level to which we can go and no lower. If we go any lower in the way we conduct ourselves, then we have passed the point of being effective and helping anyone out there today.

The basics of our faith can be displayed at the very least in three areas…our Mouth, our Mind and our Moods.

You may well be able…but can I ask…are you stable?

Are you depend- able?

Are you reli-able?

The labels on the value range of our faith have got to be displayed in us being trustworthy, having integrity, and living honestly.

If you are living below the the very basics of who we are, then we are living below the ‘spiritual poverty line’. You cannot live any lower than that and profess to be a Christian.

Stop blaming everyone else for your mouth, mind and mood. The only way others can influence you is by you allowing them to.

One translation of the above verse, says…’like a city whose walls are broken down, is a man who has no rule over his spirit.’

It’s time to get back to basics and start taking rule over your own life.

Stop telling half truths which are really lies. Stop compromising your stance on things which really means you are afraid to be counted. Stop making lame excuses for being late, being in a mood and ripping into someone with your tongue again.

Your values have been compromised and there is no one to blame but yourself.

Ask God to forgive you right now and start to live a life that worthy of God’s calling on you once again.

Colossians 1:10 … live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Before John prophesied, Elizabeth prophesied.

Before John showed humility, Elizabeth showed humility.

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

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

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

Elizabeth prepared the way for John. 

John prepared the way for Jesus.

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

Consider the cascade effect.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

What is the opposite of teammates? Competitors. 

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th November 2019

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

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

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

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

While he slept it grew.

While he worked it grew.

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

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

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

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

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

Inside the pot was a handful of seeds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd November 2019

How do you respond to Jesus?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say no to perfection, and yes to grace!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th November 2019


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 What should you be letting go of today?

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

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

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

The word of God is a compass for your life.

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

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

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th November 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th November 2019

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

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

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

Why do we work so hard to not be vulnerable?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.


Fresh Hope – 12th November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th November 2019

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Are you still thinking immaturely?


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


Are you still talking baby talk?


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


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


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


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


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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.


Fresh Hope – 8th November 2019

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th November 2019

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

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

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

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

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


Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell


A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th November 2019

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Luke Cartwright


A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th November 2019

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd November 2019

Psalm 103 9-13

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

Do you have a problem letting go?

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

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

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

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

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

If God can do it, why am I different?

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

It’s time my friend to let it go.

Give it to God, not to several other people.

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

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

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


Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st November 2019

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

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

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

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

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st October 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th October 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th October 2019

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

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

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


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


Let’s think about sports for a moment.

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

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


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


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


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


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