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 – 19th May 2018

Psalm 92 vs 13 says “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, planted in the House of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.”

I love this verse, it talks about the importance of being planted (to put roots down) in God’s House. That’s when we will truly flourish.

Have you ever thought about why it says a palm tree?  Why not an oak, or a tall cypress?
Here’s a couple of interesting things about the palm tree…
1) It can survive and flourish in VERY hot climates. Yes, when all around is scorched and dying, the palm tree flourishes.

2) It’s the only tree that can withstand a hurricane. When others get uprooted, it stays strong.

Here’s 3 things that we can learn today.

BOW – the palm tree ‘bows’ down to the ground during a storm. When we have storms in our lives, don’t get frustrated and be annoyed with God, bow down to Him, surrender to His will for your life.

BEND – the palm tree is very good at bending. It’s flexible and pliable.
Sometimes, we can be so stuck in our own ways that we do and will not bend. We think it has to be always done the same etc.  Be willing to bend and be pliable, be open to God’s ways, even if they’re new and different.

BOUNCE BACK – yes, the palm tree surely does this. It is a known fact that during a storm its roots actually get stronger.
I love that; not only does it withstand the storm, it gets stronger in the process.

Let’s learn from that palm tree today.
Put those 3 “B’s” into your own walk with God and see the difference.
You too will flourish.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th May 2018

How wrong would it be if you saw a grown man wearing a nappy, drinking from a milk bottle and acting like a baby? You would be totally weirded out. Why? Because humans grow. You are a baby for a season of your life and then you develop into an adult. You move from being told what to do, to making choices for yourself. You grow from crying all through the night, to managing your problems. You go from simply sleeping, eating and pooing all the time, to fully adulting by managing a job, bills, a family, a social life, and a host of other commitments and responsibilities. You move from being feed only milk, to eating a steak you cooked!

Our spiritual life is much the same. We start as babies in the faith (regardless of age), and we should be growing in maturity. However, this isn’t always the case. There are many Christians still crawling around in nappies, and drinking milk, decade after decade.

Hebrews 5:11-12 says, ‘We have much to say about this (Jesus as our high priest), but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!’. The writer of Hebrews wanted to go deeper and further in the teachings of God, but he recognised that the people were not ready. They were Christians, but they were still spiritual babies. They were not growing.

Is milk bad? Not at all. Milk refers to basic truths of scripture. So of course, the basics of faith are vital, but there is so much more.  The basics of faith serve for a season, but we should then be going deeper. There are greater degrees and depths to our relationship with God that are to be explored and actioned. Hence why in Hebrews we read, Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…’(Hebrews 6:1-2).

Like a baby who only drinks milk, a spiritual baby only feeds off the same thing. They only ever crave the simple, they aren’t looking to be challenged and stretched. Drinking only milk will stunt your growth. Not being proactive in feeding on “fresh words” from God, and seeking to be challenged and pushed to new places in your relationship with God will stunt your growth.

Spiritual babies are slow to learn deeper truths and articulate their faith. Like a baby who grows in speech, so you can articulate your faith and relationship with God better as you grow in spiritual maturity.

A spiritual baby struggles to discern that which is right and wrong. A spiritually mature person is done with their worldly ways and can apply that which they have been taught. A baby still needs heavy coaching and rearing. Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness’ (Hebrews 5:13-14)As we grow, so does our capacity to use wisdom, and take on greater responsibilities for God.

So how can we grow up? For a healthy human to grow, they need feeding…constantly and regularly. No Christian can grow up by feeding on one 30-minute sermon once a week. It isn’t enough. Imagine trying to develop properly on one meal a week? You would die. A baby starts out unable to feed itself, and eventually learns to feed its own body. As Christians, we should not be reliant on being spoon fed by others constantly, we need to know how to nurture our faith ourselves. Regardless of how amazing your pastor is, their teaching should never replace our need to hear God for ourselves in our private life.

Are you challenging yourself spiritually? Are you feeding yourself every day? Are you actively digger deeper in your relationship with Christ? Are you tuning in to the voice of God daily? Don’t become lazy. Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you, for this is His job. There is more than milk. There are so many amazing foods and flavours in God to be explored as we go further, deeper and higher in Him! Regardless of how old you are in the faith, there is more!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th May 2018

Often we can box our almighty, all-powerful God into our finite, tiny thinking. It is comfortable that way. We know what to expect. It’s logical and rational. We have a sense of control. The funny thing is that the very nature of God is uncontainable. We only need to look at the life Jesus to see that his ministry on earth was constantly ruffling feathers, shaking mentalities, challenging set-thought patterns and perceptions. Jesus blew the lid on cultural, social, and religious norms. Even in his miracles he was often totally unnatural and illogicalLike spitting in mud and rubbing it on a blind man’s eyes for healing? How about, casting out demons from people into pigs? I mean seriously?! How normal is that?

When God wants to do something, it isn’t always in the way you may expect. When God wants to say something, it isn’t always in the way you would expect.

There is a story in the Bible about a man named Balaam. Balaam was a pagan prophet. Balaan was rebellious towards God. He had a donkey of which he used for his travels. Then in Numbers 22:28, we learn that ‘the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth’ and spoke to Balaam through the donkey! Talk about God speaking in a very out of the box kind of way! God also spoke to Moses through a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4). He spoke to Gideon through a fleece (Judges 6:37-40), and He spoke to Saul on the Damascus road through a bright light (Acts 9:1-5).

Last night I was at the gym doing a workout. I decided to try and use a piece of equipment I had never used before. I thought I had the hang of it, until a man, not far from me piped up. Judging by appearance, this man was a little “different”. Firstly, he wasn’t wearing trainers to the gym, he was in his slippers! He was an elderly man, walked with a limp and spoke with a very heavy and slow stutter. In front of everyone, from his workout mat, he began to shout out to me in his stuttering voice, how I could be using the machine better to best activate my muscles”. Although embarrassing and clearly challenging my pride, I kindly listened and applied his tips. Only I still mustn’t have been doing it correctly, because he stopped me AGAIN to correct me! Although he seemed slightly bizarre, the advice he was giving was actually working! What I had been doing wasn’t nearly as effective as what he was encouraging me to do. Sometimes God speaks in ways that don’t look cookie cutter. It’snot always in the pretty, simple ways that He will get a message across. Sometimes He will use very normal things to tell us something. Sometimes the very painful things, or sometimes even the problem itself is a gateway for the voice of God in your life. The question is: are we aware enough to notice it, and humble enough to receive it?

God can speak through circumstances, He can speak through the wise counsel of people, He speaks through peace, He speaks through dreams and visions, He can speak through our thoughts, through natural manifestations (e.g. Nature), through supernatural manifestations, through the Bible, and He can even speak in a whisper. Be open to what God might be saying to you, through the very normal things around you.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th May 2018

Just over a week ago, I found myself sitting in A and E after badly hurting my thumb. I was playing in goal at the time with a group of younger guys, who like to prove they can hit the ball as hard as possible. To my delight, I actually saved the ball, but then rolled on the floor like a baby, knowing that I’d possibly broken something. The bad news was that the X-ray showed that I’d fractured my thumb…the good news was that we won!

It’s pretty obvious when you’ve damaged a part of your body, as the plaster cast gives it away. However, everywhere you go these days, there are ‘invisible’ hurts that people are walking around with that no one knows about, simply because they are on the inside and have no bandage to speak of.

Some people’s hurts are broken dreams, whilst others suffer because of the mess they’ve made of their lives. No matter what has happened, and whose fault it might have been, just like the care that I received from the hospital when they looked after me and made sure that I was put on the road to recovery, we too should look after people with compassion and unconditional love.

Hurting people don’t need us to judge and criticise them, they simply need someone to bring them hope and healing.

I’m so glad the nurse looking after me didn’t scorn me for being so silly for playing football at my age; instead, she just smiled and got on with it.

When God created you, He placed within you the potential to have a kind, caring and loving nature towards those who are hurting. If you want to feel that you are doing something useful with your life, then simply open yourself up everyday to having a heart of compassion. Be on the lookout for someone that needs a friend and is desperate for someone to bandage their wounds.

Today, you have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s messed up and broken world. Follow the love in your heart. Don’t ignore it. Act on it. Someone needs what you have.

Reach out and help heal someone today.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th May 2018

Yesterday, we talked about not quitting.
Many years ago, I went through a very difficult time. A time when I could easily have given up.  When I look back on those days, I’m humbled at how God brought me through.

You see, whenever you are going to do anything that’s significant, there will always be a target on your back to get you to stop and give up.
I cannot imagine what would have happened if that had been my story.
Every time you feel ‘down’ or ‘depressed’ or ‘fed-up’ those are the times you must not quit!
Those are the times, with every ounce of strength, you must move forward.
What if every woman quit during child birth? There would be no babies!

God’s grace will keep you going, you can call on His strength day or night.
Because often I feel weak, and am weak…but that’s when I can call on Him.

When I am weak, He is strong. The Bible says His strength is made perfect in my weakness –
Read 2 Corinthians 12 v 10: “My grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in your weakness”. That’s a powerful verse of scripture.
It’s okay to be weak at times, God knows about it, He has that covered.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race” –  2 Timothy 4 vs 7. Life is sometimes a fight and it’s definitely a race.
We have to endure, keep going, not give up  and go for the finishing line.

Throughout history, great things have been done by people who refused to quit.

Be one of them!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th May 2018

Lots of people quit when it gets hard. If the enemy has got you to quit, then he has done a good job for that day! Think about it.

Occasionally, I will talk with people who want to quit. Why?
Because it’s hard.
Yes, that’s life.  God never promised us an easy life.

Michael Phelps, the Olympian, has the record for the most decorated and successful Olympian of all time. Do you think that was easy, to win 28 Olympic medals? Absolutely not. Recently, he opened up about depression and how he felt like ending his life after the Olympics.  ‘Wow’, you may say, ‘I never knew that.’ Life isn’t easy. Success isn’t easy.

But if you want to be successful and significant you cannot quit.

Was it hard for Noah to build that massive ark?
Was it hard for Moses to lead millions of people to the promised land?
Was it hard for Esther to go before the King on behalf of saving all the Jews?
Was it hard for Daniel to make a stand for God, then get thrown into the den of lions?
Too right it was hard.

Nothing great ever came easy.  Push through. Pray through.
Get your encouragement from God Himself.
But don’t quit.

Don’t let the devil get the victory in your life today.
God’s destiny is strong on your life.
You may have to fight for it, but do not quit.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th May 2018

Who have you blessed lately?  Just a random act of kindness, something that’s out of the norm for you.  How good is it to receive something so unexpected from someone, maybe a book, a bunch of flowers, a pair of shoes (that I would love…size 5) anything…and it’s not even your birthday or an occasion, just because they were thinking of you.  It’s even more satisfying to be the one who gives someone something they were not expecting and their face lights up in appreciation.

It does not have to be much, but it can be a big thing to someone. Some might say ‘But I don’t have much to give at the moment, I am also in need’.  How about dishing up a portion of your meal with your family and taking it to someone who is not feeling well, or even an act of service like mowing the lawn for someone who might be finding it difficult? I remember a few weeks back when we had the very heavy snow and we woke up to find our neighbour had cleared his drive and also cleared up our entire drive, just as an act of kindness.  Little things like that really warm the heart.Being a blessing to others is biblical.  The surest thing is that the Lord’s hand of blessing is on you so that others are blessed through you. God said to Abraham, “[In] blessing I will bless you … In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:17-18). In other words, “The reason I am blessing you, Abraham, is that you can bless all the nations.”

Few of us are called to bless entire nations, of course, but each of us has a circle of family, friends and colleagues. How many in your circle are being blessed by what the Lord is doing in you? Is the glory of your relationship with Jesus overflowing to those around you? Are your friends and family being blessed by Christ in you? Who have you blessed lately?

God delights in blessing us, and when we bless others, He ensures that we remain in abundance. Proverbs 11:25 says “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”

Be a blessing to someone today.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th May 2018

One of the golden rules that I try to live my life by is this one: always believe the best about someone.

There’s a great nugget of advice in the Bible too…James 1:19 ‘…everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…’

If we’re honest, we apply that verse everyday…but in reverse order.

We start with anger and judgement and then end up going quiet when the damage has already been done.

Be very careful that you don’t judge people based on the little you know and see, as if that’s all there is to know and see. Bear in mind that you usually don’t know the full story, and therefore it’s not for you and I to comment on as though we have some special privileged inside information.

We live in an age that has multitudes of armchair critics who pass judgement about things they know nothing about. They are simply fuelled by ‘trial by media’.

It’s only ever a few that really knows the story behind a person’s life. That inside information grants them a level of insight and empathy that all others are exempt from, therefore keep yourself pure and keep yourself away from things that you should be very slow to speak about, if at all.

Let’s make a fresh decision today to be slow to speak and quick to listen and on most things you hear, reserve your judgement and let God be the judge. He knows everything and He knows best.

Matthew 7:1-2 ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th May 2018

I have to admit that I was trembling with fear.  I was waiting on the end of the phone for the results from tests that I’d undertaken at the Doctors ten days earlier.

I’d felt unwell for some time and had concluded that there must be something wrong; my appetite had gone and I was feeling sick every afternoon.

I’m not very good with the anatomy of the body, but I was experiencing discomfort around my kidney area and was pretty convinced that I was going to receive results that would confirm my worst fears.

As I waited, even the receptionist seemed to act strangely, as if she wanted to hide something from me, pulling up the results on the screen.

“I will have to get the Doctor to call you”, she said with a tone that suggested that she was not qualified to break to bad news.

Moments later the Doctor phoned: “Mr. Burchell….your test results have come back…all clear.”

I asked him if he’d read them correctly and if he was sure, and once again he confirmed all was well.

It doesn’t have to be a sickness; it may be just a situation that is plaguing you, but nevertheless the feelings are much the same…you fear the worst.

As a man of faith, it pains me to tell this story as it feels like I was so lacking in faith on this particular day, when instead of believing for the best, I was waiting for the worst.

Everyday, ordinary people of faith, are facing the subtle yet powerful mind games that come to take us down.

How many of us today are fearing the worst possible news, when in reality it’s just a ploy of the devil to take us out of action?

Stop believing for the worst and believe for the best.

Even if the news is bad or even worse than you thought,God is still God and He is still good. Nothing can ever change that.

Maybe your test results didn’t come back all clear and you’re trembling with fear right now…be at peace.

Worry is worthless…it changes nothing.

Don’t look down, look up -Jesus has it all under control.

Mark 5:35-43 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”. Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around she was twelve years old. At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. 

Today I encourage you to speak to your fears and allow Jesus’ peace to flood your soul.

Psalm 112:6-7 Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered for ever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th May 2018

There are many different interpretations of what it means to be humble. There is a misconception that if you make yourself invisible or discount your work, then you are being truly humble. There is also the idea that humility means you run yourself into the ground serving others, neglecting your own needs. This is wrong. People can also serve from a place of false humility – this is where you showcase what appears like service and humilty but is done in order to satisfy self-centered insecurities (e.g. you will make yourself look good and others will like you more if you play humble). These misunderstandings are not Christ’s idea of humility at all.

Firstly, it is important to understand that self-love is not a form of pride. Dismissing and down-playing your strengths, talents or God-given gifts and abilities does not make you more holy or humble. It is actually a disservice to God and others to water them down as you become less effective! Humility is about having a strong sense of self-worth through knowing who you are in God, then being confident of that, you serve others with what you have, but not using what you have to get your self-worth.  Simply put, humility is being so secure in who you are, that you aren’t afraid to get low for others.

Matthew 19:19 says, ‘You must love your neighbour in the same way you love yourself.’ Why does Jesus say to love others to the degree in which we love ourselves? There must be a connection between our self-worth and capacity to love. Say I have a 20 pound note, but I feel like the 20 pound note has no value, I then won’t see the point in using it or giving it away as I have no value for it. Likewise, if I don’t see the value in myself, I won’t see the point in serving others with what I have. To the degree in which I value myself, is the degree to which I can effectively love others. Your behaviour towards your neighbour is a reflection of how much you feel about yourself.

You will know someone is humble when you see that:

They know who they are without needing others to reaffirm their worth.
They refuse to promote themselves.
They allow others to be celebrated without having to share their own successes.
They have an attitude of ‘no task is beneath me’.
They are honest about their weaknesses.
They work to see the promotion of others.
They are vulnerable.
They are teachable.

As you can see, all the above behaviours require you to know your worth in Christ. Consider how you can grow  in understanding your value so you can operate out of true humility, letting it overflow to benefit those around you.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th May 2018

I wonder how much of our present is wasted by our worries for the future? It seems that more and more people are struggling with issues of fear and anxiety – both of which God wants to free us from.

The Bible warns that the Devil’s primary purpose is to ‘kill, steal, and destroy’ (John 10:10). The debilitating effects of anxiety achieve exactly that. Fear kills your peace, steals your joy, and can destroy your life.

It can be easy for someone to tell you not to fear, but when very real challenges are staring you in the face, it can seem impossible, sometimes ridiculous, unnatural, not to worry.

The confronting reality is that if we are growing as people, it is inevitable that we will be exposed to new challenges and issues. Anxiety is triggered when we look at the future, with what we know of today, and with what God has given us for this day only. It is like opening up your pantry now and looking at the food on the shelves and wondering how on earth you are going to be able to make a Christmas dinner from that! Naturally you will start to worry, because you are looking at a future need with what you have today! God tells us to look at our problems differently.  

Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself’ (Matthew 6:34 TPT).  This is a promise that when we get to the future, God will have what we need for that moment there. Take one step at a time and use what you have today, rather than being caught up in tomorrow.

Perhaps ask yourself, what were you afraid of in the past that never happened? Recall and remember what good things has God done for you. Speak out what He has for your future.

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’ (Jeremiah 11:29).

Remember that one of the names of Jesus is ‘Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). This isn’t just His name, it is who He is – He is peace. Much of walking in peace comes from knowing whose you are and who you are. When you realize who is covering you, and you are rooted in His character instead of your circumstances, peace can reign in your life.

The world says worry. Jesus says, ‘I will give you a peace that is far superior to any fear you have. No matter how big, no matter how scary, this peace will not make sense to the world, because it will seem crazy not to worry! But it is a peace that will guard your heart (your emotions) and your mind (your thinking!)

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 7th May 2018

Perhaps you or someone you know carries hurt from seeing “church people” be one kind of person on a Sunday, and another on Monday.  Witnessing this kind of hypocrisy can leave you feeling quite angry and disillusioned with Christians, the church, and even God.

Maybe you yourself tend to the external affairs of your life really well, but too easily neglect the private areas of your life like your heart, marriage, and children – leaving the scraps of your time and energy for them.

While the world emphasises the pursuit of a shiny, perfect external life, God reminds us that the success of our outer life actually starts with the management of our internal state. You can’t produce something sustainable in your outer world, that isn’t being fostered in your internal world.

We see this when God speaks about ‘guarding your heart, for this is the well-spring of life’ (Proverbs 4:23). This is because whatever rules in your heart, rules in your life. Whatever is tended to in your private life, will manifest in your public life. Whether that be good or bad.

Many Christians burn out from pressure to produce on the outside what doesn’t exist on the inside. This is a works-orientated Gospel that tries to obtain favour through labour rather than working from the place of favour! Religion focuses on that which is on the outside, but relationship, which is what God calls us to, starts on the inside and then moves out!

In Matthew 10:8, Jesus says, ‘Freely you have received, freely give’. This proves that we give, out of what we have been given. We can’t give away, what we don’t have. It’s like trying to shout your friend a meal with your insufficient bank funds. 

You can’t produce something externally, if it hasn’t been deposited privately.

The heart is able to manifest all sorts of evil, but it can also overflow all sorts of goodness. Stewardship of our heart and private life – what goes on behind closed doors, is what determines this!

1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.””

Emma Burchell

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 5th May 2018

‘You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously’ – Anonymous

I love watching TV series and movies about solving crime cases and usually when the person is caught, they are then convicted of the crime then subjected to the sentence (condemnation) which is the punishment.   The sentence is final, there is no turning back.  It got me thinking in terms of God’s justice system and two terms we often come across ‘Conviction and Condemnation’ and they are different to the world system.

In Christianity, Conviction and Condemnation are two dissimilar terms and understanding the difference between the two will affect how we approach life.

Condemnation says “you’re a loser, good for nothing terrible person and there’s no turning back” – it reminds you of all the bad things about you and where you fall short.

Conviction, on the other hand acknowledges the bad, but offers the chance for redemption. It says says “You are loved and a child of God and need to work on this thing that’s out of place in your life so you can be better and live better.”

As Christians, we tend to live under condemnation, or constant guilt, and think it is from God. It isn’t. Condemnation comes from Satan. See, we all fall short at some point or in some areas, no one is perfect, and condemnation is the enemy’s way of making you feel worse and worse. God doesn’t work that way. God will never attack you; he will never say you’re worthless or unlovable.   Romans 8:1 says, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus”. In fact, in Revelation 3:19 God says, “Those whom I dearly and tenderly love, I tell their faults and convict…”

Conviction comes from God. The purpose of conviction is to correct us on specific issues in order to bring a change in our lives, and it is motivated by God’s love. Because God loves us, when he sees an area in our life that needs change, he will nudge us and say, “You need to work on this thing that’s out of line in your life.”

Jesus paid the price for condemnation. He served the punishment for our sin through his death on the cross. And we are free to live the way God created us to live, to live the way Jesus enables us to live.

Why won’t you ever hear God telling you what a failure you are? Because firstly, we are all created in His image, but sin is what clouds that perfect image. God condemns the sin in order to set us free from it, and only ‘self-conviction’ will cause us to change. Jesus said, “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47). That is the grace of God.

We need to therefore understand the nature of God’s forgiveness and embrace it. His desire is to wash us clean from our pasts. 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” God hasn’t given us a licence to sin because of His grace, but an open door to His heart that says no sin is bigger than the love He has for us.

Remember you are no longer bound to the restraints of who you used to be.  In Christ, you have been made new and because of that you are free to start over.  Accept His forgiveness, forgive yourself and strive to be better.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th May 2018

Our friend’s daughter got engaged last week, and after the proposal on one knee, they went to a lovely restaurant for a romantic meal.

After sitting at the table for a time, staring into each other’s eyes, they became aware of a lady on another table close by constantly taking photos of them on her phone. What was a novelty for a few moments soon turned to an annoyance, and after putting up with it no longer, the boyfriend, come fiancée, stood up and walked over to the lady and gave her a severe ticking off. It was at that moment that he realised that she wasn’t taking pictures of them at all, but was in fact taking them of Noel Edmonds who was sitting directly behind them. What they believed was happening to them wasn’t happening at all. They had made completely the wrong judgment call, based on what they saw. Slightly embarrassing to say the least.

Throughout our lives it is possible to judge many a situation simply on the basis of what you believe is happening, when really it’s not happening at all.

Looking and judging people on face value is often one of the biggest mistakes we can make in our lives. A person may be dressed in scruffy clothes and yet be a multimillionaire, whilst another may be dressed in a suit and not have a penny in the bank. How many times do you and I see people who have obviously got issues, and our immediate reaction is to make a judgement call on why they have allowed themselves to get into such a state? In reality, that person could well have been abandoned as a child and has not a family member or friend in the world. They are alone and disheveled not because they chose to be, but because of the circumstances that’s caused them to be the way they are.

Make a decision today to stop judging people at first glance and start to take a look at what’s behind the way they are.

Choose today to be kind to everyone you meet, as everyone is going through a battle in some area of their lives today.

Why not ask that lonely looking person if there is anything you could do for them?

Why not ask that person looking worse for wear, what their story is. You never know, you may just be the friend they need right now.

Do you and I have a perfect life, or do we have issues too? Then why judge what you see others doing when you could actually be kind to them and ask what’s behind the way they are? Stop blaming and start befriending.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd May 2018

I had been perusing the shelves of a bookshop, looking for a new read when I came across Marie Kondo’s ‘Spark Joy’. The subtitle read,‘The Life Changing Global Phenomenon – 5 Million Copies Sold’. I learnt this book was on the seemingly trivial topic of TIDYING! Marie has taken her childhood passion of tidying and organization and made a highly successful career. Marie’s core philosophy is that we should only keep in our home that which “sparks joy” in us. Anything else has to go! And she is ruthless about it! She has strong evidence to support the fact that an unkempt, junk-filled home hinders creativity, efficiency, inspiration, growth, and health of mind. She shares amazing testimonies of how people’s external lives have radically changed, as they have committed to clearing, and bringing order to their internal world – their home.

If the art of organization, letting go of junk, and tidying is a global phenomenon, proving to enhance people’s homes, minds, and lives, then  how much more is there value and joy in letting go of all the junk in our hearts?

Letting go of the junk in our hearts isn’t just a one-off job. You wouldn’t say to your spouse, “Sorry Darl, I cleaned the house in 1996, it doesn’t need to be done again!”. (Actually, some of you have probably said that!). You may have purchased the house, but clearing, culling and cleaning are regular necessaries for the maintenance of the home. Likewise, Jesus has saved us once and for all, but it is necessary to be regularly assessing the wardrobes of our hearts and culling the junky attitudes, baggage, misconceptions, and lies when they crop up. If I have a wardrobe full of excess clothing, there isn’t room for anything else. I don’t have space for anything fresh or new. Likewise, when our lives are cluttered with things like unforgiveness, jealousy, or fears, there isn’t space for the good stuff – we can’t let in new people, new ideas, the voice of God, joy, and peace.

Recently married, and on the cusp of moving overseas, I myself am in the process of trying to cull my entire life into a 30kg luggage allowance. Right now, I have two very full garbage bags of clothing that are going to donation sitting by my door. If I am to move into the next season of my life, I can’t be taking those old clothes with me. There frankly isn’t room, and I can’t afford to be taking so much baggage. It’s time to leave that which isn’t adding value behind, so I can go forward.

As it says in Hebrews 12:1, ‘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’. To throw something isn’t a passive action. The verse doesn’t say, ‘slowly and carefully put that which hinders you away in a junk drawer or random bag at the back of your cupboard until you decide what to do with it’. NO! It urges us to THROW, meaning, be ruthless, to propel with FORCE! Be forceful about throwing off and outthe things in your life that don’t add value, that don’t add joy, that hinder you, and block out the good stuff! Do what it takes to find freedom and wholeness. Get out the garbage bags, ask the Holy Spirit what needs to go, get a friend to help, do whatever it takes to make that space!

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd May 2018

It can be easy to judge someone. After all, we are trained to judge. We spend most of our day-to-day making comparisons, and choosing preferences. We make constant decisions on what we feel is right and wrong. From what food we rather, the star-rating our Uber driver deserves, which outfit we think looks better, which restaurant offers the best service, which is the safest route home, which schools to send our kids to, and how to best spend our moneywe are always making judgments!

Yet when it comes people, Jesus gives a very confronting and clear warning about how we weigh them up. Too often, Christians can get caught up in the act of criticising others. As we hold the Bible as the standard for our lives, we can begin to use it as a rulebook, rather than a gateway into loving God and people. We start judging people according to a set of rules, rather than first loving them. We become judgmental, and our faith can look a lot like religion and rules, rather than relationship and grace.

Don’t get me wrong – Jesus is very clear on confronting sin. If you see people living in less than God’s best for them (sin), then it is our duty to respectfully and lovingly confront (Matthew 18:15-17). The purpose of this confrontation is never to condemn, but to bring reconciliation and freedom.  Jesus commands discernment, but it is the ‘judging by mere appearances’ (John 7:24) that He hates.  

Just to give you an idea of how inaccurate human judgement can be, Jesus himself was judged wrongly by the people closest to Him. Jesus came to minister in His hometown – Nazareth, and the people said, ‘isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (Mark 6:1-3). The people of Nazareth missed out on all that Jesus had to offer because they formed a preconceived judgement about Him.

What are you missing out on in other people because judgement is blocking your view?

Judging can look like: making assumptions based on your own limited human perspective, attacking the poor behaviour of someone else, and speaking destructively about someone else behind their back.

Criticising and ridiculing others causes serious damage in our own lives. When we judge, we have no room to love and it steals our joy. It pollutes our heart, and makes us vulnerable to hatred taking root in our lives.  Judging others is a form of spiritual pride. It is saying, ‘I’m better than you. I would never do that!’. Imagine if that was God’s attitude towards us? We are only who we are by the grace of God.

Rather than judging, let us pack away our measuring stick, let us close the rulebook, and instead get back to relationship – relationship is where we forgive, honour, encourage, challenge, lovingly confront and thus always keep connection and relationship as our primary goal! After all, this is exactly how God works with you!  

Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st May 2018

It’s been said many times that this generation differs to generations that have gone before us. Where our grandparents, stretched two pennies across a week, we want the dream car and home today. Where our parents took time to make a phone call, and have meaningful conversation, we shoot a text. Where we once had to organize a coffee date to really see how someone is going, we can feel like we are in touch with people by quickly scrolling through social media. Where generations before us had to have face-to-face conversations with people at the shops, we order what we need at the click of a button. Where things like community, and family were once esteemed as the highest priority in life, self-protection and self-promotion have taken its place. Where our grandparents kept appliances for decades, we are persuaded to purchase the newest and the latest every few months. Where children were once taught to listen, parents are now pressured to constantly entertain and stimulate their kids, ensuring life is never dull and they never miss out. But we are missing out. Because life can actually be dull sometimes.

It isn’t always new, sparkly, instant, easy, entertaining and grand… and this is not only ok, but also good for us! Life can in fact be hard work! We are constantly getting primed to believe that dull isn’t normal. Whilst we have progressed in the most wonderful of ways in some areas compared to generations before us – we must admit that new technologies, celebrity culture, and a busy life isn’t always doing us a favour!

We have inherited a divine nature, but we aren’t born with character – you develop it! Dull moments make character! Diligence makes character! Hard work makes character! 2 Peter 1:5-7 says, ‘MAKE EVERY EFFORT to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love’. Character requires effort, and some less than easy, and instant things like self-control and knowledge!

In the words of Oswald Chambers, ‘we are not meant to be illuminated versions, but the common stuff of ordinary life exhibiting the marvel of the grace of God. Drudgery (dull, hard work) is the touchstone of character’.

Don’t simply seek the glamorous things in life, and become dissatisfied when your life isn’t looking magnificent. Remember that Jesus himself took and towel, got down and washed the disciplesfeet (John 13:1-7). There are times when life is routine. It is common jobs and no thrill. Don’t expect constant stimulation and worry that there is something wrong with you if something awesome isn’t happening. Learn to live with the mundane moments by the power of God! Do not simply give up on something if it requires extra effort and attention. There is great power and blessing in doing the “boring” things with excellence, allowing your character to be sharpened in the process. Obedience, consistency, and faithfulness to the very normal things of life, is powerful.

Philippians 4:12 “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.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th April 2018

We all know what it’s like to be thirsty. I mean, really thirsty. I’m talking dry-throat, spinning head, and one thing on your mind– just guzzling a ton of water kind of thirsty! And when you finally get some water, you chug it down hard and fast. As your body finds hydration again, you are sure there is no feeling more satisfying!

Jesus knew what it was like to be thirsty. Several times in scripture, He invites anyone who is thirty to come and drink. But His invitation isn’t to drink just any kind of water. It is an invitation to come and drink from water that will be so satisfying that you will never be thirsty again. How is that possible? Well Jesus wasn’t talking about quenching physical thirst. He was talking about bringing ultimate relief to a deeper kind of thirst – a spiritual thirst. Jesus was engaging with humanity’s deeper craving for something more.

When Jesus sat at the well of water with the Samaritan woman, He was sitting next a woman who was drawing physical water. But Jesus saw past her physical need and saw her real need – spiritual water. What she really needed was Him! He said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.’ (John 4:13&14).

You don’t have to look far to see people today are hustling at the water pools of money, approval from man, materialism, and self-promotion – they’re on their hands and knees desperately chugging, trying to satisfy the dry holes of their soul with mirages of living water. In between gulps they say, ‘surely if I earn more money I will be truly happy!’, ‘surely if I can get people to accept me, I will accept myself!’, ‘surely if I work harder, I will feel better!’ – But this kind of water doesn’t relieve the dry parts of the soul. It isn’t sustaining. It does run deep enough. Simply put, they need Jesus. We need Jesus!

Where are you drawing your water from? Is Jesus your ultimate water source? You may be craving fleeting refreshments in superficial things, but Jesus promises you a fountain of water like no other in Him. And not just once – a constant supply, an eternal supply in fact, completely soul satisfying and deeply fulfilling.

The beauty of Jesus is that he doesn’t force water down your throat. Like a physical glass of water, you need to take it yourself. So, drink up, and find the relief and refreshment that is in Jesus.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th April 2018

I love the Bible. I love how we can learn so much from it. 

Some of Jesus’s closest friends were Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. 

We read in the book of John Chapter 11 that Lazarus died and it’s here we have the shortest verse in scripture “Jesus wept”.  

If you ask ‘why did Jesus cry?’ you’d probably come up with the answer that it was because His friend had just died. 

 I don’t think it was, because on three occasions Jesus said that Lazarus would be okay. He was God, He could easily pull that off.

 If you know something is going to be ‘ok’, you get peace about it. When you know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that something is going to be okay, you don’t weep. 

 In verse 32, the sisters said to him “if you’d have been here, our brother would not have died”  – they were frustrated, they were disappointed and they were sad. 

 God can cope with our disappointments.  He is big enough. 

I believe He cried because of compassion, He was deeply moved, because these were His friends and He didn’t want to see them hurting.  

BUT He had a far higher purpose.  Lazarus would be raised from the dead and God would be glorified. 

 When you and I don’t trust God (even when He’s told us it will be ok) and we get into a place of doubt and even ‘anger’ at God, maybe He cries over us.  Saying “my child trust me in this… I have it covered.”

 Unfortunately, we are people who react to what we see, when God wants us to be people of faith.  

Today, whatever your situation, trust God in it.  He has you covered. And the very thing that is concerning you right now, is the thing that will bring a great testimony and glory to Jesus. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th April 2018

Yesterday, we had a wonderful time celebrating the wedding of our niece.

 As Leah and Ashley start out on their married lives together, I am reminded that in just a couple of months, Gillian and myself will be celebrating 34 years of marriage.

Despite our busy lives that revolve around helping others, our love for each other has grown stronger and deeper over the years; that love has many times come as a result of going through difficult trials and intense pain along the way.

Anyone that is married, knows only too well that tests, trials and pain are sometimes our best friends in disguise. It’s not until much later, that we realise that they have helped play a huge part in who we are as a couple today.

 I’ve had the privilege of leading many marriage preparation classes over the years and have always been transparent in sharing some of the ‘secrets’ of a blessed and happy marriage.

 I can honestly say that Gillian is still my best friend today, and more than ever, I love spending time with her. She also loves spending(!).

 Here are some of the things that I’d like to share with you today that may help you sustain a healthy and happy marriage.

 

1) You can never say I love you too many times

 2) Appreciation, even for small acts of kindness, has a huge impact on married life.

 3) Share the chores…cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing are not beyond any of us. If you don’t know how, learn!

 4) Saying sorry is not always a feeling…it’s an action. If you can’t feel your way into an action, then act your way into a feeling.

 5) When you make a mistake, always take the higher road and humble yourself.

 6) One surprise gesture is better than ten planned ones.

 7) When you hurt your spouse, you are actually hurting yourself.

 8) Those who pray together, stay together.

 9) Never let the sun go down on your anger.

 10) If things are going from bad to worse, you are not alone – seek counsel from wise friends that are ahead of you.

 11) The rut you’re in right now is not much different than the grave (apart from the depth) – get out of it before it swallows you up with boredom – give yourself permission to enjoy your life together.

 12) Put God first in everything and everything else will fall into place.

 

Ephesians 5:22-33 MSG

‘Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.                                                 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.                          No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.’

 Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th April 2018

I’m not the greatest example of a person that likes a good wardrobe clear out, but neither am I a hoarder – somewhere in between.

I have to admit that there is something really freeing when letting things go out of your life. At the same time, I can’t help but feel that I should at least hold onto that item for just one last season, to see if I will wear it again. Truth is…”just let it go now Mark!”

I try to place my under-used ‘good stuff’ in the right hands, hoping to be a blessing to a struggling person that may not be in a position right now to get a new jacket, top or shirt.

There’s hardly a time that I’ve done this, that I privately get the recipient of their new stuff walking up to me and I’m left thinking ‘how come that never looked so good on me?’

Our youngest son is the king of clear-out. He no sooner has a new tee shirt, than he then donates his slightly used one to someone else. He probably rotates all his clothes on a monthly basis and his wardrobe is a sight to behold. Everything in its rightful place, with no room for stuff that he’s moved on from – that has long since gone to a new home.

Clothing is like the gifts that we may possess and use for a time. We can be highly gifted and used in a certain area, but then we start feeling tired and frustrated and wonder why. Could it be that God wants you to reflect in that moment on what you have been doing for the last few years, which in turn leads us to look at being used in other areas with greater effectiveness?

If you’ve ‘worn’ the gift that you’ve had for a few years and you’ve started to grow out of it, isn’t it time to find the right fit of person to pass it on to, in order that you can be fulfilled again in another area?

Just like a person being complimented on wearing that gorgeous jacket that you passed on to them, so it is with your life and the gifts entrusted to you for a time. Don’t be afraid to pass them on and see someone else take them to a whole new level with a greater passion. At the right time it will suit them more than it’s suiting you right now.

While I’m holding onto stuff that no longer is my fit, I’m actually stopping someone else being blessed too.

Take stock of your life today.

Pass on the things that you no longer are usefully using anymore and let others flourish in them.

Make room for that new set of clothes that God is waiting for you to try on.

Wear the bigger jacket today.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 MSG
‘God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits.

All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful: wise counsel, clear understanding simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts proclamation, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues. All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th April 2018

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 – 24th April 2018

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act” (Psalm 37:7)

 The reason why most people never hear God speak is that they never slow down enough to let God talk to them. Hurry is the death of prayer! You’ve got to slow down. You’ve got to be quiet. And you’ve got to wait expectantly.

The best way to do this is if you get up earlier, so you’re not rushed and you’re able to spend some time and start your day with God.

 If I told you that tomorrow at 4 a.m. the queen of England wanted to meet with you privately, you probably wouldn’t even go to bed tonight. You’d take a bath — you’d probably take two baths! You’d go and have your hair cut, find a beauty salon, get a new suit or outfit, and get spiffed up. You’d be at the meeting 30 minutes early.

 Guess what? The Creator of the universe wants to meet with you tomorrow morning!

 You don’t even have to get dressed up. You can be in your PJs. You don’t even have to leave your home. But you do have to plan an appointment. That means you have to stop doing something so you can start doing what God wants. You’ve got to decide what’s more important to you: another 30 minutes of entertainment or time with God every morning.

 Your day is filled with lots of important responsibilities, commitments, and activities. But time with God is the most vital appointment that can appear on your calendar tomorrow!

Rick Warren

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd April 2018

How often do we pray about something that is worrying us and declare that we have handed it over to God then hours later find ourselves laying awake at night, worrying about that same thing? Giving things to the Lord is not easy, in all honesty, sometimes we may feel like God is so distant, and it just seems to make more sense to handle things ourselves.

We often experience unnecessary anxiety and burdens that we were never meant to carry when we bring something to God through prayer, but we ultimately end up ‘taking it back’. We pick up our worries, fears, and even our past mistakes and we hold on to them so tightly with a firm grip – all the while knowing we should give them to God. Sometimes He even has to pry them from our hands and we begrudgingly give them to Him but not totally. God wants us to totally place all our cares and worries into His hands. He wants us to release them to Him trusting that he will handle them with care and work them out for good for each one of us in His perfect time.

When we give over something to God, it feels wonderful because we are essentially giving the burden, worries, and cares of that thing over to Him. We are doing what Philippians 4:6 instructs us to do which is to, “Not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” And when we do this, (present our requests to Him), we feel an overwhelming peace, knowing that it is in His hands.

If you have prayed about something and you find yourself worrying about that thing again, stop right then and say to yourself say, ‘No, I refuse to worry about this thing anymore, because God is taking care of it!’ You may need to do this a number of times until you are completely free of worry and He promises that if we do this, that His peace that surpasses all understanding will flood our mind as we put our trust in Him! (Philippians 4:7).

Swap your worries for His peace today.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st April 2018

We’ve all heard the following …
“I want to make a difference.”
“ I want to be a history maker.”
“I want to be successful.”

The great news is this: we can be.
For all of us, we cannot exactly see the future. God tells us that His word is a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119) and not a floodlight.
Which means, that very often (most often) we can only see the next step – that is how God designed it.
We may not be able to predict and see the future, but we can create it.

When you are fruitful, you will become productive.
When you are productive, you will become successful.
When you are successful, you can make a significant difference.
The question is then, how do I become fruitful?

By being faithful.

In Matthew chapter 25, a manager gives out talents to each of his employees (sums of money). One put it to work and doubled it, the other added to it and one buried it (because he was scared of losing it). The Master was very pleased with the faithful one, not so with the unproductive servant.

Whatever God has given you today, whether financially, your gifts, your words, your time, your talents…be faithful with them.
Use them wisely. When you do you will become fruitful and productive and successful and significant.

In Matthew chapter 21, we read about a fig tree that didn’t bear fruit. Jesus cursed the fig tree and it died!

Reading these two chapters from the Bible, reminds me that God wants me to be faithful with what I am supposed to be doing and with what I have.

Do you want to make a difference and be a history maker?
You can be. Just start by being faithful with the small that you have and just watch God bless it and multiply it.

Final thought. We are not meant to just be faithful; we are meant to be faithful AND fruitful. Ask the fig tree.
It had been faithfully there, for probably many years, but it wasn’t doing what it was meant to do. Produce figs.

SATURDAY CHALLENGE – ARE YOU?

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th April 2018

Words have power. They can hurt and they can bless. But scripture tells us that the power of words reaches much further than the impact they make on our emotions. Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Our words have supernatural power, power that changes circumstances and situations.

The tongue is only a small part of the body yet it is so powerful. It has the ability to create as well as destroy. It is important for us as children of God to avoid statements and confessions of fear and defeat. Even when things look hopeless, we must speak in faith knowing that God is able to fulfill His promise for us.

When we speak positively, it doesn’t mean that all is well. It doesn’t mean that everything is moving smoothly. What it does mean is that we believe God will definitely see us through. We are simply declaring our faith in God’s ability to work in all situations to eventually bring us good.

Psalms 19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Be a person whose mouth is full of life. Continue to change your circumstances by filling your heart with the Word of God. Confess the truths from scriptures so that the words that come out of your mouth are life-changing words. Let your words be God’s Word!

Today, make your mouth “a fountain of life” (Proverbs 10:11). Speak positive words into your own life. Speak positively into someone else’s life, encourage more than you critique. Seek opportunities to speak kind, tender hearted words (Ephesians 4:32). Say something affectionate to a loved one at an unexpected time. Seek to only speak words that are “good for building up,” that “give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th April 2018

God doesn’t bring about bad circumstances in our life, but He certainly can use them to test us. When God tests us, He isn’t critiquing us, waiting for us to fail if we don’t perform. He rather wants to show us what we are really made of. He wants to expose us to ourselves and show us what is really going on inside.

When the pressures and challenges of life weigh down on us, does a trust in God and a strength of character surface? Or does a flurry of worry, stress, spiraling emotions, grumbling, unforgiveness, and disillusionment manifest? Often we don’t know what is inside of us, until a life challenge forces it out of us. A glass of juice is not enjoyed, until the fruit has been crushed and the goodness inside forced out. When food is put in a pressure cooker, the best flavours come out. Tough times force us to face the reality of who we really are. Our faith is only as strong as our ability to walk through a trial and still trust God.

As any good teacher knows, testing is a healthy part of growth. It shows us what we really know, and how to improve, and learn for next time.

The Israelites left Egypt and had to travel to the Promised Land. It was normally an 11-day journey, but it took the Israelites 40 years (Numbers 13)! Why did it take them so long to do such a short journey? They wanted to turn back to Egypt and return to slavery numerous times. They did not trust God. When circumstances tested their faith, they failed. They literally went around and around the mountain, complaining, grumbling, reliving the past and therefore failed the same tests over and over and over.

When we pass a test, we can then graduate to bigger and better things, stronger and more equipped than before. When we fail to rely on God, we will have to repeat the journey again until we learn. The tests of life continue, our response is the same, and so is the outcome. There may be reoccurring problems in your life. The same thing that is constantly challenging you. You, metaphorically speaking, are going around and around the same mountain! Yes many of life’s mountains are totally out of our control, but how we navigate our way over them is well within our control. Maybe God is waiting for you to tackle the steeps and slops in a new way, with a greater trust and reliance on Him. Don’t go around and around the same problems in your life in the same pattern. You’ll waste years doing that, and get nowhere. As you are tested, ask God what He is teaching you, grow, trust God, and move up the mountain with Him.

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold.” (1 Peter 1:7a NLT)

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th April 2018

I love the honesty of the Psalms – the raw emotion and vulnerability of the authors. The complaints, the sorrow, the praise, the gratitude, the laments, the joy – all rolled into a beautiful collection of poetry. The Psalms accurately depicts the same emotional and spiritual highs and lows we ourselves experience in our own lives today. The underlying theme of the Psalms is simple – worship. Those who wrote the Psalms had hearts devoted to God. Despite trial and tribulation, their common response was always praise.

The Psalms is proof that the Christian life is far from a bubble – ignoring real life problems, and sticking our heads in the sand. The Psalms prove that the Christian life is actually about fully acknowledging our broken hearts, disappointments, and fears, but not camping there. We acknowledge and then praise. We recognise and CHOOSE to worship.

In Psalm 42 as the author diagnoses himself with a downcast soul, he immediately knows his remedy is praise and worship to God. ‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my saviour, and my God’ (Psalm 42:5).

Have you ever forced yourself to go on a run? At first, it isn’t what you feel like doing, just something you know you should do. Around half way you start feeling good. As you get further and further into the run, you feel more and more motivated. The endorphins kick in and you see your progress and feel empowered to finish what you started. I don’t think anyone finishes exercise and says, ‘I wish I didn’t do that’. You start out feeling flat, and finish feeling on top of the world, grateful that you pushed past your initial lack of motivation. Praise through trials works in a similar way. You sometimes just do it, because you know God is always worthy and it is good for you. As you get into it, you start to feel things lift and your perspective change. You become empowered through the praise. You never finish worship regretting that you started it. Do this over and over and you will find that worship and praise, like a good exercise regime, becomes an automatic lifestyle and response, unshaken by situation and circumstance.

How easy it is to rejoice, praise and thank God when all our ducks are in a row and our dreams are fulfilled, but where is our mouth positioned in times of trouble? It seems hope, healing, and the breaking of oppression comes through the power of our praise and worship.

Psalm 71:14, ‘But I will keep hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th April 2018

Too many times we let the fear of the unknown hold us back. When you are in God’s will there is going to be a ‘not knowing’ factor. You’re not going to know all the details about how it’s going to work out, you just have to be bold enough to step into the unknown.

There was a young Jewish girl in the Bible named Esther. She was an orphan, didn’t come from an influential family and was living in a foreign country. But God raised her up to become the Queen and was living in the palace. At the same time, there was a powerful official that ordered all Jewish people to be killed.

Esther knew that she had to do something about it. She also knew in those days that if you just went in to speak with the king you too could be killed. After careful thought, she just knew that she should go in and address the dreadful situation and see if she could make a difference and get the plan reversed. Her uncle was named Mordecai and he also encouraged her that maybe she was in her royal position for ‘such a time as this’.

This was her chance to make a mark. It was now or never, so she rose up and said ‘if i perish, I perish’. She stepped up and not only did God give her favour with the King, she saved her people and became one of the heroes of faith.

Like Esther, we all will get moments where we feel scared to step out, but we must never shrink back. Don’t let fear talk you out of it. There are people’s lives at stake.

You too were born for such a time as this.
Be bold, be courageous and step into the unknown and God will give you favour and a new level of influence.

Joshua 1:9 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 – 16th April 2018

There’s a story in the Bible referred to as ‘the feeding of the 5000.’

The story begins with us being informed that due to the disciples’ busy schedule, they haven’t yet had chance to eat. As the day rolls on, the hungry disciples identify that the large crowd ought to be sent home, as they have a long trip ahead of them and will need to get some food on the way.

Jesus responds to their suggestion by telling them to give the crowds something to eat.
Knowing that they’re hungry, knowing that they themselves haven’t had a meal, Jesus asks His disciples to first take care of the hunger of others.

This right here gives us an accurate picture of who Jesus is and how He operates.
Out of their lack, He wanted His disciples to be somebody else’s supply…

Are you feeling discouraged today? Jesus says to you, ‘go and encourage somebody else’.
Are you in need of a financial breakthrough? Jesus says to you, ‘I want you to give more away’.

It’s quite possible that in the very area you think you need to be a receiver, God wants you to be a supplier.

The story concludes with more than 5000 people being fed that day. But what happened to the disciples, you may ask?

At the end of the day, they collected 12 basketfuls of bread and fish… one for each of them.

One of God’s many principles is that when you take care of the needs of others, God will never fail to take care of you.

In the area of your lack, God wants to show Himself to be your supplier. In the area of your need, God wants to show Himself to be your abundance.

Make a decision today to be consumed with feeding others, and know this: when you do so, God is always faithful to feed you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 14th April 2018

I’m not a gardener and I don’t pretend to be… however, I do have a basic knowledge about some of the things in our garden.

There’s the HOSTA – it disappears every winter and leaves a huge space in the garden, and I think to myself “has it gone?” “Where did it go?” “has it died?”
It was beautiful one minute and living full, then it disappeared.

Is that like you? Beautiful one minute, flourishing and splendid and then suddenly disappear? Hiding away? Leaving people to question?

There’s the CLEMATIS – beautiful and pretty and a great climber, covers over a multitude of broken fence… yet it poisons and kills my honeysuckle. The two don’t mix. So I have to be careful where I put it.

Is that like you? Pretty on the exterior, but can still be destructive at times?

There’s the HYDRANGEA – I love these, so pretty and colourful. You can buy one as pink, plant it in your garden and it changes to blue. You see, it all depends on the soil that it’s planted in. You would think it’s a completely different plant.

Is that like you? Depending on where you are planted and who you are with, you can be one person one day and a different one the next?

Then there’s the CONIFER (the evergreen) – not particularly beautiful, yet it’s always the same. Come hail, snow, wind and rain. The good old conifer just grows taller and taller, the birds nest in it and it stays put.

Is that like you and me? I hope so.

The Bible says in Psalm 1 that when we walk in God’s ways and keep the right company…when we delight in His word and mediate on it… (vs 3) “That person is like a tree, planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither and whatever they do prosper.”

That’s the tree I want to be like. What about you?

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th April 2018

Recently someone close to me experienced some terribly unfair circumstances. As I watched the events play out, I was both frustrated and heart-sore for this person – it was so unfair, unjust, and frankly impossible to understand why God would allow something like this to happen when it just wasn’t right!

From a young age we learn that it is not fair to steal, to cheat, or mistreat any one, so our world can be torn in two when someone or circumstance robs from us, that which is rightfully ours – it may be someone taking our money, being robbed of our health, circumstances sabotaging our plans and devastating our dreams, a person stealing an opportunity, or undermining our hard work and reputation. So where is God when life seems unfair? How do we navigate our emotions through the depths of disappointment?

Reality is that God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28). If things aren’t good yet, God hasn’t finished working. Nothing is too far out of His ability to re-orchestrate. Nothing is too messy for him to involve himself with. Nothing is too broken for Him to make beautiful.

And nothing slips past Him. That thing that slipped through your fingers has been caught by His! Realise and remember that God sees it all! 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, ‘For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him’.

When you feel like God hasn’t protected you or come through for you, you can feel like you want to shut the door on Him, but have a heart that is instead totally surrendered. Exodus 14:14 says, ‘The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still’. Stillness implies surrender. When you have surrended to the nature of God, and finally trust that he will fight on your behalf, your soul is still and at peace. Let God fight on your behalf for justice. He may not be working according to your expectation and timing, but He is definitely working!

Philippians 1:6 ‘…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th April 2018

In Luke 2:52, we see it mentioned that ‘Jesus GREW in wisdom and FAVOUR with God and man’. This means that favour is something you can grow in. Jesus was perfect, and he still had to grow in favour.

While the love of God is unconditional and limitless towards you as a person, favour in what you have must be stewarded well for you to receive more. While God loves everyone the same, scripture shows that there are different measures of favour on people. The degree of favour on our life, is directly linked to our ability to steward the favour already given to us. This may sound offensive to some, but let it instead challenge you to get better at managing what you already have been given.

So like Jesus, Samuel (1 Samuel 2:26), and Joseph (Genesis 39:4), how do we grow in favour with both God and people? The answer – everything you have in your hands right now, manage it well and watch it grow in the spiritual and the natural! Many people are frustrated that they have unfulfilled dreams and desires, but the question is, ‘what have you done with the favour God has already given you?’.

Do you want increased favour in your friendships? Then steward the ones you have now well (practically speaking, stewarding your relationships well may mean serving whoever is in front of you, cutting out gossip, proving yourself trustworthy, and being an encourager).

Want increased favour in your job? Then steward the job you have now well (this may mean being punctual, working hard, having integrity in the workplace).

Want to have more favour in your gifts and talents? Then steward whatever skill you have now (this may mean taking time to fan into flame your current abilities, humbling yourself, seeking ways to improve, eagerly serving others).

Want to grow in favour in your money? Then steward whatever is in your bank account now (this may mean committing to budgeting, being generous, surrendering your money to God).

Stop wanting the bigger and better and use what is in your hands now. If you are stuck in the same place you were a year ago, with no fruit, and ease, perhaps it is time to reconsider how you are stewarding the favour already given to you, before you can grow in more.

God’s love towards us is not determined by our works, but like any good parent who gives gifts, it is as He sees us using what we have been given well, that we then increase in favour and prove ourselves ready for the responsibility that more favour requires.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th April 2018

One of the most fascinating phrases in the Bible, used more than 80 times, is the phrase ‘and it came to pass.’

I love this phrase. It has become one of my best friends. When going through times of trouble, I’ve always tried to keep it in mind ‘it will come to pass.’

Every day, things are either entering our lives or leaving our lives. One slight problem is that we often think things are here to stay, and so we get attached to them, even when we hate them. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but few things in life are here to stay.

How many things in your life right now have you re-written the Bible over with the words… ‘now it came to stay?’

We have decided that even things that were said over our lives years ago are here to stay, not to mention toxic friendships and even tacky ornaments – all are here to stay.

Start to declare over everything that has made its way into your life and is wanting to take up space…you have come to pass!

Stop accepting everything that comes to you as the will of God and realise that the very enemy of your soul is wanting to take you down by keeping you focused on stuff that you’ve allowed to take up residency in your life.

Recently, on the day before my son’s wedding, I was taken out by a virus that came my way. I could have let it ruin everything and render me in bed, but I decided to tell that virus that it was only here in order to ‘come to pass’. The very next morning, through a series of miracles, I was out of bed and standing in front of all the guests marrying my son and his new bride.

Declare today that everything you need to make your life richer, fuller and deeper is on its way to you, and anything that’s not will pass on through!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th April 2018

Just before Jesus went to be crucified, He met with His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane. That garden was, and still is today, an olive grove.

Interestingly, the name Gethsemane means ‘the place of pressing’. The only way to get the valuable oil out of the olives is to put them under immense pressure.

Our lives are much the same; in order to bring out the best in us, God sometimes allows, and even puts us through situations that bring us under pressure.

Think of a garden hose that may not reach the plants furthest away in your garden. The pressure may not be great enough to project the water flow much further than a few feet, so what do we do? We place our thumb slightly over the end of the hose in order to increase the pressure. That way we get to extend the reach of the water. Without that added pressure, some of our plants would be left to die.

If you’re never put under pressure, you’ll never tap into the resources that God put on the inside of you in order to reach out to others.

Maybe today you feel as though you’re being squeezed to death. But just like Jesus, who was literally brought to death under immense pressure on Good Friday, understood that Sunday was coming, where He would shoot out of that grave in victory.

Right now you probably feel that you’d do anything to escape the pressure you’re under, but hold on…Sunday is coming.

Don’t get discouraged, the more opposition you face, the more you’re going to be propelled into your destiny.

Pleasant…NO. Necessary…YES.

The next time you use olive oil in your kitchen, remember, this only arrived because of the pressure it endured.

Stay in faith, God has got your back.

Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th April 2018

John 8:36 – So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

The one ‘set free’ must act in that freedom in order to benefit from freedom’s full power.

We have just celebrated one of, if not the most significant events in the Christian life, Easter, where Christ died for us so we can have a new and eternal life; where all are sins and iniquities are forgiven and completely wiped off our records and where we walk in freedom not in bondage.

Freedom cuts off the chains of bondage and literally shouts, “Break loose, child of God, you are washed and given a new lease!” To be granted freedom is to be given a new life, one that has been voided of the necessity of carrying one’s own sin and shame any longer. This is the Father’s everlasting gift to us all, once we accept our beautiful adoption into the family of God and walk inside of the privilege that entails.

In order to enjoy and live in complete freedom, we must understand what it truly means to be free. Imagine being trapped in a lift for hours, and then someone gets the doors open for you but you stay in the lift as if you are still trapped. That’s how we sometimes live, set free but still carrying the beliefs and acting as one who is not. Many of us have grown up with beliefs such as ‘I have to be a good and perfect Christian to get to heaven.’ This obviously is an impossible goal to reach, so instead we end up living trying to be perfect, fail at it and turn back to sin and this becomes an exhausting cycle of living in bondage and trying to earn salvation

True freedom is not based on rules, but on a relationship – a loving personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Freedom is not a onetime decision, but a decision we must consciously make every single day to accept what Christ did for us and live in His complete Grace. As Christians, we are now free from the law, but just because we are free, this doesn’t give us license to sin. In fact, if we sin we lose our freedom and become slaves to satan and submit to a yoke of slavery, a form of bondage. On the cross, Christ granted us freedom from sin in the most groundbreaking way.

Whatever you find yourself struggling with, if it’s addiction, perfectionism, anxiety, stress – know that you are NOT the one who provides freedom. Colossians 2:6 says ‘As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots of your being firmly and deeply planted in Him, being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving’.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th April 2018

Isaiah 55 vs 8&9 tells me that God’s ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts.
What does that mean? That there obviously has to be a higher way of thinking than mine!

A person can determine their own thoughts, their own actions and their own attitudes. We may not be able to control what happens to us, but we can control how we think and how we act and what our attitude is like.

If we don’t change our thinking and reach for higher things (that God intends for us) then we will never be any different to anyone else.

We can change our lives, by changing our thinking.

For instance, if I have an enormous bill that needs paying and I can’t pay it, my way of thinking will say “I’m sunk”.
Remember, God’s ways are higher than mine.. so instead, I think like this
“My God will supply all my needs.” (Philippians 4 vs 19).

If I have a child that is sick and I’m concerned about it, I may start to worry and fear the worst.
Remember, God’s ways are higher than mine.. so instead… I think like this:
“Forget not all His benefits, He forgives my sin and heals my diseases.” (Psalm 103 vs 2&3).

What if there is someone or a situation that is against me and I start to feel defeated by it and feel myself being taken down?
Remember, God’s ways are higher than mine…so instead, I think like this
“If God is for me, who can be against me?” (Romans 8 vs 31)

I challenge you today; start thinking higher thoughts, start thinking GOD thoughts.
It will really change your life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th April 2018

Today I noticed a man wearing a t-shirt declaring the words, “NO SACRIFICE, NO REWARD” across the back. I assumed this was in reference to his weight-lifting-focused lifestyle as he was strutting around with about 2% of body fat, rippling muscles, and a chest and neck resembling something like that of Goliath! He had a protein shake in one veiny hand and sweaty towel in the other. My guess is that ‘sacrifice’ to this person is giving up many hours a week to pursue his body conditioning goals. He would no doubt have to give up eating whatever he felt like, in order to follow a strict diet. He would sacrifice time with friends, for time at the gym – all for what he deems a worthy reward.

There is something powerful about sacrifice. Denying self and immediate gratification in the pursuit of a vision that will reap a greater reward. Although we live in an “instant gratification, me-centric” culture, it seems that true satisfaction and fulfillment comes at the end of a road of sacrifice.

Jesus himself ‘for the joy set before him, endured the cross’ (Hebrews 12:2). He had a vision, which made the present pain and sacrifice worth the awaiting reward. Jesus went to the cross, and paid the ultimate price so we could live in the reward of it today. We are the joy that was set before Him. We are the reward He saw at the cross.

Our ability to sacrifice is directly linked to our ability to have vision for our lives. We can sacrifice the immediate gratification of fast food for the vision of a long life and good health. We can sacrifice the immediate gratification of new clothes, for the vision of being debt free and buying a home one day. You sacrifice your selfish desires to the benefit of your spouse, for the reward of an enduring marriage. You sacrifice the short-term gratification of pursuing meaningless relationships, for the reward of a meaningful one in the future. We sacrifice time in our busy day for God, and in reward gain greater intimacy with Him.

This is why Jesus said, ‘Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it’ (Luke 17:33). There is no doubt that sacrifice is a major theme of the gospel. In trying to take and keep all you can for yourself, you will only lose out. To gain something long term, you must give up something and make a sacrifice in the immediate.

What in your life can you lose today, in order to preserve it for tomorrow? Do something that your future self will thank you for. Pay the uncomfortable, maybe even painful, price today, to reap the promised reward tomorrow.

Galatians 6:7-9 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th April 2018

I love anything royal. My fascination with royalty started when I was 14 years old watching the royal wedding of Mary Donaldson, a real estate agent from Australia, to Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark. Fredrick had met Mary in a restaurant in Sydney when he was out in Australia for the 2000 Sydney Olympic games. Mary’s life was changed forever. She became a crowned princess, moved to Denmark, and learnt the language and culture. My love for all things royal continues with the British Royal Family – I read books about them, watch documentaries on them, retain all sorts of random facts about them, and genuinely find the history and customs of the monarchy fascinating!

If you are a member of the Royal Family, your entire life is destined to represent the reigning king or queen to whom you are related. Obviously the current Queen of England cannot be present for all 2,000 engagements that are carried out each year by the Royal Family, so she sends her family members on her behalf as her representatives. The role of a royal isn’t actually to sit on a shiny throne being waited on. Their job is in fact to SERVE the nation and beyond. They support and encourage the public in charity and meet with a wide range of the public to understand their interests and concerns. The Queen is also the over-arching AUTHORITY of many prime-ministers and leaders of many nations.

All through scripture God uses royal language in reference to our position in Christ. We have been adopted into a royal family ourselves. Only our father is crowned the ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ (1 Timothy 6:15). This means that we are as royal as they come! We have been given a royal mandate. 1 Peter 2:9 says, ‘you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light’. Being part of the royal family, means we not only have access to all the resources of God, and the inheritance of Jesus, but we also have a God ordained authority. But this authority isn’t at all for selfish gain. We are a chosen people to represent the king and His kingdom. We are called to operate in authority, but with a servant heart.

Scripture says we are seated ‘on the throne, at the right hand of the father’ (Ephesians 1:19-21). The right side of the throne represents a special place of honour. It is a place of both intimacy and authority – and this is our position as part of God’s royal people!

No matter where you are from and who you are, you have been called to rule and reign in life! You have been given both authority, AND the identity to serve others in such a way that represents the King of kings! Get rid of your pauper thinking and realise who you represent.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th April 2018

In the court of law, a testimony is a written or spoken statement providing evidence of something. In the kingdom of God, a testimony is a statement providing evidence to the work and nature of God. It is when you declare how God healed, gave hope, provided finances, made a way, broke down barriers, imparted wisdom, and restored!

When we hear someone testify of the goodness of God in their life it creates an awareness and expectation in our own hearts for God to work in the same way in our circumstance.
Unlike a legal testimony in a courtroom, a testimony in the kingdom of God has prophetic POWER. That means it has the power to create or repeat that which is being spoken! The Hebrew root word for “testimony” means, “to do again”. That means that when we hear what God has done in someone else’s life, we are hearing what He can do again, in OUR life!

Testimonies also connect generations. In many cultures it is through the telling of stories that identity and history is passed on to the next generation. Likewise, as our children hear of the goodness of God in our lives, and read of the goodness of God in the generations before them, they then understand and experience God for themselves and pass that message onto those after them!

Testimonies are tools for us. As we hear of how God has come through for someone else, we can take hold of that testimony for ourselves and allow it to bring us hope.

Keep on speaking about what God is doing in your life! Listen to and celebrate the stories of God in other people’s lives for they are yours also! When we hear a testimony spoken by those around us, or read it in the word of God – don’t ask ‘why them and not me? Or, ‘that’s for them and not me’. God will repeat the story in you. Why? Because His good nature is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Psalm 78: 5-7 “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd April 2018

To me life is simple…it’s about God and it’s about people.

Jesus himself said these words in Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength …..and Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

For more than 30 years now I’ve devoted my life to serving others, so that they too could have a meaningful life that carries at its very centre, the importance of loving God and people.

Often, people find it hard to love others simply because they find it hard to love themselves.

Loving yourself comes from knowing that you are loved.

I’ve listed below some of the things that I’ve held in my heart when trying to encourage people to see their true worth. I hope they help you to help others today too.

5 minutes of proactive care is worth 5 hours of reactive care.

One surprise gesture is worth 10 planned ones.

Telling someone that you appreciate them takes really no effort at all.

Time spent encouraging people is never time lost, but ground gained.

A shoulder to cry on is far more absorbent than the words ‘you’ll get over it’.

I, me, and mine are 3 words that may make you feel important, but there are only 3 letters that make everyone feel important…OUR.
‘Let’s get together sometime’ are just empty words that never happen. ‘Let’s make a date now’ is what relationships are made of.

A full vase means more than empty words.

Better is open rebuke than hidden love (Proverbs 27 v 5-6).

A timely 5 minute phone call is far better than 5 hours of counselling when it’s too late.

A cup of coffee with a troubled person is worth to them than its weight in gold.

Today, instead of just thinking about what more you can get out of life, start to lift others that have no life at all.

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd April 2018

Take a Bank holiday helicopter ride today!

A ride that will give you an aerial view of your life.

A ride to help you see from above how your worries and cares are weighing you down.

You can get so close to your worries that you can no longer see the effect that they are having on you.

How many of us today are being pulled down and pulled back without even knowing it?

Not all worries are the same…there are different types.

Here are a few…

Floating worry – It just drifts aimlessly through your mind. You know it’s there as it keeps popping up each day, but there’s no way of solving it as these types of worry don’t actually tell you what you are worried about. Floating worries are really automatic negative thoughts that want to use up valuable space in your mind. Just let them go. They don’t belong.

Fake worry – is really like the mouse and the elephant crossing a bridge. The mouse said to the elephant… “we sure did make that bridge shake.” Fake worry is the mouse behaving like it’s the elephant. It thinks it has the power to shake you. It doesn’t.

Guilt worry – Many people have high guilt proneness because of their past life. The mind continually replays the bad things of the past and as a result you continually keep talking yourself out of a forgiven life.

“…I feel bad about myself.

“…I feel I’m letting people down.”

“…I’m not good enough.”

Then we feel guilt for feeling guilty.

It’s a vicious circle.

Settle it once and for all: “I’m either forgiven or I’m not.”

Jesus either died for my sins or He didn’t.

He settled it 2000 years ago. You have to settle now.

Perfectionism worry – Anne Wilson Schaef said that perfectionism is ‘self abuse of the highest order’.

A perfectionist is never happy with results. They are never happy about where they are.

To them, non-perfectionism is mediocrity; yet you can do things with excellence without being a perfectionist.

Stop worrying that you haven’t got everything perfectly lined up, but at the same time don’t settle for second rate and second best.

Understand in an imperfect world that there will always be a problem to keep you just short of perfectionism.

Remember: when we do our best God will do the rest.

Take to heart today this great Bible verse…

Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The word ‘perfect’ means complete.

Be complete IN God.

Throw yourself into His arms and let him take your worries, cares and concerns. Feel His complete love 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 – 31st March 2018

Mark 1 vs 40-42
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Many of us get disappointed with God because we don’t get our prayers answered immediately.

We don’t always get what we want, when we want it, because that wouldn’t be right.

As a parent you know that to be true in your parenting.

You don’t allow your children everything they want all of the time and at the times they always want it. Because, as a parent you have more wisdom and you know what’s best. Even though at times, your children don’t understand!

How much more does God know what’s best for us and at what time we need the answer?

The verses we read at the start showed an immediate answer. “The leprosy immediately left him.”

Here was an urgent need and God answered at the perfect time.

You may not understand when the perfect time is, but God does.

So keep praying – yes.

But keep trusting.

God knows what He is doing, because He is God.

If you’re waiting, there’s a reason.

Thank Him in your waiting.

Thank Him that He knows what is best.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30 March 2018

It was 7:51am in the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, a violinist, dressed in torn jeans, tee shirt and baseball cap, performed six classical pieces.

Almost all of the listeners were on their way to work, passing through the Washington state train station.
Of the more than 1000 people who passed by, only seven actually stopped to listen, and about 20 gave him money, but continued to walk at their normal pace. He collected $25.

When he had finished playing, no one even noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, being secretly filmed as an experiment to see people’s reactions. He is one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a Stradivarius violin worth $2.2 m.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and earned $1000 a minute.

Out of the 1097 people that passed by, only one woman recognised him as the greatest violinist in the world.

As you wake to this GOOD FRIDAY, you too could be so close to God and not even recognize that He’s there.

The moral of that true story is this: just because you don’t recognize whose presence you are in, doesn’t mean that the person isn’t present.

In much the same way, on that first Good Friday, hundreds stood around Jesus, but only one soldier and a few of his guards said ‘surely this must be the son of God’.

Matthew 27:54 ‘When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’

SOMETHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY HAPPENED THAT DAY LIKE NO OTHER.

Roman General Titus, records for us way back in history, that as many as 500 a day would be crucified even up to 70 years after Jesus.

So powerful was Jesus’ death, that unbelieving men that spent their days crucifying hundreds of men, bowed in this one man’s presence.

All it takes is for you to look again at the cross and see the real JESUS.

Now look also at the empty tomb and see the resurrected JESUS.

Why not say those words, just as countless millions have done throughout the centuries…’surely this was the son of God.’

His death and resurrection means that you can now know God in a personal way. He’s right there with you and is only a prayer away.

Humble yourself today and ask Him into you life.

Why not consider coming to one of our Easter services this weekend at Champions Church?

Sunday 9.30/11.30/5pm.

I look forward to seeing you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th March 2018

Just because you have all kinds of thoughts going through your head today, you don’t have to think them, and you certainly don’t have to believe them.

It’s completely possible that you went to bed last night and felt perfectly fine, and yet when you woke up it was a completely different story. Remember, just because you feel that it’s not going to be good day today…you don’t have to live by your feelings.

If you’ve already started the day wrong, that doesn’t mean to say that you have to punish yourself for the rest of the day. It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters.

Just because someone spoke something negative over your life yesterday, they don’t have the final say today.

Just because you woke up in a bad mood…remember that it’s only a mood….talk yourself out of it.

Got a difficult meeting today? 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’s just the same for you.

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.

Thirsty for real life today?

Defeated from within and without?

Ask Jesus to come into your life and quench your thirst right now.

He’s only a prayer away.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th March 2018

There will be times in your life when you feel like you’re buried; thoughts will tell you that you’ve seen your best days.

Come to think about it, a huge part of the Christian message is about burial. Jesus himself faced it and so will you.

Listen to what Jesus had to say about that dark place…

John 12:24 Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

If you were to ask the seed, I’m sure it would say, “I don’t want to go into the dirt. It’s dark, it’s lonely and it’s uncomfortable when people walk on top of me.”

The seed feels like it’s been buried for ever, but what that seed doesn’t realise is that it’s not buried, it’s planted. It has the very life of God on the inside, and that life is about to burst forth and multiply.

That dark place, even though it feels like the grave, is the most critical part of the process. Over a period of time, once it germinates and grows, instead of being just a single, unattractive little seed, it ends up being a beautiful flower that will probably end up as the centre focus on someone’s table.

That dark place was the necessary tomb to enable that lone seed to multiply and become a blessing.

Have a new perspective today. You’re not buried -you’re planted.

Your potential is about to be released. You’re not only going to come out of the darkness, you’re going to come out better, stronger and fully in blossom.

Dare to trust in Him the dark and you’ll find His greatness in the light.

Have a good attitude in this process and you’ll find it’s just a matter of time before you break out and blossom into who you were created to be.

John 11:25 Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th March 2018

A short cut is often the longest way between two points.

Exodus 13:17-18 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

The Bible says that God didn’t lead the Israelites on the easiest route towards the promised land, because they were not ready for war.

He had to toughen them up so that they would be prepared for what He had in store.

Don’t get discouraged by trouble and say, “God, why is this happening to me?” That trouble is not going to defeat you; it’s going to promote you. It’s not hindering you; it’s preparing you.

Many years ago when I was working as a chef, I was suffering from the flu, but was responsible for opening up the kitchen for all the staff one day. The weather was freezing and as I walked into the huge refrigerators later on my shift, I was feeling so low that I literally, there and then, cried out to God and asked Him what this part of my life was all about. I can still hear His voice ringing in my ears all these years later as He replied “it’s all good preparation”. I could do nothing more than get on with my job and believe that God had everything in hand.

At that time I was heading up a team of 20 staff and cooking 4000 meals a week. I couldn’t understand what meaning any of this had in the grand scheme of things, and yet God used that time in order to ‘toughen’ me up for all the leadership challenges that I would be facing later in my life as I led Champions Church.

Had I have taken a short cut, God knew that I would have failed miserably.

I challenge you today to not only trust God when the road is smooth and you can see exactly where you are going, but learn to trust Him in times of trouble when you have no idea where you are going, let alone what’s around the corner.

You may not understand your life right now, but know that He is still directing your steps. You don’t have to live feeling stressed out because you’ve had a bad break, or discouraged because of disappointment; that trouble means you are on your way to your destiny.

Don’t believe the lie that if only you could get a quick break everything would be ok…it won’t. The best way for both you and I is the long way round!

Yes it’s slow, but it’s also sure.

You are merely getting ready for battle, so stand in line with the rest of us and wait and see what God can do.

Always remember, God is NEVER in a rush. He would rather thoroughly prepare you through pain, rather than watch you be defeated at the first hurdle and never return to the race.

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 – 26th March 2018

Yesterday I parked my car in a multi-story car park in the centre of the city. As I wound my way up the levels looking for an empty space, I noticed a four-wheel drive Porsche parked, but with its boot wide open. I assumed someone must have been sitting in the driver’s seat since the boot was literally packed to the roof with stuff… I could see cool boxes, a skateboard, and all the belongings you could possibly need for a comfortable weekend away.

Continuing on I found my parking spot, and went on to run my errands. One hour later I came back to my car, and began my descent out the parking block, passing the Porsche again…but the boot was STILL open. It was obvious now that the owner of the car was nowhere in sight and clearly had no idea that half his possessions were fully exposed to the general public and ready for the taking.

I pulled my car over and explained to a puzzled onlooker that we should close the boot – so we did just that, and both went merely on our way.

Driving off I thought about how the owner would never know that their boot was ever open. They would never know that all their stuff could have been stolen. They would never know that we closed the boot for them and did them a massive favour. They would simply return to their car as they assumed they had left it. It got me thinking about how often God is working on our behalf and we don’t even know it. How many times has God intervened behind the scenes? How often are we praying for things that God is actually orchestrating unbeknownst to us?

In the natural, and on the surface it may not look like God is at work. We can see what is not happening for us, rather than what is. During the challenging times where we can feel like we have been forgotten by God, but remember that Proverbs says that ‘the Lord sees everything you do. Wherever you go, he is watching’. He never sleeps, and promises to watch over your life.
Even though reality may say that nothing is moving, and changing, the greater reality is that ‘God works all things for the good of those who love him’ (Romans 8:28), so if your circumstances aren’t good – then God is not finished yet!

Ask God to make you sensitive to His workings in everyday occurrences. Thank Him that He is working on your behalf even if you cannot see answers to some of your prayers yet.

Psalm 121:1-8

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th March 2018

Philippians 1 v 6 says “I can be confident of this, that He who began a good work in me, will carry it on unto completion”

Life can be frustrating at times. We wonder what God may be doing in our lives and situations.

However, if life was all easy and straightforward, we wouldn’t grow as much. We grow our best through resistance.

Therefore, we should all embrace where we are, for life is a journey. And as long as we are moving forward, we are moving forward!

The people who were in slavery in Egypt, took 40 years to get to the promised land…that was some journey…
It should have taken 11 days.
THEY DIDN’T REALISE THE PROBLEM WAS WITH THEM.
They moaned, groaned and rebelled. They got frustrated and eventually most of them never even got to where they should have got to.
They developed a ‘victim’ mentality.

Someone once said “if you don’t like what’s going on around you, deal with what’s going on inside of you.”

Take God’s promise today that ‘He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion.’ Don’t lose hope along the way, don’t get angry or bitter or lose your faith. Know that God is with you and He will work it out perfectly.

Keep going and you’ll keep growing.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd March 2018

Life is not about changing your circumstances…but it is
about changing YOU in your circumstances.

If life was about improving circumstances, Jesus could have seemingly done a lot more to improve what we go through everyday. He chooses not to, in favour of changing us in the process.

God doesn’t care so much about your circumstances, but He does deeply care about you!

The Bible from front to back is all about God looking for people to turn to him, despite the allurement or distraction of their circumstances!

The problem though is that it’s actually very difficult for life not to be about circumstances!
Your job,
Your marriage,
Your family,
Your health ,
Your holidays,
Your finance,
Your ministry,
Your relationships,
Your circumstances are in your face daily!

In the context of the universe, my hand is minuscule. Yet to me, when I hold it up to the night sky, it’s bigger than the stars!

How is that possible? Because I’m very close to my hand; In much the same way, we are very close to our circumstances.

Our circumstances are so close to home, they’re so personal, they can consume us! But…

2 Corinthians 4:17 | NIV
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

I want to encourage you today not to focus on what you don’t have and even what you do have in terms of the challenging things going on around you, but with gratitude and thankfulness give yourself to where you are, whether in the church, serving, the people you do life with, or in the work place. It’s vital for us to challenge the circumstance led culture we live in.

You may have experienced loss and hardship, take courage, when we look to JESUS we’ll never be disappointed!

Remember: circumstances are on the outside but JESUS is on the inside. Don’t ever live the other way round.

Romans 8:18 | NIV
‘I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…’

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd March 2018

Faith that is living and active, looks like something tangible. Faith without works is simply dead.

Let me be clear that works are not for salvation, but because of salvation! Because we have been saved, we get to do good! We don’t do good to get saved. In fact our good works in order to gain righteousness are like “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

This doesn’t mean we sit around being lazy though. As Christians we have been given the privilege to partner with God in doing good works for Him and with Him – what an honour this is when He is more than capable of doing it all Himself! We are in fact created to work! Ephesians 2:10 says, ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do GOOD WORKS, which God prepared in advance for us to do’.

Mature faith, means we put into practice what we believe, and don’t just consume. We live in a day where we have unlimited access to a feast of information and resources – powerful podcasts, brilliant books, engaging speakers and entertaining preachers, and even phone apps for when we are on the go. But of what use is it all, if we are not intentional about applying the revelation we gain from them to our life? We all know that anyone who simply consumes and consumes and consumes, will inevitably get fat. A healthy person has an active faith, outworking and exercising that which they consume.

James 1:22-24 says, ‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like’.

Practically speaking, do we spend time meditating on what we have learnt, or simply rush to the next thing? Do we seek out relationships that keep us accountable to the truths we know? Do we ask the Holy Spirit to activate what knowledge has been imparted through teachings? Do we make time to reflect? Do we seriously consider how we can practically apply the word of God to our life?

It can be easy to believe a message, but it requires work to actually apply it. It can be easy to feel like we are exercising our faith by listening and hearing, but don’t be deceived, it is the ACTION of our understandings that makes our faith come alive.

James 2 says, ‘My dear brothers and sisters, what good is it if someone claims to have faith but demonstrates no good works to prove it? How could this kind of faith save anyone?… faith that doesn’t involve action is phony… You can believe all you want that there is one true God, that’s wonderful! But even the demons know this and tremble with fear before him, yet they’re unchanged’.

Since I was one week old, my ears have heard the sounds of great teaching and preaching, but at the end of my life, I don’t want to be known for being well-read, having perfect meeting attendance, and even listening well. I want a life that demonstrates the ACTION of Jesus, and be known for having a faith that is living and active.

Take the time to consider how you can apply your next teaching to your life.

Matthew 7:24
““Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st March 2018

We’ve heard it said that in order to display the nature of God, we should make it our pursuit to do all things with excellence. It is important that we actually understand what excellence is, otherwise we fall into the trap of hustling for perfection. Perfectionism is the counterfeit of excellence. Aiming for perfection takes you only to exhaustion. Perfectionism constantly reminds you of where you are not measuring up, and where you are not doing enough. It sets impossible goals. Perfection is never satisfied. It is critical of other people. It values what you do, and what you have, rather than who you are. It is fueled by guilt and can never rest. Perfectionism is rooted in a religious spirit as you believe that in order to be accepted, you must be perfect.

Excellence however, is about GROWTH.
Excellence is ‘the state of excelling’. Scripture tells us to stop striving for perfection and rest in the only perfect one, Jesus (Matthew 11:28) and instead encourages growth in God – key words being IN GOD. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to ‘fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and PERFECTOR of our faith”. This is liberating news as this means that excellence is both progressive and limitless because it is rooted in the limitless nature of God.

Excellence is about having A PASSIONATE HEART
While perfection is about the outward appearance, excellence is about the heart. It is God motivating your heart and setting the standard, not others or even yourself telling you what to do.

Colossians 3:23 says, ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your HEART, as working for the Lord, not for human masters’.
While perfectionism is a product of not feeling good enough, excellence is an expression of your passion for God. It is impossible to be excellent at anything without passion. Try being excellent at your job without having the passion for it. Trying being an excellent spouse or parent without passion for your loved ones. Try serving God with excellence without a passionate heart for Him – you can’t. Excellence is a fruit of passion.

Excellence is EXTRAVAGANT.
A beautiful example of excellence birthed from passion is when Mary poured the perfume on Jesus’ feet in Matthew 26:8. To onlookers, excellence can seem wasteful and overly generous. When Mary poured the perfume that was worth a year’s wages onto Jesus’ feet the disciples said this act was too extravagant, and the perfume could have been sold and the money used more wisely. But Jesus instead commended Mary for her excellent act of worship. Likewise, King David was deemed excellent by God went he took off his kingly garments and danced wildly before God (2 Samuel 6:14-23). His wife despised him for it, and she bore no children, but David was fruitful in whatever he put his hands to.

Rather than striving for perfect, fix your eyes on Jesus and let him give you a heart for excellence instead.

Philippians 4:8, ‘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’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th March 2018

One of the things that stands out to me about the person of Jesus is that He was a person of innovation.

Someone once described innovation as this: seeing what everybody else sees and thinking what nobody else thought.

When Jesus looks at you & I, He doesn’t just see us for who we currently are, but He sees us for who we can become. He doesn’t just see us through the lens of our current state, but our future potential.

I wonder what would happen if you and I made an intentional decision to become innovative in our approach to life and people…

One thing my Dad often says is that unless you see it before you see it, you’ll never see it.

When others see a problem, begin to see an opportunity. When others see a person labelled with no hope, visualise someone with the possibility of a bright future.

What will set you a part in this life is your ability to think what nobody else thought despite looking at the same things as everybody else.

In your home, in your business, while you’re hanging out with friends, ask God to give you vision to see people and situations not merely for what they are, but for what they could become.

And as you begin to see things that are not, as if they were, you’ll be amazed as you watch God unfold that which you never thought possible in and around your life.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th March 2018

I came across this very captivating statement: “If your thoughts and the words you spoke appeared on your skin, would you still be beautiful?”

I remembered growing up in Zimbabwe and we had some fruit trees in the back garden which grew beautifully because of the tropical climate. My favourite fruit was the ‘guava’ which mainly grows in tropical or subtropical environments. The fruit is green or yellow on the outside and has a sweet succulent red core. One thing about the guava fruit is it is prone to worms inside its core – so one can look juicy and tasty on the outside but once opened reveals the core which is riddled by rot from the worms. I thought of this as something we ought not to be as Christians, good on the outside yet the heart is contaminated.

The heart is what you are, in the secrecy of your thoughts and feelings, where nobody knows but God. What you are at the invisible root matters as much to God as what you are on the outside. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).

So the heart is utterly crucial to Jesus. Sometimes we feel that we can get away with having bad, harmful negative thoughts or words because no one can see it, but from the heart are all the issues of life. Physically, we understand that a diseased heart may result in severe physical health issues. So, too, a spiritually diseased heart can cause spiritual problems.
It is clear from the Scriptures that God searches our hearts in order to determine the intents and purposes behind our thoughts and actions.

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart; I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings”.

Proverbs 17:3 “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart”.

In all our actions God looks closely at our intentions. For example we might draw in our pockets and give an offering but deep inside or afterwards we grumble at this action, He clearly instructs that the heart must be cheerful as we give. So what we feel and think in the deep, private recesses of our lives is what he cares about most. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

One of the most difficult steps for us to take in our lives is to admit our hearts are not always right in God’s sight. At times we refuse to acknowledge when we do wrong and the sins that lurk in our hearts—“the sin which so easily ensnares us.” (Hebrews 12:1).

We might ask, ‘So what steps should we take to make sure our hearts are spiritually healthy? David clearly told us that we need an attitude of repentance.

David was aware of how absolutely vital the thoughts and intents of his heart were to God. He had grievously sinned against God by committing adultery with Bathsheba. He changed his thoughts and took action in order to renew his relationship with God. God wanted him to have “truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6). David requested for God to: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

We do ourselves a great disservice by hiding our sins or allowing our egos to convince us that our hearts are clean and pure. David rejoiced when he had declared his sins before God: (Psalm 32:3, 5). When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long… I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden…and You forgave the iniquity of my sin”. So David received forgiveness from God and we know that God guarantees us forgiveness and it comes with freedom and liberty.

The joy of his life returned to him after he had acknowledged his sins and he wrote in Psalms 32 vs 11: “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th March 2018

In John chapter 4 in the Bible, we read about a woman who had been married to five different husbands and was now on her 6th relationship.
…Then she meets Jesus.

There are many people in our world who have no hope, you may be one of them.
You may feel that the situation you are in is hopeless.
You may have tried many different relationships to give you the hope that you need.
You may have walked many different paths to seek that hope.
So often, we look in the wrong places for that hope.

Jesus came to this woman whilst she was in a ‘hopeless’ situation and He gave her the hope that she so needed.

It doesn’t really matter what your situation is like today – there is always hope, because there is always Jesus.

Jeremiah 29 v 11 says this “for I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
When that word was spoken, the people were in slavery and in exile.
They were in a ‘hopeless’ situation, yet God brought to them a strong encouragement that gave them incredible hope.

Today, hope is not just there for those who already feel ‘hopeful’ (full of hope) , but for those who today feel ‘hopeless’ (empty of hope).

Let the God of all hope, Jesus himself, fill you with that very hope today.

Hope for your relationships, hope for your family, your finances, your business, your health, your seemingly impossible situation and hope for your future.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th March 2018

Jesus couldn’t tell the disciples everything that was on His heart. In John 16:12 He said, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”

What did Jesus mean by, “You cannot bear them now”? Jesus was saying that their ability to carry a new revelation, and task from God was insufficient at that point. The realities of what Jesus wanted to speak out was far too big for them to handle and would essentially crush them. They had some more maturing of character to do before they could go deeper, go further, and go higher.

Our ability to handle more has a lot to do with the capacity of our character. Character enables us to receive the promises of God without taking glory for ourselves, or without damaging ourselves and others. Often we ask God for the more, the bigger, and the better, but is our character ready for it?

It is not uncommon for most people who win the lottery to actually end up in more of a financial mess than before they were given piles of money. This is usually because they did not have the capacity, or character to manage what was given to them and it inevitably crushed them.

Would you give a baby a knife and ask them to make a salad? Probably not! Some more maturing is obviously required before that baby can handle a knife without damaging themselves, let alone be effective at the task! Would you promote a 13 year old to CEO of a company expecting them to not be crushed with the task at hand? Of course not! Would you tell a reckless three year old where you have hidden the secret sweet stash? No, because you know that they do not yet have the ability to manage their appetite.

In the words of Christine Caine, ‘if the spotlight on you is greater than the light IN you – it will destroy you!’.

Likewise, God cannot entrust you to handle deeper understandings, impart greater gifts, and give you more influencial jobs to do on his behalf, if your character isn’t ready to handle  what it would entail. God is not withholding good, He is simply looking after you. Sometimes, it would only do you harm than good.

This is why we should embrace opportunities for character growth – because it is essentially the gateway for promotion in the kingdom of God! Romans 5:4 says, that trials produce proven character, and proven character produces hope!

When Jesus left, the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples to sharpen their character and enlarge their capacity in a whole new way. This is why Jesus said, ‘It is to your advantage that I go…” John 14:26.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit enables us to understand more of who God is, mold our character, and take on more that He has for us. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth (John 16:13).

Let this change the way we see our weaknesses and trials, for God is preparing us for the bigger and better!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th March 2018

God is the master artist. He is the most creative being that ever was, and ever will be. The greatest painters, the most moving musicians, the most talented craftsmen, the most popular fashion designers in all of history are only the products of God Himself.

The devil has no creative abilities whatsoever. All he can do is distort and deform what God has made.

Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules and patterns. It is the ability to imagine, reinterpret, and progress.

Many people feel like they are not creatives because they have narrowed themselves into the box of ‘being creative means I have to be good at art or music’. They fail to understand that creativity is in our DNA simply because we are God’s children, carrying His nature.

As a teacher, I am concerned for how education systems narrow their perspective of creativity. Children have a natural bent to create and think outside the box in their early years, but studies show that this is dramatically stifled by age ten as the traditional education system does not cater for innovative thinking, and has narrowly defined creativity.

Creativity is in essence divine wisdom, and it is divine wisdom that will bring individuals to the forefront of their field or area of influence.

Creativity doesn’t have to be about you coming up with a whole new novel concept, it can simply be building on the work of something that has already been done. Look at cars for example. It took someone really creative to come up the concept of a car that doesn’t need to run on fuel and is electric powered. But this person’s creativity was simply building on the creativity of others that went before him like Karl Benz who invented the first gasoline automobile. But then before him was the creative mind of Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot who built the first self-propelled road vehicle powered by steam. And so generations that follow us will also take our comparably simple concepts and further problem solve, progress and advance. This is the heart and nature of creativity and God – to look at what is being done and consider how it can become better through divine wisdom and inspiration!

If you are feeling stuck on a problem, or feel as though you lack inspiration, ask God for his creative wisdom to be made known.

One of my favourite quotes from a pastor by the name of Bill Johnson is, ‘We do not become culturally relevant when we become like the culture, but rather when we model what the culture hungers to become’. Rather than being afraid of change, or simply copying others, or settling for whatever is popular at the moment – let us instead use the limitless wisdom of heaven that is available to us, and give today’s culture what they hunger for!

1 Timothy 4:14 “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th March 2018

The Bible records the words ‘fear not‘ 365 times…that’s one for each day.

It’s not a suggestion – it’s a command.

If we can win this battle, we can win almost anything.

From my own journey… here are 10 things that fear has caused in my life.

1) Fear causes us to reduce the size of God and elevate the size and opinion of man.

2) Fear causes us to go backwards

3)Fear causes us to stay quiet when we should speak up.

4) Fear causes us to be passive about an issue that has clearly been brought to our attention,

5) Fear causes us to seek consensus rather than really seeking the voice of God.

6) Fear keeps us from engaging in the broken, the hurting, the misfits, and the neglected, because we fear they will mess up our lives.

7) Fear causes us to refuse to embrace change, because we care more about being comfortable than being conformed to Christ.

8)Fear causes us to control things and take matters into our own hands, rather than trusting God and trusting others.

9) Fear causes us to conceal our sin rather than confess our sin.

10) Fear causes us to seek the easy decision rather than the right one.

Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

FEAR NOT!

Isaiah 41:10-13 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. ‘All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th March 2018

As well as being a chemist, an engineer and an innovator, Alfred Nobel was the inventor of dynamite.

He was also well known as being a weapons manufacturer.

In 1888 Alfred’s brother died, but the newspaper carrying the story, recorded by mistake, that it was in fact Alfred and not his brother Ludwig who had passed away.

The mistaken obituary column was headed up “the merchant of death is dead”.

As Alfred read of his own life that ‘apparently’ had now ended, he was stunned to read further… ‘Dr Alfred Nobel, who became rich by inventing ways to kill more people faster than anyone ever before, died yesterday.’

Alfred was devastated by what he would be remembered for, and immediately set about changing his last will and testament.

He instructed that almost all of his estate, to the equivalent value of £150,000, be set aside to fund what would become known worldwide as the ‘Nobel peace prize’.

He had the rare opportunity to reassess his life and change it for the good.

Dr Alfred Nobel eventually died in 1896.

In much the same way today, God has afforded us the opportunity to re-evaluate our lives.

Ask yourself right now this one vital question: what would I be remembered for if I died today?

Would I be remembered for contributing life or death into the people that I’m privileged to be alive with right now?

What difference am I making in this generation?

Would you consider making a decision to live differently from this moment forward?

Sobering thoughts?

Maybe that’s what you needed…just like Alfred.

As you pray today, ask God to show you why he wanted you alive for such a time as this.
Luke 12:16-21 And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” ‘Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’” ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th March 2018

Our society has grown accustomed to immediate gratification. We live in a “see it” and “get it” now era, known as the microwave society where everything is quick and instant. Due to modern technology and all our conveniences—telephones, microwaves, fast foods, superfast fibre broadband etc.—we have many things immediately at our fingertips.

According to marketing researchers, the human race now has an attention span of only eight seconds and that number is continuing to dwindle. We as a society expect to be entertained. If not, we get bored and we move onto the next bigger, better, newer and brighter thing.

If we start expecting God to work and answer prayers on this rushed, “want it now” schedule we will surely be disappointed. It’s easy to think that if a prayer isn’t answered in the way we wish and on the schedule we wish that God is simply ignoring us.

Most of us are waiting for something most of the time:

Maybe you are without a job and waiting for news on an application.

Maybe you are in a job situation that’s really tough to endure and you are waiting and hoping that conditions will change for the better.

Maybe you are ill (or have a loved one who is) and are waiting for your health to improve.

Maybe you are on a diet and waiting for your weight to drop a few pounds.

A single person may be waiting for Mr. or Miss Right.

Or maybe you are married and waiting for a baby.

Whatever it is that you are waiting for, if nothing has happened yet, you might start asking God, “Why aren’t you listening to me?” or “Where are you God when I need you?” We become prone to losing hope and living in despair because we are failing to see immediate results.

It is easy to forget that God’s wisdom is infinite and many times does not work on our expected time frame. God works by his own clock. His ways are higher than our ways, He has His own plan and He doesn’t work by the world’s schedule or expectations. This is not something we like to hear, I would much rather hit the “quick start” button as we do on the microwave because it’s very hard to be patient. However, over the years, I have found that the things that I have waited for (sometimes long and hard) have turned out to be better, even beyond my expectations.

The ability to wait on the Lord stems from being confident and focused on who God is and in what God is doing. It means confidence in God’s wisdom, love, timing and understanding of our situation. It means knowing and trusting in God’s principles, promises, purposes, and power.

Hebrews 6:15 says of Abraham, “And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise”.
Abraham got to see His promise come to pass when he was 100 and Sarah was 90 years old when God gave them their son Isaac. Though it took years of patiently waiting, they received the promise of God.”

Psalms 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord”. Let us think of our journey with God as a slow cook where we are being made tender and soft so He can mould us into the person He created us to be. When we think of waiting, this does not mean just sitting back, not doing much of anything. Waiting also involves an activity. Besides trusting in God, we must use that time to seek Him.

Lamentations 3:25 “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him”.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th March 2018

I encourage you to read a few verses today if you want to be encouraged.

Read Acts 12 vs 5-10.

Peter is in jail for his faith in Christ and the Church are earnestly praying for him…

Here are a few exciting encouragements from these verses

1. The Church is praying and Peter is sleeping.
What we tend to do in a crisis or difficult situation, is worry and fear first, then we may get round to prayer.
If you pray first, worry and fear shouldn’t even enter the equation. Notice…Peter was asleep.
You can REST when you have prayed, knowing that God has it under control.

2. God did a miracle and freed Peter.
He sent an angel, his chains fell off and he literally walked out of the jail.
It doesn’t matter WHAT your situation is today… Prayer is powerful and God can make a way SUDDENLY!

3. The big iron gate opened all by itself.
This wasn’t a small garden type gate, but a huge iron gate that was at the entrance to the city. It was massive and heavy and would never have opened all by itself.
Today, God can open any door for you whenever He wants and all by itself.
The Bible says in Zechariah 4 vs 6 “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.”

Prayer is powerful.
The Church prayed and God answered.
Whilst you are waiting for the outcome, be at peace.
He is a miracle working God.
Get excited today for what can turn around in your life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th March 2018

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’ll just rattle around, make little noise but never live to your potential.

Often it takes a rough challenge to ignite you into action.

If the truth be known, we often reject any form of pain, criticism or hardship as an unnecessary evil in our lives. We want everything to be nice, easy and self gratifying, if not we dismiss it out of hand.

Simply put: we rarely grow through the ease of living in the safety of our little box, but we always grow when taken out of our comfort zone and ‘roughed up’ a little.

That trial that you are facing right now could well be the very thing that you need to spark you into action.

Losing a job can be painful, but maybe it’s happened to kick start your dream into action.

Losing a friendship that you thought was going to last forever may be an unexpected shock, but it may be just the thing you need to get you to embrace other friendships at a higher level.

When three godly young men were thrown into the fiery furnace in the Old Testament because of their faith, the last thing they thought would happen, happened. The king and the whole city was ordered to worship God because of these guys going through and yet surviving the fire. Don’t ever think that God cannot be found in the fire…He’s right in the middle of it with you today.

Get a hold of this Bible passage …

1 Peter 4:12-19 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. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 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. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Feeling that life is treating unfairly today? Maybe God is just using a little sandpaper to ignite you into action.

What would you rather be? A cosy Christian who is making no impact, or a Christian that’s experienced a little discomfort that’s on fire for God?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th March 2018

What You Give to God, He Multiplies

Hattie May Wiatt, a six-year-old girl, lived near Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia, USA. The Sunday school was very crowded. Russell H. Conwell, the minister, told her that one day they would have buildings big enough to allow everyone to attend. She said, ‘I hope you will. It is so crowded I am afraid to go there alone.’ He replied, ‘When we get the money we will construct one large enough to get all the children in.’

Two years later, in 1886, Hattie May died. After the funeral, Hattie’s mother gave the minister a little bag they had found under their daughter’s pillow containing 57 cents in change that she had saved up. Alongside it was a note in her handwriting: ‘To help build bigger so that more children can go to Sunday school.’
The minister changed all the money into pennies and offered each one for sale. He received $250 – and 54 of the cents were given back. In this way, her 57 cents kept on multiplying.

26 years later, in a talk entitled, ‘The history of the 57 cents’, the minister explained the results of her 57-cent donation: a church with a membership of over 5,600 people, a hospital where tens of thousands of people had been treated, 80,000 young people going through university, 2,000 people going out to preach the gospel – all this happened ‘because Hattie May Wiatt invested her 57 cents’.
The theme of multiplication runs throughout the Bible. What cannot be achieved by addition, God does by multiplication. You reap what you sow, only many times more. What you give to the Lord, he multiplies.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th March 2018

I was driving in my car on the way to the gym. It was just days before my wedding and I had been busy running errands. As I pulled up to a set of traffic lights, I was admittedly in a bit of a driving daze. My daydreaming was broken by someone yelling out from the car next to me. I wound down the window to be told by a friendly, fellow road-user that my back brake lights weren’t working! Is this what I wanted to hear days before my wedding? Was getting car brake-lights fixed really something I wanted to care about right now?

I smiled back at the bearer of bad news and yelled, ‘Ah sorry! Thank you so much!’, just as the light changed green and I drove off in a huff. How much was this now going to cost? When would I get time to fix it? How long would the mechanics hold my car hostage while I had urgent errands to run?

I considered the alternative – just leave the broken brake lights. Ignore the problem and be at risk of an accident. But did I really want to risk an accident? I soon concluded that it was illegal, dangerous, and simply not worth it.

Truth isn’t something we like to hear. It can hurt our ego, and challenge our pride. Sometimes it is just easier to ignore reality and carry on as is.

The book of Proverbs totally changes our perspective on how we should view honest feedback, also known as truth. It tells us to actually seek it out, and embrace it when we get it, even if it hurts. Yes this requires a position of humility, but like repairing a defected car, Proverbs emphasizes over and over that receiving truth will also save your life.

Proverbs 12:1 quite frankly says that you are actually a fool if you hate correction – ‘Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid’.

Proverbs 12:15, ‘The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice’.

Proverbs 10:17, ‘Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray’.

Proverbs 13:10, ‘Where there is strife there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice’.

Proverbs 13:18 ‘Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honoured’.

Proverbs 15:3, ‘Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home amoung the wise’.

Proverbs 28:23, ‘Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favour rather than one who has a flattering tongue’.

It seems to me that the fruit of receiving a loving rebuke, some uncomfortable advice, or some confronting truth about the condition of our character, or behaviour is actually priceless. Listen to people who genuinely love you and have your best interests at heart. Don’t hide, get defensive, or sulk when you are presented with a harsh reality about yourself. Instead take hold of it and bring it to God to work it out with Him, and you will find a new freedom as promised!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th March 2018

A leader, or anyone working with people for that matter, cannot succeed based on skill alone. Empathy or compassion is a basis for all successful relationships. Being compassionate isn’t about being soft or weak. It is about having a genuine understanding of what someone might be experiencing, even to the point where you might feel what they are feeling. An empathetic leader is a successful leader because they will make hard decisions from a place of humility and service. Likewise, an empathetic friend is a beautiful friend because trust is established as they emotionally share the burden.

Biblical empathy requires action. We see over and over in scripture Jesus responding to people from a place of empathy. ‘When Jesus saw the crowds he had compassion on them’ (Matthew 9:36). In the ultimate act of compassion, Jesus didn’t just come to earth to save us as God, He came as man. He came and stood in our shoes. He didn’t look at mankind and simply feel bad for us, He came down, got in the dirt of mankind, and suffered for us. There was a response to His compassion.

If you want to grow in compassion, grow in love with God. It is impossible to love God, and not love people.
1 John 3:17 says, ‘If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?’.

God is the master of empathy. He personally feels the pain of people. In Psalm 56:8 David says, ‘You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book’.

It doesn’t take much to identify heartbreak in the world today. When you see pain, suffering, shame, rejection, heartache and loss, it is our assignment to feel it and get amongst it.

I had a scripture on my bedroom wall growing up and I used to read it over and over again when I lay in bed at night. Today I refer back to it constantly as an overarching mission and mandate for my life. It was Isaiah 61:1, ‘The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners’.

This is our inbuilt responsibility as lovers of God. To feel compassion, but to not be afraid to get ‘sent into the darkness’, too in order to bring healing for others.

Romans 12:15, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th March 2018

Last month, Joshua and I enjoyed a month long honeymoon on the eastern coast of Australia. January/February in this part of the country is what they call the ‘wet season’. It is summer, but being close to the equator you are experiencing an average of 35 degrees every day, at 75-80% humidity, and a high possibility of rain. So when we were gifted with four days of non-stop torrential rain, we were initially less than impressed that all our activities and plans now had to be put on hold, or worse, cancelled. We felt like time inside would be a waste – a waste of the beautiful city we had come to visit, a waste of the beach we were over-looking, a waste of the glorious pools at the resort.

Yet what we in fact found was that these days turned out to be possibly our favourite of the trip. We were nestled inside our little hut, in a rainforest, reading, ordering in food, and being forced to finally unwind.

It got me thinking about the seasons in life that perhaps aren’t what we planned for. Sometimes it is not until hindsight that we can see how good they were for us.

Over the past two and half years, Joshua, and myself have had to navigate the sometimes scary waters of a long distance relationship. Even as I type this, I am in Australia waiting for my visa, and he is in England. Do I know when the visa is coming through? No. Is this ideal? No. Is this what I had planned for life as a newlywed? Definitely not. But reality is that this is life. We walk through uncharted waters, unexpected seasons, and constant challenges.

One of the books I was reading that rainy day in our honeymoon hut was ‘Future Brain’ by Dr Jenny Brockis. It is a book on the 12 keys to creating a high performance brain. Jenny talks through the value of a brain that embraces the unexpected. The longevity of a healthy brain and soul depends on your ability to embrace the inevitable challenges of life as opportunities to progress, to grow, to learn something new. We need to reframe how we see our problems. Don’t see the things you didn’t plan for as ruining your life. See how they make you better. See how they help you understand others better. See how they make you stronger, give you insight, equip you with unique tools, and sharpen your character. Take the good out of the unexpected. This isn’t just a naïve, over-spiritual idea, secular studies show that this really does build a healthy mind, and heart.

I love how The Passion Translation puts Jesus’ words in John 16:33, ‘And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!’

Make the most of whatever season you are in. Find the good. Perhaps this is why the apostle Paul said, ‘Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy’ (Romans 5:3-5).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd March 2018

A spirit level can be found in most people’s tool boxes. Its use is to check whether or not something is level. E.g. if you hang a picture on the wall, or fix a kitchen cabinet, the spirit level shows whether or not the item is straight… how? By having the bubble in the middle.
If the item isn’t level, the bubble will be off-centre, showing you that you need to adjust.

Sometimes our lives can be off-centre, we can have circumstances and situations that may throw us off balance. We may sometimes feel that our lives ‘are all over the place’.

It’s important at those times to ‘keep our bubble in the middle’. We can still remain balanced even in a storm.

Jesus himself slept through one whilst the disciples were panicking. It’s a human reaction, yet God wants us to live balanced and keep our trust in Him.

Many people throughout the Bible lived lives that were challenged, yet remained steadfast throughout it all.

We don’t want our lives to be up down, up down and our emotions and attitude all over the place. That’s no good to us, or anyone else.

Psalm 51 v 10 says this, make it your prayer today,
“create in me a clean heart O God, and RENEW a steadfast spirit within me.”

If you feel that due to the turbulence of life and circumstances, your bubble has gone off-centre, make that your prayer today, that God will help you to be balanced again.

He’s looking for people who remain steadfast and balanced through every scene of life. Those are the people He can use and those are the ones who will remain blessed.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd March 2018

Arguably one of the most offensive concepts that Jesus taught was that children were more ready to enter the kingdom of God than adults.

In Matthew 11:25 Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes’.

From God’s perspective, to be truly mature, we must have a child’s heart. What is it about a child’s heart that God so loves? Well, children are uncomplicated and humble. This really helps when it comes to hearing from God. They are open to His voice, they are teachable, and they don’t bring past baggage to the table and filter things through the lens of past hurt. They have a willingness to obey and God is attracted to such a fertile soil. Children are inquisitive, they want to learn more, dig deeper and go further. They aren’t afraid to dream or imagine. A child understands that love can’t be earnt, and therefore they are more easily able to receive.

This is why God tells us to be childlike in our faith! Sometimes the most mature thing we can do is unlearn the adult complexities we have taken on over time.

Tonight as I was getting into my car after picking up some takeaway for dinner, I noticed a mum carrying a bag of food with two waling boys trailing behind her. The boys were in hysterics and consecutively crying out “I want chiiiiiipppppps!!” What I loved was the mother’s calm, and confident approach. The demands of her children didn’t phase her, she knew that what she had in the bag would satisfy them, and nourish them far more than what they were asking for. Even if they were upset now, she knew what would benefit them in the long run!

I like this as a picture of God and us. We are His children, He is our Father. When we think we want something and need something, He being the secure, grace-filled, sovereign Dad that He is, knows that He has something far more satisfying and nourishing for us in the bag! What a secure and safe place for us.

It is easier for some of us to find ourselves productive in Christian service, than it is to connect with God as our Father. We only know what to do for Him, rather than how to just be. We only know how to be a soldier and not simply a daughter or son. This is dangerous.

Romans 8:15 says, ‘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.” The Holman Concise Bible Commentary says, “Abba is the transliteration of the Aramaic term for father, implying great familiarity and intimacy.”

Our heavenly Father is not just our giver of life, nor is He a rule maker for a beneficial life. Instead we are invited into a lifetime of ever-deepening connection and intimacy with Him.

God doesn’t want more eloquent or profound words from us. Sometimes he just wants our authentic, child-like selves. Next time you approach God, do it with a child-like heart.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st March 2018

A mindset that you may be familiar with is the mindset that says, ‘a person has to earn my trust.’

Now whilst I understand why people may say this, I want to suggest today that we look to reverse this way of thinking.

I was listening recently to a founder of a large organisation speak on leadership.
He described how this kind of living can be counterproductive, as we can typically waste a considerable amount of time waiting for a person to earn our trust, while all along, they could have been bringing great benefit to our lives.

He then went on to describe how in his organisation, they think differently.

He and his staff have adopted a mindset which says, ‘trust is given, mistrust is earned’.

I wonder what would happen if we also chose to adopt this same mindset towards people…

Let’s allow a person the opportunity to show themselves trustworthy before we label them something they’re not.

Now of course, people will inevitably let you down, and you can’t always determine a person’s behaviour. However, you can determine your behaviour towards a person…

Do you want to be more effective relationally? Do you want to see the people in your world flourish? Do you desire to live consistently, despite not instantly knowing the consistency of others?

Choose trust first…
And watch as your trust towards others makes a way for you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 28th February 2018

Prayer and Fasting – Day 10

Don’t worry if nothing of any significance has happened for you, to you or through you during the last ten days…they will.

There is no promise whatsoever that during a fast that you will get the breakthrough that you needed or wanted, but that breakthrough will come.

Remember, Jesus didn’t fast for a breakthrough there and then, but fasted so that He would always be prepared for whatever came his way at any given time.

Ultimately, we know from the Bible and from experience, that God openly rewards those who privately fast.

When we fast and pray, supernatural occurrences start to take effect. They may well happen today or they may be gearing you up for your breakthrough in 12 months’ time, so don’t be discouraged; in fact most of what happens during a fast is done ‘in’ you rather than ‘for’ you.

As we come to the last day of this particular time of fasting, I encourage you to keep praying daily for the things that have been on your heart at this time, until you see them come to pass.

God does not finish His work when the fast finishes, in fact this is just the start of Him decluttering your life, so that you can receive everything He has for you this year.

God is a supernatural God, and can and will do supernatural things for you, in you and through you.

Only last night, myself and my wife went to bed with heavy hearts about a complicated visa situation that our daughter-in-law was facing back in Australia. Having only been married to our son for a few weeks, they now found themselves living apart at opposite ends of the world.

For some reason, the visa application was still stuck in Australia after two weeks, meaning that time was being lost for no apparent reason.

As we lifted our request to God before we got into bed, we expected Him to move on our behalf.

At 2am, my wife woke me up to tell me that she had received a text from our daughter-in-law to say that the visa application had now arrived in the UK and by 11am we received word that it had been delivered to the correct office.

When we pray and fast, stubborn things begin to shift. Sometimes, faster than we could ever imagine!

Make a plan to have fasting as a part of your lifestyle from now on.

Stay strong in faith.

Never give up.

Matthew 6:16-18 ‘When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’

Thank you for journeying with us.

Breakthroughs are on their way!

Champions prayer focus – 2020 vision – completion of all building programmes.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th February 2018

Prayer and Fasting – Day 9

Isn’t it interesting how we are willing to follow instructions from people without hesitation? Yet, when it comes to following instructions from God, we either question His wisdom or we think about it for so long that we end up not obeying Him anyway.

Take for instance a typical visit to the Doctors.

We walk into a room to be examined by someone that we don’t know, with a name we can’t pronounce, who has handwriting that we can’t decipher, that prescribes tablets we can hardly swallow. We pay close attention to the label on the bottle and follow exactly the instructions to take twice a day for three months.

If we forget to take one dose we worry and quickly do our best to get back on track. If we go away on holiday or even for the day, we make sure that we have them with us and we expect them to do us good.

What faith we have in man – yet what doubt we have in the one who created us in His own image.

When was the last time that you felt God speaking to you about something, and you willingly abandoned yourself to His instruction with no questions asked?

Prayer and fasting is one of God’s amazing prescriptions for a blessed life. It’s a prescription that will draw you closer to God and give your spiritual life a real tonic.

As we embark on these last couple of days of our fast, don’t be tempted to just go through the motions of skipping meals, but take time out to spend time in prayer over the things that really matter.

Maybe you’ve resisted fasting, because you felt it was unnecessary or too hard for you to do?

Why not start again today and join hundreds of others for the remaining days?

None of us understand how a prescription works, but that never stopped you from taking the tablets; in the same way, just because we don’t understand the power of prayer and fasting, don’t let it stop you obeying God’s prescription for a breakthrough in your own life and those around you.

I encourage you today to make this week a real focus to pray honest and specific prayers, remembering to give thanks no matter how bad things appear.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Champions prayer focus for today – MAN.kind men’s conference and events in 2018.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th February 2018

Prayer and Fasting – Day 8

One of the longest periods of time that I had ever prayed for something to happen occurred in 1985.

I had started to make prayer lists of things that I wanted to see happen.

My list would have very specific content based on this verse of the Bible…

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Each time that I made a specific list, I would place a date at the top of the page so that I would know how long it took for the prayer to be answered.

I would only remove something or someone from the list when I saw the answer to prayer.

On this occasion, it was four years from praying to the time of receiving the answer.

Since then, I’ve prayed for much longer periods before seeing God move in a situation.

P.U.S.H…is a great acrostic that will help you to grow some serious prayer muscle during this time of prayer and fasting and beyond.

Pray

Until

Something

Happens.

Jesus made up this great story to show us how important this is…

Luke 18:1-5 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” ‘For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”’

Feeling bad that you keep asking God for the same thing time and time again?

Often God wants to test you to see if what you’re asking for is really important to you.

Remember: pray consistent, pray persistent and pray specific prayers.

Vague prayers – vague answers.

Specific prayers – specific answers.

Make a plan to join us for prayer, communion and worship tonight at 7pm – Champions auditorium.

Champions prayer focus for today – health and growth of Church.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 24th February 2018

Prayer and Fasting Day 6

Daniel in the Old Testament teaches us a lot about prayer.
He set himself aside to pray and fast, he was a man of prayer.
We read that he prayed several times a day, even though it wasn’t easy for him to do so, as there was much opposition to anyone who wanted to communicate with God.

His life was truly disciplined and he stood out on many occasions because he was a man of faith and prayer and fasting.

Here are 3 things that happened because he prayed…

1. He stood out. Daniel 6 v 3 reads… “… but Daniel brimming with spirit and intelligence, completely outclassed the other vice-regents and governors, that the King put him entirely in charge of the Kingdom.”

When you make a sacrifice and choose to set yourself aside and make that commitment to prayer, you will be a STAND OUT.

2. He was protected. Daniel 6 vs 17-22 tells us how Daniel was thrown into a Lion’s den due to his faith YET he was totally, supernaturally protected by God. “…My God sent His angel who closed the mouths of the lions, so that they would not hurt me.”

Supernatural protection came his way. That story is told all over the world to this day – the truth is, God was his protection.

3. He was an influencer. Daniel 6 vs 25-28. King Darius issued a decree to every nation that Daniel’s God was to be worshipped and honoured. That God was the One to be worshipped because He had saved Daniel from the lions den. Vs 28 “…from then on, Daniel was treated very well during the reign of Darius.”

Prayer brings influence. You’ll be an influencer and things will change.

God will turn around situations because of your praying.

Keep going!

Champions focus prayer point – Sunday services and families.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd February 2018

Prayer and fasting – Day 5

Fasting is not just going without food for a period of time. That may be dieting, or starving yourself, but it’s not fasting.

Simply stated, biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose.

From the very beginning, fasting has been a normal part of a relationship with God. The Bible never says ‘if’ you fast but ‘when’ you fast, and in the New Testament it is placed in its importance alongside prayer and giving. (Matthew Chapter 6). Each bringing its own reward.

Spiritual fasting alongside prayer brings a person into a deeper, more intimate and powerful relationship with Jesus.

When you eliminate food from your diet for a number of days, your spirit becomes uncluttered by the things of this world and amazingly sensitive to the things of God.

Once you realise what can happen during and after a fast, you soon begin to realise that fasting is an overlooked and forgotten source of power.

Matthew tells a story of a father who had a demon possessed son. For years, he watched helplessly as his son suffered with severe convulsions. Having exhausted every attempt to cure the boy, he took him to the disciples for prayer but all to no avail.

When the boy was bought to Jesus, the Bible says …”And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17 v 18-20)

Now we all like to focus on the statement ‘nothing will be impossible for you’, but the main thrust of this miracle is found in what comes after the word ‘however’; the key to this stubborn problem was prayer AND fasting.

If that’s the case, we have to ask what blessings are not being released…what answers to prayer are not getting through, and what bondages are not being broken?

If Jesus could have accomplished all that He came to do without fasting, why would He fast?

He knew that there were supernatural things that could be released only that way.

Let’s press into fasting and prayer today and see God unlock some supernatural things that have yet to be part of your life.

Champions prayer focus for today – ‘UNITE’ youth and young adults conference/events.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd February 2018

Prayer and Fasting – Day 4

Are you in a desperate situation today?

Jehoshaphat, King of Judah was.

He found himself surrounded by a powerful enemy army – annihilation was certain without God’s intervention.

The Bible records in 2 Chronicles 20:2-4 …Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar”. And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

He desperately needed to know God’s plan in order to defeat this great army and so asked everyone, even the children, to fast and seek God.

As they did this, God spoke and said…“Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17)

As the people fasted and prayed, God told them exactly how the enemy would approach and exactly what they should do in response.

As they obeyed what God had said, they not only defeated the enemy in just one day, they then took a further three days to carry off all the riches that the enemy had left behind -now that’s what you call a victory!

Do you want God to tell you what to do at this time in your life?

Fast, worship and pray.

Be still and see Him work on your behalf – they didn’t even have to fight…God fought for them.

The promise of God for you today is…stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He will fight for you, and not only that, you will take back everything that the enemy has stolen from you too.

Your prayers and fasting WILL bring a reward.

Stay strong.

Champions prayer focus for today – SHINE ladies conference/events

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 21st February 2018

Prayer and Fasting – Day 3

When you are praying and fasting, you will easily feel like quitting at times, but remember that your persistence breaks resistance. It brings you to a place where you can feel God more powerfully in your life – but it also positions you so that HE can hear your heart’s cry too.

So many times throughout the Bible, Jesus was passing through a city or passing right by a person. He didn’t stop until the people or person cried out to Him in order to get His attention. He would then immediately stop, turn and help them, often resulting in a miracle.

Prayer and fasting says to God… “I’m serious about this. I want you to come and help me. I am desperate for you to deal with this situation in my life.”

As we continue to push through in this special time, be determined not just to limit your prayer and fasting to special seasons or for a limited period each year, but make it a part of your lifestyle in the future.

When you persist in prayer, you will notice that you start to see breakthroughs that no-one else sees, simply because…’persistence breaks resistance’.

Many of the prayers that I have seen answered in my own life have not come quickly, but as a result of week in and week out prayer for that very stubborn problem or situation.

Don’t be disappointed if nothing seems to have happened yet…your prayers and fasting have been stored up by God, and no matter where and no matter when, God will answer at the right time.

Stay strong in faith.

Hebrews 10:35-36 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Champions prayer focus for today: financial breakthrough in all areas.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th February 2018

Prayer and Fasting- Day 2

There are three things that the Bible brings together under one roof and invites you to participate in each one of them.

You are not commanded or forced to take part, you are simply invited.

To be invited, means that you are privileged; more privileged than someone that does so because they feel obligated to do so.

Participating in any one of the things will reap its rewards, but I do believe that if you will participate in all three on a persistent basis, then your life will never be the same again.

What are those three things you may well ask?

All three are found in Matthew chapter 6, and they go like this:
Giving
Fasting
Prayer

At the end of the invitation to participate in each one of these, there is the same promise attached… “and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Giving, fasting and prayer bring with them a reward from God – it’s a promise on all three.

Just imagine what could happen if you consistently participated in not just one of these, but all three.

Don’t just decide to take up the invitation on special occasions, or when you feel like it, but let each one become ingrained into your lifestyle.

If you’ve chosen to fast and pray with us over these next ten days, then I want to thank you for helping make a difference, but more than that, watch out, God is about to reward you – His words…not mine!

Take time today to read Matthew chapter 6.

Champions prayer focus for today: construction of our new children’s facility starting in two weeks.

Have a blessed day.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th February 2018

Thank you for journeying with us today, as we start out on 10 days of prayer and fasting.

Fasting is a private affair, however talking about it helps us to draw strength, inspiration and encouragement along the way.

This may be your first fast or it may well have been part of your lifestyle for years, but wherever you are at in your journey, you are not alone in your fasting today. Literally hundreds of thousands are joining you in prayer and fasting today, from all over the world.

We have one thing in common: we all want God to move in our lives and in our land.

When you decide that you are going to fast for a day or a week or more, food becomes more attractive than ever. A plain piece of bread that you would have normally thrown out for the birds seems almost irresistible.

The first thing that JESUS got tempted with when he was fasting came directly from the devil…

Matthew 4:1-4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’

The first natural response to fasting is of course hunger!

YOU WILL BE TEMPTED TO EAT MORE THAN EVER!

Listen to JESUS’ reply…

Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’

As much as He was hungry, He makes it clear that ‘the reason for not eating today is so that I can listen to the voice of God more clearly.’

Jesus later called Himself the ‘bread of life’.

Here’s a thought to take us through the day…

Fasting dethrones our normal appetite for food and replaces it with an appetite to hear clearly from Jesus.

Declare as you start your fast today that ‘I don’t need to eat to stay alive today, I’m chewing on the words of God instead.’

Fasting sensitises you to hear more clearly what God has wanted to say to you for months.

Be still.

Read your Bible.

Listen to his voice.

He speaks.

He guides.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Champions prayer focus for today – MONTH OF MONDAYS CONFERENCE (to include Champions Kids ‘LEGO’ themed conference) every Monday night in March – 7.30pm.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th February 2018

“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back” (Rick Warren).

With that in mind, how much time do we give God; the one who created us; each day? In order to have a relationship with Him, just as we do with our loved ones, we need to spend time with Him.

We all live such busy lives with our work, children, families, hobbies etc. but we should also make time in our busy lives for God who created us. How about aiming to spend not less than 15 minutes a day with God, in quiet time and daily devotions? Out of the 168 hours we all have in a week that will only add up to one hour and forty-five minutes. That seems very little when you consider that we were created to have meaningful fellowship with God.

We have nothing to lose but a lot to gain by spending time with God. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. When we spend time with Him, He takes care of our daily needs and wants.

The good thing about God is that he is omnipresent so we can spend time with Him anywhere and everywhere. It doesn’t matter what activity you’re doing, you can always pray. If there’re people around you, you can pray silently inside your head; remember, God can read your mind. Thank God for every good thing that you receive. Praise Him for all the wonderful things He is and does. Ask Him for all the things you want, including all the changes you would like to make in yourself and your relationships. And pray for everyone you know, for all the things they need or want. Listen to worship music, listen to messages from your favourite bible teachers, make a conscious effort to dedicate a proportion of your day to Him.

Even Jesus often retreated from the crowds to spend time with God. Matthew 14:23 “After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.”

Time with God is like that: the more time you spend with Him, the more you’ll want to spend time with Him.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th February 2018

Often during these cold winter mornings the sun is very low; it can take you by surprise as you drive around a corner and encounter it head on.

A quick fidget in the glove box or in the door and on go the sunglasses.

I don’t know what colour the lenses are in your sunglasses, but the pair have a subtle or not-so-subtle tint.

When I wear mine, no matter where I look, everything has a purple tinge to it.

Of course, in reality nothing is purple (that is apart from purple things) but to me everything is tainted through my lenses.

My glasses don’t just block out the sun, they colour my world.

Throughout our lives, we will subconsciously be handed various pairs of glasses to wear. Each pair will give us a different outlook on life.

If you spend too much time around negative people, you will start to wear negative glasses. No matter what you look at or where you go you will find yourself having a negative opinion.

If you’ve been exposed to the thoughts that ‘life doesn’t get better’, but is just on a downward spiral from now on, then you will see everything through decrease glasses.

The lenses you wear on your mind determine not only what you see, but how you see what you see.

I was often the last one to be picked on a team at junior school; I was the one that you were left with.

This coloured my mind and led me to a belief that I’d always be at the bottom of the pile.

I lived with those thoughts for many years until I came to know Jesus and started to read the Bible for myself.

I began to read so many great positive truths that I slowly began to take off the glasses that had subtly become part of the vision for my life.

Words from the Bible were a massive change in my thinking and by the Grace of God I changed the way I saw things by changing the glasses on my mind.

Remember: you can’t change the output of your mind until you change the input of your mind.

Take just these two passages of the Bible and imagine them as sunglasses that you need to put on today.

Let them become part of your thinking and watch how they tint everything that you do today.

Proverbs 4:18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

Deuteronomy 28:13-14 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

Have a blessed day.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th February 2018

Don’t give up on your dreams.

For more than 17 years, I had dreamt of building a church building that was fit for the 21st century.

A place that people of all walks of life would be proud to call their spiritual home.

A place where people would be attracted to in order to find God.

A place that future generations wouldn’t be embarrassed to bring their friends to.

A place where excellence reflected the very nature of God.

I never realised that my dream from God would take up so many of the years in my 30s and 40s.

By the grace of God I refused to give up, when on many occasions I wanted to.

Today, that dream stands as a reality, with hundreds of people now calling it their spiritual home. Today it’s time to dream again!

Everyone’s dream, including yours, can become a reality – just don’t give up.

Interestingly, Joseph (the dreamer with the multi coloured coat) had to hang on to his dream for 23yrs.

His story is one of twice as many days of ‘give – ups’ than ‘go – ons’.

Every dream can contain twice as many negative surprises that can greatly discourage you, but the key is to realise that the Lord is with you and He won’t let you down.

Take a look at the headlines of Joseph’s 23yr journey from Genesis chapters 28-38 and be encouraged to keep going….

Misunderstood by his family – give up?

Sold into slavery by his brothers- give up?

Found himself in a country far from home- give up?

Given favour in Potiphar’s house – go on!

Wrongly accused by Potiphar’s wife- give up?

Thrown into prison – give up?

Put in charge of all the prisoners – go on!

Forgotten for two whole years – give up?

Remained in prison for two more years – give up?

Interpreted Pharaoh’s dream – go on!

Became second in command of Egypt and ran the whole country – dream realised!

Today I’m dreaming again. In fact, we must never stop dreaming of a better tomorrow.

If you don’t have a dream, ask God to give you one.

If you’ve run out of dreams…dream again.
Hebrews 10:36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th February 2018

There are two types of people that we come across in life.

The first one is the ‘thermometer’ type.

They feel that their role in life is to take the temperature of every situation.

Typically a thermometer type person doesn’t change anything…they just comment on what is already taking place.

Maybe they walk into your work place and tell you that it has a negative feel or they come to your home and tell you that your kids are unruly.

They can walk past the end of their own street that is strewn with litter and comment on how horrible it looks…but that’s where it ends.

As useful as a thermometer is, it actually doesn’t change anything, it only measures what needs changing.

The second type of person is the ‘thermostat’.

This person is the one that changes what they see.

If it’s too cold, the thermostat feels it and then sets about turning things around.

It doesn’t stop until it gets what it wants.

It doesn’t click off until it achieves the desired effect.

Gillian and myself were in a situation some time ago whereby we could have looked on and said ‘how terrible…how unfortunate…how blessed we are that we are not living in that situation’.

But instead, we decided to help change the situation.
Sometimes change can occur by notching things up by just one degree.

After all, the difference between hot and boiling water is just one degree.

We had the means and the desire to turn that situation around for good…so we did. We did so, because we could so.

Looking without acting is easy, however, I want to encourage you today to be a difference maker.

Be a thermostat and set the temperature in any and every situation that you become part of.

Proverbs 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbour ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’ – when you already have it with you.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th February 2018

Turbulence can be scary, however it’s not the time to get off the plane and abandon the flight. Just fasten your seat belt, sit back and listen to the pilot; he’s in control and though it may feel uncomfortable, it’s not the end and to the pilot it’s not even considered dangerous. Turbulence is just part of the journey. It’s what comes with flying high.

If you’re going somewhere significant with your life, you should expect times of turbulence. If you don’t want turbulence, then the only thing you can do is sit at home.

Knowing that there will be turbulence, the pilot doesn’t sit on the runway and go nowhere, instead he flies in the direction of his destination and takes it as it comes.

Too many people, fearing the strong winds of adversity and criticism, stay on the ground opting for an easy life. The truth is you are actually robbing yourself of a fulfilling life that God has prepared for you.

If you are thinking that you never go through anything like this, then ask yourself a simple question: ‘am I really fulfilling God’s plan for my life?’ Turbulence is a sure sign that you are climbing higher and going in the right direction.

Always remember in life…

– the higher you climb the colder it becomes

– the higher you climb the riskier it becomes

– the higher you climb the more doubts will bombard you.

– the higher you climb the more you have to lose.

Facing a bumpy ride right now? Hold on, the pilot has everything under control and you’ll soon arrive at your destination.

1 Peter 4:12-16 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. But rejoice in as much  as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th February 2018

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ― Melody Beattie

What are you grateful for today? This question can make many of us think long and hard but yet we find it easier to complain about things. That’s human nature, but every day we have a choice, we can live thankfully or we can live dissatisfied. We can be grateful for all the blessings God has brought into our lives, or we can murmur and complain about all that we don’t have. Gratitude is an attitude that comes out of the habit of giving thanks. All through the Psalms, no matter what David was facing, we read his outpouring of gratitude to God. As he encountered good times and bad times, David always turned back to the truth of God’s goodness. This attitude often carried him through the hardest of situations. Psalms 100:1-5 “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations”.

A friend recently told me how her and her other friends had decided to create a ‘gratitude jar’ – where each day each one writes down one thing that they are thankful for on a piece of paper and puts it into their gratitude jar. The idea is that at the end of the month or year, they will each have a jar of remembrance which they can read through. I thought this was a great practical way of always remembering the positive we have around us and counting our blessings one by one, because so often we lose count of what we have been blessed with. They do not have to be big hair-raising, show-stopping moments, they can be the simplest smallest things, like an answered silent prayer for a parking space, it shows that God is at hand in our lives and he is interested even in the smallest details. Don’t wait another day to begin thanking God for all the good things He has done for you…even in the midst of your pain. 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

If your focus is on being thankful to God for the good things in your life, then the words you speak are going to be more uplifting—and the result is more joy for you.
Consider making it a daily activity, just as we teach our little ones to say please and thank you through repetition and relentless reminders, we also need to learn to express our thanks to the Father through consistency. The more we meditate on God’s goodness and practice our thanks no matter what our circumstance, the more it will naturally flow out of our hearts. Regularly expressing our thanks to the Father is one of our best weapons against all of life’s battles.
The bible instructs us in Psalm 107:1 to “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” –There truly are so many reasons to be thankful.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th February 2018

Someone is most likely to rise to their destiny under the power of encouragement.
We all need daily encouragement.
“Thank you for that meal, it was great.”
“Thank you for the lovely welcome.”
“Thank you for your great teaching today.”
It’s not that hard is it?

Encouragement will always make us better…however, discouragement can take us down and even out.

Sometimes we have to fight discouragement.
We have to be on our guard against it.
We have to recognise it and not allow it into our lives.

In the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament, Nehemiah was given the task to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He had a lot of discouraging voices telling him to give up and stop what he was doing. He said to them that he wouldn’t come down and stop what he was doing.
He had to be strong against the discouragement.
Nehemiah 6 vs 2-3 “I am doing a good work, I will not come down.”

In the story of Moses leading the people into the promised land, 10 people’s discouraging report stopped 3 million people reaching their destiny. WOW! That’s the power of discouragement. Sad isn’t it? But it’s also very real.

Be careful who you listen to and be ready to be guarded against it. For the enemy will use discouragement to stop us from fulfilling our purpose and sometimes he will use people to do it.

Dare to stand up against that discouraging thought.
Watch out for discouraging and negative thought patterns.
Slap that discouragement right out of your life.

Sometimes you have to encourage yourself if encouragement is short.
When you spend time with God, He will encourage your spirit.

I pray today you will RECEIVE encouragement and that you too will GIVE encouragement.
For what you sow, you will reap.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th February 2018

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

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

But there is one question that God will always ask you, and that is…’will you?’

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

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

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

If he commands me to do it, then it must be within my power to do so.

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

Matthew 21:28-31 (NIV)
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, `Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ” `I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, `I will, sir,’ but he did not go.  “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.

How often do we make excuses as to why we cannot do what God is asking of us?

There is only one issue here, and it’s not can you or can’t you, but will you or won’t you.

It’s a simple question of obedience.

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

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

They are depending on you.

If you will…you can.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th February 2018

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 foundation 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 “Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
‭‭

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th February 2018

The poet wrote, ‘Beware of those that stand aloof, and greet each venture with reproof, the world would stop if things were run, by those that say it can’t be done.
Refuse to let the word impossible stop you.’

Jesus said, “with God all things are possible.”

If those who’ve changed the world had left every impossibility undone, we’d still be living in the dark ages.

More of us are persuaded into believing for too little than believing for too much. Vision is essential for survival.

A God-given vision is conceived by faith, sustained by prayer and fuelled by God’s word.

It’s not about what you can do, but what God can do through you when your life is fully surrendered to Him.

Faith encompasses things outside the realm of the impossible, the predictable, the safe and the normal.

When God gives you a vision, pursue it and believe for great things.

Remember: without faith it’s impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6).

Hebrews 11:1-3 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 6th February 2018

Jesus had a popularity problem.

Everyone wanted a piece of Him wherever He went. Crowds would rush to Him in order to have their needs met, and His only way of keeping ahead of them is found here…
Luke 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Most of us don’t have that kind of a popularity problem, but all of us have the need to get alone with God in order to re-charge our spiritual batteries.

Being intentional about solitude was fundamental to His life. His example serves as a pattern for everyone of us, no matter how popular or unpopular you may be.

The truth is this: you can’t help people, unless you get free from people. One needy person can shut you down for weeks.

If you don’t give yourself some space, you will end up being controlled by the very people that you want to serve.

Solitude was the key to his survival. Solitude allowed him to say in the midst of the crowd ‘who touched me?’ Solitude sensitises you to the needs of the people around you and allows you to effectively discern them.

Solitude gives you the ability to understand people and put things into perspective.

Solitude re-tunes your heart to the right frequency.

Most people mistake solitude for loneliness, and yet the two things couldn’t be further apart. Solitude is a choice, loneliness isn’t.

Solitude is a choice to come apart before you fall apart.

Solitude breeds creativity.

Solitude is a way of saying that you can’t handle life on your own. It says loud and clear, I need to get alone with God in order to figure this out.

Most people only listen to people. It’s not good to listen to the folks, folks.

Psalm 46:10 … ‘Be still, and know that I am God’

Every great leader throughout history withdrew; so even if you’re only leading yourself, learn to embrace solitude as a daily part of your life.

Mark 1:35-37 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. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th February 2018

I often find that the answer that I need is right under my nose. Sometimes people who need help and advice cannot see their way through, even though to others it’s pretty clear.

The Bible is full of simple instruction. It’s clear and straight forward and yet we can fail to see it OR we choose not to like what we read, so we ignore it.

Everyone likes to think that they are right. I’m like that, I somehow like to think that I must be right all of the time, when in fact of course I’m not.

Yet God is right all of the time and the Bible is always right and will always give you the right way of living and the wisdom you need for any and every situation.

Take for instance being fruitful. We all want to be fruitful. We all want to be blessed and prosperous in different areas of our lives and yet we fail to see that to be fruitful, we have to be seedful.

A couple who want to be fruitful in their marriage and have children, need to have good seed in order to reproduce.

A good marriage will require you to be seedful and invest good time and love and energy and finance into that marriage, in order for it to be fruitful.

A farmer will need to sow good seed and be seedful, in order to be fruitful.

Do you get the picture? In order to be FRUITFUL you have to be SEED-FUL.

When it comes to finance and wanting to be blessed, remember the same principle. If I want to be fruitful, I have to be seedful.

God has given us all seed. It may be a lot or it may be a little…but you won’t see a harvest until you sow.
So get sowing today and your life will be fruitful.

It’s no good in your pocket, your wallet or your bank account.
The farmer’s seed wont reap a harvest until it’s in the ground and the same applies to you.

This truth is God’s instruction. Don’t presume that you know best, you don’t. His ways are higher and His instruction is correct.

If you want a blessed life, follow God’s ways and be fruitful be being seedful.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd February 2018

I recently read the expression ‘worrying is like praying for something that you don’t want to happen’. Worry goes to war against our faith every day, life’s ‘what ifs’ will beat us down and steal our attention if we let it. Worry can be crippling and blinding so much that it can take away our strength and causes the things that are outside our control to control us. One of the main contributors to our worrying is that we don’t have the answers. We want to know timing, dates or reasons behind everything that is happening in our lives. We know that God tells us that ‘His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts’ but still we secretly wish God’s thoughts were like ours or at least in sync with ours . In this age of Google, Siri and Alexa, answers seem to be at our fingertips for everything else but when it comes to our lives we do not know what the next minute brings and no one or nothing can tell us that.

In the book of Acts, we read about Paul’s life and how he went through many trials. At one point he was shipwrecked, beaten and left for dead and even his enemies vowed they would not sleep until he was dead. Paul had every reason to worry about his life but instead he chose not to and instead whilst chained in his prison cell, he decided to write a letter to the Philippians on how to wage against worry.

Philippians 4: 6-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 battlefield for worry is often in our hearts and minds. Therefore we must guard our hearts as Proverbs 4 tells us to ‘guard your hearts above all else for it determines the course for your life’. We often worry so much that we end up doubting how big our God is and forget that the same God we serve is the same God who spoke the universe into existence therefore the things that surprise us and phase us do not phase Him. Worry in other words tells God that we do not trust him, and it’s as if we are saying to him, “thank you for all the wonderful things you have done Lord i.e. creating this universe, providing the air that I breathe etc. but when it comes to this matter, it’s ok Lord, I can handle it myself.”

God’s peace defeats our worries. True peace is accessible through Jesus Christ, He is the Prince of Peace, and it is the peace of God that guards our hearts and minds. Paul describes this as the peace that surpasses all understanding. How do you survive the loss of a loved one, how do you have hope when you hear that diagnosis from the doctor? How do you survive through a divorce when you do not have hope in Jesus? Many turn to other temporary things but Paul prescribes the one thing that will get us the peace of God and that is through prayer, and he doesn’t just say prayer but adds thanksgiving. Maybe sometimes we get so worried and consumed about the things that we don’t have or that are not going well that we forget to even be thankful to God for the things that he has done. An attitude of gratitude has a healing effect on the heart. Sometimes when we are empty of worship and thanksgiving, worry creeps in and steals our joy.

In verse Philippians 4 vs 8 Pauls clearly tells us what we should feed our minds when he 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”

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd February 2018

Are you praying with authority or with fear? Are you praying “from” strength or “from” a position of weakness? Most tend to pray passive and ineffective prayers, but we don’t need to stay that way. The story of Moses showcases how God wants us to pray. When God is sending Moses to Pharaoh to help with freeing the Jewish people, you see the way that God tells Moses to speak to Pharaoh.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.”” —Exodus 9:1 NIV
This is incredible! And shocking if you’re Moses. God tells Moses to “command” Pharaoh to let his people go, but Pharaoh is the supreme leader and Moses is nothing, humanly speaking. What you see is that God didn’t have Moses “ask” the enemy to let the people go, rather he tells him to command the enemy to give up what he’d taken.

Stop being polite with your enemy.
Stop speaking to the enemy like he’s more powerful than you. Because you’re a child of God, you carry the authority of God with you. This means that you have the authority to speak boldly with the enemies that come against you. When you’re lesser in authority then you ask, but when you’re greater in authority then you make a demand.
Pray from your authority not your insecurity. Pray from your position in your heavenly family not your earthly position.

When the enemy tries to mess with you, your family or your city, then step up and speak direct and with authority and COMMAND the devil to leave! When you’re in Christ, the enemy will have to leave! Recently at church we were praying for people to be delivered from any demonic oppression of any kind. A young woman came for prayer that had been involved in the satanic church and ever since that time she’s been sick and in and out of the hospital. So, I had her reaffirm her allegiance to Jesus as Lord and renounce any ties and declarations to satan. Then I didn’t ask the devil to leave her and I didn’t ask God to please kick the devil off her life… no, I stepped into my God-given authority and commanded satan to leave her life in Jesus name! The demon shook her, threw her down and then left her, then great peace came over her life!
Do not fear the enemy!
Pray from your authority!

Samuel Deuth

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st February 2018

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Think of something that you really love doing. How would you feel about giving that up? It would be tough, right!? Now imagine how Abraham felt when he was asked to give his only son Isaac up?

Abraham actually had to take the test that no parent would ever want to take. Abraham had waited years and years for his son, Isaac. The very fact that Isaac was conceived was a miracle in itself. Not the mention that it was prophesied that he was a “child of promise” and the son through whom God would bless all of Abraham’s future generations. When God asked of Abraham to give up his son by sacrificing him on a mountain-top, it just didn’t make sense! Yet so deep was Abraham`s trust in God, he did just as God asked. In Genesis 22, we see Abraham getting up early, gathering the necessary equipment for the sacrifice and travelling for three days up a mountain. So great was Abraham’s faith that God would come through on His promise that Abraham said to his servants, ‘We will worship there, and then we will come right back’. By ‘we’ he means Isaac and himself.

Just as Abraham trusted his heavenly father, so did Isaac trust his dad. Isaac would have been old enough to know what was going on. He made the three day journey with his Father, and he would have noticed there was no lamb to sacrifice like usual. He would have gathered pretty quickly that he was in fact the sacrifice. Nevertheless, he submitted to his father’s will, trusting him fully.

In the ultimate moment of suspense, God did provide another sacrifice for Abraham. Abraham and Isaac passed the test with flying colours. As a result, nations and generations were blessed and the promise of God was fulfilled.

The purpose of this powerful story is two-fold.

Firstly, through this story we see a foreshadowing of the passionate love of our heavenly father giving his only son as the ultimate sacrifice, and Jesus obediently submitting to the will of the father for us.

Secondly, we are challenged to ask ourselves, ‘Am I willing to give something up if God asks me to, even when it doesn’t make any sense?’ Do you trust God enough? Is my heart always in a position of surrender?

Genesis 22:1-18

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st January 2018

Can you believe that just over a month ago we were celebrating Christmas… and now February is just around the corner?

We are now well and truly settling into the reality of another year and the likelihood is that we have now long since got over the initial attempt at making those New Years resolutions.

For most of us waking up today it’s ‘business as usual’.

How sad though, that with all the opportunities that God affords us, that the best we can do is to expect a repeat of the previous years’ experiences.

Today, in order to make the very most of the year that’s quickly unfolding, I encourage you to cut out the rush and make some time to rest and hear what God is saying to you for 2018.

With rest comes restoration, which is a refilling of your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual tank. Christ-followers should be experts at looking after their tanks.

I recently heard the analogy of eggs stuck on a pan being like that of spending time in the presence of God. Have you ever tried frying eggs and you didn’t quite get the temperature of the pan right, leaving burnt egg crustated on the bottom of the pan? Trying to get the egg off, you take the pan to the sink and scrub, and scrub and scrub…but the egg just doesn’t seem to come off! You then realise the only way this egg will be lifting off of the pan is if you let the pan SOAK in water for some time. The same is with us. We can be battling with all sorts in our personal life. We can try scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing in our own effort to deal with our crusty issues, but often what we need is simply to set aside time with God, just “soaking” in His presence until we feel those tough things lift!

Like a blank canvas ready for a fresh piece of art, cut the clutter, clear the crusty stuff of the year gone by, and get ready for a fresh word!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th January 2018

When you are young you tend to count forwards.

You want your time clock to race ahead. You can’t wait to be old enough to drive; then when you do, you want to be quickly over 21 so that your insurance premium will go down. Then you want to be old enough to settle down and get married.
Before long, your life has raced on so fast that you find yourself in mid-life, now having grandchildren.

When you get to that point, you start to count differently. You start to count backwards. You look back over your life and start to reminisce and live with regret that you haven’t made more of your life. You then want time to slow right down, but as the old proverb says ‘time waits for no man.’

You will also notice that at some point in the journey allotted to you, you switch from counting in hours and days and start to count more in decades; it’s a very sobering thought when you realise that the average person only has seven of them!

Nobody at 15 years of age worries about only having seven decades, neither does anyone aged 25. However as you pass a certain point you realise you may only three, two or one left.

The Bible says these wise words…

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

In other words, appreciate every day that you have and make it count. Don’t be foolish and wish your life away, but neither must we think that we will live on this earth forever.

If you and I are blessed with only 7, how many do you have left in order to make your life count?

Maybe you’re already on ‘borrowed time’ in that you’ve already exceeded your quota?

The decisions you make today will effect what you do with the remainder of your time on this earth but the biggest decision of all is whether or not you will place your faith in Jesus Christ, who in turn gives to you total forgiveness, freedom from guilt, a brand new start and the amazing promise of living for eternity with Him in heaven.

Wherever you’re at today on the scale of 1-7, make a decision to choose the abundant life that only God can offer you today. Tomorrow may not come.

He is only a prayer away.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20
‘I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God , your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th January 2018

The Bible is far more than just mere words on paper. Hebrews 4:12 describes it as ‘living and active’ and ‘God breathed’ (2 Timothy 3:16). Scripture is also far more than a guide to moral living. It should be honoured in our lives, as the very voice of God. People have died for the word of God. It is not something we should take for granted.
The Bible has been and will always be relevant and applicable in all time periods, for every issue in life, and for every person in every cultural context.

The Bible offers us heavenly wisdom, guidance, insight, protection, strategies, purification, understandings, truth, and peace. It equips, steers, corrects, trains, anchors, encourages, shows us who we are, reveals the heart of God, and invites into an encounter with Him.

‘All Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

If you struggle to get into your Bible, firstly ask the Holy Spirit to inspire your reading time. Get out of a religious, boring program you might be following and get creative with how you spend time in His word. Find a way that works for you. I know people that have to take their portable speakers, and get out in nature to connect with God when reading scripture. Others need to sit at a desk with coloured highlighters. Others take more in by listening to an audio version of the Bible. I know someone who takes one verse and meditates for a day per word in the verse, until he totally understands the entire verse!

Perhaps you prefer reading large chunks at a time. I know some who grab the Bible even in a five minute free slot they have during the day, because they are hungry for any chance they can get to feed themselves truth! The point is that there is no right or wrong technique – discover whatever works for you!

God is ALWAYS speaking through His word. If you are going through a challenging situation, ask God for a scripture that is specifically for that situation and stand anchored on it!

Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th January 2018

The eagle is a mighty creature.
They are admired the world over for their power and freedom.

Here are a few ‘eagle’ facts.

It’s vision is 4-5 times better than that of a human.
Their eyes are angled off-centre to give them an even better view of their surroundings.

An eagle can get higher than any other bird.
By just spreading its wings, it can get up to 3 miles high above the earth’s surface by just using the warm air.

It has up to a 9 feet wing span. It was built to soar. Other creatures will run from the storm, but the eagle uses the storm to lift it up and to take it higher.

An eagle can take an animal larger than itself as prey.
An eagle can detect its prey up to two miles away.

An eagle doesn’t mix with other birds or animals, but only their own kind.

I want to challenge you in this first month of this year to decide “I want to be like an eagle.”
I want to soar higher, have greater vision and use the storms of life to lift me up, not take me down.

An eagle only resides in the right environment.
Get yourself in the right place with the right people and you will also have the opportunity to soar like the eagle.
You will never see an eagle with a chicken. Our relationships will most definitely affect our lives and how high we soar.

Isaiah 40 vs 31 says “Those who wait on the Lord will gain strength , they will mount up with wings like eagles. They willl run and not grow weary. They will walk and will not faint.”

The Bible talks a lot about the eagle. Maybe because God wants us to learn from one and take on its characteristics.

Decide today to go for new heights in your life… decide to learn new things and have greater vision. Decide to not let the storms of life take you down, but only lift you higher. Decide today to make some relationship changes that will take you higher and help you to soar.

 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th January 2018

We have just returned from our son’s wedding in Adelaide. We’ve had a really wonderful time away, but it’s always good to come home!

Last weekend, we flew to Sydney for a few days. The harbour is a sight to behold, especially with the iconic Sydney Opera House sitting just there along the quayside.

Sydney’s harbour is also a famous stopping off place for many a giant cruise liner, and as we took the ferry across the water, one of the largest cruise ships in the world was docked right there. The amazing thing was that this ship weighing 168,000 tonnes and carrying almost 5,000 passengers was being pulled and guided into dock by what was best described as something the size of a fly in comparison to the size of vessel it was pulling. This tiny tugboat looked completely incapable of doing what it did, and yet no one could deny its pulling power in action.

Very small things, even though hard to comprehend, can and do have the potential to turn things around in everyday life.

One of the Bible’s greatest teachings on this is found in the book of James. It warns of the power and potential of one of the smallest parts of the body being able to steer the whole of a person’s life.

James 3:3-12 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig-tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

The best way of knowing how this amazing and yet potentially deadly organ is performing, is simply to listen to yourself in an unguarded moment. You’ll soon find out which direction your tongue is taking you.

Come to think about it, when was the last time you actually listened to the words leaving your lips? Reality is, we listen to everyone else, but never think to tune into what we say and how we say it.

If you find it hard to listen to your own language, then ask someone else that’s close to you to do it for you.

Ask questions like:

How do I come across in a conversation?

Do I seem upbeat or downbeat when I speak?

Do people perceive me to be negative, judgmental or critical?

Is there a reason why people don’t want to hear from me?

All those answers, whether negative or positive can be used to improve the way your tongue is steering your life.

Don’t settle for the lie that you can’t change the direction of your life; your tongue is your responsibility. The next time you open your mouth, put your brain in gear first and more than that decide only to build people up and not take them down. If you’ve got nothing good to say, then it’s best you say nothing until you’ve trained that piece of flesh in your mouth.

Proverbs 20:19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th January 2018

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, wont 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 – 24th January 2018

I’m sure we can all agree that ‘generosity’ is an attractive word, and that a lifestyle of generosity is something that we all want to attain.

But what does it mean to truly be generous? I believe that Jesus defines what true generosity is in the book of Mark, found in the New Testament of the Bible.

Here’s what it says…
“Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”” (Mark‬ ‭12:41-44‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

Jesus makes a comparison here between those who gave much, as far as monetary value goes, and one lady who gave just a little.

He acknowledges that this lady in fact gave more than everybody else put together.
How could that be, you may ask…

Because she gave what she would miss.

Everybody else gave what they wouldn’t notice was gone, but this lady gave what would evidently be missing, because she gave her all.

Want to know if you’re living generously? Give what you’ll miss…

In your time, your energy, your talents, your resource, don’t just give in amounts that will go unnoticed, instead, give at a cost.

That way, you’ll know you’re living a truly generous life.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 23rd January 2018

People are the most valuable thing on the planet, and of all the things we are called to steward well, relationships are the most important.

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is, love your neighbour as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these’ (Mark 12:30).

The attention and thought we give others should match that which we give ourselves. For some reason, many of us get this priority out of order. We order our lives in accordance to what is most productive, comfortable, and profitable for us. Yet our highest, most fulfilling purpose is to lay down our lives first for God, and second for others. We are called to leave a legacy, not short-term fulfillment of selves.

Jesus set the standard as He was always ‘looking out for the interests of others’ (Philippians 2:4), in everything He did, literally to the point of death.

Maybe you are good at putting others first in your job, but neglect the people closest to you.

You’re only as Christ-like as you are to those closest to you. How do you treat your family and close friends? What would those who see you at your best and worst say about you? It’s easy to be our best selves on public platforms like social media, and around acquaintances, but let those who know us thoroughly testify of our character and ability to love them! Listen to them carefully, and encourage them often, and don’t take them for granted.

Romans 12:10
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
‭‭

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 22nd January 2018

It was an amazing encounter with a Buddhist Doctor that came right out of the blue, 17 years ago. I had conducted the wedding for a couple and it was at the reception that I first shook hands with Dr Paul. Something drew me to befriend him, and two and half years later I led him in a prayer in my office, in which he became a follower of Jesus.

His life dramatically changed and he has been part of our church ever since.

Over the years, he has treated our eldest son like his own, and so it was no surprise to us that our son invited Dr.Paul and his wife to his wedding last week in Australia.

With nowhere to stay for the first few days in Adelaide, we asked if Dr. Paul would like to stay with us in a house that we had rented with our family in the lead up to our son’s wedding.

I was surprised when I got off the plane in Adelaide, to hear what I knew to be the voice of the Holy Spirit, that whispered to me that the reason we had Dr Paul staying with us was not by chance but because I would need him!

I brushed this notion off as jet lag and mulled over the fact that I rarely get ill.

Little did I realise that I was about to take a turn for the worse and two days before the wedding, I developed a chest infection. I got worse by the hour and every time I coughed I was in severe pain in my chest. I was hardly sleeping and was taking as many tablets and potions as I could to try and get me up on my feet again, but nothing worked.

When Dr. Paul arrived to stay with us I was already sick and with one day to go before the wedding, I couldn’t get out of bed.

God had arranged for my own personal Doctor to stay in the very next room to us and immediately he pulled out his stethoscope that he had decided to bring with him. On listening to my chest, he diagnosed that I needed antibiotics, and to my amazement he told me that he had the exact ones in his bag. I didn’t need to go anywhere to see a Doctor or to pay for tablets…God had got it all in hand.

Within an hour of taking the first antibiotics, I began to improve and by the very next morning of the wedding I was able to get up and go out for breakfast with my son.

By the time of the wedding service (that I had to conduct) later that day, I was completely well, and almost felt that I’d not been ill at all.

When you have a relationship with God in a personal way, he orders things for you, knowing that you will need them.

What if I hadn’t have had a Doctor right there to diagnose my condition?

What if I hadn’t have taken the antibiotics that I needed?

It’s likely that I would have missed my son’s wedding after travelling 12,000miles to be there!

The whole thing is testimony at how God knows knows all things and takes care of every minute detail of our lives if we will just allow Him to.

Don’t do life alone…open your heart today and allow him to become not only your saviour and your best friend, but also the one that takes care of your every need too.

Job 23:10 ‘But he knows the way that I take…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th January 2018

Did you know that God’s plan for your life is perfect?
Yet unfortunately, many people mess up in life. They make mistake after mistake. Someone said “if you make the same mistake more than once, then it’s not a mistake, it’s a decision.”

The simple thing in life is to work out where you went wrong and try not to do it again. Ask someone to help you, ask God Himself.

If you left the tap on every time you left the house, you’d probably get a flood. You wouldn’t need a plumber to tell you that, it’s just common sense.
Sometimes the things we do are obvious and others can easily see them.
However, some of us don’t like to live by rules, yet when we don’t, we make a mess of things.

God has perfect rules for our lives.
You may say “I don’t like rules” – yet you should always listen to the One who knows best.

Like the plumber when he tells you to turn the taps off when you leave the house , or the electrician who tells you your wiring is dangerous, or the pilot who says we have to land in Ireland, instead of Canada, because there is some fault with the plane. We trust experts opinions and advice, so why do we have problems following the best guide book in the world – The Bible?

It doesn’t matter how much of a mess you have made of your life, or how many mistakes you have made.

Jeremiah 29 v 11 – God knows and has a wonderful life planned out for you, one to bless you and not to harm you, one to give you hope and a future.

As a parent you will give rules to your children, rules that they may see as ‘unfair’ at the time, yet you know that they are for their best.

Don’t be offended by God’s rules. See them for what they are. Ways for you to be blessed and successful in everything you do.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th January 2018

‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ is a common and sadly true saying. Basically when you are aware of a situation day in day out, we become accustomed to it and end up treating people or scenarios with indifference.

Imagine this scenario: you share your faith with someone at work or school, you plainly explain that you believe that Jesus Christ is God, and that he became human in order to do what we couldn’t, defeat sin and death, and now for all who believe in him they have eternal life and become children of God.

They respond by jumping around screaming ‘you what? Seriously! He did? For me? Eternal life? Why didn’t someone tell me sooner? Tell me more! Please come on quick – this is serious!’

You’d be excited for them, but maybe a little embarrassed and think ‘bless – they’ll soon learn to live a little more balanced.’

There is a common thinking with Christians that goes ‘you can tell they’re a new Christian because of their enthusiasm!’ But what’s really meant is, ‘they can’t live bouncing off the walls forever. They’ll soon realise it’s not easy being a Christian and they’ll settle down like the rest of us.’

How sad – familiarity sucks!

This is one of the many reasons that reading the bible daily and spending time in prayer helps us. It’s not about earning anything but re-positioning ourselves daily.

When we read the living word of God, it reminds us of the truth we are living with, that God loves us and whatever we’re facing, he has it in hand! When we pray, we’re reminding our spirit of the truth of our glorious and unbelievable eternal state!

Living as a Christian isn’t easy, but it should be exciting and life changing. And remember, conquerors don’t settle down!

Romans 8:37-39 | NIV
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that Is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th January 2018

Have you ever felt like you are at the bottom of the pile in life?

Ever felt like you have messed up in some area, to the degree that God would no longer be interested in you?

Take heart…we have all been there at times, but the great news is that Jesus doesn’t cast you off just because you failed, in fact, He will go out of his way to include you in His plans today.

Take for instance two of His disciples that messed up.

The first one being Thomas; we know he had earned himself the name ‘doubting Thomas’ because he was adamant that he would not believe in the resurrection of Jesus unless he had proof that Jesus was alive. Instead of Jesus dismissing him as just another faithless guy, He appeared to the disciples in the upper room and specifically called out Thomas’ name, and asked him to put his finger in the nail prints of His hands, so that he could have his faith restored.

Then there’s Peter; He denied that he knew his very friend and saviour just before the crucifixion with unsavoury words and blasphemy, yet watch how Jesus looks out for him after the resurrection…

Mark 16:6-7 ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’

He knew how Peter would be beating himself up because of his actions, so He chose to single out his name so that he knew that he was still included.

If you are in any doubt today that your failure has made you exempt from God’s plan, then think again.

Jesus collects failures and turns them into winners on his team.

If you’ve fallen, get back up, dust yourself down, and fall right into his arms today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th January 2018

I’m not much of a sports fan but I do like to watch big games like the World Cup, Olympics etc. mainly for the ‘buzz’ and general excitement it creates. I remember a few months ago staying up late to watch a boxing match between Anthony Joshua and Carlos Takam and being surprised at how much Anthony was set to win just for that fight alone (£10million to be exact). My husband jokingly exclaimed “I don’t mind being knocked about for a couple or rounds for that amount of money”, I thought to myself …I wouldn’t mind if you did actually!

That match just made me think about about an illustration that I heard of a boxing ring. The speaker told us to imagine being asked to get into the ring to fight for a couple of rounds but knowing full well that the referee had already declared us winners and the £10 million had already been deposited in our account – all we  needed to do was turn up in the ring.
We can liken this illustration to Jesus, knowing that we were not fit enough to beat the opponent on our own, stepped into the ring and took the fight on our behalf. He not only took the fight but guaranteed us everlasting victory so that when we stepped in the ring to fight, victory was already ours and the prize was already deposited, we just needed to turn up for the fight and the same power Jesus had would be transferred to us.

Life may knock us about in the few rounds we are to endure but in the grand scheme of things, these few rounds are nothing compared to what we stand to inherit (eternal life) and we are guaranteed victory, whether we are fit or not.

Grace means to get something that you do not deserve and biblically, it means unmerited /undeserving favour of God. It is freely given to us and our duty is only to believe and trust in Him and the Holy Spirit shall be our ever present help. God could not have simplified it any more for us.

(Ephesians 2:8-10). “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God’s greatest act of grace is the gift of salvation that is available for all people through faith and when the gift is accepted, eternal life is promised to the recipient. This eternal life is a promise of a home one day in heaven with God
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Let us have a new confidence that whatever round life throws at us, we are already victorious, all we need to do is turn up for the fight by stepping into the ring (through salvation) and believe and He will stand in the gap for us.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th January 2018

There are many reasons why we as Christians do not pursue our dreams or fully follow our purpose and one of those reasons is “Doubt”. Moses displayed this trait when God chose him to be the leader of the Israelites. In Exodus 3, God talked with Moses about the plight of the Israelites while they were in bondage to the Egyptians. In verse 10, God gave Moses his assignment but Moses showed signs of doubt when he asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

God was preparing a servant, Moses, who would help lead the Israelites out of Egypt but Moses did not see himself this way. By doubting God he showed a lack of faith. God knew what He was doing; He knew the person He was choosing had the potential to lead His people out of Israel. Moses felt insignificant such that he gave God so many reasons why he was not fit for purpose. At times we all do. We may have a burning desire to follow a dream that we have or maybe we have a gift that God has given us to use but we find the a list of excuses why we cannot do those things. When God called Moses, he came up with many excuses why he was not the man for the job, he doubted the people would listen to him, he reminded God that he had a stammer and even went on to ask God if he had anyone else in mind that could do the job, but God chose him.

There were reasons why God performed all the miracles that He did. One was to show Moses how great He was and that Moses had nothing to worry about. God could and would take care of him. Throughout Exodus 3, Moses still expressed doubt but God continually provided reassurance. For every excuse that Moses came up with, God gave a specific response. For every doubt that Moses raised, God provided him with reassurance.

Likewise, we should not doubt what God can do in our lives. Perhaps we have wondered as Moses did ‘why would God choose me?’ Each one of us can come up with a list of things that make us inadequate or unworthy but we must realise that God has called us all for a purpose and he is working with us and in us, we need only to have an open heart. Over time, Moses eventually overcame his doubts and accepted the position that God called him to, what a great man he turned out to be. We must endeavour to do the same. We can overcome our doubt if we rely on God. Our doubt can be replaced by faith just like Moses.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th January 2018

On Saturday, our eldest son got married!

Pretty straight forward you would think, but not quite so.

Joshua met and a fell in love with a beautiful girl named Emma…from Australia!

’What are the chances of that happening?’ I asked myself. A young guy from the UK meets and marries a girl from the other side of the world. A Christian girl. One that had been praying for years for the right man to come into her life. Deciding never to date a guy until she found Mr Raught. She had never even kissed a guy until they met and realised he was the one.

You’ve probably all seen the two classic films, which are two of my wife’s all time favourites, namely, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve got Mail. In both movies, two people meet under extreme circumstances, leading us to believe that the hand of chance was on their side.

It would seem to be the case for Joshua and Emma too?
Think about it: they live in 1 universe, with nine planets, 204 countries, 809 Islands, seven seas and yet when they met, they knew that God had put them together.

So many people believe that stuff like that is down to chance, luck or fate, but I believe in a far greater and more meaningful personal touch than that, which is summed up in just one word…destiny. His plan is amazing and as long as you are willing to trust and to obey when that time comes, He will fulfil His plan through you, no matter how many miles may be between you. It’s the hand of God operating in the affairs of mankind.

Destiny has both rhyme and reason attached to it, and is not random at all. It is thoroughly God’s plan for a person’s life.

Both Emma’s parents and ourselves had been for years praying that our children would find the right partner for their life.

I like to think of it like this. Every time we prayed, Joshua and Emma were getting closer to meeting each other at a central point. Each prayer broughy Emma to London and each prayer gave Joshua a reason to be in the same place at the same time, namely a mutual friend’s wedding.

Do you have a sense of the plan of God for your life today or are you merely hoping that by some chance that fate will carry you along?

God is no respecter of persons. He wants you to know Him in such an intimate way that you can pray about all of the things that He may have for your life.

He cares deeply and dearly about everything that matters to you. In fact, if it matters to you, it matters to Him.

For both Emma and Joshua, it seemed like a long wait, and even at times like a fruitless one. Yet if you asked them this weekend , if it was worth it, I know what they’d both say.

Don’t trust in chance, trust in Jesus.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will direct your paths.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th January 2018

We were just called outside by our friend to look at the dark night sky and the beautiful stars. They seemed so big and were so bright (maybe it’s because I’m writing this Fresh Hope from Australia). “Wow”,we all said. We had never seen anything like it. They were so big and clear, I felt like I could touch them.
The southern skies , where air pollution is less and the sky is clearer? Whatever the reason, it was truly spectacular. I don’t see skies like that at home in England.

My eight year old grandson asked why she had noticed the stars and this was the answer “I went outside to bring in the laundry from the line and it was pitch black, so I looked up at the stars and took my light from there.”
Something so simple and yet so profound.

She needed light for a situation, so she got it from the stars. The wise men needed to find the King, they got direction from the stars.
As I stood outside in the pitch black of night I started to sing a song in my spirit… ‘and YOU who hold the stars, who called them each by name, will surely keep your promise to me and I will rise in your victory.’

I don’t know what you’re facing today.
Do you need light and revelation in a situation? Look up to the one who made the stars, He will help you.

Do you need direction and guidance? Look to the King of Kings, Jesus, you’ll find it there.

Or do you just like me, need assurance, that God is with you and He will never leave you? Get your eyes off your circumstances and onto the One who holds all the stars in place.

I pray you too will have a “wow” moment.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th January 2018

Have you every made a decision in a rush, and regretted it!? Often when we rush a decision, it actually costs us more in the long run.

In the spirit of being engaged to be married, I rushed into buying a wedding dress! Retailers told me I had to get a wedding dress as soon as possible. So I purchased a dress too quickly out of fear and impatience, instead of taking my time and looking around to find the right one. In the end I ended up scrapping the wedding dress, and buying a second dress! (Dress one is for sale if anyone is interested!).

Sometimes the price to pay for being impatient is more than just a dress. Sometimes it costs the generations that follow.

Look at the story of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was given a promise from God that he was going to be the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4). But when things in the natural didn’t look like they were matching up with that which God had promised, Abraham became impatient and thought he would take matters into his own hands. He would get his servant pregnant instead of His wife. He wanted to rush the timing of God. The result not only delayed the promise of God, but caused pain, not just for Abraham and Sarah, but many generations to follow.

Not trusting the timing of God and taking matters into your own hands is a dangerous place to be.

Assess what motivates your decision making. Are you bored? Are you following short-term feelings, rather than thinking bigger picture?

God made us to be powerful people. He made it clear from the start that we are not robots and gave us the ability to choose. Look at Adam and Eve for example. Our choices have a domino effect on not only our lives, but generations following. Use the power of your choice in a positive way.

God is a generational God. You will find pages and pages of scripture that simply mention the order of generations. In Matthew 1:1-16 alone it mentions 14 generations 3 times, then in verse 17 it says again 14 generations 3 times for a total of 42 generations! Why would God bother mentioning all these names? Because generations are important to God. It takes more than one generation to accomplish the monumental work the Lord wants to produce. He wants to do great things in your family and with your family, but the victory of your children often rides on the choices you make for yourself today. Like children can spend many years having to work through that which their parents didn’t do right, let your children instead run even further with that which you did do right! Let the choices you make today be spirit led, not flesh led. Let them be governed by the voice and timing of God, not the drive of instant gratification. Live with a generational mindset and see that even your children and children’s children will reap the rewards of your lifetime of wise choices!

‘For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay’ (Habakkuk 2:3).

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th January 2018

I am sure we have all set goals or resolutions for 2018 and let me take a moment to encourage you to go for them, stick at it and do everything you can to see those goals realised.

However, inevitably life throws up what I would call diversions, those moments in our life that we don’t see coming, we don’t know about and we don’t know are going to happen. They end up diverting us away from our goal and causing us sometimes to break our resolutions.

Let me encourage you today to take God at His word…firstly, commit your plans to the Lord, for the Bible says in doing so, your plans will succeed. Secondly, trust in the Lord with all your heart, for when we trust in God, we allow him to guide us when diversions come our way. In doing this, you do not have to worry as you alow God to lead you and guide you and navigate your life through situations or circumstances that may divert us.

Remember God knows the end from the beginning, He knows all, He sees all, so take comfort in the fact that you can trust Him. God knows what is around the corner and can help us every day of our lives every situation.

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th January 2018

How often do you find yourself thinking, ‘This is too hard for me. I cant do this’?

Did you know that God is attracted to weakness? In fact the Apostle Paul actually DELIGHTED in his flaws because He knew that this was where God had to show up and deliever!

‘And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

There is something about coming to the end of yourself and having to wait on God. Contrary to what the world often says, we can’t actually do anything we want, and we can’t actually be anything we want – in our own strength at least. Yes, Philippians 4:13 says that we can do ALL things, but only THROUGH Christ strengthening us. Where we are limited, we then add God to the equation and we then become LIMITLESS!

Grace is the ability to do what you need to do. When God says that His grace has been made sufficient to us, it means that we have what it takes to do what we have to do.

Imagine an iron. An iron is a fantastic and useful, household tool to get creases out of clothing. However, if the iron isn’t plugged into a power socket, it is totally weak and useless. The grace of God is the power that runs through us as His instruments when we plug into Him. Only by His grace running through us, and empowering us, are we able operate at the capacity he has called us to. Otherwise, we are honestly pretty useless.

I finish with this quote by Bill Johnson, ‘Live in such a way that unless God shows up, what you are attempting to do is bound to fail. This is the nature of the gospel’.

Stop speaking out of your emotions and speak out of the word of God. Start saying, ‘I can do this by the grace and strength of God in me’. If you are trusting in your own strength, begin to trust in God`s instead. Let His sufficentcey, be YOUR sufficiency!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th January 2018

His Lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” Matthew 25:21

To steward means ‘to manage’ or ‘look after’.

In the Parable of the Loaned Money, Jesus tells of talents that were divided among servants by a master. Out of fear, one servant hid his talents. He didn’t use them for anything, he just buried them, and let them safely sit. The other servant managed his talents and sought growth and fruitfulness from what he was given. This was also the servant who was given more again as he proved to steward what he was first given well.

There is a responsibility that comes when we are blessed with resources. Resources may be money, time, gifts, abilities or knowledge. God wants us to use these things, manage them well and seek to see fruitfulness from then.

A baby isn’t enrolled into university at birth. It is expected that they will learn and grow and master many levels of education before they graduate to the next challenge. Likewise, become a master of stewarding what you have now. No matter how small or big we feel our portion is, stop comparing and simply do your best today, until God moves you onto the next.

See Matthew 25:14-30 as an encouragement that you do have something to give, and like all good parents, God has given us His children responsibility to take ownership over our resources, before we move onto bigger and better!

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th January 2018

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under the sun.”

Our lives go through seasons just as the year does, and each serves a purpose in God’s plan to make us who He wants us to be, and to prepare us for what He has planned in our lives
I love autumn; it is one of my favourite times of the year with the all so beautiful vibrant colours, the reds, oranges, browns and yellows. But for the plants it is usually the time when the green colour of life (chlorophyll) begins to disappear and the trees begin to shed their leaves. Likewise, we all go through this season in our lives. Every so often God begins to show us things in our lives that hinder our spiritual growth. He brings to light that which no longer feeds us spiritually. John 15:1-2 says, “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.” This means if we heed his guidance this will prune our soul and prepare us for the growth which is to come.

Any kind of pruning is a difficult process, it might be that we are cutting off some bad habits that we have or it could be our attitude towards something. I guess trees make it seem so effortless, but this is often a difficult season which sometimes sees a great battle and if we’re not ready to make these cuts, maybe we’re not ready to give up and submit to God.

We need to know most importantly that there will be different seasons in our lives, it doesn’t matter what season we find ourselves in, I have found that drawing close to God is the answer. So let us embrace each season of our lives as a part of God’s ultimate plan, and listen to His guidance in each. In Jeremiah 29:11, we are assured -“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plan to give you hope and a future”.

While seasons shift, we serve a God who never fails, he stands forever. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8

For the farmer, Autumn is also a season of harvest, so it is good to remember that we always reap what we sow, sometimes we get discouraged and wonder if the seeds we plant will ever grow, but autumn assures us that harvest day is coming “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” —Galatians 6:9

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th January 2018

Today as I woke up, I had my first major decision to make… do I stay in bed, or do I get up?
I weighed up the reasons…

Reasons for me to stay in bed:

1.  I was enjoying it…

2. The warmth and comfort were very suitable to me…

3. I understood it to be cold outside, I had already looked at the weather report and I didn’t like what I read…

4. I couldn’t smell bacon OR coffee, so was it really worth getting up?

5. No effort would be required.

Reasons for me to get up:

1. It was right the right thing to do

Sometimes in life, we are faced with a difficult decision, everything within us wants to choose option 1, yet we simply have to go with option 2 beacuse “we know it’s right”.

God gave each one of us a “knower”. An ability to know when something is what we should do and when it is right.
Even when the reasons stack up against it…like my comfort, the ease of staying where I am, the temperature, what if it’s not as good? They all may be good and valid but when you go with what you know to be right, God will always bless your decision.

Don’t let the reasons for the wrong decision, convince you.
Don’t even let them take space in your mind.
Sometimes, you have to be strong with yourself and not even let your thinking go there.

I won’t experience all that God has for me today if I stay in bed and you won’t experience all God has for you if you don’t make that move that you know you need to.

Nothing good ever came from a comfort zone. So get up and move!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th January 2018

The phrase ‘stretch or starve’ is something that was commonly used at family dinners. Once grace had been said, and the food was served, someone around the table would come out with this expression, simply meaning, ‘the food isn’t going to come to you, you’ve now got to reach out and get it’.

Have you ever felt starved of meaning and purpose in your life?
Have you ever experienced a sense of dissatisfaction?

Can I suggest to you that the reason being, is because you haven’t stretched in a while?

And what I mean by that is that you have remained in your comfort zone for too long.

The thing you need to know about comfort zones is that great things never come from there.

In order for you to discover lasting fulfilment and a sense of satisfaction in your life, you are required to step out of your comfort zone (whatever that may be) in order for you to step into your purpose.

I was playing a game of squash recently, and I came to the realisation that the times when I surprised myself the most, and as a result, played my best shots, were when I made a commitment to stretch.

When I decided to get uncomfortable, when I decided to choose the more difficult option, it was then that I experienced the best results.

You have a choice today, you can either stretch or starve…
I hope you’ll join me in making a decision to stretch, and in doing so, experience life the way you never thought possible.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 4th January 2018

Are you someone who prays for a car parking space at your local shopping centre? Or do you think God has more important things to think about? Are you someone who calls out to God when your favourite shirt goes missing in the wash? Or do you refrain from bothering Him with such meaningless matters?

Being very aware of all the bigger issues going on in the world today, we can quickly justify why we don’t get God involved in our comparatively petty issues. We can be so caught up in the bigness of God, that we disregard His interest in the details of our lives.

If the creator of the universe said that He wasn’t interested in the details of my day, I probably wouldn’t blame Him. I mean, He has already died for me, so I know He loves me – that’s enough is it not?

But the beauty of God is that He chooses to become intricately invested and involved in the finer details of our lives. The reality is that everything is small to God, even the things we think are big. Yet God’s greatest passion is us, so he cares about what is big to us. When you love someone, you know the details of their life. I know that my fiancé likes his eggs hard-boiled without the yolk and he has three every morning. I know that he has brown pasta and chicken almost every day for lunch. I know that he does his food shopping on a Sunday and he likes to get the trio packet of peppers and he is really happy if there isn’t any green peppers in there! Likewise, God knows the insignificant details of our lives.

Look at Luke 12:6-7, ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows’. The average person has an average of 100,000 hairs on their head! Of what purpose would it be for God to count your hairs?Yet He does! How much more is He concerned with your seemingly small requests to Him?

Have you ever watched a loving parent with their baby? They watch their child constantly! Every mannerism and every movement of the baby they study and take in. The parent learns the ways of their child. Psalm 139 tells us that God watches us in the same way, ‘…even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too— your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in! … You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day’.

It feels good when someone knows you enough to remember the details. I remember when a friend in South Africa gave me a birthday present. She had wrapped it in a beautiful red, silk bow. I said how much I loved the colour of the ribbon and she replied with, ‘Yes! When I was wrapping the present and I had a selection of ribbons out and asked God which colour was your favourite and He told me, ‘red’!”. Ever since then, I have been so convinced that God cares about us. He knows us intricately and loves us in great detail.

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd January 2018

Faith is visualizing the future. It’s believing before you see it. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT).

How will you see 2018 through eyes of faith?
A lot of people say, “I’ll believe it when I see it!” God says the exact opposite is true: “You will see it when you first believe it.” There are many things in life that have to be believed before they can be seen.

In 1961, the Soviet Union sent the first cosmonaut into space. When the cosmonaut returned to Earth, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev declared they’d been to space and didn’t see any god there.
About 10 months later, the United States sent John Glenn into space. He circled the earth three times on his Mercury mission, came back down, and told the world, “I saw God everywhere! I saw his glory in the galaxy. I saw his splendor in the universe. I saw his majesty in the stars.”

Which one was right? They both were. Jesus said, “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3 NLT). Before there is spiritual transformation in your life, you’re too narrow-minded to see the possibility of what God wants to do in your life.
Wernher von Braun, the leading scientist in the early stages of the U.S. space program, said, “There has never been any great accomplishment in history without faith.”

OIt is faith that causes the scientist to believe that we can put a man on the moon. It is faith that causes an architect to design a building because, first, she believes it can be done. It is faith that causes an Olympic athlete to practice and go to the Olympic trials because she believes she can achieve. It is faith that causes a sculptor or an artist to believe that he can paint a picture or attempt the sculpture. Someone has to believe it before you see it. It is a universal principle of life.

Let’s believe in God’s love and guidance as we enter 2018. Believe it before you see it. Trust God’s promises and trust his work in your life during the next year.

Rick Warren

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd January 2018

Yesterday I was driving a long distance home when I noticed a government-endorsed road safety billboard on the side of the road. The billboard had the words, ‘EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED’ shouting out in bold lettering for drivers passing by. The purpose of the sign was to increase road awareness. The sign was situated on a long and boring road. I am assuming that many drivers have encountered problems on this particular road as they have relaxed with the monotony of the road and lost awareness and then all of a sudden things like animals, or oncoming cars have appeared and caused an accident.

As I continued to drive, I thought about those words – ‘expect the unexpected’. The phrase suggests that we should have an expectation that something we weren’t planning on happening, will happen. It suggests that we shouldn’t live in a place where we assume what is ahead for us, but become prepared for a ‘suddenly’ moment.

God loves a good ‘suddenly’ moment. All throughout scripture we see God move in the most unexpected of ways.

Matthew 8:24 – ‘But suddenly there arose a great storm on the Lake’.

Matthew 17:3 – ‘And suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them’.

Matthew 28:9 – ‘And suddenly they saw Jesus coming to meet them’.

Luke 2:9 – ‘…when suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by them and the glory of the Lord shone round them’.

Acts 2:2 – ‘Suddenly there came from the sky a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting’.

Acts 12:17 – ‘Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by him’.

Revelation 3:3 – ‘I will come upon you suddenly like a thief’.

2 Chronicles 29:36 – ‘Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, because of that which God had prepared for the people: for the thing was done suddenly’.

Isaiah 48:3, ‘I have declared the former things from of old; yes, they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them: suddenly I did them, and they happened’.

Isaiah 51:5, – ‘Suddenly will my righteousness come near, and my salvation will be shining out like the light; the sea-lands will be waiting for me, and they will put their hope in my strong arm’.

Maybe there are areas in your life that you assume aren’t going to change and you have lost faith for the ‘suddenly’ of God to breakthrough. Rather than getting stuck on a monotonous road, challenge your faith journey by starting to expect the unexpected work of God in your life. This may be by making peace with someone you have issues with, preparing your finances for a moment where you can give suddenly, or perhaps you need to prepare your heart for the voice of God to call you suddenly in a direction you hadn’t planned.

Don’t live with no expectation of God moving in your life. Live with the expectation that God can suddenly show up. The nature of the gospel is all about living in such a way that unless God shows up, what you are attempting to do is bound to fail.

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st January 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Last year started off pretty normal for one of my wife’s best friends; they met each other many years ago at their first job in the civil service. They were both just 17.

Sarah (not her real name) and husband enjoy frequent skiing trips every year and have become very proficient on the slopes all over Europe.

Sadly, in the early part of last year, Sarah had a nasty skiing accident which left her with a fractured sternum amongst other things. Her life suddenly went onto hold as she struggled to even sit up and eat. As the months rolled by with little signs of improvement, she went for more extensive tests to try and find out why she could not breathe or speak normally without a great deal of pain.

What they found was quite shocking as the specialist revealed the severity of the accident had actually split her vocal chords. As she sat in our kitchen a few weeks ago, she told us all about her recovery process and what further operations she is likely to need this year. To her amazement she was told that the best thing for her healing was to sing. “Singing will bring the best healing to your vocal chords”, he told her.

As she now understands more fully the extent of her injuries and continues on the road to recovery, the last thing that she feels like doing and the last thing she feels able to do is sing. Yet singing is what must happen.

It struck me as she sat there, that the advice that she was given is exactly the advice that we all need when we feel broken and beaten down by life. We need to sing!

We don’t know what this new year will hold for any of us, but what we do know, is that singing is one of the greatest remedies for our woes.

In the Old Testament we find these words given to a barren woman…

Isaiah 54:1 ‘Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,’ says the Lord.

On the face of it, it seems like completely the wrong advice, but nevertheless is the best advice.
Singing is not just words and music but carries with it great spiritual significance.

Every wondered why a large portion of a church service is given over to worship? Well now you know.

The great thing about singing is that you can do it anywhere at anytime, and with it will come great breakthroughs in 2018.

The next time you’re battling through something in your everyday life, don’t go silent and clam up, start to SING.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th December 2017

I love the story of Esther in the Bible. A real story of rags to riches, peasant to palace. A young girl who was handpicked by a King to be his Queen.
I’m sure her days were full of pampering, servants, new outfits and beauty treatments. Sounds ideal and maybe every woman’s dream..

However, God had higher plans for her.
He had chosen her “for such a time as this”.
In fact the verse in Esther 4 vs 14 tells us “…but who knows, that you have come to royal position for such a time as this.”

What I love is this: she was in the royal position, yet she still chose to do God’s will.
I’m sure there are times when we all feel like staying within the comfort zone, when in fact God is calling us to a far higher purpose.
She could have stayed with her royal gorgeous lifestyle and yet she chose to risk her own life in order to save others.

She chose to ditch the pampering for the purpose.
God doesn’t want you to live a comfortable life, He has called you to live a life ‘on purpose’.
As a new year approaches, find out what yours is and go all in.

And maybe like Esther, you’ll go down in history as a great DIFFERENCE MAKER.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th December 2017

Recently,  we had the largest amount of snow I can remember since I was about 8 years old. For my boys, it was lovely, and maybe for me too! But for a lot of people, it was a big problem.

Clearing the snow from the driveway was one of the hardest tasks I’ve had to do in a long time.
Mainly, this was due to the snow being trampled down and driven on. It was no longer light, fluffy and easy to remove but hard, compacted and turning into ice.

This made me think that our lives can sometimes be like my drive and this snow.
We all experience troubles and issues that can come upon us unannounced, but if we don’t deal with them straight away, they can become compacted and pressed down making them hard to remove. They can stick to us and at worst, make our lives and hearts hardened to the people around us.
I want to encourage you today to step out and begin to move those issues that are resting on your life before they become a stronghold.
Unlike the snow-fall we experienced recently, we will face struggles and issues almost on a daily basis, so let us deal with them quickly.
The bible says to ‘cast all your cares upon Him (Jesus), for He cares for you.’

Today, let us do just that. Shovel away!

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th December 2017

Today’s Fresh Hope is a contribution sent in by a young person from Champion Youth.

As it’s the Christmas season, we all have probably made a snowman at this festive time of year – especially with all the snow we have had. Building a snowman is like life. To build a snowman, you add more snow, take snow away and shape it to how you would like it. Each bit you change on the snowman means it’s closer to your final product. No snowmen are exactly alike – each are unique.

This can relate to us, because God shapes each one of us uniquely and he constantly keeps building you up and taking away negative influences in your life, for you to be more like Jesus. God shapes each one of us with His own hands. He already knows what you will be like before he shapes you. Sometimes, snowmen fall down, but you build them back up again, so it’s even stronger and won’t fall again. In life, you will have some knockdowns but God has it in control and makes you a stronger person through them. Each snowman you make, is created with care and love – this is how God is  towards you and me. He shapes each one of us with love and care. Each bit of snow you add to the snowman is done for a reason (to make it bigger). God adds more things into our lives to make us bigger and stronger people of God.

God has everything in control so you do not need to worry about anything. He is making you stronger each day. Rely on Him always! Each day you press into Him, He shapes you.

Chloe Beswick

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th December 2017

You may have heard it said that how you start something determines how you finish it. Today I want to flip that statement and let you know that how you finish something will determine how you start the next thing.

Maybe you’re like me in that when you see the end of a season in your life drawing close, you have a natural tendency to slow down and transition from giving your best to giving just a little of yourself.

However, I do believe that how you end one season has much to do with how you start the next.

As we approach the end of a year, may I encourage you to have a desire to finish it well.

We all want a strong start to a new year, so let’s commit together to having a strong end to this one.

I once heard someone say, ‘do something today that your future self will thank you for’.

What foundations are you laying during the conclusion of this season, that you’ll be grateful for in the season to come?

Begin to sow the necessary seeds now, so that you’ll enter into a new year ready to receive a harvest that you have made preparations for.

You’ll be glad you made a decision to finish well!

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 26th December 2017

When a baby is born, we all want to see that precious little face. We want to ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ over the cute little nose and eyes, lips, everything. I must have spent hours staring at my son those first few months. Just taking in every single detail of his little face and feeling completely in awe of the gift we had been given.

This Christmas season, watching nativity stories, I wondered how Mary must have felt when she saw her new-born baby, those thousands of years ago; looking right into his perfect little face. I can imagine she was in awe and amazement not only at her first-born child but at her Saviour.

For many of us, Jesus is our first true love. When He first saved us, we felt His gaze and stared into His face like there was no tomorrow. We sought Him out and took time to just be still with Him. But life happened. Family, work, commitments may have taken the place of the time spent seeking His face. Instead, we throw Him a quick glance every now and then to make sure He’s still there. It isn’t because we love or adore Him any less, but we have allowed the temporal to take precedence over the eternal. We all have on many days, but sometimes we need to put down everything and just spend time with Him, savouring him and seeking his face beautiful magnificent face.

As we enjoy the Christmas break, let us return to our true love, let our hearts crave him, our eyes marvel at him and our ears listen tentatively at him.

This Christmas, let Psalm 27:8 simply be our cry “My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.”

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th December 2017

Happy Christmas everyone!

As we celebrate this day with family and friends, it’s also a special moment to pause and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Day, up until the 4th century BC, was celebrated on the 6th January; that was until the first Christian emperor, Constantine, changed it to the 25th December. This was not because he believed it was Jesus’ day of birth, but because it marks the day of the winter ‘solstice’. This is the day that the natural eye can see for itself an astronomical phenomenon, where the light starts to overcome the darkness during the day. From here on, in the natural world, we start to see longer days of light. Was it not this very day that was chosen so that we could be pointed to Jesus who came to overcome the darkness?

John 8v12…Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of Life’.

Today – whether spending it with a house full of loved ones or sitting all alone – begin to see for yourself that you no longer have to walk around in the dark, but you too can experience Jesus Christ’s love for you as He lights up the rest of your life.

Like any gift this Christmas, in order to experience it, you have to receive it with open arms.

Don’t just stumble around in the darkness anymore…open your heart and your arms to receive Jesus right now.

Have a blessed and happy CHRISTmas.

Remember: FRESH HOPE is waiting for you first thing every morning over Christmas (Mon –  Sat).

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd December 2017

You can have what you want if you know how to get it.

In Luke 18 verses 1-8 we read about the persistent lady who wanted justice and would not quit when she has been told “no”.

You can often be held back by the word ‘no’ when in fact God says “yes”
Here’s some things we can learn from this story…

You have to go to the right person – she went straight to the judge and not to her neighbour.
She went straight to the top!
Take your request straight to God, don’t complain about it to someone else, they probably can’t help you.

You have to know what you want –
be specific, don’t be frightened to ask God. She went and asked for justice. She knew what she wanted.

Don’t give up – she didn’t. She kept on persisting even though she probably got weary.
Too often we give up too soon.
The Judge said “I’m going to give her what she wants, not because I want to, but because of her persistence.”

You’ve got to be in a right relationship – when you have a relationship with God as your Father you can go to him with your requests and concerns, your desires and your needs.
Because of relationship, He will answer.

What are your needs today?
What are your desires?

DON’T QUIT PRAYING

Luke 18 vs 1. I want to teach them to pray and not quit, to be consistent and not give up.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd December 2017

Prior to the birth of Jesus, we find in the Old Testament hundreds of commands that people would aim to obey in order to please God.

Now of course, this was an impossible task to adhere to. Every time one of these commands was broken, so would their relationship with God also be considered broken.

In order to put things right, you were then required to present a sacrifice, and in doing so, your relationship with God would be restored.

Now if you’re like me, by this point I am pretty exhausted just thinking about the weight of these religious exercises. Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there…

When Joseph is met by an angel, who informs him that Mary is going to give birth to a baby boy, they’re instructed to give Him the name Jesus. This name Jesus, means ‘Saviour’, because He would save people from their sins.

Notice, the very thing that up until now had prevented people from having a relationship with God is the very thing that Jesus would come to remove.

You may be thinking, what does this have to do with me in 2017? I’m glad you asked…

It means that because of Jesus, you now have the right to have a relationship with God. A relationship with God that wasn’t earned by you and therefore cannot be unearned by you. You didn’t qualify yourself for it and neither can you disqualify yourself from it.

It means that God’s love towards you and His desire to have relationship with you is totally predicated upon Himself.

And the Bible says that all you have to do is simply confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is who He says He is, and you will be saved!

Can I invite you at this special time of year to enter into a relationship with your creator, the God of Heaven and Earth? He’s only one invitation away…

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 21st December 2017

Three times the New Testament, letters quote Habakkuk 2:4 ‘the righteous will live by faith!’

We know that no amount of good behaviour can qualify us or bad behaviour disqualify us, only by faith are we accepted! How vital it is that we check ourselves to ensure it’s faith driving our behaviours and not our circumstances!

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

All through the Bible, God is either pleased with people because of their faith or displeased because of their lack. Jesus often performed a miracle and declared ‘your faith has made you well’ and he also condemned the unbelieving towns where he could perform no miracles.

It’s the same today that in our lives we either activate something from God by believing (regardless of circumstance) or we displease him by allowing ourselves to just behave like the world without God.

I wonder how often in our lives we continue (needlessly) in a bad circumstance, purely because we keep reinforcing the bad situation by speaking just factually about it, rather than with faith of what it could be? Basically, we moan!

I find this very challenging! When we moan about anything at all, regardless of whether we’re right or not, we declare we don’t believe in the goodness of God for that situation! If we did believe in the goodness of God for the situation, as if it’s already happened, our confession would follow what we believe and we’d have nothing to moan about.

I personally enjoy a good moan, but if I want to see more of God in my life, I can’t afford to be negative about people or situations and neither can you.

Let this not discourage or condemn us today, but let it convict and challenge our thinking in relation to the way we talk, especially when things aren’t going great.

If someone has let you down, if you have a desperate need, if you’ve had some bad news or if you’re disappointed and frustrated, before you open your mouth, stop and think! Make a decision that what you’re about to confess doesn’t declare ‘there is no God’ but declares ‘my God has this!’

‘Faith is confidence in what we hope for and the assurance about what we do not see.’

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th December 2017

Recently I was deeply moved by the extravagant generosity of a friend. Over a period of a few weeks, she decided to bless me over and over and over and over again with several gestures of her time, talent, and money. It got to the point where it just felt like it was too much! She didn’t just do one gesture to cross it off her ‘must do’ list – she wanted to go well and truly over and above the norm. What was most moving about these gifts was that she did them with absolutely no agenda. She didn’t want anything in return, and she didn’t want anyone else to know about it. She simply did it because she wanted to bless me no with strings attached!

I share this story, because I was so inspired, challenged and blessed by her. We serve an extravagant God – one who also goes above and beyond. As His children, made in His image, it is in our DNA to be the same – to be generous givers. As we approach Christmas, let’s not settle for crumbs, scrapping together our odds and ends for others, let’s give big! The word ‘generous’ means ‘to give more than is usual or expected’. When is the last time you took someone off guard by being unusual in your giving? When was the last time you not only met the expectation, but also exceeded it? That is God’s way.

Live with an awareness of who you are. You are a representative of the King. As a royal, think of the access you have to unlimited resources (and it doesn’t have to necessarily be money). Think of the God-given authority and ability you have to change lives.

The Christmas season is a celebration of the greatest act of generosity in history. When God gave His one and only son to redeem humanity. Then Jesus, again in an extravagant act of love, gave His life for us. As we walk in imitation of their unusual, abundant generosity, let us seek to give all we can this Christmas. Look for opportunities to display the goodness of God in the everyday. You are a conduit of his generous heart.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
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Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th December 2017

Sometimes real life events that were embarrassing at the time, can turn out to be some of life’s funniest moments when recalling them some years later.

One such event involved my brother in law; he had ordered his favourite Christmas drink from Starbucks at our local shopping mall. He’d ordered it complete with loads of whip and caramel sauce on top.

As he was hurrying with it through the mall, he tripped and almost fell flat on his back. He just about managed to right himself, and more importantly save his drink from spilling.

No sooner had he composed himself, when he bumped straight into someone that he knew, but hadn’t seem for quite a while. The conversation lasted for several minutes as they caught up on the last few years. Eventually, as he got back to his car, he looked down and realised that all the whip and sauce from his coffee was actually displayed on the front of his coat. When he tripped he didn’t realise that his drink had shot out of the cup! He started to think about what everyone else was seeing and thinking that he’d passed, not least of all the person that had been standing right in front of him, chatting for several minutes.

I wonder if you are oblivious today of something that is blatant to everyone else, but you are completely unaware that you’re ‘wearing’ it wherever you go.

We can all be very quick to criticise other people’s faults and failings, but have you ever stopped to examine your own life?

In the Bible, Jesus explained this hard hitting truth in such a simple yet graphic way…

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

Are you walking around today with a critical, judgmental spirit, not realising that the plank in your own eye is far bigger than everyone else’s speck of sawdust?

Don’t be fooled that no one is noticing your bad attitude…it’s there on display for all to see.

In order to keep you from falling into the trap of feeling a sense of superiority over everyone else, be determined to ask a trusted friend/ leader/co-worker this simple yet effective question…’is there anything you need to say to me today?’

That one question, needn’t be asked everyday or even every week, but it should be asked at least once a year and should be asked to more than one mature person.

The answer will not only help you grow in character as a person, it will help you to appreciate that the first rule of leadership and life is self leadership.

What are you trying to hide and deflect about your own life simply by projecting that very same problem onto someone else?

Make a plan to have a healthy check up every morning.

Ask to Holy Spirit to change you from the inside out, and remember: check yourself before you wreck yourself. People won’t look up to you because you are always right, but they will look up to you because you’re always real.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th December 2017

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 yourself down, or there is a promise from God that He seems to have forgotten, or maybe it is even just the monotony of life that is a disappointment for you. 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 Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th December 2017

One of my favourite things at Christmas to read in the Bible is the story of Philip who went to talk to the Ethiopian Eunuch. (Acts chapter 8 vs 26 onwards).

What’s that got to do with Christmas, you ask?
This: it reminds me that at a very busy time of year when we can get so focused on what WE have to do, that we can actually forget what we are SUPPOSED to do.

Philip was on his way somewhere, when God instructed him to go somewhere else. To talk to someone who needed help in understanding about the Scriptures and God. Philip, we read, went way out of his way to do what God had asked of him.

The result? The man found Christ and got baptised.
You could say that was a result.
Then we read that Philip ‘suddenly’ got taken away by the Spirit of God and taken to the place he needed to be.

That’s why this always blesses and speaks to me at a busy time of year…If you do what God has called you to do, and make way for Him… He will get YOU where you need to be and people will get blessed along the way.
Win Win.

“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew chapter 6 vs 33)

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th December 2017

Gone are those times when the family photos had to be sent off to be ‘developed’.

I well remember the days of having a set of flash bulbs for Christmas; they had to be inserted in the top of the camera, with each one only lasting for one flash photograph. It was then a long wait before someone decided to get the film sent off in the post in order to be ‘processed’. It was quite common that the photograph that you took at the family Christmas party was never seen until well after Easter. It was quite a gathering when finally those photos arrived back through the letter box.

There was no such thing as delete or the facility to photoshop a picture if you didn’t like it. It was what it was, and the only delete facility was to rip it up and throw it in the bin.

It’s interesting that the term ‘develop’ in relation to the photography world, meant that your reel of film would have to be processed by a professional in dark room in order to keep the film from being exposed to to light, thus ruining the photograph.

Can you believe today that we had to go to such great lengths to take a picture. It’s possible today, depending on your age, that what I’ve just described is completely foreign to you. Nowadays it’s the click of an iPhone and there you go.

‘Developing’ is not only what happens in the photography world, but is something that happens in our lives too. Developing happens in the dark. It’s the dark places that produce the greatest pictures.

Despite the bright lights of Christmas, you may well find yourself in a dark place that seemingly has no purpose in the grand scheme of your life. You don’t like it, want it, and you certainly didn’t ask for it, however rest assured that your dark place is going to be used to develop you in ways that the easy places of your life never will.

If you want your life to turn into a beautiful picture, then see the power and purpose and the dark place that you’re going through right now.

In the Bible, Joseph (and his technicolour dream coat) is still today recognised as one of the most famous of all Bible characters. Yet, his life didn’t start out in a West End theatre, but a dark and dinghy pit. PIT stands for ‘person in training’. That’s exactly what your dark place does…it trains you for greatness.

If you’re not sure how to handle the dark place you’re in right now, then always remember…what you learn in the light, practice in the dark, and what you learn in the dark you’ll never forget in the light.

Dark places never last forever, but rest assured they will last until they do the required work in your life…and then comes the fully developed picture.

Romans 5:3-5 …we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th December 2017

We have a Christmas tree in our front garden, this year it has grown so much, it really is beautiful. Each December we cover it in lights and make it even more so.

After the recent heavy snow fall of the last few days, the tree got absolutely covered, so much so, that the snow was weighing down so heavily on its branches and even the bright lights on them were entirely covered.
Today I decided to take the snow shovel and ‘knock off’ the snow.
What a shame, I thought, this tree is being weighed down and burdened with snow, that may look pretty, yet is probably going to damage it long term.
As I started to ‘free’ the tree of the heaviness, I thought about our own lives and how we let stuff weigh us down.
If you don’t do something about that weight, it will eventually affect you and will probably damage you long-term.

Sometimes we don’t even realise that things are weighing us down.
If we fail to deal with things as they come, then eventually you’ll be covered under a great pile.

The lowest branches of the Christmas tree, the largest ones, were so buried under the few feet of snow, that I physically had to lift them free of the drifts.

Sometimes you need a little help to lift burdens, that’s where Jesus comes in. The Bible tells me He is the great burden lifter.

You can come to Him today, wherever you are, He is only a prayer away. He is the one who can lift your burdens and set you free.

And like my tree, you’ll be free again to shine brightly and be all you were created to be.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th December 2017

I do believe that how we see God determines how we approach Him, and that how we approach Him plays a part in what we receive from Him.

I saw a quote recently that read, ‘God is more eager to answer your prayers than you are to pray them.’

I don’t know about you, but when I have a need or a request, I’m pretty eager to see that need met or that request granted.

And there are even times when I can think to myself, maybe without realising it, ‘if only God wanted this as much as I do…’

However, the truth is that if what you’re believing for is God’s will for your life, He wants you to have it far more than you want it for yourself!

He wants to provide for you more than you’re hoping to see the provision. He wants to restore that which is broken more than you’re longing to see restoration… God is eagerly desiring not only to answer your prayers, but exceed your expectations.

I wonder what would happen if we approached God with this view of Him…

I wonder the things we would see happen in and through us if we believed that there is a God in Heaven who is more eager to provide than we are to pray and who desires to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ask, think or imagine.

Allow me to encourage you today to approach God with this revelation and believe that He is ready and waiting to do for you that which you cannot do for yourself.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 12th December 2017

Many people fall into the trap of self-pity. Self-pity as defined by google means, ‘excessive, self-absorbtion over one’s own troubles’. Often people carrying a spirit of self-pity seek others to validate their feelings, and they easily attract people with the same sense of unhappiness.

I believe that as Christians, when we partner with self-pity, we open ourselves up to a whole host of emotional and spiritual issues. Why? Because Christ died, making us victorious people, therefore we are no longer powerless slaves to our circumstance, or feelings like self-pity.

In Galatians 2:20 Paul writes, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’. Sulking over disappointments, or obsessing over hurts, is living from the flesh, not the Spirit.
The grave has been overcome and we are not defeated anymore! By wallowing in self-pity we are saying that the cross is not enough!

The key ingredient in self-pity is ‘self’. It is making the focus YOU, rather than the cross. We should never let the circumstances of our life be the measuring stick of how much we believe God loves us. Rather, we should always look to the cross to reaffirm the degree to which God loves us – we then see that He loves us extravagantly, and unconditionally!
Romans 6:6 confirms this with, ‘For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin’.

Let your feelings be governed by the reality of the cross, not your circumstance and feelings of self-pity. Shift your focus from self to what has been won for you!

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th December 2017

As we approach this Christmastime, we are once again reminded of the great lengths that God went to in sending Jesus to reach us. Yet, no matter how many times we think of that, we all are prone to slip back into our default mode of believing that God only wants from us and not for us.

One of the simplest stories in the Bible that helps us to grasp how much God really wants to reach out and do for you, is found here…

Mark 10:46-52 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus which means ‘son of Timaeus’, was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him. The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’ ‘Go,’ said Jesus, ‘your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Everyone tried to silence the voice of the blind beggar, apart from Jesus. Everyone presumed that the beggar would have had no chance of getting an audience with the son of God, and yet to everyone’s surprise, He wanted to know what the guy wanted from him.

Think about it: a beggar stopped Jesus in his tracks with a request for something. That something was not a small thing either… “I want both my eyes!”

Here’s the message that got back to the guy…cheer up…on your feet…He’s calling you.

Then came the crux of the whole conversation as Jesus asked him …‘what do you want ME to do for YOU?’

Not only did Jesus listen, He responded with an outright miracle for a guy that could nothing for Him in return.

The man received his sight, because he believed that Jesus would not only be able to do it, but that Jesus would be willing to do it.

Today, I encourage you against all the odds that may be going on in your life…CHEER UP! Jesus is calling you right now. The question is, do you have the boldness of the beggar to ask Him to meet your need, or are you still stuck believing that Jesus is only a taker and not a giver?

Finally, there was only one thing that the beggar could do after such an amazing life changing encounter… ‘immediately he received his sight and FOLLOWED Jesus…’

The same is true for you. Your miracle is not the end, but the beginning of a new life ahead of you.

Be a bold asker…be a bold follower.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th December 2017

If you decide that you want to go for greater things in your life, get ready for life not to be comfortable.

If you want to remain comfortable and in ‘your comfort zone’ forget reaching for higher things.

Whenever we decide we want to do something greater, make a greater difference, expand, climb higher, take a risk, step out in faith…then you have already decided that your life won’t be comfortable.

Ask a pregnant woman if she is comfortable- the answer will be NO!
But does she want that baby? Of course she does, more than anything probably.

Her temporary discomfort is because of the greater things to come.

When a Momma eagle decides it’s time to let those babies go out of the nest and fly for themselves, she starts to take the nest apart, twig by twig; making it so uncomfortable for those babies, that they have to get out.
Cruel? Definitely not. Teaching them to fly? Of course!
The very reason for which they were created.

If you want to be comfortable, you’ll never fly and if you want to fly, you won’t be comfortable.

So when life seems hard work and you’re having to push forward and it’s hard… just remember why and take heart.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th December 2017

Today, Fresh Hope turns to fresh Christmas chocolate brownie.

Simple, yet great recipes should be passed around, so today I’m sharing a favourite that will be a hit with all the family, especially when it comes straight out of the oven.

Many recipes can be too complicated for most people to try…here’s one thats not!

Rich chocolate brownie cake – serves 8-10 (or 4-5 in our house!)

125g butter at room temp

250g caster sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

125g plain dark chocolate.

125g plain flour

Grease an 8 inch round cake tin and line with foil or greaseproof paper.

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F or 180° C

In a large bowl beat the butter until light and fluffy, add the sugar and beat well until blended.

Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again until well blended.

Add the salt and a third of the flour and beat well. Add another third of flour and beat, and then the final third and beat.

Break or grate the chocolate into a bowl and melt over hot water or carefully in microwave. Leave to slightly cool and then add to cake mixture and beat until well blended and creamy.

Pour into cake tin and smooth

Bake for 20-25 mins until cake is puffed up and is cooked in the middle.

Leave to slightly cool and then turn out onto a plate.

Dust with icing sugar and serve warm.

A wonderful family fireside treat for Christmas.

Enjoy.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th December 2017

‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland’ Isaiah 43:19

As we sit on the cusp of a brand new year, we usually begin to reflect on the year gone by and consider the one to come.

I’m sure for many of you, 2017 can be defined as a year in which you saw and made it through many challenges. It is always encouraging to look back and see that which you once thought was impossible, but have now overcome. For some of you perhaps, your growth as a person can be marked. Perhaps there have been difficulties that you are sure will be carried into 2018.

Last night I was going through my wardrobe sorting out clothes for the charity shop. I love the feeling of simplifying. Cutting back on what is not used and making room for the new. I believe in many areas of our lives we should regularly review, cut, and make space for the next season.

God is a God of new beginnings and His desire for all of us is to walk into the new year with a strong sense of hope and faith for the future. We may not be able to change our circumstances or situations, but we can shift our perspective and attitude.

Focus on what you can do, and leave the rest to God.

Some good questions to ask yourself are:

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  God’s word?
What consumes too much of my head or heart space that is unhealthy?
When is the last time I did something for my spouse, friend or work mate – just to see them smile?
When is the last time I set personal goals?
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).

Tune into what God might have for you in the new year.
Be prepared for God to do a new thing. Get rid of the old and make space.

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 – 6th December 2017

Samson could have been one of history’s greatest leaders, yet when all was said and done, he turned out to be one of the worst.

Samson had everything going for him. He was a special child, foretold by the Angel of the Lord to his parents. He had a God given destiny and purpose, which was to deliver his nation from the opposing forces, namely the Philistines.

Samson performed many great feats of strength during his life, yet despite his good start, Samson got himself into trouble many times and in the end he finished tragically. He was weak, blind and enslaved to the Philistines from whom he was supposed to deliver his people.

Why didn’t Samson become the great leader he had the potential to be?

Simple…his despicable character made him untrustworthy, destroying his ability to lead. He was impetuous, volatile, lustful, moody, emotional and unpredictable. No one could figure out his intentions, not even his new wife, his Father in law, or his own nation, the Israelites. Even his own people bound him up and handed him over to the enemy in order to save their own necks.

Not everyone of us has a great start in life but what we do have is the chance to build our lives and character in order to finish well. Samson’s lack of integrity was his undoing, when you lose that you lose peoples trust.

Be determined today to stay strong in character, no matter what temptation comes your way. If you’ve messed up, make sure you fall forwards, pick yourself up and start again. This time do it right.

Remember: it’s not how you start that matters, but how you finish. Stay strong.

Be a person of integrity, no matter what everyone else around you is doing.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 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. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th December 2017

Even seasoned Christians probably haven’t heard a lot about the Bible hero, Enoch. Unlike some of the more famous characters of the Bible, Enoch didn’t lead an army into battle, he didn’t stand before kings, nor was he persecuted for his faith. So what was he known for?
‘Enoch enjoyed a close relationship with God throughout his life’ (Genesis 5:24). What a thing to be known for!

What does it really mean to be “walking with God”? I remember during my years at university, my friend Rachel and I would get up at 6am, grab our Bibles and go for walks together. Although the exercise was of benefit, the real prize was the time we spent together and therefore the friendship we cultivated. We began to love starting our days together and the day just didn’t seem quite right if we didn’t start it with a morning of walking and talking! Now there is unfortunately a geographical distance that separates us so we don’t get that time together like days gone by. With God, distance is never a problem! We can have constant intimacy with God, the ability to connect with Him at any point in our day, and therefore the opportunity for growth in our friendship with Him.

The blessing of Enoch’s close walk with God spilled over into generations after him. Did you know that Enoch was the father of Methuselah? Methuselah was the oldest person mentioned in the Bible – he lived to be 969 years old! I believe that in Enoch having a beautiful, close friendship with God, he would have gained incredible wisdom that his children would have reaped from.

The heart of the apostle Paul was also for deeper companionship with Christ, ‘For my determined purpose is that I may know him – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly’ (Philippians 3:10, Amplified).

Naturally the more we get to know someone, the more we trust them. If a stranger on the street came up and asked you for your credit card PIN number, we would never hand over the details because we don’t know this person! If our spouse on the other hand requested personal information, we wouldn’t hesitate because we know them and therefore trust them. If we are struggling to trust God with our lives, perhaps it is because we don’t know Him. Maybe we need to work on our developing our friendship with Him first!

Let constant companionship with God be the ambition of our lives. After all, the very reason Christ died was so we could have fellowship with Him!

Genesis 5:21-24

“And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”
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Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th December 2017

Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’

I wonder what impossibility you have woken up to today?

Whatever it is, remember, nothing is too hard for the Lord.

I’ll never forget the day when a couple came to see me at my office on the way back from hospital. The wife had been diagnosed with fluid around the heart.

This couple were known to me at the time and into the bargain the husband was walking aided by two sticks. He had bent down a few years earlier and had damaged his spine. Surgeries had followed, but all to no avail. No matter which way you looked at their situation, they were in a pretty sorry state of affairs to say the least.

All of a sudden faith started to rise in me and I firmly believed that God could do a miracle for this lady. I also privately reasoned that her husband was too far gone for God to do anything. Mistake!

As I rose and walked around to them from my office desk, I started to pray for the lady’s heart condition. By this time she was struggling to breathe and was obviously in quite a serious condition. No sooner has I prayed forJesus to heal her, the atmosphere in the room changed from defeat to victory. Her breathing returned to normal and her heart condition was completely healed. Whatever the diagnosis just an hour earlier, had now been reversed by the God of all impossibilities.

The couple were amazed and started to walk away so thankful for what God had done. As I watched the husband leaving with his two sticks, barely able to make a walk of it, I felt compelled to call out to him “what about you?”

What happened next was completely astonishing for us all to see. My office was situated just off the foyer of the church at that time, and so I asked them both to join me in the church for prayer.

As the guy stood, I placed my hands on his spine and commanded the pain to leave and for healing to come. As I was halfway through the prayer with my eyes closed, I heard a loud bang followed by the cracking of his spine. When I opened my eyes, he was lying flat out on the floor. The cracking of his spine panicked me and his wife as we felt he must have done himself a further injury, but to both our amazement he got up and started to do some kind of press ups! He then stood and started to walk unaided, followed by climbing the stairs without a problem, saying over and over again “I’M HEALED!”

I’d seen this guy in the school playground waiting for his kids for months before and I knew what he could and couldn’t do. I’d often felt sorry for him watching him unable to pick them up in his arms. I knew that this guy was for real, but the truth was that no amount of sorrow for him led to him being healed, but one prayer in faith saw him instantly receive what no doctors could do.

The next day that couple were seen walking arm in arm, completely unaided at the local shopping mall. Weeks later he was batsman for the church cricket team. I’ll never forget seeing a snapshot that hung on their lounge wall months later. It was an action picture taken of him hitting the ball ‘out of the park’.

What God did for that needy couple that day, God can do for you TODAY.

Remember; ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’

Why not fully trust God right now and receive your very own miracle?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd December 2017

The Bible tell us that Jesus came not to be served, but to serve.  (See Matthew 20 v 28)

What a great example.

We should all strive to be servant-hearted in everything we do and the lives we lead.

What is servanthood?

1. It’s the act of putting someone else’s interests before your own
2. Doing for someone, what you’d like to be done for you
3. Serving can be seen by some as ‘lowering yourself’ – it’s actually elevating to a higher level. (See Jesus as the perfect example).
4. Be a servant without making a song and dance about it
5. Putting credit into someone else’s account, without showing your debit slip
6. Being big enough to do small things
7. Being a friend to the little man
8. Going the extra mile without claiming expenses
9. ‘Picking up the litter’ when you know it’s not your responsibility.
10. Rewriting your job description downwards, knowing that God can rewrite it upwards

When we understand that our purpose in life is to serve, that’s when our life will be truly fulfilled.
Serving will not only bring joy to those around me, but to my life too

J = Jesus
O = others
Y = yourself.

Get this order right and you won’t go far wrong.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st December 2017

At this time of the year we are all looking at two gauges more than usual. The first one is the thermometer. If I’m really honest, first thing this morning, I reached for my iPhone at the side of the bed, and after shutting off the alarm, the next thing I did was to look at the weather forecast and temperature. It informed me that it was -2 degrees Celsius and would rise throughout the day to just +2 degrees Celsius.

The next gauge that we go to is the thermostat. In this kind of weather we place great trust in it, as we notch it up even more than usual in a bid to keep our homes warm. The trusted thermostat is responsible for setting the temperature at any given time. We pay little notice of it once it’s set, but we’d certainly know if it wasn’t working.

Just as with the natural elements, we too need to see the importance in our lives of both the thermometer and the thermostat.

Our inbuilt thermostat can walk into a room full of people and detect the ‘frostiness’ of even one person, knowing instantaneously that they are trying to bring the rest of that group down to their level. Thankfully we are not only capable of measuring the temperature, but more importantly we are given the task of setting the temperature.

Being a thermostat in life is one of the greatest gifts that a person can have. They can walk into a room and instantly change its frostiness into a place that feels the warmth of its positivity. Don’t underestimate your temperature setting ability in any and every situation.

As our children were growing up, we’d often say to them, ‘you are not allowed to change to atmosphere here’. This was usually on a day when they were having a hard time being pleasant!

Understanding your responsibility in ‘being’ a temperature setter in life is vital if you are going to raise the level of the people around you, no matter if it’s family, friends or work colleagues.

Don’t just settle today for being a weather forecaster. That’s easy and requires no one around you to change, Instead be an atmosphere changer where ever you go. Even if you’re the only one doing it don’t worry, it only takes one thermostat to change the temperature in a whole building.

Smile when you walk into a room.

Speak words of life and encouragement.

Always give people hope.

Shine with the love of Jesus.

Have a joyful heart.

Proverbs 15:13
A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th November 2017

Gratitude develops your faith when times are tough — when things don’t make sense, when you can’t figure it out, when your prayers are unanswered, when life stinks, when everything is going the way you didn’t want it to go. Anybody can thank God for good things. But when you can thank God even in the bad things, your faith grows and your spiritual roots go deeper.

In the Bible, the prophet Habakkuk was going through tough times. 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 Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV).
Habakkuk wasn’t thanking God for all the things that had gone wrong in his life. What was his cause of gratitude? “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Habakkuk could say, “Everything else stinks in life, but I can be grateful, because the Lord is my Savior. He will pull me out. He’ll bring me through this. I’m not on my own. He hasn’t abandoned me. I will still give thanks to God.”
This is the ultimate test of faith: Can you thank God when life stinks? That’s the test of how deep your spiritual roots go.

When you’re going through tough times, you need to look at what’s left, not what’s lost, and be grateful for it. No matter how bad things are, there are always thousands of things you can be grateful for. And no matter how bad things are, there is always the fact that you can be thankful to God just for being God. He has promised to see you through, to help you out, to strengthen you, to care for you, to do miracles, to answer your prayers. He’s promised that even when things don’t go your way, he can work it for good in your life.

Rick Warren

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th November 2017

Do you have a boss that treats you unfairly? Parents who you regularly disagree with? Leaders who don’t operate the way you believe they should?

It is easy to honour people when we agree with them, or they treat us the right way – but what do we do if they don’t? How do we respect those in authority even when they aren’t operating like you believe they should?

Let’s look at the story of Joseph in Genesis. Joseph was deeply loved by his father. So much so that his own brothers grew jealous of Joseph’s favour and sold him to slave traders. The cruel journey of walking through the wilderness in chains wouldn’t have compared to the emotional pain of rejection from his own flesh and blood.
The slave traders then sold Joseph to Potiphar in Egypt, where he would serve Pharaoh. Still dealing with the injustice from his family, he had to quickly adapt to a whole different culture. From farm boy to palace slave, this was a true test of his character.

Despite unfair circumstances, Joseph faithfully did his job. He never tried to prove himself, he just remained honouring, and in turn, God honoured him. So how did Joseph survive? The answer is that he was really serving God, not man. His identity was immersed in his relationship with God, not the treatment served to him. This is where he found his strength.

At request, Joseph was asked to use his God-given talent of dream interpretation, which he faithfully did. Eventually this gift would unlock the destiny of a country. In his faithfulness ‘Joseph found favour in his master’s eyes’ (Genesis 39:4). As Proverbs 18:16 says, ‘A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great’. Pharaoh was a pagan loving man, yet his life was greatly moved by the humble service of Joseph. God used Joseph’s spiritual gift and character to rock Pharaoh to the core! From his honouring heart, Joseph would soon be recognised as a powerful leader.

The story doesn’t end there. The injustice towards Joseph continued and the testing of his character tried yet again. After refusing Potiphar’s wife’s attempts to entice him to bed with her, she falsely accused him of sexual harassment and destroyed his reputation. Now talk about unfair!

Yet the favour of God continued to rest on Joseph as he again chose to honour despite circumstance. Even in prison he remained faithful to God and man. Genesis 29:1 tells us that, ‘The Lord was with him; He showed kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in prison.’

Joseph was eventually reunited with his brothers years later. Only now, Joseph was a powerful man – he had gone from prisoner to prime minister. Despite his position, he remained true to his heart of honour and was still gracious, humble and forgiving towards those who wronged him, and in-turn the favour of God on his life grew.

God certainly didn’t condone the Pagan leadership of Pharaoh, or the unjust treatment of Joseph from various characters in the story, yet Joseph was blessed for his ability to honour despite the behaviour of those in authority. Let this be the point for today – it isn’t our job to manage our leaders/parents/boss – that is for God to handle. Our job is to steward our own heart and honour the person, despite their actions – for there is blessing in honour.

‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters’ (Colossians 3:23).

Genesis 39:5
“From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.”
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Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th November 2017

In the words of C.S Lewis, ‘Hardships often prepare an ordinary person for an extra ordinary destiny’.

There is something to be said for people that embrace life’s challenges as an opportunity for growth, a time to develop character, and ultimately glorify God. Submitting to the process of the potter’s wheel may rarely be comfortable, but the finished product is beautiful. Like a mess of clay in a potter’s hand is the beginning of something wonderful, so a submitted mess of a life is of more value to God than a polished pieace of perfection.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, ‘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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong’.

The hard fact is that it is not reality to embrace a promise for your life and expect there to be no process involved.
When you exercise your body properly and have muscle pain the following day, that pain is actually a product of ripped muscle fibres that then repair, building muscle stronger than ever, thus giving you more strength and definition. After a deep cut, the scar that then forms in repairing the wound, is actually far stronger skin than the skin that was originally there. A bone when it breaks and reforms is stronger than ever after the healing process. Likewise, when we undergo the pain of process, we are becoming stronger, wiser, sharper and more powerful than before.

Difficulties and obstacles are God’s challenges to faith. You may feel like God has moved you to a road that you didn’t see yourself on, but just wait and let patience do its’ work. It is often the difficult road that leads to a beautiful destination. Keep on moving and trust the potter!

2 Corinthians 1:8

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.”
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Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 27 November 2017

Do you have a dream in your heart? Are you in need of a miracle? Do you find yourself in a situation that you need to see turned around?
Be encouraged today knowing that God is more eager to perform miracles than you are to see them.

If you and I want to see the miraculous in our lives, we must first understand that we have a part to play in our breakthrough as much as God does…

When we establish what we’re supposed to do, and then trust God to do what only He can do, you can be confident of seeing God do something incredible in and through your life.

Consider the role of a farmer… He sows the seeds, he then waits for growth, and then he goes back to work when the harvest has come.

That right there gives us a picture of how we’re supposed to work with God in order to see the supernatural in our lives.

We’re responsible for sowing seeds. We’re responsible for doing the legwork. We’re responsible for creating an environment that is conducive to growth. And once we’ve done what we’re capable of doing, we can then rest and allow God to do what we’re incapable of doing, which is bringing about the growth and change.

But also note that your work doesn’t end there… You must then make preparations for the harvest.

You see, many people only take care of one area. They either sow seeds that they aren’t prepared to handle once they’ve sprouted, while others are waiting on a harvest that they haven’t sown seeds for.

If today, we can recognise that God is looking for us to take care of the before and after, we then give Him something to work with in the middle.

You will be amazed at what happens in your life when you do your best and watch how God takes care of the rest.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 25th November 2017

We should never dwell on disappointment, because if we do, we will never get to where we are going.

We will always get disappointed in life, that’s a fact, but choosing to stay in that disappointment is up to us.

God has a great future for each of us, but life’s journey will always throw things at us and the enemy of our souls, the Devil himself, will always try to convince us it’s not worth moving on.

In Genesis chapter 11, we read that God asked Terah (Abraham’s Father) to take his whole family to Canaan (the promised land) and they set out, but on the way it says they settled in Haran and Terah died there, not reaching his destiny.

In verse 28 we read that Haran, Terah’s other son, died.
When Terah got to the place called Haran and settled there, maybe it was because all the old memories of his son, Haran, came flooding back.
Maybe, just maybe, the disappointments of the past caused him to stop short of his destination.

Today, beware of disappointments. They will come.
But choose to learn from them and get over them quickly… and then move on.
Do not stay in disappointment.
Do not pause where you aren’t supposed to.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th November 2017

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 I 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 a totally backwards way of living. What we should be saying is: “how can I 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 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 to 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 – 23rd November 2017

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 you a garment of praise instead of a faint spirit.’ ‘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’s 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 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 on the Devil more than rising above our feelings and choosing praise, declaring our victory, and speaking out the goodness of God.

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd November 2017

God always does the right thing , even if it takes a long time.

When much time passes between when God promises something and when He eventually fulfils it, we often behave like small children who can’t wait for Christmas. We don’t like waiting, and we fear we have been forgotten.

It’s easy to see why Abraham in the Bible became impatient. When God sent him out from the area where he lived, he promised him that he would possess the land of Canaan, have many descendants, and his offspring would become a great nation. The fulfilment of that promise would bring him great joy, but after ten years, God had still not delivered on His promise.

Let’s take a look at what that decade looked like for Abraham:

-he left his family and his country, even though he didn’t know where he was going.
-he lived through a famine.
-he feared Pharaoh and lied to him.
-he experienced family conflict.

And after all of this he still had no son, and so he wanted to know if the deal was still on, or had God forgotten what He had promised.

God then spoke to him again…

Genesis 15:1, 5 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’ He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’

Even after this reassurance, he started to take things into his own hands by sleeping with his maidservant and producing their ‘own’ version of what God wanted to do supernaturally. Big mistake.

God’s ways, and his sense of timing, are not like ours even though it may seem like a long time to us. God always does what is right, and He always does it at the right time. He always comes through.

The promise came to pass when Abraham was in his nineties.

As a young man of nineteen, I experienced what I can only describe as the audible voice of God. My encounter with God informed me that I was to be the Pastor of the Church that I had been taken to as a child and was still attending.

This came as a complete shock and surprise, so I decided to keep it to myself. I told no one for fear of seeming to take the matter into my own hands. As I waited for the promise to come to pass, there was absolutely no sign that it could be possible. After a few years I questioned God as to why he had forgotten what He had said, and while He still wanted me in my career at that time. His simple answer came back and told me ‘it’s all good preparation!’

God was preparing me and eventually I was asked eight years later to become what God had told me that I would. I was appointed as the Pastor of the church and the rest is history.

God’s promise to you is real. He may even be ready right now for you to receive it, but is unlikely that you are…and so He waits.

Don’t lose heart today. God never forgets.

My prayer for you today…

Lord, I ask that you help my friends have patience when it seems like a long time since they have heard from you. Help them to be obedient when your leading seems so strange, to ask questions when they do not understand, to trust you when they do not find answers, because you always do the right thing. Amen.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st November 2017

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 Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th November 2017

Do you ever get frustrated that your prayers seem to go unheard? Do you wish you could see even just a small breakthrough in your prayer life?
I believe that the answer lies here, in that there’s only one kind of prayer that God answers…the prayer that’s prayed in faith.

Could it be that the reason we see so little in our lives, is because we expect so little in our prayers?

What is faith?

You may say, “I believe God can do it!” But that’s not faith; that’s just a fact. God can do it whether you believe it or not.

“I believe God might do it” is not faith either. That’s hope.

“I believe God will do it” — that’s faith.

Some people are praying, and they think because they’re asking for good things that they want, God will answer their prayer. But desire is not faith. It can lead to faith, but it’s not faith.

If I take a seed and plant it in the ground and in a few months, it sprouts and I get a tomato plant from it, is that a miracle? No. I simply cooperated with the laws of God’s universe, and it happened. When I pray, believing and following the conditions laid out in the Bible and God answers, is that a miracle? No. It is simply in line with the universal laws of life that God has ordained.
The Bible says, “according to your faith,” not according to your ability, your education, or how good a person you are. If you have an honest relationship with God, have forgiven others, and you’re asking God in faith — you have every right to expect God to answer your prayers.

Ask and you will receive.

Mark 11:24-25 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th November 2017

You often hear the phrase “in the meantime”. What exactly does that mean?
The meantime is a place between two places,
Often when one thing has finished and before another starts.

Sometimes we can have a ‘meantime’ in our lives and here are a few things that happen….

– We get a lack of decision, we cannot decide

– We suffer from procrastination, we keep putting things off

– We compromise, we go with the flow instead of waiting

– We settle for a quick fix, a quick answer instead of the real thing

– We get involves in wrong things , we try to find fulfilment in lots of different areas.

– We get anxious about our waiting.

Use the meantime wisely. Let God use it as a time to teach you and for you to grow.

Maybe, you are having a ‘meantime’ because you are not quite ready for the next phase or maybe God wants to bring something out of you and work something through you.

God promised Abraham that he would be a Father of many, yet he couldn’t quite wait for God’s promise. It was during that ‘meantime’ that he took matters into his own hands and made quite a mess of things because he couldn’t wait.

Make sure that during your ‘meantime’ you do the following
– Stay focused
– Shut out all the negatives
– Know that He has a purpose for you
– Keep trusting
-Keep your channels open by praying and reading God’s word – that way you will be open to His encouragement
– Learn quickly – the quicker you do, the sooner your meantime will end and you will be on to the next season of your life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th November 2017

If I asked you where the richest place in the world was, I wonder what you’d say?

For some, our minds would immediately think of some of the cities that we’ve seen on TV or even been to ourselves. New York, Los Angeles or even London would probably be high on the list, but they would all be wrong. The richest place in the world is in fact…the cemetery!

It’s not because people are buried with their earthly valuables, but because they die with their greatest treasure, which is their unfulfilled dreams.

In the graveyard, there are songs that were never written, cures that were never developed, buildings that were never built and lives that were never changed, all because of the fear of failure. So many dreams are taken to the grave unrealised. Just imagine how different the world could be today if we were able to dig up all of the dreams buried in every cemetery and bring them to life.

We know of course that we can’t do that, but one thing that we can all do is to be determined to live out the dreams that we have while we are alive.

Let’s not make the graveyards any richer by being afraid to ever fulfil the reason that God placed us on this planet.

You are alive today to make a difference, so be determined from this day forward, to live FULL and die EMPTY.

Proverbs 24:30-34 One day I walked by the field of an old lazybones, and then passed the vineyard of a lout; They were overgrown with weeds, thick with thistles, all the fences broken down. I took a long look and pondered what I saw; the fields preached me a sermon and I listened: “A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, with poverty as your permanent houseguest!”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th November 2017

On a recent four-day canoe expedition, I noticed massive trees that obviously once stood strong on the side of the river, now with exposed root systems, collapsed in the river. Upon questioning the tour guide as to what happened to the trees, he explained that the constant flow of the river water on the trees’ root system, compromised the strength of roots, and eventually caused the tree fall. This is a picture of the power of consistency. A once well-established tree is totally undermined by the subtle, but steady flow of the water, that then falls dead in the river.

Doing the same thing over and over can be exhausting and sometimes disheartening. We can be waiting and waiting for results. Praying day in and day out. Hoping and seeing nothing. Serving with no apparent fruit. Doing the right thing, with no evident reward. The fact is though, that consistency does eventually pay off. That is a promise from God. In Galatians 6:9, ‘And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up’.

God honours a perseverant spirit and obedient heart. Just because people may not be paying attention to what you are doing, it doesn’t mean it is not what God asked you to do. Just because there hasn’t been breakthrough, it doesn’t mean God isn’t at work. Just because you are still waiting, it doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. Sometimes we just need to do what God has asked of us, and trust that there is fruit in following His kingdom principle.

Have you ever noticed that Jesus never taught us how to deal with unanswered prayer? That is because Jesus never thought about prayer going unanswered! He knew that the answer would come, but consistency was required of our character. Character means you remain consistent in seasons when you aren’t seen, you can’t see, and you don’t feel like it, so you can reap in the season to come. In the words of Paul, ‘Be patient in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer’ (Romans 12:1).

When we demonstrate consistency, we actually display the nature of God. Hebrews 6:19-20, describes the faithfulness of God as a ‘steadfast anchor for the soul’.

Don’t give up! Those giant trees of your life will eventually fall, keep your steady stream of consistency going.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th November 2017

Psalm 27:4 – ‘One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in his temple’.

David’s heart and affection was fixed solely on God. After removing Saul, God made David king. He testified concerning David saying, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’” (Acts 13:22).

What an amazing thing for God to say of you! The heart of David should be the pursuit of our lives. God is looking for people who are after His heart. Whose affections are fixed on “one thing” – wholly seeking Him.

A mind and heart that is not on one thing is divided. Division of mind and heart is a life of confusion, delayed growth and unstable ground. Philippians 1:8 says, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”.

Racehorses are often given blinders – for the purpose of keeping them focused when racing round a racecourse.
Blinders keep the horse’s eye focused on what is ahead, rather than what is at the side or behind. Likewise, as we run our race we need to put blinders on our heart and “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). We cannot have a fixed focus on multiple things if we are running for the win. Matthew 6:24 says, “…no one can have two masters”.

When we are confused as to where to fix our affection and focus, God simplifies things – ‘…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you’ Matthew 6:33.

Mark 3:25 “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
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Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 14th November 2017

I was a typical teenager when I constantly pestered my Mom and Dad for my first moped. They were pretty much against it from the start, but I can only presume that my argument about all my mates having been allowed to have one had suitably worn them down.

I was amazed when they both came home together one day and announced that they had been to a motorbike shop and put a deposit on a second hand 50cc bike.

The day to go and collect it couldn’t come quick enough as far as I was concerned, however, the look of concern on my parents’ faces meant they had very different feelings.

It wasn’t the most handsome of bikes; It was bright yellow, had only three gears and struggled to get over 35 mph.

I’ll never forget the very first night that I officially took it on the road. A new helmet, jacket and leather gloves were part of my new life as a biker and off I went to meet a friend that had also been allowed to get such a piece of equipment.

As we teamed up, I informed him that I’d lead the way and he should stay close behind. We’d hardly gone down the road, when I couldn’t see him through my rear view mirrors, so I decided to start to look over my shoulder to see where he was. Without knowing it, the more I looked behind the more I was steering of course, and without any warning the next thing I know was that I was flying through the air, landing on the pavement with my bike beside me. I couldn’t believe it; I’d been a motorcyclist for all of 10 minutes and my parents worst nightmare had come to pass.

Thankfully, myself and the bike had just a few scrapes. With a great sense of embarrassment I quickly brushed myself down, straightened the bent mudguard and mirrors and pretended like nothing had happened. Safe to say that I never repeated that incident ever again, even though I rode much bigger bikes as the years went on. I always told myself…never look behind you for too long.

That story is a powerful life lesson in how to stay focused on the course that God has got for your life. Having a preoccupation with those behind can often end in disaster.

Are you on a collision course today, simply because you keep concerning yourself with everyone else’s business? Yes, we should be concerned for others, that’s what we do, but when you feel the need to keep your eyes on them, rather than on the road that you are supposed to be on, you will never have a great future.

God has got a very specific course for your life and will differ to everyone else’s. You’re unique in who you are and in what you will be asked to do. Don’t spend your time worrying as to whether everyone else’s is staying on course, you could well be losing your own life in the process.

Make a fresh decision today to stay focused on the road ahead, so that you will get the destination that God has especially called you to.

Feel like you’ve gone off course?

Lying in a heap right now because you’ve been paying too much attention to what’s behind you?

Preoccupied with everyone else’s journey?

Don’t give up…pick yourself up, dust yourself down and get back on track.

Proverbs 24:16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.

I love that the Bible never hides from us the fact that we may fall, but then it assures us that we will be lifted up again.

Get back on track today!

Hebrews 12:1-3 …And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th November 2017

I want to talk to you about your name.
In the Old Testament we read how God told Abram that He was going to change his name.
‘Abram’ was not who God intended him to be. So God changed his name to Abraham. (Which meant Father of many).
When his name got changed he wasn’t even the father of one!

God has a name for you that is where you are heading to, not where you are now.

God speaks over your life your future, not your present or your past, but what you WILL become.

We think our name is hopeless, no good, sick, depressed, broke, misfit, failure , loser. We base our names on our past and our past experiences and on our present situations.

Often we can be too consumed with others names, like ‘whose name’ I am wearing. Don’t place too much store in whose name you’re wearing, be more concerned with who you are becoming.

Change your thinking today to see your name as
Blessed.
Successful.
Healed.
Prosperous.
Preacher.
Champion.
Difference maker.
World changer.

Did you know you can change your name by deed poll many times if you’d like, for a few pounds on the internet? You can change it ten times if you want. But it won’t make any difference to you whatsoever.
You will still be the same.

The only one who can make a difference to your life is ‘The name that is above every name’ – Jesus.
He is the one who can change your name today.
He can change your name and your situation.

HE is the difference maker. HE can give you a name of where you are going and who you are going to be.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th November 2017

Today I received a message from my friend, telling me she was at the airport and that she’d see me in a few hours.
Now that was interesting, I thought, maybe she knows something I don’t?
Is she coming to see me from the other side of the world as a surprise?

Within a few short moments it all became clear, the message she’d sent to me, should have been for her husband. She was on her way home from an overseas trip and would see him shortly.

Sometimes, in fact often, we can send the wrong message to the wrong person. Maybe you have done just that, sent a text message to the wrong person. Oops! Sometimes that isn’t good.

But also, we can download our concerns, our worries, our complaining, and even too much information to people, when in fact, it’s God we should be bringing it to.

The Bible is very clear about some things, and one is this… “if your brother offends you, go and see HIM”. Don’t take your ‘gripe’ about someone to someone else, they are now affected by your words, when really you should have gone to the person concerned.

Or how often have you become burdened and concerned about someone else’s burdens and concerns, when they should have taken them FIRST to God?

My experience is this: when I get the message to the right person then it will always be dealt with correctly. When someone comes to me with a concern or burden, I will say “have you prayed about this?” Because I know that God has the power all on His own to deal with their request.

For a few moments, I was left confused by my friends message…you may be left affected by someone’s complaint…
BUT God can take it all. His shoulders are big enough to carry your burdens and your cares at any time of day.
The great thing about getting the message to Him is that He has the power to deal with the situation and with you.

Make sure your message gets delivered to the right person today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th November 2017

I took my wife out for a meal last night, and after the main course we decided to share a dessert sitting in two nice comfy arm chairs by an open log fire. It had already been a full on few days and we had left the house at 7am that morning. I was ready to close my eyes for a few minutes while enjoyed the heat from the fire. It was the perfect moment to escape and spend time together doing nothing.

Within a few minutes the silence was broken as a couple sitting nearby obviously wanted to engage in conversation. If I’m honest I was trying to look disinterested, but then the guy addressed a question to me believing that he’d met me before. In trying to establish where he may have seen me, he asked if I worked at an engineering company that was just down the road from where he lived! Well, one thing led to another and before long they were playing a guessing game as to what we actually did do with our lives. As the gentleman was a salesman, he spoke with a loud voice (as did I) and before long another couple on an adjacent table joined in too.

Five minutes later I was up out of my chair and sitting with the first couple at the table. Their eyes were wide open as we described all that God was doing in our lives and those of the people that we reached each week. They asked me how I’d come to ditch my dream as a chef and end up pastoring a Church. I explained how I’d heard the voice of God calling me to give everything up to follow His dream for my life.

Within a matter of minutes this lovely couple both agreed that they wanted to come along to our Church and try it out, even if it was a 35 minute drive for them.

The last thing they expected last night was an encounter with two people that loved God and that wanted to point the way for them too. In fact the last thing we expected, and actually wanted, was to bump into anyone that needed a conversation with us.

We left the restaurant knowing that we were in the right place at the right time. I privately thought about how different their night would have been if we’d have refused to engage with them in simple conversation just because we just needed an hour or so to ourselves.

You never know whose life you are going to influence just by being available to have a natural and relaxed chat.

Opportunity is walking right by us all everyday, and in many cases just like this one, its sitting right next to you. The question is…are you ready to engage with that opportunity?

I am convinced that most of the boredom that people face in their very ordinary and mundane lives is due to not making the most of every opportunity.

Spice up your life…grab a hold of the next opportunity that comes your way.

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 – 9th November 2017

If I told you that you would get £1000 if you held your breath for 10 seconds, you would do it without thinking twice.

If I told that you that after 9 months of pregnancy you would birth a child that would delight you well into your old age, you would endure the short-term pain (assuming you’re a woman).

If I told you that after 13 years of education you would be qualified to earn a salary for the rest of your life, you would commit to the task of study.

If you knew that after four years of gruelling training, you would win gold at the Olympics, you would keep your eyes on the prize through the pain.

Why then do we struggle to live for eternity?

Our time on earth may be about 80 years long, but that is literally a breath in comparison to our eternity. The investment we make on earth now, we reap for all eternity! Matthew 6:19 says, ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven’.

This life is a short opportunity to make an investment for forever. David the Psalmist put it, ‘You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; each of us is but a breath’ (Psalm 39:5).

Eternity is a concept that our finite minds can struggle to fathom. Yet God says ‘He has set eternity in our hearts’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Every human has a desire for more, and that more is heaven! People who don’t know their true home, try to cover, fill, ignore and hide their longing with temporary, superficial things. But this doesn’t appease the inbuilt desire for more than this earth has to offer. Scripture says that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:10). That means our true identity and home is found in eternity. If we find ourselves deeply unsatisfied with the things of earth, this could be why – we weren’t made for it!

This life isn’t the show. It is the dress rehearsal. This isnt the main meal, it is the entrée, the warm up before the real game. Life is not the destination of our being – we are heaven bound.

Let eternity shift your perspective, and let me ask you, in light of forever, are the things you worry about worth robbing you of your joy today? Is that grudge you hold really worth robbing you of your ability to love when you have such a short time here? Is that relationship issue you have really worth the lack of peace? Is that which you really want going to count for eternity or just temporary gain? What am I doing today that is an investment for my eternal future? What am I doing today to help others find home? How can I change my use of time? How can I change my thinking?

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th November 2017

Emotions are not bad. God made us with emotions. They enhance our life, tell us what we need, and allow us to navigate the world around us. When we align our emotions with the heart and voice of God, we feel emotions like empathy, compassion, passion, righteous anger, and love, which God can powerfully use as tools to minister to others.

Kris Vallotton puts it like this, ‘emotions make excellent servants and terrible masters’. In other words, your feelings have a place in your life, but they cannot rule your life. What you should do isn’t always what you feel like doing. You don’t always feel like going to the gym, you don’t always feel like speaking with kindness, you don’t always feel like forgiving, but we do the right thing because we know what is good for us. I’m sure Jesus didn’t feel like dying on the cross, but he said, ‘…yet not my will, but yours be done’ (Luke 22:42).

Feelings aren’t always truthful. They aren’t always in touch with God’s reality. Thankfully, God also made us with a will to manage our emotions – this is the ability to choose our behaviour, despite how we feel. Don’t let your feelings manage your life, let the word of God manage your life. Ask God to strengthen your will. Managing your emotions means recognizing why you feel what you feel, and bringing it to God for processing.

King David was a very emotional man. He was a musician, so I assume that God made his temperament more of a “feeler” than a “thinker”. You just have to skim through the Psalms to notice his rollercoaster of emotions. I believe God left everything from David’s praises, to his complaints, in scripture so we could see that even as ‘a man after God’s own heart’, he still experienced the weight of heavy feelings.

Becoming emotionally healthy is a God journey. It is a process, and it is a skill. In 1 Samuel 30:6, scripture says, ‘David was greatly distressed because men were talking of stoning him…BUT David found strength in the Lord his God’. This emotional man also leant how to encourage himself in God.

Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:37). The soul of your personhood includes your feelings and emotions. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to love God through your emotions today.

Ephesians 6:11-17

“Put on the full armor 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
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Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 7th November 2017

I was at the gym recently and was about to work out on one of the machines. As I was choosing what weight I wanted to use, I noticed something about that stack of weights…
All of the lower numbers, indicating how heavy the weights were, had been worn off, however, the higher the weight got, the clearer they became to read.

The reason for this was that the lighter weights were more commonly used, but the heavier weights weren’t used so often, meaning that they had received less wear and tear.

The same illustration can be applied to life… The choice is yours as to how high you climb, but there are a couple of things you may want to consider before making your ascent.

The higher you go in life, the lonelier it becomes. Things become harder, struggles become more difficult, and the route to get there is anything but easy. If you want your life to soar, you’re going to have to lose some people along the way. Not everybody will be able to cope with where you’re heading.

Now, if moving upwards in life seems less attractive, allow me to remind you of the views that await you there – the higher you climb, the clearer the view becomes. It’s less polluted, because much fewer people have managed to reach such heights.

If you find yourself making the decision as to whether the climb is worth it, know that what awaits you when you get there will have made the process every bit worth it… Keep on going!

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 6th November 2017

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.

Friday night in our house is usually date night!

It’s a practice that we have held onto for the 33 years of our married life together and it works. Spending one night a week together over a romantic meal, usually at home, means that we get to stay connected and that our love for each other is kept alive.

As the winter draws on, so does the need for the wood burner to be lit, and although Gillian is okay at lighting it, there are a few things in life that make a man feel more manly, one of which is lighting a fire. I know what you’re thinking, but apparently it’s the ‘hunter’ instinct that we possess!

On Friday night, I lit the fire and retreated to the kitchen to conjure up something special for our meal, leaving Gillian to enjoy TV in the lounge.

Admittedly I was gone quite a time, but when I eventually went back in to inform her that the meal was almost ready, I found her surrounded with smoke as she was desperately trying to relight the fire that was now just a pile of smouldering ashes.

After a few choice words with her about my man fire, I couldn’t help but mention the fact that she had only one thing to do, alongside watching TV, and that was to keep an eye on the fire. She made several excuses but none of them valid. She had got so engrossed and focused on her relaxation that she had overlooked the fact that you have to tend to a fire to keep it going. I asked her why she hadn’t noticed it, but she seemed to be totally oblivious.

That episode between us, helps us all to gain perspective on our lives, when it comes to keeping alive the gift that God has given you. How many of us have become so consumed with our own agendas, that we fail to see a once burning fire now just giving off a load of smoke, something that neither gives heat or light and leaves you with a dirty pile of ash?

As we start this week, I wonder if I can challenge you as I challenge myself to ask, where has that fire and passion within you gone?

As Paul in the Bible wrote those words above, he recognised how easy it was to allow the passion for the things of God to start to grow cold; but he also gave us that age old practice of how to get it going again, and that is to ‘fan it into flame’.

All I had to do on Friday, in order to rescue the fire, was to open the door on the log burner and allow more air to get it going again.

Just because things have been burning low of late, don’t let that be the end of it. Simply open the door of your heart and allow the presence of the Holy Spirit to breathe on you once more. Be open to what God wants to do with your life today and instead of being so preoccupied with your own pleasure, start to delight in giving God His rightful place once more.

The gift of God is in you.

Don’t let it go dormant because you couldn’t be bothered to take care of it.

There’s a fire and passion on the inside of every follower of Jesus… if only you’d recognise it.

Be careful not to lose it, just because you weren’t careful to use it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th November 2017

In the New Testament, we read the account of the feeding of the 5000. Jesus did a miracle and fed thousands of people with just 5 loaves and 2 small fish.
There was a need and they needed provision!
It didn’t just go from need to provision, there was a seed sown in between. It was the seed from the young boy of his lunch, he was willing to give it up and let it go.

In the Old Testament, we read the story of a widow who was in need during a famine. She had enough oil and water for one last meal before she would die. The man of God saw her need and that she needed provision and he asked her to sow a seed.
She was to give her last to him by making him something first.
Her need plus her seed resulted in her provision.
For the Bible tells us she received a miracle and her supply did not stop.

Too often for us it looks like this
Need + worry = Need
Need + complaining = Need
Need + crying about our need = Need

God wants us to see this principle.
Need + Seed = PROVISION

Ask the farmer. He has a need of provision for the coming year, it won’t help him to worry or complain about it, or even just pray about it, he needs to sow his seed.

Remember for your need to get to your provision, there has to be the sowing of seed.
It’s the law in the natural and it’s the law in the spiritual.

Watch it work in your life today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd November 2017

I was so moved by a testimony a friend of mine shared over the weekend. He was filling up his car with petrol on his way to church on Sunday. As he went to pay at the counter and elderly lady with a walking frame approached him asking for 50 cents towards a bus ticket. “Of course!” he said and asked where she needed to be. She mentioned her destination and my friend kindly offered to drive her there. So he packed up her walking frame, helped her into her car and began the journey. He was going to be late for church, but this was no doubt a God-ordained appointment. As they sat in the car together he began asking this woman about her life. He quickly learnt that she was not only poor in money, but in love. After listening for a while he said quite directly, “you need God!” They reached the destination and this woman, who he had only just met minutes earlier, accepted Jesus with tears rolling down her checks. He then left her with far more than 50 cents cash and an invitation to church the following week.

There is so much about this story that I love. I love that it was in the ordinary and mundane events of my friend’s day, that God used him. I love that he was willing to put aside his schedule for God’s agenda. I love that Jesus was shown in his act of service, listening ear and generous hand. I love that this woman is forever changed because someone stepped out to love. I am challenged by this story too. I am reminded to not get so caught up in the structures and routines of my life, that I miss the whole point – which is to LOVE.

There are three different versions of the same story of Jesus healing the blind man – Matthew 20:32, Mark 10:51 and Luke 18:41. Jesus had crowds following him, and the blind beggar was shouting for his attention. People shunned the beggar. Despite the three varying accounts of this encounter, there are two things that remain the same in all three accounts. It is noted that “Jesus stopped” and that Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?”. I believe that these details are mentioned by each of the authors, because it matters that Jesus stopped. He stopped His agenda and He stopped for the one to help and the blind man was healed.

There are many other stories of Jesus stopping for the one. The world today promotes the crowds, chases the thousands of followers, listeners and friends, but let’s just take a minute to stop, and ask, “What can we do to help?”

Luke 15:4-7 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
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Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 2nd November 2017

Proverbs 13:20…’Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.’

You and I can never be the kind of person we were intended to be by doing life on our own. Some of the craziest and most dangerous people on the planet are loners. Having various ‘layers’ of relationships in our lives keeps us from going off the rails.

Last weekend we all had to change our watches and clocks to fall in line with daylight savings. So many people got it the wrong way round and instead of putting the clocks back, put them forwards, with some forgetting altogether!

As you woke on Sunday morning, how did you know that the time you had on your watch and phone was the correct one? What if you believed the time you had was right, but in actual fact you were wrong? Everything from thereon would be wrong. You’d either be early or late for everything. It’s almost guaranteed that you relied on someone else close to you to make sure that you had the right time.

In the same way, we all need people who are teaching us, sharing their lives with us, investing in us, and encouraging us, otherwise we could easily be going off on a tangent, believing that we were right when actually we were completely wrong. In fact, to be all that God calls you to be, you need to learn from at least four different kinds of people.

Mentors – These are your coaches. You can have more than one. No one can teach you everything you need to know. One person will teach you in one area. Another person will teach you about something else.

Role models – These are people who are already doing or have already done what you want to do. Many of the skills you’ve learned in your life, you’ve learned by watching others.

Partners – You need co-workers and colleagues who are in your profession, people to support and challenge you to stay on track through your life.

Friends – Friends don’t necessarily help you with your goals. They’re just friends. They love you no matter what you do. You can mess up, and they still love you. A friend walks into your life when everyone else walks out. That’s when you know who your friends are.

Trying to live life solo isn’t just lonely. It works against God’s design for us. On the first pages of the Bible, we read that after God created man, He said…’it is not good for man to be alone’.

Loneliness is not just something that you experience because you don’t like your own company, but is a sign that being alone is not right for you. You weren’t created to do life alone.

The craving you have for others in your life is there for a reason, but many people make the mistake of waiting for people to come into their lives, and although that does happen, relationships at each level are there to be pursued. I pursued my wife!!

For example, invite someone that you respect to be your mentor. When you find that person, buy them a coffee, respect the hour that they give you occasionally, and then ask questions. Don’t fall into the trap whereby you feel it’s your chance to talk to them about you for a full 60 minutes. A mentor doesn’t need to hear about you so much as you need to hear from them. In the main, keep quiet, make notes and learn.

Make your goal in life to have ‘layers of relationships’.

Who do you need right now in your life? Pursue that relationship and allow God to bring about some amazing connections to take you to another level. It may take time, and not everyone is the right ‘fit’ for you, but God knows who you need, and when you need them, just be open and He will make sure that the right people come your way.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st November 2017

Are there certain people in your life who bring up feelings of anger in you when you see them? Do negative feelings toward them arise when you so much as think of them? If your answer is yes, then chances are forgiveness might be in order! If you think holding a hidden grudge or attitude doesn’t affect you, you are wrong.

The King Brown Snake is native to Australia and ranks as the world’s second deadliest snake. I’ve encountered several in my lifetime. I saw one on a walk just this weekend been. Once, I found a baby Brown under a towel in my bathroom! Baby snakes are more poisonous than an adult, unable to control their venom, they can kill up to 20 men! That is a pretty potent poison! Were you to get bitten by a snake, you would need to lie as still as possible, minimizing blood flow and therefore the poison getting into your glands. You would also tightly bandage the bite with any clothing available, again restricting the flow of poison throughout the body until you could get some anti-venom into your system.

Like the poison of a snake, unforgiveness starts with a small bite of offense. Left untreated, the venom of bitterness is all consuming and destroys the person.

Forgiving someone who has wronged you is rarely what we feel like doing. Rarely is forgiveness a one off decision, sometimes it is a daily choice, maybe even an hourly choice until we find freedom!
Forgiveness doesn’t make what they did right. What it does do, is free you. It frees you to love, frees you to enjoy life, and frees you to live in peace and wholeness.
If unforgiveness is the venom, then it is Jesus that is the anti-venom. For it is He who gives us the ability to forgive. It is He who forgave us, and therefore empowers us to do the same for those who have robbed from us, slandered against us, and knowingly or unknowingly bought us pain.

Forgiveness involves letting go. It means we trust God to serve justice, and take care of the perpetrator of our pain.

Jesus then takes it up a notch by not only asking us to forgive, but to ‘bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you’ (Luke 6:28). Why on earth would Jesus ask us to not only forgive, but to BLESS those who have wronged us?! The answer is because in the process of prayer you are healed, and your heart is positioned for freedom. When we are praying for blessing on someone who has hurt us, we don’t have time to harbour offensive, and we then move forward free and powerful, no longer enslaved.

Matthew 18:21-35

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st October 2017

I’ve only been sailing once, and like camping…once was enough.

We set sail on an old fashioned wooden schooner around the Greek islands and although the sun shone and there were moments of enjoyment with the rest of the group, the hard work to keep that thing going both day and night took its toll on everyone.

After a few hours of sleep each night, we would be woken from the bow of the ship in order to take our turn to be on night watch up on the deck. I had no idea what I was doing and although I could see the dim lights of the shoreline and hear the engines churning through the waves at the dead of night, there was no sense of moving forwards as progress was so slow.

There’s something quite eerie about being out at sea in the pitch black, and no matter how inexperienced I was as the waves crashed onto the deck, I just held one piece of simple information upper most in my mind while the others slept; I just knew that I had to make sure that there was more water outside of the boat then there was inside of it! With that being the case, we survived!

Often in life, we will find ourselves in stormy waters. Waters that feel like they are going take us under, and yet we just have to adopt that very same principle…keep the water outside of the boat.

You can’t sink a ship, no matter how fierce the storm, unless you allow the waters from the outside to get on the inside. If the storm keeps coming, the lightning keeps flashing and the thunder keeps thumping all through the night, what matters is that you keep all of what is going on around you, out of you.

The disciples were caught in a raging storm on the lake one night and Jesus was fast asleep down below. They were sure that they were going to drown, that was until they woke Jesus; He simply addressed the storm and said ‘peace, be still’.

Today, Jesus wants you to know that He’s right there with you and no matter how bad it is right now outside of the boat, he says to you…be at peace. Be still.

No one can promise you that life is going to be plain sailing, however if you will simply allow Jesus into the boat of your life he will keep you in perfect peace.

Why not call on him right now?

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th October 2017

When God prompts us to surrender, it isn’t always what we feel like doing. We might even find ourselves ignoring His whisper to “lay it down”, and carry on despite a lack of peace. Yet the sense of freedom and release that comes when we give up what we know we should, and submit to the authority of God, is like no other.

In Romans 12:1 Paul appeals to us in saying, ‘…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship’. The words “living” and “sacrifice” don’t really go together – in fact they have almost opposite meanings. “Living” means, “to be alive” and the word “sacrifice” means to “give up” or “kill”. How can you be alive and killed at the same time?

When sacrificing an animal according to God’s law, a priest would kill the animal, cut it in pieces and place it on the alter. Sacrifice was important, but even in the Old Testament, God made it clear that sacrifice and surrender from the heart was much more important (1 Samuel 15:22, Psalm 40:6, Amos 5:21-24).

God wants us to be fully alive, but fully surrendered. Living, but choosing to daily let go of those things we hold tight and put to death that which we know we should.

Don’t simply incorporate Jesus into your life, rather than fully submit. When you aren’t submitted you are open to influence of other things that want to distract your mind and heart, and rob your peace and inheritance.
Will God love us any less if we don’t surrender that thing we know we should? Of course He won’t love us less! But will we walk into all that God has for us if we surrender? Yes! Will we find peace in surrender? Yes!

Whatever heavy weight you are carrying, precious thing you are holding tight, or burden you keep pulling, find true peace and freedom in surrender.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th October 2017

David was faced with a giant and a giant decision…

Did he go back the way he came and ignore the taunts of the enemy? Or did he do something about it?

What could he do? He was only a young teenager and Goliath was a GIANT.

Thankfully, he decided to do something about it…and with what he had, and what he knew…a sling shot and a few stones, he took down the mighty Goliath and the rest is history.

You see, David slew Goliath because he saw injustice and something that wasn’t right.

When you and I get passionate about something that’s not right, then we are in the right place for God to use us.

How many times are we faced with situations of injustice and things that aren’t right – but we choose to walk away, bury our heads, decide it’s too much trouble, and certainly not wanting to lose our popularity we choose the easiest option, which is do or say nothing?

David took on a mighty force with God on his side and defeated the enemy. You can make a difference today wherever you are and whatever you face.

If you can’t be bothered, you won’t get your David versus Goliath moment and the injustice will continue.

Stand up today and be strong. Take courage. For God is surely with you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th October 2017

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

You may not reap WHEN you sow, but you will definitely reap WHAT you sow.

Pick up an apple and take a bite; now eat the whole thing. I can guarantee that there is still some remaining. The part that’s left is of course known as the core. Have you ever wondered why that even an apple has a protection system built around its seed? It’s there to stop you eating it. The core of the apple is shouting out to you as you eat it….’don’t eat my seed…sow it’.

By eating the seed you not only realise that it’s not that tasty, but you actually take away its future by doing so. Eating any kind of seed means that it’s very life has now been extinguished, whereas keeping that seed in order to sow it means that it has the ability to multiply.

For most of us reading this today, it comes as no real revelation, but what amazes me is how little do we practice what even the fruit and vegetable kingdom teach us, let alone the Bible.

You can always tell what a person will be growing in their life by looking at what they’re sowing in their life. You don’t get oranges by sowing apples and you don’t get something by sowing nothing. The law of sowing can never ever be erased or bypassed in any area of your life.

That seed holds for that one apple the promise of multiplication.

To receive love you first have to give away love.

If you want to have lots of friends then you first must sow friendship seeds.

Even money is multiplied by giving it away and is spoken of more in the Bible than even Heaven!

Whenever you hang on to stuff hoping that you will be better off by doing so, you will always fall flat on your face, simply because you tried to keep your seed rather than sowing your seed.

Recently a earthenware pot was found and was dated back to being around 2000 years old. Inside the pot they discovered a handful of seeds. Those seeds had sat there from the time of Jesus. They had never amounted to anything, yet someone decided to sow them in the right conditions and within weeks they had started to sprout and turn into what they always been intended for. The problem was never with the seed, only with the sower.

What is that you are lacking today? What’s stopped growing in your life? What harvest are you waiting for? Then my question is simple: what are you sowing?

Start right away and then let that seed produce what it was always intended for.

You could carry a packet of seeds in your pocket for the rest of your life, but would never see them bloom into the picture on the front. You could show everyone your seeds and believe that your seeds have the power to grow into something beautiful, but they never will…until you sow them.

One thing is for sure: no farmer that knows anything about sowing and reaping would be foolish enough to keep looking over his fields every day unless he first sowed his seed.

Start to sow today and watch this space.

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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th October 2017

One gorgeous summer I went surfing during a beach day out with some friends. I was using my Dad’s surfboard. I tied the leg rope around my ankle at the shore and paddled my way out to where the surf was breaking. I waited on the water. A good-looking wave came and I paddled my hardest until I caught a sense of the wave carrying me. As I stood up, I quickly fell off and plunged into the sea, but the wave was still pulling the heavy surfboard along! Being a lightweight youth, I quickly sped through the water by my ankle. There was no way I could come up for air. The underwater drag was so strong and the mass of water overwhelming. It was scary. Somehow in that moment, I knew the only way to survive this was to ride it out under the water. To hold my breath, and know that the wave wouldn’t last forever, and the calm was inevitable. Of course I lived to tell in the tale!

We can also feel that underwater, gasping for air – type drag in our in day-to-day life. Overwhelmed and pulled by our worries, and just waiting for a break! Even the mundane expectations of life can collate, build and become an all-consuming wave. The temptation to worry about all the “What ifs” and unknowns of tomorrow is real.

In Matthew 6:34, Jesus says, ‘Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

I love this scripture for three reasons:

1) God isn’t naïve to the fact that life has struggles that pull us under. He acknowledges them and tells us to let the wave of today’s troubles come and pass.

2) I love that Jesus frees us by commanding us to just be present and focus on today, despite our worries. He calls us to leave the future to Him. Focus on being present, using what you have today and being faithful with now! One step at a time, you will get where you need to.

3) God doesn’t want us to view tomorrow’s potential issues with today’s grace. Wait for the fresh grace and ability when you get to tomorrow! Of course you feel under-equipped for the circumstances of tomorrow, because you aren’t there yet and He has promised to give us all we need for today and will give us what we need for tomorrow, tomorrow. That isn’t a maybe, that is a promise!

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th October 2017

Right from the opening scene of day one on the planet, the Bible records for us the classic line when it comes to temptation…”did God really say”.

For anyone today that’s reading this and feeling pretty smug that you would never ever be caught out by temptation, then take heed, you are a prime candidate to slip and fall…

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

Being tempted is something that every person on the planet faces; Temptation, said Oscar Wilde, is like birds flying over head, but sin is when you allow them to nest in your hair.

Temptation isn’t sin, it’s just part of our every day experience, but you do have to recognise and deal with it, otherwise you could lose your life, job, family, future and your reputation.

Here are four statements for you to keep fixed in your mind, in order to help you stay strong and avoid being caught in its trap;

The PURPOSE of temptation is to get you to do what you vowed you never would. It will never come in an evil disguise but will always appear as sweetness and light.

The POWER of temptation is such, that you actually believe that what you counted as totally unacceptable, is now thoroughly acceptable.

The PREFERENCE of temptation is that you continue to serve God, but do so as an outright hypocrite.

The POISON of temptation is so strong, that those that challenge your lifestyle, who you once held dear, will now be treated as enemies rather than friends.

The greatest truth that you need to know today is that you can say NO to temptation.

Remember: there’s always free cheese on a mousetrap.

Don’t lose your whole life for one quick moment of pleasure.

Walk away..say no!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th October 2017

Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Sitting in an airport is not something that anyone really likes doing, but it is a must if your are going to travel anywhere of any distance. The wait seems never ending, but I must admit on the occasions of rushing through customs and then running to the plane that’s just about to leave, and on one occasion did, is an option much less preferred.

Having gone through customs and secuirity, a couple of weeks back with my wife and son, we decided to find a seat, grab a bite to eat and at least pass the time away. No sooner had we settled down in an already crowded area, when we watched a meticulously dressed man drop his plastic bottle of Coke on the floor and see it explode and spray all over him. No one even moved as he sat there in sheer embarrassment all alone. I got up and told him to stay there while I found a member of the cleaning staff and at the same time Caleb ran and got some tissues, started to mop it up and help the guy get cleaned up. I felt so sorry for him.

As he was getting sorted, Caleb arrived with a new bottle of coke that he’d decided to buy from WHSmith.

The guy was so taken back by the gesture, that at first he refused to accept, but after realising our insistence, he gratefully received. That small gesture of kindness opened the door for us to chat further with him and I said that I would like to guess what he did for a job, being so smartly dressed. After the first guess of ‘businessman’, I quickly changed it to ‘Church Pastor’. He couldn’t believe that I’d guessed what he did and proceeded to ask how we even mention such a thing. I told him that we too were Pastors and that we could see it in his eyes that he too was a believer in Jesus. (When Jesus lives in you, then the light shines out of your eyes).

He told us how he was travelling from a conference all alone and was on his way back home several thousands of miles away. He was the pastor of an amazing church. He left me his email address and we parted company.

I have never since contacted him, but I couldn’t help but think out of all the thousands of people in the airport that day, that God allowed us to be a blessing to a man of God in need.

Friend, you never know who you may need to help today, but remember whoever it is, you are being sent to make someone’s day.

Ask yourself, if you were in need, wouldn’t you like someone to treat you with respect and kindness? Then do to others what you’d wish for them to do to you…and you never know…you could even be entertaining an angel and not know it.

Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd October 2017

Joseph was a dreamer, in fact God gave him some incredible dreams. Joseph also had people who tried to crush and decry his dream.
Joseph was his Dad’s favourite and his brothers weren’t impressed with that at all, especially when he told them that one day he was going to rule over them (not wise maybe). God told Joseph that he was going to be a great leader one day and Joseph went after his dream.
On the way to that dream, things didn’t turn out as Jospeh had thought or planned. He first found himself in a pit, sold into slavery and ended up in prison. But his dream, God’s dream for his life, was fulfilled and Joseph became a mighty leader and indeed he did rule over his family.

On the way to your dream, you will have people who will discourage you, laugh at you and even physically try and stop you…watch out for dream killers.

On the way to your dream, you will encounter circumstances that will be opposite to what you thought they would be… watch out for those too.

Make sure that you hold firm to the dream that God has placed in your heart. Go after it and don’t turn from it.

Great plans never happen without great sacrifices and great victories are never won without great battles.

Don’t let the negative deter you from what God has for your life. Be an overcomer.
And remember, just like Joseph, nothing great ever came easily.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st October 2017

In the Old Testament, in the book of 2 Kings, we read about Naaman the commander of the army who had leprosy.
He was told to see the man of God in a certain country who could help him and on the way he went to visit the King of that country and took gifts.

I love this story for various reasons, but here is a great thought: when you are about to receive something, take a gift with you in anticipation of what you are about to receive.
It may be a physical gift, like flowers etc when you go to someone’s house for a meal – it’s a wonderful way of saying “thank you for having me, I really appreciate it.”
Naaman took gifts to the King, which was a great custom, because he was about to receive something FROM the King.

When you go to Church, when you enter God’s presence, bring that same attitude of gratitude with you, that says “I am thankful for what I am about to receive.”

Never come with a selfish attitude or a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude. But come humbly and gratefully.

When you go for a meal to someone’s home, they have lovingly prepared something (that has also cost them something) and so go gratefully. When you go to Church, someone has prepared something for you that has cost love and time, go gratefully.

A lot of us struggle with being grateful AFTER the event, let alone before.
“I’ll be thankful IF I’ve enjoyed the meal, I’ll be thankful IF I’ve enjoyed the service…”

Come on, let’s change that culture and be grateful ON THE WAY to receive.

When I sit down for a meal, whether it be a simple breakfast or a nice dinner I always thank God for what I am about to receive. Put that culture into your own heart and family. Teach children at a young age to be thankful for what they are about to receive.

It’s amazing how much better your experience of Church and all aspects of life will be, when you come with a grateful attitude.

By the way, Naaman received his miracle of healing…and God will surely always bless a thankful heart.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th October 2017

‘… In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it…’ Isaiah 40: 3 -5

Preparing a straight highway means removing obstacles and rolling out the red carpet for the coming of the Lord. The desert is a picture of life`s trials and sufferings. Isaiah told people to prepare to see God work.

Often as Christians we can be lazy in the wait for God to breakthrough. We can have an attitude of “I`ll have faith, when God shows up”, or “when the breakthrough happens, then I will make myself ready”. “When my non-Christian friend finds God, then I will talk to him about God”. “When I find out I`m pregnant, then I will prepare the baby’s room”. “When God provides the finances, then I will bless others”. “When I lose weight, then I will finally feel happy about myself”. “When they decide to be nice to me, then I will talk to them”. “When the leaders ask me to lead, then I will make myself ready”. “I`ll thank God when He brings my miracle”.

Stepping out in faith, means making a way in assurance that God will come through. I believe our breakthrough is often on the other side of showing God that we are prepared and ready for him to fill the space we have made. This could mean making space in our hearts, minds or quite literally, making a physical space in our lives.

Our mentality should instead be, “I will tell my friend about God, so he finds God”. “I will make a physical space in my life in expectation of a miracle”. “I will bless others in faith that God will provide for me”. “I will learn to love myself, so I look after myself”. “I will be kind to others, in faith that they will come to find friendship with me”. “I will prepare my heart and life for the call that God has in store for me, so when I am released, I am ready”. “I will praise God now for what I know is coming”.

What things are you anticipating God to do in your life and how you can practically make a way for their arrival?

Hebrews 11:1

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

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 19th October 2017

Matthew 9:27-30 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.

I want you to see something here today that will help shape the rest of your life. If you don’t get this, you will somehow miss out on some of the greatest adventures that God has got lined up for your future.

Jesus didn’t say according to MY power; He said according to YOUR faith.

God’s power is always ready and available, and yet we find that we have to activate that very power with our faith. He wants you and I to participate with Him otherwise He would randomly give it out all day without anyone asking.

Charles Spurgeon called it the rule of God’s kingdom; If you believe God a little, He will bless you a little. If you believe Him for much, He will bless you with much.

All of God is everywhere all of the time, yet His unlimited power is restricted and released ‘according to your faith’.

When I first read the Bible as a new Christian, I was blown away by this verse and decided that if it were really true then it would stand up to any test that I put it through. That very first test was when I was a student and really wanting to go to a Christian concert. It was a ticket only event and I was pretty much broke.

I managed to scrape just enough money to purchase a ticket at the concert hall, but when I arrived, to my dismay, there was nowhere to park except on a pay and display car park at the arena. There were huge signs everywhere that threatened heavy fines and wheel clamping should you fail to purchase a car park ticket.

My dilemma was to pay for a ticket OR pay to get into the concert, but I couldn’t do both. Then it came to me, that if God’s word were true then I had to trust Him one way or another. I decided to use my money to buy a car park ticket and then figure it out from there.

Without any money left in my pocket, but faith rising in my heart, I went and stood in a long line to get into the concert. This was easy I began to think, as there were at least 50 people in front of me; but as the line grew shorter and I got nearer the entrance, my faith started to get tested.

I was now almost at the entrance with only three people in front of me waiting to pay, so I let up a quick nervous prayer asking God whether to bail or stand my ground, but whatever needed to happen needed to happen fast.

I was just about to face the inevitable, when the security doors in front of us flew open and a guy came out, waving a ticket whilst shouting, ‘does anyone need a ticket to get in?’ – I simply reached out and took the ticket and as I did so, I was next in line and walked straight through.

Phew…that was close or was it? It happened ‘according to my faith’. When God saw me standing in line without money, I was making a faith statement that was more powerful than any prayer, and said to God, ‘I’m fully expecting you to turn up for me.’

That night my heart exploded with gratitude at the faithfulness of God. I have ever since then tried to live a life of simple faith and trust that God would turn up according to my faith in any and every situation.

As you start this brand new day, I challenge you to believe God by placing your trust in Him in much the same way. What are you expecting God to do today?

Remember: your expectation is God’s invitation.

Mark 11:24-25 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th October 2017

What is manna? The Israelites asked the very same question when it started falling from the sky! On their way from Egypt to the Promised Land, the Israelites faced harsh conditions and were desperate for food. God then miraculously provided them with “bread from heaven”, called “manna”. The manna appeared fresh each morning.

It could be collected each day, but only for that day alone, and only as much as could be consumed in one day. Out of fear of lack, the Israelites began storing one day’s manna for their future needs. This strategy didn’t go as they planned however! The manna would grow wormy and foul if left for a single day!

Why would God provide manna, only to have it turn stale when people tried to collect and store it for later on? Why couldn’t they live off of yesterday’s manna? The answer is simple – God wanted them to be in a position where they had to seek daily dependence on Him, and source out fresh hope from Him. In the manna going off after a day, it was impossible for the Israelites to not seek total dependence on God. They had to relinquish their effort to become self-sufficient. They had to trust God daily.

In John 6:32-35, Jesus says, ‘Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…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”’.

The ultimate bread of life is Jesus. Like the manna from heaven, we cannot solely live off of our past experiences and encounters with Him. We need daily, fresh sustenance, grace and dependence. God wants us to be needy for Him. In a day and age where self-sufficiency and independence is celebrated, God requires us to desperately want Him. If you need God today, this is exactly where he wants you and you are where you should be!

Perhaps you are still living off of yesterday’s revelation of God, or last year’s miracle, or last Sunday’s connection with Him and you are waiting for the next church meeting before you collect the next lot of manna. Mature Christians know how to eat of the bread daily. They can cultivate intimacy with Christ throughout the week. They keep things fresh and don’t grow stagnant.

Be encouraged that God has all your needs for this very day. See what provisions and spiritual sustenance He has for you right now. Don’t live off of old bread!

Lamentations 3:22-23
“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.”

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.
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Fresh Hope – 17th October 2017

What got you here…won’t get you there.

My first 50cc moped just about got me to college every day. College was just three miles away.

My first ‘real’ motorcycle just about got me to my first real job in London every week. London was a 260 mile round trip once a week.

With my first car, I never knew if it would start or not, and would never trust it on a long journey. Today I never have to stop and think about pushing, bump starting or abandoning the car I have – it will get me to places that I would have never dreamed of travelling to before.

Even with having a reliable car, I still know it’s not a suitable form of transport to take me across the world. That’s going to take a whole different form of travel.

In much the same way, your primary school education got you only to your junior school. Your junior school then got you to your secondary school and then your secondary school got you into college, university or a job.

As absurd in their simplicity as all those things are, we do have a tendency to think differently when it comes to our lives. We feel that what got us to where we are today, is able to get us to the next level tomorrow.

Even the miracle that you experienced from God to get you here is not necessarily going to get you to where you need to be next week or next year.

Moving forwards in life requires this very basic understanding, otherwise we would all go straight from the nursery to the workplace.

In the Old Testament (1 Kings v 17), Elijah announces that there will be no more rain until he says so. He was a pretty amazing and accurate man of God.

When the drought kicked in, God told him that he would be fed meat by ravens every day and then he would wash it down with water from the brook.

One day the brook dried up and the ravens stopped coming, so God gave him a further instruction. This time, his provision would come from a different source – that of a poor widow in a small village a few miles away.

Elijah had a choice to make. He could either stay and keep believing that what supplied his need to that point would continue to sustain him, or he could heed God’s further instruction and set off for the next level of provision.

One would see him die and the other would see him live.

Could it be today that you have mistaken the initial instruction from God in your life as one of permanence rather than one of short term provision to get you to the next part of life’s journey?

So often we make the mistake of staying where we were sustained only to find that we are dying there, simply because we believed that that was the only way God could and would provide for us.

Ask yourself at the start of this brand new day…’have I stayed here too long, when I should have moved on to my next level miracle?’

Don’t get too cozy, complacent and comfortable with where you are right now. Just because God did it that way before He may not do it that way ever again.

How many times do you read in the Bible about Jesus spitting in the eyes of the blind so that they could see? The answer is twice. He never repeated that miracle ever again as far as we know.

Maybe God moved powerfully in your life some time back and you are waiting for the exact same thing again. God rarely does repeats, instead He prepares fresh miracles everyday.

There’s one waiting for you right now if you’ll just open your heart to what he wants to say.

Lamentations 3:22-23 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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th October 2017

Many times we are in need of an answer to prayer and even a miracle. At those times, it’s important to remember the goodness and faithfulness of God. “If He’s done it before, He will do it again.”

In Matthew chapter 14 there is a big need. 5000 men plus women and children need food and Jesus feeds them with just 5 loaves and 2 fish.
Just one chapter later there’s a similar situation, 4000 plus people and a little more food this time, seven loaves of bread.. and Jesus performs another miracle.

Yet in verse 33 of this chapter the disciples are asking “where can we find enough food to feed all these people?” Hello! Haven’t they just witnessed a similar miracle, one with more people and less food? Why are they doubting and asking how it can possibly be done?

Whatever your need today, don’t focus on it – focus instead on the faithfulness of God.
Whatever miracle you need, don’t focus on that need, focus on the miracle working power of God.
Whatever your problem today, don’t focus on the problem, instead focus on the Almighty power of God.

You see, we would think the disciples were stupid here, they’re actually with Jesus and witnessing His miraculous power first hand, yet they’re still doubting!
We are so like that at times.

Failure to see God’s past goodness will limit your faith for your future miracle.

Remember – if He’s done it before, He can do it again!

Rise up in faith today and get ready for your miracle.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th October 2017

I read this quote recently… “If you ignore the urgent it will kill you today, but if you ignore the important it will kill you tomorrow.”

Unfortunately too many people live for what’s urgent and not what’s important .
Busy people can sometimes just deal with urgent stuff, stuff they have to deal with, because it’s ‘urgent’ and therefore they seem to go from one crisis to another.

Some of us wait for something urgent to happen before we pray or before we give or act or love.
Yet, we shouldn’t be urgent people.
We should live and build into our lives good and godly principles that deal with the important things.

Here’s the better way…
Don’t live for what’s urgent. Live for what’s important.

Prayer. Make it a daily part of your life. Make time for prayer. Take time for prayer. Pray consistently. Talk to God often.
Don’t just pray in a crisis, make it part of your daily life.

Give. Don’t wait to be in need, to sow a seed. Make giving part of your lifestyle. Be generous on all occasions and see God’s blessings flow into your life.

Act. Acts of kindness and serving God should be big parts of our day. Don’t live for self, live for God first and others next. Be a person of action not just of words.

Love. Don’t just love when it’s urgent. Love daily. Give yourself in loving ways and see the love flow back to you. What you sow you will reap applies to love also. Be a lover of God and of people.

So today, I urge you to live for what’s IMPORTANT, not what is urgent.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th October 2017

If you’ve ever been to the gym before, you’ll know what I mean when I say it can be one of the most discouraging places to visit. The reason being is that you only have to walk through the front door to be met by someone whose right bicep is the size of your right thigh.

Typically, our first reaction is then to want to walk back out the door saying, ‘what’s the point?!’

I’ll be the first to say that I often allow other people’s journey to discourage my own. I see where they’re at, whether it be on their journey of fitness, or even on their journey of faith, and I become intimidated by where they find themselves in comparison to where I find myself.

But instead of allowing other people’s journey to intimidate us, why don’t we allow it to inspire us?

Let’s realise that they were once that person walking through the front door for the first time, overwhelmed by what they saw, but instead of turning around, they kept on coming back…
They decided to get around those who were further down the road than they, ask questions, learn from them, and believe that one day, they too could get to where they want to be.

Today, don’t resent nor covet what stage of the journey somebody else finds themselves at, but with a righteous contentment, be grateful for where you are, and also possess an eager desire to keep moving forward to be where God wants you to be.

Life was not designed to be a journey that we race in against one another, but one that we embark on together.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 12th October 2017

We don’t have to be a CEO, celebrity, or even a church leader to be a person of significant influence and leadership. It is a lie to believe that we need to have high profile roles in order to change the world.

God has a history of often using unassuming and unlikely individuals to do the greatest things on earth. Take Peter for example. Peter had a bad reputation. Yet Jesus said, Peter will be the one on whom the Church is built. Noah was a drunkard and God used him to repopulate the earth. Abraham was an old man who became the father of Israel and ultimately, the modern Jewish nation. It was through his lineage that many other great heroes came, including Jesus. Moses was a stutterer and God used him to bring his people freedom. Rahab was a prostitute, but would be part of the bloodline to Christ. David was just a shepherd boy, who murdered and committed adultery, but he conquered Goliath, and was made king. Jonah ran from God, and then eventually led the people of Nineveh to repentance. Matthew was a despised tax collector, who left his work behind, followed Jesus, and wrote one of the four gospels. Saul persecuted Christians, and was transformed to write much of scripture encouraging Christians! And then there is Jesus himself – born in an animal feeding trough, to unassuming parents. God sent the king of kings, the saviour of all, in the most humble of ways. The list goes on and on, from the past to the present, of impossible people God has used to change the course of history!

We all have a degree of influence and leadership in our personal world. Every person we connect with is an opportunity for influence. The Devil can’t take away our given call to influence, so his only weapon is to get us to doubt we have the ability, strip our confidence, and get us to question our identity.

Let me encourage you in perhaps your sense of inferiority and insignificance. If we want to be the history makers we are called to be, let us not chase the fame, power and wealth with think we need in order to have influence. Let us first steward well the one or two people we have already been given. God is simply looking for humble people, who own their story. People who acknowledge their weaknesses and find strength in God. People who ‘seek first His kingdom’ (Matthew 6:33) and ‘delight themselves in the Lord’ (Psalm 37:4).

2 Corinthians 12:10

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th October 2017

I was invited to MC a large event a few years ago. I’d received a phone call from the organiser of the event and was told that they thought I was the man for the job. I tried to reason with them that they should choose someone else but they were having none of it.

The event was to be held on a Saturday evening in a local town hall that seated 800 people and was going to be filled with Christians from all over the area; they were coming to hear a high profile speaker from across the world and it was to be an incredible night of worship, prayer and teaching.

I was to lead the service, welcome the people and then introduce and welcome the speaker.

When the night arrived the place was buzzing and even though I would not normally go out late on a Saturday night because of getting totally prepared for services in my own church the next day, I’d made an exception.

There wasn’t a spare seat in the place as I stood to welcome people from all over the area and then lead them into a time of worship. I was seated on the front row with my brother in law and several other church leaders, as we listened to the well seasoned and much loved speaker. Expecting the event to finish at around 9.30 at the latest, I was getting agitated as it was now approaching ten o’clock with no sign of ending soon. At around 10.15, the speaker started to wrap things up and then announced he would like to pray for people at the front. Time just kept rolling by and so I turned to my brother in law and said that I wanted to make a quick exit when people started to come to the front, as it would be less inconspicuous.

The plan worked a dream and we darted out a fire exit with no one knowing that we had even left.

It wasn’t until the next day that I received a phone call from a friend to let me know what had happened after we had left. Apparently the service was almost at the end when the speaker asked me come back to the stage to pray and conclude the night. As I didn’t appear after an embarrassing silence, someone shouted out…’he’s gone home!’

All 800 people now knew that I had rudely taken off for bed. I felt humiliated to say the least.

It’s a funny story now, but I can assure you that it took me quite a time to get over it.

My story is a painful reminder to each of us of what it feels like when you exit something prematurely.

Sometimes we exit relationships too early and sometimes with more serious consequences, we exit our dreams too early. Quitting never happens when things are going great, but the temptation is always there to quit when we don’t like the season we are in.

I’ve wanted to quit a number of times over the years when things got difficult, but I never have and I never will. That event from all those years ago helped to teach me that the dishonour of quitting early is far more costly than going through the temporary pain of staying the course.

Whatever pain you may be facing right now, I implore you not to quit.

Don’t quit on your marriage, your church, your team, your family and especially don’t quit on your dreams.

God has placed a dream within so that you can be a world changer. He is relying on you today to hold fast to the course and see your dream fulfilled; not only that, there are people waiting for your dream to be fulfilled, so that their lives can be changed too.

Don’t be a quitter…be a conqueror.

Habakkuk 2:3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th October 2017

There’s a phrase used in the world of fitness, ‘don’t skip leg day’, that speaks to the idea that there are many people who work out, but have a tendency to want to avoid any exercise that involves their legs.

Why, you ask? Because it’s painful.

Exercising your lower body can be quite a painful process. But, speak to any personal trainer and they will tell you that leg exercises are some of the best exercises you can do.

It’s true in the world of fitness and it’s true of life in general, that some of your most painful experiences can also be some of your most beneficial experiences.

Our human tendency is to skip what’s painful, and I’ll be the first to say that that includes me too. But allow me to encourage both you and I by saying, don’t skip what’s painful, because often what’s most painful is most fruitful.

You see, pain is often the thing that produces the greatest purpose in our lives. We don’t often believe that pain and purpose can be present both at the same time, however the presence of pain does not equal the absence of purpose. In fact, the two may be a lot more closely connected than you think.

So today, don’t run from pain, embrace it. Because chances are, if it’s hurtin’, it’s helpin’.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 9th October 2017

Living in a very natural world, with demanding realities like our jobs, families, friends, finances, and limited bodies, we can very much feel like we are only human.
Reality is that we are in fact spiritual beings having a human experience here on earth.

In fear of “being over spiritual” or “spiritualising everything”, we can disregard, the fact that there is another greater realm always operating. ‘…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’ (Ephesians 6:12).
In short, this scripture tells us that our difficulties aren’t always as natural and “normal” as they appear to be. There are often spiritual dynamics at play in our relationships, workplaces, and heart.

The Bible and experience testifies to the fact that the spiritual world holds a greater reality than our natural world and what we simply see on the surface.
This does not mean that we live life on constant look out for demons and the Devil. In fact, it means that the reality of heaven is greater than the reality of the natural. It means that the reality of our supernatural God, surpasses the natural realities or problems of our day to day.
A person is healed from back pain. In reality the person had back pain, but the GREATER REALITY is that Jesus heals.

The reality is that you have bills to pay, but the GREATER REALITY is that God is the ultimate provider with unlimited resources.

The reality is that we may have relationships that are damaged, but the GREATER REALITY is that God is the master of reconciliation and can heal all relational rifts.

As Christians we have to be the first to live in a world of GREATER REALITY, not just reality.

Last night, I spoke to a friend who has had ongoing problems with another mom at her daughter`s school. The rift in the relationship was weighing heavy on my friend and she spent a lot of time asking God for the restoration of their friendship. She felt that she needed to ask the Holy Spirit to restore their connection, rather than intervene in her own effort. Just this week she finally received a text message from the other mom asking if they could meet up for coffee because she wanted to apologise and just couldn’t shake the constant feeling of wanting to restore things between them! Had my friend approached the issue from a ‘natural’ perspective, their rift would have become wider and wider, but in dealing with the issue by the Spirit and not the flesh, breakthrough was made!

Let’s not be ignorant or passive in our faith. It is amazing how your perspective on problems shift when you approach issues with “spiritual eyes”.

Rather than seeing things just on surface level, and how they appear in the natural, consider what is going on at a deeper level, at a spiritual level. Look at the greater reality!

Romans 12:2

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th October 2017

In Luke chapter 8 we read that Jesus instructed His disciples to take a boat journey.

Please note that HE took them that way and it was straight into a storm.
Sometimes God leads us that way.
We may not think God can possibly be with us during those times and although He isn’t the author of bad things, He can often allow us to go through them.
He knows what is going to happen. He’s the author of my faith. He wrote my life. He leads me…”Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, You are with me.” (Psalm 23)

Here’s three things to remember

1. The presence of problems, doesn’t mean the absence of God.

2. God can lead you into a difficult time. He’s trusting you with it. They were in the boat probably thinking Jesus was testing them. No, He was trusting them. Whenever God leads us into something, He’s obviously trusting you with that situation. Watch your attitude, your heart, your speech, your actions, watch your serve.
The disciples were in the boat with Jesus and there was a storm. He was asleep and they got scared. They didn’t think about Him.
They said “WE are going to drown.”

3. Sometimes when things aren’t good we can forget about Jesus. We can be so consumed with ourselves and our worries and with the situation and the outcome that we forget WHO is actually in the boat with us.

Today remember, He is with you, He’s watching you and He wants to help you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th October 2017

Galatians 5:22-23, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…’

I used to always think this scripture was just sweet and lovely. I have recently come to understand that the fruits of the Spirit aren’t just these pleasant things we try and produce as Christians. The fruits of the Spirit are POWERFUL.

One thing is for sure, fruit cannot be forced out. So often we can find ourselves stressing over producing the fruit. Question: have you ever seen a tree forcing fruit out? I think not! Fruit is an effortless product of a tree that is grounded in the right conditions. When the source of the tree is well nurtured, the product is naturally fruit!

How are we as Christians any different? We can’t beat ourselves up until we manifest joy or guilt ourselves into being more self-controlled. Sure, it may work for a bit, but it isn’t sustainable. The fruit of God is a product of the Holy Spirit, not a fruit of me! As I submit to Holy Spirit, the fruit is a natural occurrence.

Too many of us, try too hard, too often, to become righteous FOR God, but it is actually Jesus who made us righteous and the Holy Spirit that brings it into fruition. He is at work IN us.

The Holy Spirit is the ultimate counselor, refresher, strengthener, teacher and comforter – so what is the fruit of submitting to good counseling, guiding, teaching and comforting? A life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control!

Christianity is far more than a self-improvement and self-behaviour modification program. Christianity is about heart transformation through the work of Holy Spirit, which then produces tasty fruit!

We live in a world that is CRAVING the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control and as these are produced in your life, people will come to taste!

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th October 2017

The Sustain pedal on a piano is a wonderful creation, it helps to create a beautifully smooth sound. When pressed, the sustain pedal works by moving all dampers away from the strings and allowing them to vibrate freely.

Psalm 55vs22 says to ‘cast all your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you’. The idea that God wants to remove the dampers on our life is such an amazing thought.

Let me ask you, what ‘cares’ are you carrying around with you, or what are you holding on to that you need to ‘cast upon God’?
Just like a great-sounding piano, God wants our life to be free and resound – sounding out the notes of His Love, joy and peace.

Psalm 55 goes onto say that God will never let you down, so today make the choice to give your troubles to God and allow him to sustain you and your life can sound amazing!

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th October 2017

Much to the surprise of many…God uses unclean things.

Just think of how many of us would ever be able to come to faith in Jesus if we had to clean up our act first; and yet so many people desperately try to get better before they feel worthy enough to reach out to Him. That kind of thinking is the furthest thing from the Gospel; even on our best day we never can make the mark.

Listen to what the Bible says…

Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

One of the most prominent women mentioned in the Bible was Rahab the prostitute. She was rewarded for helping hide some men of God in her home from certain death and as a result is mentioned in the ‘halls of faith’ in the New Testament, alongside some of the Bible greats. All of this happened before she cleaned up her act.

The grace of God does not ask that we change and then come to God, but it enables us to reach out to Him first, just as we are, and then allow Him to change us.

If you could change yourself then why not do it right now?

Zacheus was frowned upon as a tax collector and was hated by society for ripping people off, and yet out of all the crowds that were following Jesus that day, Jesus singled him out and told him that He wanted to come and stay at his house. That day Zacheus changed, not before, but after allowing Jesus into his home.

Today, that story is also a picture of our hearts. Jesus wants to come to live within us and if we welcome Him, salvation comes to us and radical change begins.

Have you ever thought why Jesus earned himself the reputation ‘friend of sinners’, and yet never was once called the friend of the self righteous or friend of nice people?

Don’t wait until you become a better version of who you are right now, as that day will never come, instead come to him just as you are.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd October 2017

A couple of years ago, I bought a fascinating book on the life of Walt Disney.

He was one of the great dreamers of the 20th century.

Anyone that could create the first sound cartoon, the first all-colour cartoon and the first animated feature length motion picture is definitely someone with vision.

His two great masterpieces of vision were Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Both Disneyland and Disney World started with just a seed – a seed that was sown when he used to take his young daughters to the amusement park on Saturday mornings.

His girls loved it and so did he… but when the bright lights faded and the carousel stopped, he just saw shabby horses with cracked and chipped paint.

His disappointment inspired him with a grand vision for an amusement park where the illusion didn’t evaporate.

His dream became Disneyland.

The seed for most people’s dreams naturally springs from their everyday experiences, but ultimately all dreams flow from God’s creative heart that flows through a man or a woman.

If you have not yet identified your dream, just keep your eyes and ears open, listen to your heart and be open to every possibility and even every impossibility.

‘If you can dream it, you can do it’ – Walt Disney.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd October 2017

One of my favourite parables in the Bible is that of ‘The Prodigal Son’. It is the story of a loving father, who has two sons.

I have always thought that this parable should actually be called ‘The Extravagant Father’. Jesus uses the father in this story as a metaphor for God our father.

To summarise the parable, the younger son, rudely asks for his inheritance early. This was basically like saying, ‘You are dead to me, Dad!’. The son then left the protection of his father’s house, and, wasted his wealth on wild living. He soon found himself with the pigs where he then had a revelation that even his father’s servants were in a better position than he now was. Feeling worthless, he returned to the father in the hopes that he just might, maybe get a position back in the house hold even as a mere servant for his Father.

And this is my favourite part!… ‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.’

In the culture of that time, to run as an older man was quite the undignified thing to do. It would require you lifting up your long tunic, to reveal your ankles, which was seen as being inappropriate. What a beautiful picture of the love of God for US! God doesn’t care about etiquette, when it comes to loving us. Even when we are far off, He is undignified, uninhibited and wholehearted in His affection toward us. Before we even get to Him, He has run to meet us!

Understandably the son felt unworthy, and struggled to accept the love of the father. Yet the father didn’t stop. He put a robe, a ring and sandals on His son. These seem like lovely gifts, but do you know what they actually represent? These presents had a powerful message.

The robe represented restoration of the son to his original position, the ring a sign of both affection and authority – allowing the son to make continued financial transactions in his father’s name (what a gift of grace after the son had only just wasted everything!), and finally, the sandals a picture of sonship. Only slaves and servants were barefoot and this son needed to be reminded of who he really was. He wasn’t to think like a slave, he was to think like a son!

What an overwhelming picture of the love of Father God for us. When we fall short, we feel worthless and find ourselves trying to claw our way back to God, full of timidity and shame. Jesus shows us that in fact the Father only restores. When we step away, He reaffirms our sonship and our place in Him as we repent. He celebrates our reconciliation. He meets us! And He doesn’t walk to us, He runs! God reminds us that we aren’t slaves trying to regain approval, but we are given authority again, and the beautiful affection of the Father.

Luke 15:11-32.

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th September 2017

I’m writing today stranded in Amsterdam airport, due to heavy fog on the return journey from Rwanda.

Throughout the week, we have visited some of the poorest homes I’ve ever seen. A whole family are often found living in one room the size of most people’s bathrooms here in the UK.

The ‘home’ of a young lady and her baby, was one such visit we made. She told us that she had one meal a day but often there was not even that.

We chatted to her through an interpreter and enquired about her life. She was an orphan and her baby came as the result of being taken advantage of by someone she trusted. We prayed for her before we left, but then felt that we couldn’t leave without putting into action what we had prayed for.

There was an appalling looking shop nearby, from which we were able to purchase a whole sack of rice and a few other provisions for £19.

It struck me that one man’s means is another man’s miracle.

We worked it out that our small contribution from our means, will actually now feed her once every day for a whole year.

Praying for a person’s need is often the easy thing to do, as it means we can walk away without any personal responsibility or cost.

She was praying with us for God to meet her need and yet the answer wasn’t found in Heaven, but in our pockets.

There comes a time when we have to see that it’s time to stop praying about things and start to act on things.

What ‘means’ do you have today that may be someone else’s ‘miracle’?

Make it your goal in life to find a need and fill it! You may be the answer to their prayers.

James 2 v 14 -17.

What does it profit, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th September 2017

Last night I went to bed and ate two packets of Malteser. One wasn’t enough at the time, and yet two turned out to be too much.
Then I got up this morning and ate two croissants for my breakfast… now I am going to the gym to try and rectify the situation.

You may laugh at me, or even ‘tut’ at me, but I bet we have all done something similar. We think, tomorrow I’ll put it right, tomorrow I’ll start my diet, tomorrow I’ll make a change.

You know what the best thing to do is? To make the right choices in the first place, then you don’t have to correct what you’ve just done wrong.

Life can be like that, we blatantly make wrong choices and we think it’s okay because tomorrow we can sort it. Surely it’s far better that you listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit at the time (who is your guide) or even your conscience and don’t make the wrong choice in the first place?

Yes, God’s grace is amazing, yes God’s forgiveness is total and yes tomorrow I can put things right because of HIS mercy.
But usually people who continue to make wrong choices, will never get very far in life. It’s almost like a circle that goes round and round and round. And then we wonder why we are not where we should be.

Often the easiest choice is the wrong choice (like the Maltesers) and right choices take strength and determination.

Today, make a fresh decision to make some good choices So that your life will head in the right direction and you will take new ground and I guarantee you will feel great.

Now…off to the gym…

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th September 2017

In the book of Matthew, found in the New Testament of the Bible, we see Jesus asking His disciples a question… ‘Who do people say that I am?’

His disciples respond by saying, ‘Some say you’re John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others, one of the prophets.’

Then Jesus poses an all-important further question. ‘But what about you?’ He asks. ‘Who do you say that I am?’ At this, Peter, one of the disciples steps forward and says, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’

I then want us to see what happens next… Jesus responds to Peter and says, ‘And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…’

What’s amazing to me about this story is that we find Peter confessing with his mouth exactly who Jesus is. Then two verses later, we see Jesus confess with His mouth exactly who Peter is.

You see, whenever you verbalise who Jesus is, you get a revelation of who you are.

When you begin to confess that He is your saviour, when you begin to confess that He is your healer and that He is your provider, you realise that your identity is not found in your circumstance, or in what people say about you, it’s found in what God says about you!

Never again do you have to experience an identity crisis, but you can know today who you truly are – a son or a daughter of the most high God.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 27th September 2017

Romans 4:19-21 Without weakening in his faith, Abraham 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.

God has the power to pull off whatever He has promised you and a whole lot more. No sweat.

The question is: are you living a fully persuaded life or a fully defeated one?

Are you waking to the news flash, playing inside of your head, that this is never going to happen for me or are you waking up to live fully persuaded that God has the power to do it?

I love the story of this old couple Abraham and Sarah, who still believed the promise of God for their lives way into their nineties; the thing that impresses me about Abraham is that it says ‘he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead, YET, he did not waver through unbelief.’

Many peoples faith is actually not real faith, it’s just a denial that anything is wrong.

There is a difference.

God cannot fix what you cannot face.

Denial is a game of pretence. It pretends that you are well when you are actually dying, but faith says, ‘I’m actually dying, therefore I need God to make me well.’

God is not going to be surprised by your admittance that things aren’t good…He knew it long before you did.

Is it time for you to get honest with yourself and God today? When you do, it will put you on the road to the very breakthrough that you need.

Be honest about the way things are for you today.

Now…be fully persuaded that God can change them.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th September 2017

‘One would think that the opposite of love is hate, but the Bible says otherwise. The opposite of love is actually fear!

Fear’s number one objective is to compete with the truth that God loves us, is for us and with us. Fear and love are enemies. They come from two opposing kingdoms. They have different strategies and agendas. Not only are they not on the same team, fear’s number one mission is to compete with the truth of God’s love for us.

Fear isn’t always just a random thought – it is a pattern of thinking that can hang around for years. It can be carried from one experience to the next. It can even go from generation to the next!

Fear comes in many forms. Usually people’s biggest fears involve; fear of losing freedom, fear of the unknown, fear of physical pain, fear of disappointment, fear of misery, fear of loneliness, fear of ridicule or rejection, fear of death or fear of failure.

Fear is false evidence appearing real. Reality is the love of God and the power of the cross! When you live in the reality of the cross, you don’t need to be fearful of losing your freedom – you’ve found ultimate freedom at the cross. You don’t need to worry about the unknown – Jesus knows, and he is in control. Physical pain is finished with the healing power of the cross. Disappointment is gone – you found hope at the cross. Misery is replaced with joy – you know He loves you. You don’t need to feel lonely – you are in perfect union with Jesus and He loves you with a perfect love. You need not feel ridiculed – Jesus took all that ridicule at the cross, and your identity is in the fact that He loves you. You need not fear rejection – the perfect love of God sees all of you and accepts you fully. You need not fear death – at the cross you found eternal life. You need not fear failure – your victory is found at the cross!

There really is no competition. Fear only has the authority you give it.
Scripture says, ‘We are more than conquerors through Jesus’!

Fear only causes you to shrink and retreat. Love actually creates open spaces in our lives! When you know you are loved, you are empowered to be you, you feel powerful, and you are bold. Like WIFI, when we are fully connected to the love of God, we are fully functioning our best!

Romans 8:35-38

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th September 2017

Often we can find ourselves in life in a difficult situation and say or think that God is testing us.
Maybe our marriage isn’t what it should be, or our finances are very tight. Maybe our children are away from God or our Manager at work is making life very difficult. Maybe even a serious illness like cancer has come into our world, and we find ourselves saying “God must be testing me.”

Maybe you are waiting for an answer to prayer and you are feeling like you can’t be patient any longer, or you feel like giving up.

The Bible teaches us that God never allows anything to come into our lives that we cannot bear. God is never the author of bad things, but He does allow things into our lives to help us grow and develop and trust Him more.

When you experience difficulty, don’t say “God is testing me”, No, He’s not testing you, He’s TRUSTING you.

He’s trusting you with a situation that He has allowed into your life for a reason.
He’s watching for your attitude, your heart response, your actions, your words and He’s looking for your hope to be planted firmly on Him.

So thank God in every circumstance, that He is trusting you with.
Thank Him that He is trusting you in the waiting, in the being patient.
Thank Him that you can come out better and stronger than before and those around you will see God at work in and through you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd September 2017

Having a power cut is very inconvenient. Recently, I was cooking soup and I was halfway through blending it when we had a power cut. So I was left with half blended and half lumpy.

We don’t realise how much we rely on power until it’s gone. Ladies, how much do we rely on our hairstyling appliances like straighteners and dryers? Imagine going out the house with unstyled hair. For some of you, that would be a crisis. For some, we wouldn’t know any difference!

Praying gives us power.
Every time you leave the house not fully charged, you’re leaving short of power. There’s an old saying that says, “Seven days without prayer makes one weak.” Think about it for a moment…prayer charges you up.

I wouldn’t leave the house without ‘doing’ my hair. So why do I think it’s okay to leave without praying?

Prayer IS a luxury. God gives us a fantastic opportunity to connect to the greatest power source ever. And unlike other luxuries, this one, we can ALL afford.

Being without the electricity affected my day and I didn’t like it.
Don’t take His power for granted.
Get plugged in today.
You’ll be glad you did.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd September 2017

A few years ago, I felt to have a journal dedicated to thankfulness. At the end of the day I would write down all the things I was grateful for in that day. I did this every day for an entire year. As you can imagine, by the end of the year I had thousands of things – big and small to be grateful for.

Something happened in the process of writing down all the things I was grateful for. It became a habit to be extra aware in my day to day, of things that were good in my life. I didn’t focus on what I lacked anymore, my attention was on the small gifts in the every day.

Did I have things during that time that I was contending for and trusting God with? Of course! But I trained my perspective to focus on the goodness of God amidst the things I was waiting on.

There is always something to be thankful for. Scripture says, ‘Give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18). ‘Give thanks ALWAYS for everything …’ (Ephesians 5:20).
Do not be anxious about anything, but IN EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God’ (Philippians 4:6).

Scripture is quite clear that difficult circumstances do not excuse us from the need to cultivate a grateful heart. In fact often the encouragement to be thankful is married with the acknowledgement that you are having a difficult time.

Thankfulness is a gateway for the goodness in your life. God is attracted to a thankful heart. It tells him that you aren’t ruled by external circumstance, and you trust His nature. Ask Him to show you what the gift is in it the midst of pain and disappointment.

If you have absolutely nothing in your life, but have Jesus, you have everything you need!
Look at the Apostle Paul, chained in prison for the gospel and still he says, ‘everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’ (Philippians 3:8).

What can you thank God for right now?

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st September 2017

As I’ve got older, I’ve noticed that I pay far more attention to what ingredients, additives, carbs and saturated fats are present in a food product. Why I didn’t do this years ago when I could actually read the label without my glasses on I’ll never know.

I’m sure you’ll agree, that it has become far more of a trend to know what’s in something than ever before. You only have to spend a little time around the supermarket to see people trying to decipher what’s actually in their favourite ‘healthy’ snack bar.

Amongst some of the most amusing small print found on food packaging, has got to be that found on a packet of salted peanuts…’warning – contains nuts.’

What about the sleeping aid capsules – ‘may cause drowsiness.’

Reading labels has led to a far more positive move towards food manufacturers being vigilant with their products, knowing that the public are now casting a health conscious watchful eye over everything they now consume.

Growing up, I never ever remember one time my parents reading the back of the box of ‘Cadbury’s Smash’ (dehydrated potato flakes) that we would be served for tea, after adding boiling water.

In much the same way, people have failed to read the ‘small print’ of the Bible and have assumed that to be a Christian meant to have a problem free and cosy life, not realising that was far from the truth if you’d only take time to read what’s on the packet.

Many people have backed away from following Christ when hard times have hit, or when God hasn’t seemingly got them out of a tough spot, often because they never bothered to read the contents of what it meant to be a true Christian.

The verses below have long since been buried under our convenient Christianity, but now there is a new move in the Church where people actually want to know the truth..

1 Peter 4:12-16 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. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 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.

Reading that makes you realise that trouble is part and parcel, and not foreign to, following Jesus.

God never promised us a pain free, problem free easy ride, in fact He promised us trouble…

John 16:33 ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’

…this reassures us that He is bigger than any temporary trouble you may be facing. What better way to start your day with these words which literally mean…CHEER UP!

Often I’ve found that God doesn’t take away my problems, but He takes me through them. That way I learn to battle through, learn from it, and then see victory.

Are you going through a dark time right now and didn’t think you would have to when you signed up to follow Jesus? Then here’s His promise to you today…

Psalm 112:4-8 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered for ever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

Yes…’even in dark times’.

Remember: you are meant to shine. The darker it is, the more you’ll stand out.

Philippians 2:14-16 ‘Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life’.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th September 2017

1 Thessalonians 4:11 says, ‘…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you’.

Contrary to modern day, western culture, scripture actually tells us that we need to be intentional about seeking peace and space in our life.

Constantly generating and celebrating a busy lifestyle is not God’s way. Often a busy life can be created in an effort to appease something in us. Maybe it is trying to prove something? Or keep people happy? You can even be busy with really good things!

Jesus made rest and time alone a priority. He understood that you cannot generate anything in your public life that you aren’t cultivating in your private life.

Just a few examples of Jesus making space in scripture are:

‘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’ (Mark 1:35).

‘But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed’ (Luke 5:15-16; see also Mark 1:45).

‘Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed’ (Mark 3:7).

‘Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake’ (Matthew 13:1-3. See also Mark 4:1).

‘When Jesus heard (that John the Baptist had been beheaded), he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place” (Matthew 14:13).

‘Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, (Jesus) said to (his disciples), ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place’ (Mark 6:31-32).

‘After (Jesus) had dismissed (the crowds), he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was (still) there’ (Matthew 14:23).

There was always a demand on Jesus. There were always people after Him. He could have easily burnt out trying to please people, but He knew the value of tending to His own soul, before he would tend to others.

If the son of God made getting alone to recharge a priority, how much more do we, in an age where being busy is glorified, need to be okay with cultivating rest? Become comfortable with drawing away to make space in your life without feeling guilt. To unplug and refuel is a Godly principle.

Just incase you are still thinking you are beyond rest, don’t forget that God Himself of the seventh day of creation rested!

Referring back to the verse I started with, when we are encouraged to ‘mind our own business’, it is an encouragement to focus on what is yours for this season. Don’t get caught up in everything you could be doing, involving yourself in all sorts of business. Rather, steward what is yours to do for now and do it well!

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th September 2017

On our recent family holiday, everyone was complaining about how thirsty they were in the hot weather, especially as any drinks that they had packed for a day out had become luke warm within an hour or so. After a couple of days, I decided to freeze a few small plastic bottles of water over night and then fill my back pack with them the next morning along with enough drinks for everyone…problem solved!

Not only did everything in my back pack keep ice cool, but the water itself lasted all day as it began to defrost and become everyone’s best friend.

Not an new idea I know, but it certainly is a good one and into the bargain a great life lesson in the power of association.

Anything that was placed alongside the freezing water was effected in just the same way. Snuggled up together in the back pack for a few hours guaranteed that everyone’s  previously luke warm drinks would now come out ice cold.

Have you ever wondered why your life is playing out like it is? The answer lies inside that back pack. Who you hang around with, you become like. Sadly for many, their lives have become ice cold with apathy, but you don’t have to look too far as to why…simply look at who they are mixing with.

The opposite is also true. People who have great faith and have ‘red hot’ lives are usually found to be mixing with really great passionate and positive, faith filled people.

Solomon has been known throughout history as one of the wisest guys that ever lived. He wrote many of the saying in the book of Proverbs. Here’s his simple take on it…

Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Whoever you associate with you eventually become like, so if you want to change the way your life is panning out, you probably need to look at changing your friends.

Don’t keep complaining that you have to keep dealing with so many issues in the circles that you mix with when you have the power to get out.

Not everyone in your life is there for the duration, in fact one of the greatest signs that you are moving in the right direction is that you will start leaving people behind.

Think about all of your peers at your first school that you pledged allegiance to for the rest of your life. How many of those are still in your life today? The reason that you each went your separate ways was mainly because you each grew up!

Now we all have to work through relational difficulties and many times it will be right to keep those relationships in tact, but never lose sight of the fact that moving on is often a necessary and natural part of life and maturity. Emotional attachments are not a good enough reason to hold onto everyone in your life.

Ask yourself today, ‘who am I influencing for good?’

Now ask yourself, ‘who is influencing me for bad?’

Change is here to stay.

Move on.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th September 2017

Several years ago, I was invited to sail on a Schooner in Greece.

A Schooner is a sailing ship with two masts, and needs a lot of team work and skill to sail it accurately.

Please understand…I had never sailed before or had any knowledge of how to do so, so to find myself on the third night of the trip, steering the ship at 2am, in pitch black waters, was pretty scary.

The sleeping quarters for the 15 or so of us were below deck and consisted of wooden racks which were mounted half way up the side of the boat.

As the waters got pretty choppy from time to time, some of the team started to get sea sick, so the Captain taught us the way to trick the body in order to overcome it.

He would say…’look to the horizon and fix your eyes on something unmovable and keep looking that way.’

As soon as the instruction was put into practice, the sickness subsided and all was good again.

That simple yet very effective piece of advice has been part of a sailor’s life for centuries: when in turbulent waters, fix your eyes on something that’s fixed.

In just the same way, the turbulent water of our lives and the circumstances that come our way need to be addressed in just the same way; if you want to stay on your feet and get through the storm, then fix your gaze on what’s permanent.

For many, there is no known focal point and therefore life takes them down, but the centuries’ old truth in the Bible informs us that Jesus can be the unshakeable, unmovable and constant in our lives, if you’ll just look to Him.

We live in a world that tends to look down, never lifting our heads to crack even a smile nowadays, so I encourage you to be different and apply the remedy – look up to the one who can save and steady the most turbulent and windswept life reading this today.

Take courage my friend from the one that says ‘I’ll never leave you or forsake you.’

Take your focus of the waves right now and look to Him.

Mark 4:35-41 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th September 2017

How many times do we let trials and hardships take us down?

Do you ever throw yourself a pity party?

Do you ever feel sorry for yourself and hibernate because ‘Life is too hard’?

Today I want to challenge you to not let circumstances take you down.

You see, trials do not mean that God has left us and they do not mean that He doesn’t have a plan for us, or that He has forgotten us.

I love the story of Ruth in the Old Testament.
In a nutshell…her husband died, this alone was tragic.
Then her father-in-law died and so did her brother-in-law – what a difficult, devastating time.

Then she went through a time of famine to go hand in hand with the hardship and devastation.

BUT God was with her! And hers is one of the greatest stories ever recorded in scripture.

Her story and life turned out amazing.
Boaz was waiting for her and the rest is history.

So if you’re going through it today, learn from Ruth

1. Stay faithful
2. Have a great attitude
3. Trust God
4. Believe that your best is yet to come

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living

Fresh Hope – 15th September 2017

We all know people who have selective hearing, but did you know that most people have selective seeing too?

Selective seeing is more commonly referred to as ‘having a blind spot’, where you are blind to some of your own character traits.

If you’ve ever been surprised by someone’s critique about you, then you probably have a blind spot.

If you’ve found yourself justifying yourself with the words ‘I didn’t realise that I came across like that’, then you probably have a blind spot.

Blind spots enable you to see things clearly in other people’s lives, whilst seemingly causing you to be blind to your own.

There are any number of blind spots, but here are just a few of the most noticeable ones that you can check yourself by:

– Blind to your selfish side. If you admit it, you can deal with it

– Blind to your limitations. You are not as good at everything as you think. Ask others what you are hopeless at. Open rebuke is better than hidden love.

– Blind to your ego. (Ego is the latin word for I) The greatest fault is to not realise that you talk about yourself all of the time.

– Blind to your emotions. You don’t realise you are angry, jealous, insecure, aggressive. When you RECOGNISE an emotion, it’s the only time you can deal with it. ‘I’m just emotional’ is not good enough.

– Blind to your strengths. On a positive note we can also be positive to the very things that we are good at. Pretending that you’re not good at them when you know that you really are, is false humility and pride.

Gain respect and give respect by taking a look in the mirror more often and seeing the real you that others see.

THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.

There is one other blind spot that we should mention too; Relationship blind spots keep us from recognising good people that God wants to send into our lives; we will often trade them off for poor and damaging relationships that look good on the surface. Open your eyes to see who is really entering and exiting your life.

A friend of mine that was quite often speaking in front of a camera thought that he had a really happy and smiley face, that was until he decided to watch himself on TV one day. He suddenly realised that he didn’t come across anything like he thought he did.

Could it be that you think you come across as welcoming and friendly yet in reality you are actually driving people away from your life simply because you come across as judgemental and angry?

Give yourself a check up from the neck up today!

Matthew 7:3-5 ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th September 2017

God wants to teach us how to be powerful and not powerless. We are designed to reign in life. In fact, we should be the most powerful people in the world because we have the power that raised Jesus and conquered death living in us!

The opposite of living like a powerful person is living like a victim. A victim mentality is feeling small, with the sense that everything in life has control over you.

David facing Goliath is an incredible picture of living with the internal conviction that you are powerful person and not a victim. David stood before his giant, with the mindset that it was smaller than him.

We cannot be powerful in our external world, until we have order in our internal world.

Some indicators that you are living in a powerless way of thinking are:

• Things easily take away your hope, peace, love and joy.
• You can’t say ‘no’ or set boundaries.
• You feel like life is driving you, rather than you driving life.
• You have a lot of anger. (Anger is counterfeit power).
• You feel stuck and hopeless.

Practically speaking, when you visualise things, your brain cannot tell the difference between a memory and a visualisation. When you picture things in your mind, you are actually setting truth into your heart. If you spend a lot of time visualising how big your problem is, your mind doesn’t recognise that it’s not reality and the problem actually gains power in your life.

Take your power back from the things that you have given it to. God has made us more than conquerors! He has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of POWER, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

In the story of C.W Lewis` ‘Narnia’, everything was dead in the kingdom until the rightful kings and queens came to their throne. Likewise, come to the throne of your life, and take your place as a powerful person made to reign with the authority of heaven backing you!

Romans 5:17

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th September 2017

Have I mentioned the fact that I recently signed up to my local gym? Yes, I thought so.

I’ve now been going there for around two months and have to say that I feel much better for doing so. I can now even get close to touching my toes – something that I’ve not done for around 25 years.

Left to my own devices, I’ve found myself using the equipment that I personally liked. Something not too strenuous and outside of my comfort zone. I would kind of walk round aimlessly and be guided to each piece of equipment that I fancied going on during my hour long visit. There was hardly any rhyme or reason for what I was doing, that was until my son suggested that we work together and that way it would be more productive. Now of course, he is much fitter and stronger than I am, and to my initial displeasure had me lifting weights and doing exercise that were well beyond my natural limits. No matter how much I told him I couldn’t do it, he insisted that instead of lowering the weights to make it easier, that we should actually higher them to make it more difficult. When I completed a round of successfully lifting heavier weights, I fully expected to stop, have a Mars bar and celebrate, but instead he suggested that I was lifting them without too much difficulty and so the weight was increased again until my face turned bright red.

I’ve soon realised that lifting and exercising in my comfort zone has very little positive effect on my muscles, but as soon as I lift beyond my comfort zone then I quickly start to see results.

How many reading this, identify in life, that you have successfully got stuck in your comfort zone and are therefore no longer making any progress? You walk around the gym of your life every day and yet have no purpose or goals and therefore nothing changes.

When was the last time you invited someone into your world that could stretch you and help lead you towards being a better you?

Maybe you’ve just got complacent with life and therefore really see no point in trying to get better. You just keep things ticking over in the hope that no new challenges come your way.

A mentor or coach is someone that gets you to do things that you don’t want to do in order to achieve the results that you’ve always wanted to get.

Who do you have in your world that pulls you up?

Who do you in your world that stretches you and makes you a bigger person?

Who do you have in your life that’s forcing you to face your failures and fears in order to move beyond them?

Remember: your mentor is not your friend, as they only tell you what you want to hear; Your mentor is someone that’s not afraid to tell you the truth for your own good.

Who do you have?

Find someone…invite someone…ask someone, but don’t except to like everything they say to you, but do expect to grow in ways like never before.

Finally, one of the best and quickest ways to grow is to find someone that is further down the road from you and is willing to tell you the truth; once you’ve found that person, ask that them every at least every six months….”is there anything you need to say to me?”

Keep the growing going !

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th September 2017

We recently rented a house for our family holiday. Included in the package was the use of the family clubhouse which had an outdoor pool and lazy river complete with large rubber rings for you to float around on to your heart’s content. At the mouth of the lazy river was a children’s spiralling water flume that deposited you into a small pool.

Apparently, one dad had decided to spice things up a little and show his kids how he could go down the water flume on a rubber ring, not realising that as he approached the bottom, the tubular slide narrowed and he got well and truly stuck just two metres from the end.

With gallons of water gushing behind him, he became like a cork in a bottle. As I was paddling close by with my grandchildren, I was aware of people pointing at the water slide, laughing at the fact that a grown man had got stuck inside, and was frantically trying to get himself free. As much as I wanted to mind my own business, I somehow felt compelled that I should do something to help. I can only say that I felt an overwhelming urgency to pull myself up out of the water and climb into the end of the slide and then crawl the two metres up into the slide to where his feet could be seen poking through the rubber ring.

He was well and truly stuck. Fortunately there was a handle on the rubber tyre that was on my side and after a few moments of tugging, I managed to pull him free. What happened next must have been a sight to behold; as soon as he was released, he took me with him and as many as a dozen children all trapped behind him aswell. With the full force of the water built up behind us, we got spat out of the end of the flume, landing on top of each other in the pool.

I didn’t think too much of it as I picked myself up and carried on paddling. It wasn’t until I overheard one of the children that had been trapped, telling his dad that the water had come up to his neck and felt that he was about to drown inside the slide.
I then realised that my ‘compulsion’ to do something was actually a life saving mission prompted by God. The story that day could have been so different if I had ignored the feeling to act whilst others stood by and laughed.

Everyday of our lives, we are, to some greater or lesser degree, called upon by God to help save lives. We may feel that we should mind our own business or see the request as a non event, but be sure that if you feel ‘moved’ then you must obey. Not only is one person’s life at stake, the greater truth is that several other people’s lives are at stake too.

When I stand on the platform of our church each Sunday, I take very seriously the fact that I am about to help set people free, and not only that, I am about to save a whole host of other people in the process too.

No-one even knew that day that I had bothered to help, as they all thought that they had worked themselves free; but the truth is we can do so much to help people in this life, if we don’t mind who gets the credit.

The next time you sense that you should do something, say something or go somewhere, then simply obey…you never know how many lives you may be saving when you do. What others see as something to laugh at, you may need to take very seriously.

James 5:19-20 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th September 2017

The very beginning of scripture, in fact, the very beginning of time and all creation, started with ‘…and God said’. All life started with words being spoken.

The word of God carries creative power. Scripture reminds us many times, that as His people made in His image, our words also carry creative power. By creative power, I mean you can literally create with your words.

We can easily underestimate the power of our spoken word. When God urges us to monitor the language of our life, it is because we have the incredible ability to either build or destroy our lives and the lives of others, simply with our tongue. ‘A small part of the body, but like a tiny spark, it can set the forest of your life on fire’ (James 3:5). No one would ever feel intimidated by a match, but face a wall of raging fire that is threatening your home and life, and you wont question the potential of that first spark or lighter ever again. Likewise, don’t underestimate your conversations and declarations.

Jesus over and over again brought people into wholeness and freedom through his words. He spoke a deaf man into hearing, blind men into sight, and lame men into walking. He even commanded creation to stand still in the midst of a storm, and with words He casted out demons tormenting people. He also empowered people with His words of encouragement and conviction, so they left his presence totally transformed from the inside out.
I love it when science finally catches up to the truths that have always been in scripture.

Physiologists are well aware that new pathways in the brain are created through constant spoken words. Negative words create negative pathways that are reinforced every time you speak out words of negativity. Equally, you can rewire and renew your mind by speaking positive truths over and over.

Scientists have in fact discovered that our words carry either positive or negative sound frequencies and when other objects encounter these frequencies they react accordingly at a molecular level. Even science says our words influence our surroundings.

I have first hand witnessed deaf ears opening because of the declaration of Jesus. I have first hand seen people receive unexpected favour over finances as the truth of God has been spoken over their money. I have watched relationships restored as words of faith and hope have been spoken over and over, rather than words of criticism and bitterness.

This isn’t theory. This is reality. Let us operate in our God given authority and use our words to bring the order of God into our lives and the world around us!

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

 

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th September 2017

Many people are feeling the catastrophic after-effects of a storm right now. Hurricane Harvey has hit Texas in a huge way and many homes and lives have been destroyed. Right now, hurricane Irma is wreaking havoc on a different part of that nation .

We were in Florida several years ago when Hurricane Katrina hit the US and we have just left Florida, where Irma is just about to.

Sometimes God lets you escape a storm and other times He allows you to go right through one.

Whether your storm today is a real hurricane or a personal storm in your life, know this: God is always with you and He can bring good out of a storm if we let Him.

I may not have been in a hurricane, but I have been in and experienced many storms in life. Over those years, I have noticed this, that although at those times, you can feel like your world is being rocked and even over, God can and will bring good out of them.

I was travelling in the car last week, through a very bad thunderstorm, the motorway had all but come to a standstill, it was so severe, yet through the window, I noticed a beautiful change in the sky. I took a poor photograph of what I saw. Beyond the rain and the thunder was something beautiful…a pink and colourful sky. It was in that moment that God reminded me, that if we stand firm and hold on to Him, something beautiful and new and fresh will ALWAYS come our way.

Storms are there for a purpose and even though they may not be nice, God will bring good out of them.

Whatever your storm today, wherever you are in the world, know this: God has you safe. Keep trusting. Keep believing for a better day.
He will never leave you and He will never forsake you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th September 2017

Growing up, my brother and I were allowed to pick one big item that we wanted for Christmas from our parents.

I’ll never forget the one year, ripping off the gift-wrap to find THE Barbie car that I had been dreaming of! Finally it was mine! Only it was in a box, and all compartmentalised. It had to be put together. (This was obviously Dad’s favourite part of Christmas morning– spending hours agonizing over instructions on a how to assemble a Barbie car).

The hardest part for me was giving the gift back to Dad to sort out, but I did it because I knew it had to be done so he could give me back something better. There is only so much a girl can do with a deconstructed Barbie car. I needed to give it back to the giver, so I could use the car for its intended purpose – to drive Ken and Barbie around!

One of the best parts about being a Christian is learning what it means to be a son and daughter of God – not an orphan or a slave, but his CHILD! A child trusts their Dad. I gave my Dad my gift because I fully trusted that as I gave it back, I would get something better.

The same concept goes with our money, time, and talents for that matter. Everything good is from God, and we must live open handed, giving it back to Him, trusting Him that He knows best. This is true stewardship. When I give my money to God, it is because I am His child, not His slave. I’m not trying to impress my master or persuade him to be good to me. Rather, as his child, I know He knows what is best, and He will return the gift in an even better package than it was given!

One of the Bible’s most extravagant pictures of giving back to God was the woman who poured an alabaster jar of perfume on the feet of Jesus. Religious onlookers thought this act of worship was too much. It was excessive and ridiculous. After all, this wasn’t just a 200 pound bottle of Tom Ford, this was worth more than a year’s wages. Furthermore, this would have been this woman’s only chance of getting married. This would have been her dowry one day. In pouring it on the feet of Jesus, she was literally letting go of her dreams and future. It was the ultimate sacrifice. She gave everything back. Jesus in return celebrates this complete sacrifice and addresses the religious for assuming she was foolish!

Jesus isn’t interested in behaviour modification, He wants heart transformation. He doesn’t want us to give back to Him because it gives us peace of mind that we are in His good books. We give because we trust Him as our Dad. We are overwhelmed by His goodness to us, so we in turn extravagantly give it back without hesitation.

Luke 7:36-50

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th September 2017

A couple of months ago I was on my way to a friend’s house party. Late to the event, I pulled up at the front of the house, rushed up the driveway, opened the front door and walked through the house to the backyard where I assumed all the guests would be. I passed two people watching TV in the lounge room and waved. When I finally made it out to the back, I encountered only four people sitting around a table… and I didn’t recognise any of them! “Who are you?”, said one of the strangers looking at me in complete confusion. The penny had now dropped that I had in fact walked into the wrong house! There was no party going on here. I had just opened the front door to a random person’s home and walked right on inside.

One of my favourite qualities about Jesus was how counter cultural He was. He sliced through years of rabbinical law and cultural norms with extreme and outrageous expressions of love. He went where no Rabbi had gone before.

To those at the bottom of the social heap, Jesus met them where they were at. He didn’t just tolerate people, He celebrated people. He saw beyond surface appearance, discerned with precision, and pulled out the gold in people. He used his power, not to abuse, but to raise up those around him. Not to dominate, but to empower.

Jesus didn’t shy away from those in authority either. In fact, He intentionally ruffled the religious feathers of those who cared more about following the rulebook, than loving on people. He was often direct in approach, but people responded because they could sense that His motivation was always love and His truth ignited freedom.

Nothing has changed. Jesus’ approach to people is still counter-cultural today. Our natural tendency is to want to befriend those whom we feel comfortable with. We don’t look for uncomfortable relationships. Popular culture tells us to be around those who make us look good and feel good. To befriend for what we can get. To invest into people who will give something back in return. We are trained to be attracted to what looks appealing on the outside, and dismiss what could be going on inside. BUT this is where the church steps up and we powerfully, counter-culturally love people with the very same heart as Jesus!

Go where you have never gone before. Open doors to new encounters, venture beyond your comfort zone, walk right in to where you think you can’t go, and seek out ways to serve and radically love on ALL people. This is the heart of Jesus – to rule with the heart of a servant, and serve with the heart of a king!

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th September 2017

In the Bible, we see Jesus led into the wilderness to be tested by the devil over a period of 40 days and 40 nights. During this timeframe, we see Jesus tested on three separate occasions.

If you read this story in Matthew 4, you will notice how on all three occasions, Jesus uses the same thing to counteract the temptation He is up against… The Word of God.

Every time that Jesus is tested, His comeback is The Bible. He quotes Bible verses and eventually by doing so, causes the devil to flee.

You see, the Word of God is your weapon and the answers that you need to the struggles that you will face are all found in this same book – The Bible.

This story encourages me, as I see Jesus face then what I still face today, and that is, temptation. Not only am I encouraged to see that He faced it, but I’m more so encouraged to see that He conquered it. And the best part is that not only do we see that He conquered it, but we see how He conquered it too.

It’s very apparent to us that Jesus was prepared for this test… And how did He prepare? By spending time with God and familiarising Himself with what God said about Him.

Temptation’s goal is to get you to act in accordance with who you’re not, so it’s vital that you know who God says you are.

Make a commitment to spend time with God and His word, preparing for every season of life, so that when you face moments of testing and temptation, you are so full of God’s Word that you don’t have room for the devil’s lies.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 5th September 2017

About a year ago, I was looking after my brother and sister. We decided to head over to the park, and on our way back, a man was walking on the opposite side of the road. My brother (who is incredibly extroverted) began shouting ‘hello!’ ‘hello!’ ‘hello!’ across the road to this man, who was quite embarrassed about a small boy shouting at him.

Confused by the entire situation (my brother clearly thought this man should know who he is), I began to quiz my brother about what he was doing and why he’s heckling this poor man. I was ready to give him a lecture about not talking to strangers and the dangers that it involves when I asked him ‘Why are you talking to that man?’ His answer astounded me. ‘Lucy, if I don’t say hello to someone, how can we ever become friends?’ Whilst, yes a child shouldn’t talk to any random person, my brother actually spoke some truth on that day.

Every person that you know in your life, you know them because at one point or another, someone decided to say ‘hello’. As a result of that ‘hello’, you are now acquaintances/friends/family/maybe even husband or wife. Often, I think we can over complicate situations that are actually really simple. God wants to use your everyday conversations and situations to point people to Him. However, God can’t do that unless you begin the conversation.

Today, who can you talk to? What new relationships can you build that help point people to Jesus? Don’t overcomplicate things. God can take the most simple things and use them to change someone’s life.

Lucy Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th September 2017

Today most people find themselves living for position, or maybe even fighting for it.

Our careers are usually built on what position we can obtain and life outside work can easily be built on looking for a greater position in life – be it a better car, bigger house or more stuff!

God has called us all with a plan and purpose, and it is here where we can find our true position in life.

Let us take encouragement from the life of King David, who on his journey through life always held onto God and found his position in Him.

Whether during his time as shepherd boy, watching his family’s sheep and protecting them from predators or as a boy who defeated a giant, a soldier serving his king or the king’s personal musician, he knew where to find his true position in life.

Many times David writes in Psalms that God was his helper, his protection, his shield, his father, his hope and refuge.

I believe it was this confession and understanding that gave David his position, which allowed him the ability to endure great trials and battles, knowing that whatever he faced, he knew that God was his strength and source as well as his place of security.

Today, let us remember that God wants to also be our shelter, our protector and our safe place. Once we accept this then our lives will be in a much greater position – firmly in God’s hands.
He will always set us on the right path in life.

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd September 2017

In 1 Samuel, we read about how Hannah was desperate for a baby…and I mean desperate.
Her husband, Elkannah had two wives, The one wife had children, Hannah didn’t.
But Hannah was his favourite and she cried out to God in total desperation and against all odds, God gave her a son, Samuel.

Now I could speak today about Samuel and how God had a great plan for his life (because he did), because even though Samuel was born, he should never have been, because Hannah was barren. God’s plan will always be fulfilled, no matter how strongly the odds are against you.

Here’s 3 things to learn from Hannah
1. She had to get desperate.
Get yourself to a place of crying out to God for your dream to become a reality. Because when you do, God hears. God heard her cry and He will hear yours.

2. She gave back to God.
Hannah was so thankful to God for blessing her with Samuel, that she offered him back to God to be mightily used ( and he was). When God blesses you, don’t forget to give back.

3. God blessed her more than before.
She was blessed eternally for what she had done. She actually gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Wow!

You may not see the future right now, but God does.
You may feel desperate like Hannah.
God has a plan and a purpose. Trust Him. Give yourself fully to Him and His plan will not only come to pass through you, but future generations.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st September 2017

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17 NIV).

The only thing in all of creation that worries is a human being. Plants don’t worry. Animals don’t worry. Only human beings act as if we don’t have a heavenly Father. When you worry about your finances, you’re basically saying, “I think God is a liar. I don’t really think he will meet my needs.” But God will, if you meet the conditions.

When I was a child, I’d go to my dad and say, “Dad, I need some money.” Not once when I was growing up did I ever wonder, “Where is he going to get it?” It’s kind of an unwritten rule about money: Dads and moms make it, and kids spend it. Kids never wonder, “Where are my parents going to get this money?” I never worried about it.

Worry is really a form of atheism. Every time you worry, you’re basically saying, “I don’t believe there’s a God who is going to take care of me.” If you’re a Christian and you worry, you’re acting like an orphan. You’re acting like you don’t have a heavenly Father who has already promised over and over again in Scripture, “I will meet your needs if you will obey me and do what I tell you to do.” Trust forces you to live by faith.

Worry is a warning light. Every time we worry about our finances, it’s a warning that we doubt God loves us and will take care of us. We always get into trouble when we doubt God’s love. Always.

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (NLT).

As long as you love anything more than God, that thing is going to be a source of anxiety. There was one thing meant for first place in your life, and it’s not your family. Anything you put first in your life besides God will create anxiety, because that thing can always be lost.

Your bank account is not your security, no matter how big it gets. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:17, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (NIV).

Put your hope in God, because he will assume responsibility for your needs if you’ll trust him.

By Rick Warren
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st Aug 2017

Australia has salt water crocodiles that weigh well over one tonne, whose heads alone weigh over 30 stone. In India, over 100 people each year are killed by Bengal tigers that tip the scales at over 35 stone. While the grizzly bears of Canada when standing on their hind legs stand over 9 feet tall!

The largest carnivore in the UK?

The badger!
They can weigh as much as two and a half stone.  It’s never killed anyone but it can administer a nasty nip.

That sums up life in England – safe and comfortable!

Now forget tigers and bears, there is nothing more dangerous and life threatening than being comfortable.

Comfort single handedly destroys hopes and dreams whilst at the same time being the enemy of progress, achievement and success. We can easily think that doubt and fear is the enemy of faith, but not at all, doubt and fear are vital for faith, comfort on the other hand is all we need to stop us stepping out in faith.

Satan loves us to be comfortable, sedated and harmless.

In Philippians 2:12, Paul encourages the church to ‘continue to work out their salvation with fear and trembling!’

He doesn’t mean to live in fear of losing your salvation or having to earn it, but he’s saying if it’s true that Jesus is the ‘way the truth and the life’ then work out what that actually means in your life, in your family and in your finances.

Basically Paul is saying ‘don’t be comfortable’ in your approach to life as a Christian.

One problem we have is that the antidote to comfort is often the trials and challenges we face. The life saving treatment that can wake us from a deadly slumber is often what we tend to moan about and try to avoid at all costs. But God uses our circumstances to shape, wake and move us.

I encourage you today, evaluate your approach to your Christian life. Are you laid back and comfortable or do you live with the life and death in recognition of the significance of who you are in him and what you can achieve?

We live in a very physically blessed country that is in desperate need of the church to wake it up from its comfort to the amazing reality of Jesus Christ. Let’s wake up today and stir those around us, you are more significant than you know.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th August 2017

There’s a story in the Bible known as the parable of the talents where a master entrusts three of his servants with his wealth before he goes away for a certain period of time. To one servant, he entrusts five talents, to the second, he entrusts two and to the third, he gives one.

Upon the master’s return, he discovers that the first two servants have doubled his investment, but the third servant buried his in the ground and therefore saw no multiplication attached to it.

This story is a reflection of us and God. He is the master and we are His servants. I began to see that maybe the talents in this story are not simply a representation of money, but of people. After all, God’s greatest wealth is you and I…

You see, everyday we are entrusted with people. Some of us have influence over more than others, but whether it be one or 1000, God has made you responsible for somebody.

It’s so easy to be like the third servant and decide to bury people in the ground. The reason being is that we don’t see potential in them and don’t think they could ever grow beyond who they currently are.

But I want to encourage you today to be like the first two servants, who saw great potential in what they had been entrusted with.

Who has God placed in your world that you need to take care of, that you need to invest in, that you need to speak life over? Because when you do those things, watch how God will bring multiplication into their life and yours like never before.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 29th August 2017

‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’
1 Thessalonians 5:18

We all have a bit of a crisis plan, don’t we? Have you prayed a panic prayer? I know I have. We know what to do when things go wrong. However, I’ve been thinking about what we do when we’re in seasons of abundance; work is amazing, your marriage is the best it’s ever been, you’re seeing a record number of breakthroughs etc.

I don’t know about you but when I feel as though everything is going right, I praise God for it and go on with what I’m doing.

Today, I’m challenging us to take a slightly different approach. I wonder how our circumstances would look, if we really opened them up to God. It’s easy to shut God out of areas of our lives where we feel that everything is just right and there’s nothing more He can do for us. We say things like “it just doesn’t get better than this.” Or “I don’t need God to bless that more than He has. I don’t want to be greedy.”
Let me remind you that God has a limitless supply of whatever it is you need. Don’t let contentment trick you out of seeing God do more in your life.

Ephesians‬ ‭3:20-21‬ ‭
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
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See the word ‘generations’ in that verse? There’s always more to your blessings than just you. Let’s start to imagine and believe for greater today. God is able.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th August 2017

In some parts of Mexico, hot and cold springs are found side-by-side. Local women often boil their clothes in the hot springs and then rinse them in the cold springs. Recently, a tourist said to her guide, “these people must think that nature is amazing to supply them with hot and cold water side by side, all free of charge.” The guide replied, ” not really, they grumble because it doesn’t provide the soap too; and not only that they have heard that there are machines that do this kind of work in other parts of the world!”

Contentment isn’t getting what you want, it’s enjoying what you’ve got.

If you want to be miserable, focus on what others have and forget what God’s given you. Comparing will always leave you feeling left out, rejected or short changed. If you don’t put the brakes on your negative emotions, you will become bitter and critical. Comparison is the biggest joy killer in anyone’s life. An entire generation died in the old Testament because they were complainers. They went round and round in circles and never entered the promised land, whereas those with an attitude of gratitude enjoyed every moment of it.

How has your attitude been these days?

Hasn’t God been good to you?

Where would you be today without him?

Before you go a step further today check your attitude, and then spend some time giving thanks to God.

Remember: attitude determines altitude.

1 Chronicles 16:34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures for ever.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th August 2017

In the Old Testament, we read about Abraham.
The story of Abraham reminds me of how we should trust God.

We read how God called him to a new place. He called him to a brand new start and He called him into the unknown.
Maybe God is calling you to something new, maybe He is calling you to something that is unknown for you. Know this: if God is calling you, then you don’t need to worry or fear.
God has a great plan for you. TRUST HIM.

We read how God promised him a son.
Unfortunately, Abraham waited a long time and because it didn’t happen in his time frame, he took matters into his own hands. (This can be dangerous).
God will always turn up with His promise, even if it’s later than you expected. Be encouraged from Abraham’s life.
God always fulfils His promises. TRUST HIM.

We read how God then asked Abraham to give up his only son. Yes, the son that he had waited years for!
This was a great test. Huge.
Maybe God is testing you right now, maybe He’s asking you to do something that’s a sacrifice. Whenever God does, He always has a reward for obedience. He always has blessings in store.
God was just testing Abraham and sometimes He tests us. TRUST HIM.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living

Fresh Hope – 25th August 2017

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 Moms, 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 are made for family. 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.

This is what we are made for.

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th August 2017

Proverbs 12:2 ‘Good people obtain favour from the Lord…’

Today God wants to give you great favour.

When was the last time you expected God to bless and favour you?

No matter where I go, I fully expect God to favour my life.

Being the forgetful person I can be at times, I got to the checkouts in the supermarket the other day and realised that not only had I forgotten my credit card but into the bargain I had no cash in my wallet either. All the items had already gone through the checkout and a long line of people were waiting behind me. For a few seconds, I was embarrassed and flustered as to what I should do, but then I reminded myself that I should trust God for His favour right there and then.

As I looked up, I recognised a lady walking through the shop and after a brief conversation about my dilemma, she not only came to my rescue with her credit card, but insisted on paying for my shopping in full and refused to have me give her the money back at a later date!

Here are some of the things that may prompt you to trust God in one or all of these areas:

– Doors to open supernaturally for me

– Promotion and success in my workplace

– Restoration of everything that the enemy has stolen from me

– Honour, in the midst of adversity

– Increase in land and mortgages paid off

– Greater victories in the midst of greater impossibilities

-Recogniton, even when you seem to be the most unlikely person to succeed.

– Prominence and preferential treatment

– Petitions granted to you even by ungodly civil authorities and councils

– Policies, rules and regulations to be overturned to your advantage

– Battles won in which you won’t even have to fight.

Stop speaking negative outcomes over your life and start today to believe that God is on your side and is about to give you favour.

Luke 4:18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is on me…He has sent me to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd August 2017

With whatever you’re currently experiencing in your life, you need to know this – it is either God sent or God used.

God is a good God and everything that He does has to be in alignment with who He is. Therefore, whatever comes into your life that is good, you can trust it’s from God.

However, the reality is that not everything that we experience in life is good. But don’t think that that means it’s out of God’s control… He might not have sent it, but He can still use it!

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.”
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You need to know that what was meant for your harm, God is going to work together for your good. Nothing you’re currently faced with is out of His control, and He will have the final say over it.

Today, you can live from a position of rest and confidence, knowing that everything in my life has either been sent by God or is going to be used by God, and therefore, all we do is win…

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd August 2017

“It is better to be poor and honest than to be foolish and tell lies” (Proverbs 19:1 NCV).

God does not bless dishonesty. Proverbs 16:11a says, “The Lord demands fairness in every business deal” (TLB). That includes wages, salaries, and taxes. If you want God’s blessing on your finances, you must be honest about them. The Bible also says, “It is better to be poor and honest than to be foolish and tell lies” (Proverbs 19:1 NCV).

Why is this an important principle? When you’re going through a season of financial stress, the temptation is enormous to toss out your integrity and to cheat in order to make ends meet. It may mean you shade the truth on a sale or exaggerate or deflate the value of something. It may mean you claim a false deduction on your taxes. You always lose in the long run when you lose your integrity. And that’s what you are taking to Heaven — your character, not your money. You always lose when you give up your integrity.

The Bible says in Proverbs 10:22, “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it” (NIV). Profit that is made dishonestly brings trouble with it. Why? If you rip off people, other people are going to rip you off. If you cheat — including the government — you’re going to get cheated in life. What you sow, you will reap.

This decision to be honest in your finances is not something you make once for all. It’s a daily decision. You’re going to be tempted to lie. Sometimes honesty costs you. Have you learned that? Sometimes it costs to tell the truth on a form.

But God says that if you’re faithful to him in this, you’ll never have to worry about your financial needs.

By Rick Warren
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st August 2017

When God asks you to do something extraordinary, it’s because He wants to do something extraordinary.

Several years ago, I was preparing to travel to a church on the south coast of England where I had been invited to speak at a midweek service. A day or so beforehand I heard the Holy spirit speak clearly to me these words…”whatever they give you when they take up an offering for you is not to be touched by you. It’s for that couple you know that has no money. Send it straight to them. Do not touch it yourself.”

It was very clear what I had to do, and if I’m honest I thought it was a very simple thing for me to do. After all, the church was pretty small and I knew that anything they gave me would probably just cover the fuel to get there and back.

“No big deal”… I kind of said back to God, inside my head.

The evening at the church went well and as I was leaving I was given an envelope with the largest amount of cash that I’d ever received for speaking. I looked down and saw a total written on the outside of the enevelope…£350! ‘Oh drat’, I thought as I was trying to sound grateful. I had needs myself back at home and now I’m about to send the whole amount to a couple I hardly know. Part of me was mildly annoyed, but every bit of me knew that this was a step of obedience that I had to take.

As I got in the car to leave, the pastor hurriedly handed me a further envelope and gave me strict orders from the person that had given it to him. “This must not be given away…it’s yours.”

It was just after midnight when I got home and in a cynical and tired manner I began to think about sending the largest gift ever in the post the next morning. I found myself musing over the other envelope and began to think about what was potentially in there. A gift of maybe £10 or even £20, but whatever it is, it’s probably not even going to be anywhere near what I’m just about to give away. I admit, I was completely down sizing God’s ability to meet my needs after taking such a chunk of money off me when I most needed it for my own family.

You can imagine my surprise, not to mention my remorse for thinking such thoughts, when I found myself staring at a cheque for £2000!

When God asks you to sow the seed you have, He’s setting you up for a harvest that’s on its way to you.

Don’t be afraid today to obey God, nor should you be afraid to give him everything you have. He knows exactly what He’s doing. Never doubt it – just do it.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th August 2017

I have always been an impatient person. I like things done now. But I also like things done right.

After being married to my wonderful husband (who happens to be a great chef) for 33 plus years, I know that good things take time. I know that if i want a great meal, or even a good one, I have to be patient and wait.
Microwave and instant are not favourites in our house when it comes to food or drinks. I don’t like microwaved food or pot noodles or instant coffee. I much prefer to wait (even though it’s hard at times) and get something worth waiting for.

So why is it, that it’s any different when it comes to God?

Good things take time. GREAT things take longer.
Breakthroughs don’t always happen overnight.
To get a break through, you have to ‘break through’. Yes, I do know that God can suddenly do something, but usually it takes time.

There will be a resistance to your breakthrough from the enemy of your soul. That’s why we have to be people of prayer, pushing through, being persistent AND patient.

So keep praying, keep believing and even make fasting a part of your life style and in doing so, see your life go from good to GREAT this year and see and experience God doing some amazing things in and through you.

The best my friends is yet to come.

Ephesians 3. 20-21
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th August 2017

The human heart – we don’t see it, but if it stopped, we would drop dead!

In the scriptures “the heart” is mentioned over a thousand times. This isn’t talking about the physical heart actually, it’s talking about the spiritual heart – the centre of emotional, intellectual and moral activity.

I’m guessing if God mentions our heart that often– it might be important in life. In fact scripture says, ‘…all life flows from the heart.’ That means that how I think, how I feel and all my values for living life start in the heart. That’s a big deal! So anything negative that gets into my heart will directly influence how my life looks! Equally, anything positive that I feed in, will directly influence how my life looks!

A few years ago I went to New York city around Christmas time and my parents gave me some money to purchase a piece from the jewellery shop, Tiffany and Co. on 5th Avenue. I treated myself to a necklace with a heart pendant. I wore this piece almost everyday for three years. I intended to pass it on to my daughter one day. It was precious to me and held sentimental value. Recently, I lost that heart necklace. I was using a changing room in a local shopping centre and it hasn’t been seen since! Naturally, I was so upset.

I felt God tell me something in the process of trying to find it. How much more should we value and protect our spiritual heart and be careful not to lose it?

Scripture says we have been given a new heart through God, but it still interacts with a world that tries to tell it how to think and feel and live. We need to be vigilant and intentional about protecting it. If I have something as precious as a heart in which all life flows from, I would want to guard it like a royal jewel! I would want to protect it, check it, only let the good stuff in, figure out what makes it sing and fight to make sure nothing taints it!

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th August 2017

Mark 11:24-25 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.’

I read these verses 40 years ago. At that exact moment I decided that if God were God and the Bible true, then I would dare to believe what was said.

I started out by taking tiny steps of faith. In fact it seems almost nothing now, but I well remember asking God to supply my need of £5! It was a seemingly small step, but it was a very real need to me then. I re-read the Bible verse again to check that I’d read it correctly and yes…I was to ask, believe and then receive.

That day, I simply brought my need to God and then thanked Him for providing my need. Within a day or so, I was holding my answer to prayer in my hand. An old couple that I visited that day called me back as I was leaving their house and insisted on giving me a £5 note. My faith grew stronger and I started to trust God for more. Faith is just like a muscle; it has to be used and stretched in order to grow stronger.

I didn’t realise that all those years ago that I would be called upon by God to trust Him for so much more. The next challenge was to trust Him for thousands, and then hundreds of thousands, and today as I write, I have been privileged to be able to trust Him for millions. Please understand, that none of this was to line my own pockets; I was simply to believe so that the finance could flow to me so that it could flow through me.

If you’ve never believed that God is able to provide for you and through you then make a decision to start right now.

I find that having specific prayer targets is the most helpful thing that I’ve ever done in helping me to pray. I write things in a prayer diary and will pray for them each week until I see the answer. On some occasions, I’ve prayed for more than four years for something before seeing an answer. The key is to never give up.

Right now I have a prayer list of more than 35 items on it. Each one is broughy to God in prayer on a regular basis. Sometimes daily and sometimes weekly.

The list contains people’s names, impossible situations, my children and grandchildren, my church and even myself. I pray about specific things and never leave things to just vague requests. Right now I’m trusting God (again) for a million pounds so that we can move forward in building the children’s annexe at the church.

I find that most people run out of things to say after they’ve prayed for a few minutes. That’s usually because they haven’t started to make lists of requests in order to bring them to God each day.

Always remember that the biggest reason for unanswered prayer is un-prayed prayer.

Start to make your list of requests today. You may only have one or two things to ask for right now, but that list will soon grow and before long you’ll be praying for 20 minutes and more.

Unsure as to whether you should ask?

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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th August 2017

There’s rarely a day goes by, but that I start it with a good half hour in what I call my ‘quiet time’. I get up early, make a cup of tea and sit in the same seat. On one side of me I have my Bible and on the other I have my prayer list. That list is filled with requests for people and situations, as well as my own needs, that of our family and of course our church.

Some people would consider it a waste of time so early in the morning. They prefer to use it lying longer in bed and then racing around, getting themselves ready for work; but I know from more than 30 years of doing this that my life would not be the same if I didn’t spend my first moments with Jesus.

If you think of life like a merry -go -round, then you are not too far away from what each day feels like when it gets going. Taking a few moments with God, before the ride starts, sets you up properly for the day. You may well wake up some days frustrated, tired, bored, confused, annoyed, anxious, and even at odds with yourself, and yet in this few quber moments you can lay it all out before God and realign your life as to what really matters and find peace even in the midst of the worst storm.

I like to read the Bible as if it were a three course meal; It feeds me spiritually before the day starts. I read it through consecutively, so that I don’t just randomly stumble on something that takes my fancy each morning. I’ll read a little from the Old Testament as my starter; then a little from the New Testament as my main course; then a little from Psalms or Proverbs as my dessert, washed down with spending a few moments with God in prayer.

I find that diet to be tried and trusted; one that will help form a daily habit in keeping you not only well balanced, but well nourished too.

In just the same way that your physical and emotional health is important, then so is your spiritual health, in fact, it’s more important in that you are involving and including God in your every move. If anyone can help you…He can.

If your life is out of control from the moment you wake, then why not make a decision starting right now to plan for a ‘quiet time’ each day?

Set your alarm clock for tomorrow morning just 30 minutes earlier and start the day with Jesus.

Join me again tomorrow morning for more practical hints on how to pray and see answers everyday.

Psalm 46:10 He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th August 2017

You’ll never see an eagle mixing with a chicken. Why? Because they weren’t meant to. Chickens can’t get very far off the ground and yet eagles are the ones who fly the highest.

Yesterday, we talked about how God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours.
Here are some positive steps that will help you to get higher in your life.

1. As an eagle and chicken weren’t meant to mix, there are possibly some people you need to let go of too. Certain relationships can keep us where we are not meant to be.
The right people will take you higher.

2. Jesus often went to high places to pray. Why? Because He needed to be alone and get away from the crowd. Take time to get alone and pray. Prayer will take you higher.

3. When you spend time alone with God, He will start to reveal His plan for your life. That will get exciting and maybe even scary at times. But His plans will aim us to reach higher.
Get some purpose in your life. Purpose will take us higher.

4. Don’t give up. Don’t settle for second rate living and a second rate experience. God has some awesome plans for you. His word tells me that he has an abundant life planned just for me. (John 10 v 10) Persistence will take you higher.
With prayer comes purpose.. with purpose you’ll need persistence … and with the right people in your life, you’re aiming HIGH.
GO FOR IT.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th August 2017

In Isaiah 55 vs 8&9, it tells me this: “God’s ways are higher than mine and His thoughts are higher than mine.”
Which means there must be a higher way of thinking than how I usually think and a higher way of doing things than how I usually do them.

The longer that I’ve been a Christian, the more I realise that where I am today in my life is actually up to me.
Thinking makes up a large part of your life.

“As a man thinks, so he is.” – Proverbs 23 v 7

“You are what you think” is a popular quote.
God’s thinking is higher and He wants yours to be too.
Start to understand that there is a higher way for you to reach for, believe for, attain to and experience.

You may not feel that you are reaching for higher things, because your life is way down low at the moment and it seems too hard to get anywhere higher. One small thought can make a BIG difference. Start to declare positive things over your life, even if you can’t see it happening right now. Start thinking and saying “It will and can be different.”

God doesn’t control our thinking – we all have free will, so choose to think differently today. And when you do, your life will start to change also.

You may be faced with a sick child, a huge bill you can’t pay, a difficult person in your life, no hope of a job, a problem you can’t seem to solve. Don’t think how you used to, how you always have, but think bigger and differently today.

Change your mind and change your life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th August 2017

Everyone has a plan and purpose for their lives.. It’s a God given plan. Yet, we all have free will as to whether we choose to live it out or not.
God is the one who made us, whether you believe that or not, He did. He knows you better than you know yourself and HIS plan for you is IDEAL. He is your Maker.

You can buy a new car and totally ignore the manufacturer’s instructions if you’d like. You can try putting Coca Cola in the fuel tank, instead of petrol or diesel, but you won’t get very far. Because the maker knows best.
It’s like that, with the life God has planned for you.

Some time ago, I went to speak to a group of women who had in the world’s eyes ‘made a mess of their lives’. Some had made mistakes that had life altering effects on them. Yet, the beautiful thing was, they had all got one thing in common – they had realised their mistakes and returned to ‘The Maker’s Instructions’. Each one had devoted their lives to God and now it was as if their lives were brand new. They were living out purposeful and rich lives.

You see, God isn’t fazed by where you’ve been and what you’ve done. He welcomes your return with open arms.

The sooner you realise that God’s plan is actually perfect, the sooner you can live fulfilled and purposeful.

Refer to the Maker’s instructions.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th August 2017

Hebrews 10:35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

There are two kinds of people that you will meet in life: confidence-makers, and confidence-shakers.

Which are you?

The story is told of a man who sold hot dogs on the road side. He was hard of hearing, so we had no radio. He had poor eyesight so he didn’t read the newspaper. But his hotdogs were great. He Put up signs on the side of the road advertising them everyday and people came from everywhere. Eventually he branched out, became prosperous and was able to send his son to College.
Unfortunately, his son came back with just enough education to make him dangerous. One day he said, “Dad, haven’t you heard the radio or read the newspaper? There’s is a big recession. The stock market is down, unemployment is up, things in Europe are terrible and it’s getting worse every day.”

Whereupon the man thought, “well, my son’s been to college. He reads the papers and listens to the radio-he ought to know. “So he cut down his meat and bread roll orders, took down the signs and no longer bothered to stand out on the roadside. Overnight his sales fell and within a month he was out of business. “You’re right,” he told his son, “we certainly are in the middle of a big recession. ”

Be careful! The words of confidence-shakers can become self-fulfilling prophecies if you buy into them.

So how do you overcome them?

Firstly, read the Bible and let it strengthen your faith and resolve for the things that God has asked you to do with your life, And second, remember that there will always be confidence – shakers, so make sure you surround yourself with confidence-makers.

Whether you believe you can or you can’t – you’re right!

Numbers 13:30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th August 2017

Hebrews 10:35-37 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’

What are you believing God for today? Healing? Relationship? Promotion? Freedom from addiction? God has promised all these things to you in His word. He wants you to live in blessing and wholeness all the days of your life. But in order to experience his promises, we have to do our part. We have to keep believing and trusting in him. That’s what today’s verse is saying: if we will keep in faith, if we will keep believing and trusting in Him, if we will keep doing the right thing, Gods promises will be there as a reward. I like how one translation of the Bible puts it, “Don’t get discouraged. Pay day is coming.”

When you’re tempted to get down, when things aren’t going your way, just say to yourself, “this may be hard, it may be taking a long time, but I know God is a faithful God. I’m going to keep believing because my reward is coming.”

Today as you trust Him and stand in faith, and as you boldly declare His promises you are positioning yourself to receive his blessing. No matter what your circumstances look like, remember payday is on its way – and you will experience the blessing He’s promised all the days of your life!

2 Corinthians 1:20 ‘
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th August 2017

There was a time not too long ago in which we enjoyed the more simple things of life.

I remember as a child going out to play for hours on end without any thought of having to report back home to let them know things were ok.

In my early teens, I would go out on my push bike on a Saturday and travel for miles with my mates and never think about the fact that we ought to be going home or at least finding a phone box, as someone may be worried about us. Nowadays, there’s hardly an hour that passes by between kids and parents when a text isn’t sent to find out where they are. Rightly so, in most cases.

Then there were the holiday photographs, which would remain in the camera for months on end until you’d finished the roll of film. You could hardly wait to get your full colour pictures back to show everyone what an amazing holiday you’d had six months earlier. Now it’s instantaneous and a minute by minute account of your daily life for all to see.

With the rise of social media, which can be an incredibly positive thing, we now can find out what many people had for dinner last night! This used to remain a private affair, but now the whole world can see exactly what you had, where you went, and who with.

As human beings, we are drawn into the fascination with other people’s lives, but sadly the power of comparison is the biggest joh killer on the planet.

Their family is better than mine…their figure is more toned than mine…their food is better than mine…their holiday was more exotic than mine, and before too long you have downgraded your own life to a miserable existence, simply because you are busy bodying yourself with everyone else’s life rather than focusing on the life that God gave to YOU.

Remember that most of what you see on social media is filtered and staged and is not so real as you think. Every great pouting pic is the very best shortlisted shot from a hundred awful ones.

Have you ever wondered why the Bible says this…

‘We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.’ 2 Thessalonians 3:11

How many people find themselves trapped in an existence of being a constant busybody, simply by trawling through endless Instagram and Facebook updates on an hour by hour basis?

Give yourself permission today to get off the band wagon and make a decision to either greatly reduce your social media intake or dare I say…stop it altogether. It’s making you lazy and the judge and jury over stuff that in the past you would have never known about anyway.

You will get back to living a far more productive life if you will simply set yourself free from being the ‘media police’, and get back the joy of doing what YOU were created for.

I have enough trouble managing my own life let alone trying to ‘manage’ thousands of other people’s lives across the world, most of whom couldn’t care less about what I think anyway, and quite rightly so.

God has not called you to give an opinion on anyone else’s life apart from your own. The only exceptions to that are those in your family, those who are closest to you, and those who you may have been given responsibility over to lead. These people value what you may have to say to them in a gracious and loving manner. Apart from that…keep your nose out of other people’s business.

It’s a modern day choice, but a very necessary one.

Get your joy back today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th August 2017

In tennis, the time spent positioning yourself to serve can win or lose the match. Often when a player is winning on their serve, it can point to the fact that they could well win the match. If an opponent ‘breaks’ the other player’s serve, it’s a sign that things are now going the other way.

How you position yourself to serve in life, is also an indicator of whether you will be a winner or a loser.

For some people serving is beneath them. They say things like “I don’t feel cut out to serve”, which is really an excuse for being lazy or simply having a wrong view of what it means to serve.

Other people won’t serve because they feel called to much grander things and therefore don’t want to serve in small ways just in case they miss out on the big things. Again, a completely messed up view on what serving is all about.

Serving is not beneath us, but above us. It is a ‘high calling’ for every person on the planet. You have to step up, not down, to serve.

Take a look at the following passage of the Bible…

Acts 6:8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs AMONG the people.

For many, that’s the very kind of thing that you would love to do. You only see yourself being recognised on the centre stage of life and so you would prefer to skip the serving stage and go straight for the ‘power for the hour’ stuff.

Let’s ask the question: How did he get there?

Just three verses earlier, we find that the leaders of the early church were looking for seven men that they could trust to ‘wait’ on tables. This was a role that was important for the daily distribution of bread to the poor and needy of the area. Anyone could have been chosen surely, but after a brief discussion they came up with a list of names and guess who was at the top of the list…

Acts 6:5 They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

Stephen, the guy that was mightily used by God was being asked to wait on tables, and he said YES.

When God looks for a person upon whom he can place His grace, power, great signs and wonders, He doesn’t look for platform person he looks for table person. Someone that is willing to serve.

Could it have been that very act of serving released him three verses later in the power of God?

Our serving today will win the match.

How good is your serve today?

Never think that serving is beneath you, as it’s the very doorway that all of us must walk through if we are to win in life.

Where are you serving this week?

Remember…find a need and fill it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th August 2017

Each of us has a certain level of demand on our lives. Everyday, there are many different things wanting to pull on our time, our energy and our resources, leaving us to decide what to say yes to and what to say no to.

There is a tendency in many of us to be people pleasers, never wanting to turn down an opportunity, always trying to avoid saying ‘no’ at whatever the cost.

However, there comes a time in your life when you must decide if you are going to be managed by your opportunities or by your priorities.

There will be many good opportunities that will come your way in life that will prove very tempting. You can either chase after those or decide to give first place to what matters most.

Take some time today to establish what your priorities are and devote the majority of your time, energy and resources to these… and when you do so, I do believe that the quality of your life will go to another level.

Understand that your ‘yes’ is only as powerful as your ‘no’. If you find yourself saying yes to every opportunity and request, your yes loses value. But if you carry the ability to say no, when you do say yes, people will have a far greater appreciation for it.

Decide today, am I going to be a person dictated by opportunity or priority… the choice is yours.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 5th August 2017

You were created to serve. Jesus Himself gave the greatest example
Matthew 20 v 28 – Jesus came not to be served but to serve.

If it’s good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me.

We should never think serving is too lowly, or that it’s not for us, or for those with nothing better to do. Serving is for everyone.
Serving is actually the highest calling. See Jesus the Son of God as the perfect example.

We should all see serving as part of our lives, we were never called to fill a seat, whilst everyone else serves us.
Get up, if you’re sitting down and make a difference!

What does serving bring? It brings honour. We humble ourselves as we serve and God promotes the humble. That’s honour. When God promotes me.. that’s a great place to be.

John 12 v 26. My Father will honour the one who serves me.
WOW. To be honoured by God is surely the best place to be.

Romans 14 v 18. Anyone who serves Christ, is pleasing God and receives human approval.
WOW. A double whammy. God is pleased and people will be pleased too.

No one likes a lazy person. Or one who thinks they are too important to serve. Or one who says “I’m too busy to serve.”

Let’s take on the example of Jesus today and be a blessing to those around us. Serve in our churches and communities. Serve in our home. Serve those around us who we are called to do life with.

Then see what an amazing difference that will bring to your life.
Purpose, peace and blessing to name just a few.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th August 2017

The story is told of a singing parakeet named Charlie. The bird’s problems began one day when the old lady who owned him decided to clean the dirt and feathers out of the bottom of his cage using a vacuum cleaner. Suddenly the phone rang and as she turned to pick it up, there was an awful sucking sound and and a WHOOSH …Charlie was gone!

In a panic, she turned off the vacuum cleaner, opened the dust bag and there was Charlie…stunned but still breathing. Seeing he was covered in thick black dust she rushed him to the bath where she turned on the cold water full blast and held him under it for a few seconds. At that point, she realised that she’d made things even worse, so she quickly cranked up the hairdryer and gave him a blast. Suffice to say…. Charlie doesn’t sing much any more.

How often do we allow circumstances to suck the very life out of us so that we don’t sing anymore?

Don’t let life steal your song!

Isaiah 54 gives us the secrets of what to do when nothing is happening and everything seems to be against us. Listen to the words it uses to help us get over ourselves…SING – BURST INTO SONG – ENLARGE – DO NOT HOLD BACK- LENGTHEN – STRENGTHEN – SPREAD OUT- THINK BIG!

When going through some of the darkest places and times in your life, the first thing that happens is that you lose your song. You stop thanking and praising and you stop believing for bigger and better things to come.

Take a hold of your self right now and start to worship God. Thank Him and praise Him, for though you can’t see a way forward, He is about to super size your life. He does it when you make a decision to sing and shout aloud. Praise opens your heart for all that God wants to bring to your life today. See it as a doorway through which your future has to travel.

The secret of your victory is found also in the words of David…’ His praise will continually be on my lips’. Psalm 34 v 1

Praise is not just a ‘Church thing’ – it’s a lifestyle.

It will change your approach to life…problems…your attitude towards people…your future…and the atmosphere around you.

Go ahead, start to schedule times of praise into your day and watch what happens!

Isaiah 54:1-5 ‘SING, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,’ says the Lord. ‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. ‘Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is his name…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd August 2017

At 18, George Frederick Handel was the harpsichordist at the Kaiser’s Opera house in Hamburg, Germany. By 21 he was a keyboard virtuoso and a celebrated composer by appointment to the king of England.

Yet despite all this, he faced terrible adversity. First, there was the fierce rivalry of the English composers. Next, there were the fickle audiences who often didn’t show up for his performances. Several times he was on the verge of bankruptcy. Finally, he suffered a stroke on his left side and temporarily lost the use of four fingers on his right hand. At 56, deeply discouraged, fearing he’d land in the debtors prison, he gave what he considered to be his farewell concert. To him, life had become one big rut and he didn’t know how to climb out of it.
Then something incredible happened. That same year, a wealthy friend visited him and gave him what was called a ‘libretto’, (the text to an opera or other musical piece) based on the life of Christ. It intrigued him and stirred his emotions, so he began writing. Immediately the floodgates of inspiration opened and for the next 21 days he wrote almost non-stop. During the following three days, he created the orchestrations. In just 25 days, George Frederick Handel, the man who had decided that his life is over, created the 260 page masterpiece known to us as Handel’s Messiah!

Royal protocol demands that all Kings and Queens stand for the playing of the Hallelujah Chorus.

Fearing that you may be too old and past it for God to use you in the same great way?
Take heart today and make a decision to…

  1.  Forget your past

2. Confront your fears

3. Seize your God-given opportunities as they come knocking on your door.

The best is yet to come!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd August 2017

If you’re making a difference, expect to be criticised!

If you’ve never been criticised, don’t take it as a compliment, but more as a sign that you are not doing anything.

Criticism is just proof that your influence is being felt. You are also in good company…Jesus was always coming under heavy fire from His critics.

When gospel singer Carmen held a concert at Mardi Gras he was severely criticised for mixing with unsavoury people. But he answered, “isn’t the darkness supposed to flee from the light, and not the light from darkness?” So he held his concert and 100’s came to faith in Jesus.

It’s impossible to keep every body happy all of the time, in fact don’t even waste your time trying. Just concentrate on pleasing God.

When a hawk is attacked by the crows, it never counter-attacks. No, it simply soars higher and higher, until the pests live it alone. Stop trying to please your critics, but rather circle above them on the wings of faith and don’t let them bring you down to their level.

Remember…you attitude and example will do more to change people’s minds about you than all the arguments you put up against them.

Romans 12:19-21 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st August 2017

Criticism will either crush you or energise you. The same wind that threatens the turkey on the ground, will lift the eagle above the storm. If you’re facing criticism today, consider these things carefully: First, what’s the source? Where it’s coming from is initially far more important than what’s being said. Second, is it destructive or constructive? Often we view critics like this…constructive criticism is when I criticise you, but destructive criticism is when you criticise me! You may smile, but we have to learn to detect the ‘spirit’ behind the words. Third, is it judgmental or gentle? If words are spoken in kindness, they’re probably meant to be constructive.

None of us like to be criticised, so we each have to be careful with our attitude towards the critic. You will usually find in even the worst criticism against you that there is a nugget of truth in what is being said somewhere, so always take it away and sift through it until you find it.

If you get bitter towards your critics, you will end up far worse than they ever knew how to be.

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

1 Peter 2:21-23
This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st July 2017

Here’s a fact – everyone does better with encouragement.
A child at school. A wife. A sportsman. A musician. An employee. We could go on. Whatever your walk in life, when you get encouraged, you will be better.

We will all succeed, if down the line, we all get the encouragement that we need.

We can get tired, feel like giving up, get confused, say “is it worth it?”, “nothing is going right. We can feel that all is against us.
We can give out a lot in life and not always get a lot back.

Some people sit around waiting to be encouraged. That’s not right.
Some people give up if they don’t get encouraged, that’s not right.
To encourage means to inspire with courage, to give hope to, to give help to.

Encouraging is powerful.

Whoever you meet today, encourage them. They will be better for it.
“You cooked a lovely meal” – means it will be even better next time.
“You preached great today” – means they’ll preach even better next time.
“You did a great job today” – means they’ll do an even better one tomorrow.

When you encourage, you’re making someone’s life better. You may even save them from giving up. You may be the answer to their prayers.
NEVER HOLD BACK on encouragement. You could be a life saver.

And guess what? Whatever you sow, you will reap.

So just you wait.. it will come back to you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th July 2017

Lots of people decide to quit when life gets hard. If the enemy has got you to quit, he has done a good job! Think about it.

I occasionally talk to people who think about quitting. Why? Because life is hard, stuff is hard, work can be hard, school/college, relationships – no one ever promised us that life would be easy.

Don’t you think it was hard for Michael Phelps the US record- holding Olympic gold medalist to win 23 golds? Or do we think that was somehow easy?
Don’t you think there were times when he wanted to quit?
When he wanted to stay out late with mates, instead of being in bed ridiculously early because of training the next day?
When he wanted to stay in bed on those winter mornings, when it would have been far easier to do so?
When he really wanted to eat loads of cheesecake, when that wasn’t on his diet sheet?
When he didn’t want to do any more laps because he was tired?

Of course it was hard and of course life is hard too.

Wasn’t it hard for Moses and Daniel and Noah and Esther and all the Bible greats?
Wasn’t it hard for Jesus to go to the cross for each one of us?

Sometimes me and you can be quite pathetic, when it comes to giving up too easily. Sometimes the slightest thing or distraction can take us off course.

Please don’t give up today. Stay the course. Go for gold. Push through.

I’m glad Jesus didn’t quit and neither should you. You can do it.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th July 2017

Whether you recognise it today or not, you need to know that you have an assignment from God. You’re not here by accident, your existence is not a mistake, but God has created you on purpose, for a purpose.

Because of this truth, the devil would love nothing more than to get you off of your assignment, and the way he does this is by getting you to believe that your assignment is insignificant.

Don’t believe the lie…

The call of God upon your life carries great significance, so much so, that people are counting on you to carry it out.

Maybe you’re heading to the same job today that you’ve been at for multiple decades – know that your faithfulness is significant. Maybe you’re a single Mom trying to raise your family – know that your commitment is significant. Maybe you’re a leader of an organisation – know that what you’re pioneering is significant!

Don’t allow the devil to get you to believe that who you are and what you do is insignificant, but realise today that who you are and what you do has eternal significance attached to it.

Don’t give up, keep on going… there’s a generation counting on you!

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 27th July 2017

On Tuesday of this week, I attended the funeral service of a very special lady. It was actually a thanksgiving service for her life.
So many wonderful thoughts were shared about her and there was a whole lot of love in the church that day for an amazing lady.

We can learn a lot of things from the ‘passing away’ of someone. One of the biggest things has to be this…

Don’t wait for someone to ‘pass away’ before you let them know how much you care and loved them. It’s actually too late then.
Your encouragement and love can make a WORLD of a difference to someone’s life, whilst they are still alive.

Here’s some of the excuses we give…
“They know I love them.” Do they? Maybe not?
Keep reminding them. It’s an amazing blessing you’re giving to someone’s life.

“I’m too busy to stop my busy life.” Don’t ever say that. Take time before it’s too late. None of us are promised tomorrow.

Often, someone’s passing makes us fully understand how we felt about that person. Isn’t that sad? Be thankful for them TODAY.

A word of love, a hug, an affirmation, an encouragement will make someone’s life so much richer. Have you ever wondered if someone really cares about you?
Start to sow care and love and encouragement and you will reap it back.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY…Start your day, every day, being thankful to God.
Thankful for breath in your body and a life to live to the fullest.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th July 2017

Yesterday, I took the funeral of a dear friend who would have been just 44 on Sunday. Angie Morris was a vibrant Christian that lit up any room that she walked into. For the last two years she has battled with cancer that eventually spread throughout her body. She lost the battle a few days ago.

In the natural, it would appear that all has been lost, but for Angie no matter how many days she suffered she never lost her faith in Jesus.

Just two weeks before she passed away, my wife and I sat drinking coffee with her in our local coffee shop. We laughed, cried and held her hands across the table as we prayed one more time. The last thing she spoke to us about was the life changing event that happened some 16 years earlier. She had been walking through the shopping mall with her mom one Sunday afternoon and was stopped in her tracks as she heard the band and choir from our church performing at the amphitheatre that day. Tears rolled down her face as she listened. The following Sunday she came to church and has never looked back. She gave her life to Jesus and made a choice to serve him right up until her last breath.

She has touched so many lives since then.

Were it not for that moment, she would openly say that she had no idea how she would have got through the last couple of years. God has been her continual source of hope and strength, especially through her darkest days.

Literally hundreds of people have stood with her in prayer.

At times like these, we all are forced to think about our own lives and where we stand with Jesus. No matter what happened, Angie knew for sure that she would be safe with Jesus.

When the Bible translates the word ‘death’ in the New Testament, it uses a different word when relating it to a Christian. It uses a word that intimates that this is not the end for someone like Angie…it uses the word ‘sleep’. On every occasion that a Christian dies it says that they have simply ‘fallen asleep’.

Falling asleep is not a fearful thing as you fully expect to wake up! Isn’t it amazing that sleep takes you completely out of the normal world of time and space and can make 6 or 7 hours seem like but a few minutes? And so it is with Angie, she has fallen asleep only to wake again in a brand new world called Heaven, with seemingly no passing of time, straight into the presence of God forever.

Death to the Christian is not something to be feared as we know we will meet again.

Do you have that sure and certain hope that when death most certainly comes knocking at your door, that you will be with Jesus for eternity?

That assurance comes from simply acknowledging Him in your life. Why not pray a simple prayer right now asking Jesus to come into your heart? He is more than willing and able to forgive you for everything you’ve ever done wrong and make you right with God. When you do that you will be immediately flooded with His peace and you will know that He is alive.

Death doesn’t have to be ‘goodbye’, with Jesus it’s a case of ‘see you later’.

Angie knew it…do you?

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th July 2017

There are two men in identical circumstances but with totally opposite experiences.

For months, they’re both kept in complete isolation from families, woken early every morning for forced labour and exercise. They’re both fed on plain tasteless food and water and forced to fight against their will.

One is the saddest man in the world but the other is the happiest. How is this possible?

Because one man is in a prisoner of war camp, and the other is the heavyweight champion of the world preparing for another fight.

What a difference it makes knowing the ‘meaning’ of what we’re doing.

When we have meaning and we live with it clearly before us, it can place perspective on all we do! We can then actually enjoy hardships and trials because we see them as training for a world changing battle that we know we have already won.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The reality is, in all the challenges we face, we actually have the choice of either being a ‘prisoner of war’, a victim, or the ‘heavyweight champion of the world’, a victor! We decide which by choosing either ‘to see’ or ‘not to see’, the world changing significance of the battles we’re in.

I encourage you today in whatever you are facing, make a choice to see it as another gym session, another press up, one more stomach crunch in preparation for a glorious battle, a sensational victory and for that crown that will last forever. See any difficulty not as an obstacle to avoid or just get past, but elite training for a world changing mission! Don’t be a victim but a victor and run to win.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th July 2017

I recently joined the gym. I never expected it to be easy, but neither did I expect to enjoy it quite so much either. For probably the first time in my adult life, I have found something that not only keeps me fit, but also helps me shut off for an hour or so from all the challenges that I face daily in leading a church.

I try to get there 3-4 times a week and have already noticed the change that is taking place in my general stamina levels. As my youngest son also goes to the same gym, I sometimes go at the same time that he does and hitch a lift with him. On Saturday afternoon we went together, and as he was driving I took a few moments to sit back and relax in the warm sunshine that was breaking through the rain clouds that had been with us all over the weekend. As we arrived on the gym car park, I felt so warm and comfortable that I didn’t want to get out of the car. ‘How ironic’, I thought to myself ‘that I’m on my way to the gym and I actually have so much enjoyed the five minute journey that I want to make my means of transport my resting place.’

How easy is it in life to get so comfortable on the way to where you are going that you actually fall in love with places along the journey more than the destination itself?

In the Old Testament, we see Abraham journeying with his whole family to the promised land. However, when he reached Haran he decided to settle there, forgetting that it was only a means to the end and only half way to where he was bound for. Interestingly, Haran means parched and dry and became the death of him.

He died never having reached the place he was meant to, in favour of the comfort, convenience and the seeming security of his stopping off place.

Ask yourself the question, ‘would you ever make a motorway service station your holiday home in favour of moving onto the place you were bound for?’ Exactly!!

If you feel tempted today to settle for anything less than God’s best for your life, then shake yourself right now and get moving before you make your resting place somewhere far away from the destination God has for you.

Don’t stop short.

Push through and never give up.

You’re closer to your destiny than you think right now.

Hebrews 10:36-39 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’ And, ‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’ But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd July 2017

A teacher was teaching her class one day about Lot’s wife. “The Bible says that Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt,” she said. One child responded, “that’s nothing, my Mom was driving home yesterday and she looked back and turned into a lamppost.”

Lot’s wife only appears briefly in one part of the Bible, so why does Jesus tell us to remember her? Two reasons:

1) She invested her life in something that had no future. God tried to get Lot’s wife out of Sodom, but He couldn’t get Sodom out of her. When she thought of what she was leaving behind, she looked back and turned into a cold, unresponsive monument. When God says it’s time to move, don’t hesitate. Don’t become like those who once walked with him, but now are cold and unresponsive. Don’t become a monument to the past.

2) Your decisions have consequences. If only she’d kept moving forward so that when her daughters got to the place ahead of her, she would’ve been there to protect them. Instead, they became victims of abuse and incest. Before you lose your children, poison your marriage and tear up your life by refusing to break with your past…’remember Lot’s wife’. She didn’t make it to safety, but she did make it into the Bible long enough to warn us about three things: a) Complacency b) involvement with wrong things and c) a divided heart.

Remember…memories take us back, dreams take us forwards.

Luke 17:32-33 Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st July 2017

Before God’s people could get out of Egypt, Pharaoh made them three different offers. To each one of the offers, Moses had the courage to turn them down, otherwise they would have never got free from slavery.

First, Pharaoh said, “go, and leave your children here.” Then he said, “go, and leave your business here.” Finally, he said, “go, but don’t go too far.” Moses told him in no uncertain terms, “we are taking everything with us.”

When confronted with the enemy, that’s exactly what you have got to do too – look the enemy in the eye and say…”I’m taking my family, my business and I’m going all the way with God.” That’s what it takes to get out of Egypt!

But what about getting into the Promised land? That happens only… One city at a time… One habit at a time… One attitude at a time… One step of faith at a time. It happens when you break the enemy’s hold on your finances and put God first. It happens when you take the remote control out of his hand and protect your family from a culture that corrupts. It happens when you refuse to contradict what God has said about you in his word. Never speak words that make the enemy think he is still in control-he’s not! The Bible says you have the authority to drive him out-and he’s got to go (Luke 10v17)

Rise up in faith today and announce, “I’m coming out of bondage and I’m going in to freedom.”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th July 2017

We live in a world more and more environmentally aware, which is great; we hear a lot about the damage to the rainforest and Great Barrier reef, and endangered species like the Siberian tigers and pandas etc…

The problem is, it’s less and less God aware – the actual creator of the rainforest and the panda! And so what follows is as one of 7 billion humans on the planet we can feel expendable and we get the message that a panda’s life is worth more than ours.

This by the way isn’t true. The difference between us and all creation is that God breathed his spirit and likeness into us, meaning we’re of infinite worth to Him.

Isaiah 51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever,my righteousness will never fail.

This verse helps us in a world where we can feel second place to a Panda that actually there is an eternal plan for us that is way beyond that of any created rainforest or barrier reef. There is a significance to you that stretches beyond the limited universe – you are worth more than many Siberian tigers!

This should then help us to also see the infinite worth of people we come into contact with every day and the fantastic mission field God has placed us in.

When you struggle for meaning in a world that can only operate within the obvious visible realities, take courage in God’s infinite purpose and plan that will outlast everything you can see.

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 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.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th July 2017

If you want results like you’ve never had before, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done before.

In Luke 5, the disciples had been fishing and caught nothing, Jesus said “push out into deep waters and let your nets down for a catch.”
They had been fishing all night and yet not pushed out far enough, or deep enough.

If you’ve ever had a baby, you’ll know you have to PUSH. It may feel like you’re going to die, yet you’ll push because you know the end result is what you truly desire. Women get amazing strength from God at this time to keep pushing!

The enemy of our soul will convince us to give up and stop the pushing before we see what we are believing for, because it’s too much like hard work.

Don’t listen! Instead be a PUSHER – get out a bit further into the deeper waters and you will receive all that God has for you.

Their catch was colossal, and so will yours be.

Do not be tempted to give up before the thing is born. Press on and PUSH my friend.
P pray
U until
S something
H happens.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th July 2017

Yesterday, we looked at how important it is to keep ‘pushing’ for
what we are believing for.

P. Pray
U. Until
S. Something
H. Happens

In the Bible, the persistent widow came to the judge and kept bothering him. She didn’t get what she wanted because she came, but because she was persistent. You see, the judge kept saying “NO”, but she kept asking. Not satisfied with his answer, she hung on in there. (Luke 18)

People who ‘shove’ in life, usually aren’t liked.
People who ‘shove’ their way to the front, instead of waiting to be asked.
People who ‘shove’ for selfish ambition are not usually our favourites.
YET, pushing is not the same as shoving.
Pushing reminds me that I will not give up until I see what I’m believing for.
People who ‘push through’ their circumstances and don’t settle for what life throws at them, are admired and respected.

Today, be a PUSHER. Believe God again for your breakthrough, your miracle, and like the persistent widow… you may just receive it.

 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th July 2017

Sometimes we really need to ‘push’ for things in our lives, yet we don’t get very far.
Sometimes when life is hard and the going gets tough, it’s easier to give up, rather than push through.

People can be interesting. If there is a clearance sale, or a long queue in the supermarket, we will ‘push’ forward rather than stand at the back.
In a queue of traffic, my husband will often go in the wrong lane, rather than queue in the correct one.

Yet there are times when God wants us to push through for things and we don’t. We say instead ‘whatever will be, will be.’

The Bible talks about us putting on our armour, taking up our weapons and going after the great things that God has for us. God never teaches us to just sit back and see what happens.

Today, I encourage you to push forward with that request, that dream or desire, that thing you are believing God for.

P.U.S.H – pray until something happens.

If life has given you a raw deal, if your marriage isn’t what it should be, if your health is not good…PUSH.
If your children are away from God, if your job is not your dream, if you are living a life that is not one to the full…PUSH.

Don’t give up. Pray until something happens.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th July 2017

One thing that you and I have in common is that we both have needs. My needs may be different than your needs, and your needs may be different than mine, but nevertheless, we’re both in need of something.

I want to encourage you today to see your need the way God sees your need. God doesn’t see your need as a problem, He sees your need as an opportunity.

God doesn’t see your financial struggle as a problem, He sees it as an opportunity to show you He’s a provider.

God doesn’t see your sickness as an issue, He sees it as an opportunity to show you He’s a healer.

God isn’t freaked out by your broken relationship, He sees it as an opportunity to show you He’s the God of restoration.

Consider this: if it wasn’t for your need today, how is it that God could demonstrate His power in your life?

Let’s change our prayer from, ‘God, get me out of this situation’, to, ‘God, reveal Yourself to me in this situation.’ And I believe once we do that, we’ll see Him like we’ve never seen Him before.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 14th July 2017

We all experience waiting, whether it’s in the queue for our morning Starbucks, our weekly shop or having to get some petrol at the last minute because you’ve realised you won’t make it to work!

Maybe you’re waiting for something more important, like exam results, or test results from the doctors. Either way, I’m sure we have and will all have to wait at some time in our life.
Be encouraged in your waiting, that you are not alone, in fact, allow your soul to draw ever closer to God in the waiting.

The Book of Psalms gives great insight and encouragement whilst we wait, as King David wrote multiple times how he waited on the Lord. During hard times, feeling alone or under attack, David knew that waiting on God would renew his strength and faith in God.

Remember today that whatever you are waiting for, whether in anticipation, excitement or even disillusionment – God is in the waiting.
Position your soul to receive His strength during this time. Be patient, be honourable and trust in Him.

Here are just threePsalms that can encourage you – 40, 128 & 130.

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living,

Fresh Hope – 13th July 2017

2 Corinthians 6 v 10. ‘…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.’

One single man saved hard and bought himself a ticket for a luxury cruise.

He couldn’t afford to buy food whilst aboard his long awaited holiday, so he decided beforehand to pack his case with cheese and crackers for the whole 10 days. He was happy to live meagerly knowing that it was a small price to pay in order to be on board a luxury liner.

Each meal time, he would longingly glance through the restaurant windows and watch the passengers enjoying their fine dining experience. He would then retreat to his little cabin for yet again another simple meal of cheese and crackers.

As the holiday of a lifetime came to an end and the passengers disembarked, the captain shook his hand and enquired as to why he’d never seen him in the restaurant or indeed at the captain’s table. He embarrassingly explained to the captain that he had used all his money to pay for the cruise and therefore couldn’t afford the fine dining experience.

To the man’s horror, the captain explained that his ticket included all the fine dining whilst onboard, and he had every right to all the food he wanted, just like all the other passengers.

Imagine living the whole of your life and not realise that you could have everything when you had thought all along that you were entitled to nothing?

I read again today from the Bible verse above and it impacted me like never before…’having nothing, yet possessing everything.’

When Jesus died on the cross for you, He paid IN FULL for you to experience total forgiveness and a life to the FULL.

The question is: why are you living in economy class when you have a first class ticket that’s already been paid for?

You may ‘feel’ that you have nothing, but in reality because of Jesus, you ‘possess’ everything. Possessing means that you need to claim whats already yours.

Are you going to keep looking through the windows of your small life at those enjoying first class life, when all along you should be sitting there too?

Stop rehearsing over and over in your head the fact that you have nothing, when you should be enjoying all that God has purchased for you.

PAID IN FULL.

ALL INCLUSIVE.

John 10:10 Message
‘…I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th July 2017

My wife decided to surprise me, and herself I think, by buying some extra large strawberries and dipping them in chocolate.

I didn’t know what the fresh punnet of strawberries were for in the fridge, until I’d already eaten two of them and she wanted to know where they were. ‘I have special plans for them’ she explained, as I owned up to eating them. Later that night when I returned home from a meeting, she announced that the special strawberry surprise was waiting, however she quickly gave a disclaimer, as they hadn’t quite turned out as planned. In fact, what was presented to me was a plate of strawberries with a mound of nutty looking mess sitting on top.

I couldn’t help but laugh, as I enquired as to what could have gone so horribly wrong with such a simple procedure.

Gillian had got totally carried away with melting the chocolate in a bowl on top of a saucepan of boiling water. She thought that while she was at it she may as well throw any other kinds of left over chocolates from the cupboard in as well. There were nutty bars, fudge bars, dark and milk chocolate bars and you name it, it was in this mass. I explained calmly that you cant just randomly throw any old chocolatey ‘things’ in the bowl as they each have different properties and melting points. Suffice to say we each tried a couple and the rest are still in the fridge. Correction: they are now in the bin.

In life, in marriage, and in relationships of any kind, you have to know what ingredients will enhance and what will detract, otherwise you will turn your good intentions into one big ugly heap. Gillian’s lack of knowledge in the cooking department led to her strawberry disaster. It will be that way too in any area of your life, if you just have enthusiasm to do something but have no knowledge of how and what to do.

Knowledge can be learnt and it can be taught as well as caught.

We have now been married for 33 years in just two days time and the knowledge that we have gleaned over the years of what makes a happy a blessed marriage is something that we are committed to sharing with as many couples as possible.

If Gillian had simply asked, or learnt by looking it up, then I would have come home to perfectly coated chocolate strawberries.

How many of you reading this are coming home to a marriage or a relationship that’s in a complete mess? Could it be that it’s due not just to a lack of love, but more so to a lack of knowledge?

Why not Join Gillian and myself this coming Monday evening (17th) at Champions Church for part 1 of ‘Marriage matters’?

To register or for more info, simply click on then ‘contact us’ link on the app. or call our office on 01384 457923 between 9-4pm Monday to Thursday.

We look forward to welcoming you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th July 2017

‘MARRIAGE MATTERS’ is a 2 part course that is run by myself and my wife. The first part commences on this coming Monday (17th July) and is for all those who are married, those thinking of getting married, planning to get married, wish they were married and those that wish they weren’t.

Today’s inspiration is a glimpse into what we teach on the ‘marriage matters course’…

‘How many of you have outlived the honeymoon stage of your marriage and find yourself trapped in a mundane existence with someone that once excited you?’

Have you ever thought about what life together will be like after the children have grown up and left home?

Will you have anything left to say to each other, or will you have long since forgotten how to date each other again, with no hope of reigniting the passions that once burned within?

When was the last time you had a ‘date night’ together?

Make a plan to sit down together for a meal-  a ready meal, a microwave meal, liver and onions…any meal.

Go out occasionally just the two of you. No kids, no friends, no in-laws or out-laws allowed.

Have a bath, do your hair and make yourself look like you’ve bothered, just like in days gone by when you were dating.

Watch a movie, read magazines, chat and snuggle up, but don’t answer the phone or the door bell.

With divorce rates so high, recent statistics show that only 4% of married couples have a date night once a week.

21% plan a night together once a month, with a further 21% prioritising their time with each other just once in every 2-3 months.

Every 4-6 months is enough for 18% of marrieds, but the biggest group of all is stands at 36% of marrieds have one date night less than twice a year.

You could well say ‘that’s plenty for me with the way my spouse is’, but maybe the reason it’s like that is because you no longer cherish what you did when you first fell in love.

The top five things that cause marriages to break down are…

Chores

Money

Sex

Work

Children

No one on earth can solve all those problems for you but we can help you to fall in love all over again.

Stop treating each other just like some kind of inconvenient object that lives in the same house, and start to plan to fall back in love again by planning your next date night.

Someone once said, ‘ It’s easier to act your way into a feeling than to feel your way into an action’.

So, if you’ve lost those tingly feelings for each other, you’re normal; but now start to surprise each other by acting your way back into love again.

To register for ‘marriage matters’, or for more info, simply click on the ‘contact us’ link on the app or call our office on 01384 457923 between 9-4 Monday to Thursday.

We look forward to welcoming you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th July 2017

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

How true this is.

Another saying is ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’

This sounds harsh, as though there’s something wrong with good intentions, but it’s saying that 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 five 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 – 8th July 2017

Jesus tells a story in Luke 15 in response to questions being asked as to why He hangs around with people of doubtful reputation.

He responds by saying, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Now I read this story and think to myself, what shepherd would leave his 99 sheep, leaderless, vulnerable and unprotected to go after one sheep who ran away.? This story makes no logical sense.

Yet the reason this story makes no logical sense is because the love of God is illogical. God is willing to leave the majority in pursuit of the minority, because He loves people that much. And if you desire to be someone who loves others the way Jesus does, you’re going to have to realise that it will be risky, it will be uncomfortable, and at times it may make no sense whatsoever.

This story is a representation of us and God… We are the sheep and He is the Shepherd. And if God displayed this kind of persistent love towards us, how much more should we display it towards others.

He’s the One who never leaves the one behind.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 7th July 2017

Adversity is just a great opportunity to a person with a great attitude. Consider a simple kite; it rises only when against the wind, not with it. The harder the wind blows, the more it rises. Take a complex, modern day passenger plane; it always takes off into the wind so that it will create more ‘lift’. If the wind changes direction on any given day, the control tower will inform all pilots that they must now take-off in a different direction in order to obtain what they need to lift the plane into the sky.

Today, your attitude will either lift you above your circumstances or bury you beneath them.

I heard about a small business owner whose store was threatened by a national chain. When he refused to sell, they said, “We’ll build on either side of you and put you out of business.” Soon he found himself hemmed in and a big sign surrounding him saying ‘GRAND OPENING’.

Not to be outdone, the little man with a big vision but up a banner over his doorway reading – ‘MAIN ENTRANCE’.

One of the most potentially frightening aspects of being a Christian is knowing that when you put your trust in Jesus, all of Hell takes arms against you intending evil upon your life. And yet, what trumps that fear and evil is knowing that no matter what comes, God is the Master Weaver. He takes what was intended for evil and reweaves it for good.

Feeling defeated by all that’s going on around you right now? Take heart…this is merely the main entrance to where God wants to enter your circumstances and turn them around to your benefit and His glory.

Genesis 50 v 20. ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th July 2017

In his great essay called ‘The Station’, Robert Hastings writes, “tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long train trip that spans the continent. Out of the windows we drink in the passing scenes-children waving, cattle grazing, rolling hillsides, city skylines, and village halls. But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day, will pull into the station, bands will play, and flags will wave. Once we arrive, so many wonderful dreams will all come true, and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle.”

“Restlessly we pace the aisles despising the minutes… waiting… waiting… waiting for the station. When we reach the station, we breathe a sigh of relief. At last we have arrived.”

‘When I’m 18, when I buy my first car, when I get married, when I buy a house, when I pay off the mortgage, when I get that promotion, when I reach retirement…waiting…waiting …waiting for the station. But sooner or later we realise that the true joy of life is not just in reaching the destination, but the journey itself.

If we are not careful, we can miss much of the amazing things that will happen along the way even today, simply because we are anxious to get to our dream place.

Make a decision today, to stop counting down the miles; life must be lived as you go along. The station will come soon enough.

Psalm 118 v 24. “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th July 2017

‘If anyone desires to be a leader, he desires a good thing’ 1 Timothy 3 v 1

So you want to be a leader…good!

Centuries ago, Jerusalem lay in ruins. Nehemiah felt called to do something about it and so he rallied, motivated and organised the people. 52 days later, they had finished the job. They had entirely rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in less than two months. How did he do it?

Here’s what it takes…

He had passion! He could hardly sleep at night for picturing the problem and seeing himself solving it.

He motivated others. What good is your leadership if you can’t move other people to action?

He had confidence in God. He may have doubted his own ability, but he never doubted Gods. His book is full of prayers-Silent ones, short ones, specific ones.

He refused to give up. From the time he started mixing the mortar until the day he laid the last brick, his critics never let up. But he took it-sarcasm, suspicion, gossip, threats, false accusations…you name it. Nothing could move him.

He was realistic. He had some of the workers build a wall, while others stood guard against attack. He acted without overreacting; he was gracious but unbending. Good leaders may seemingly have their head in the clouds, but they’ve got their feet on the ground.

He had the discipline to finish the job. Good leaders are finishers. When the job loses its lustre, they don’t go somewhere else, they stay at it through thick and thin. Still want to be a leader?

Leaders don’t look for badges and titles, they simply look for a job that needs doing and then get on and do it.

Find a need and fill it. When you can do that time and time again without any fuss or bother…you ARE a leader.

Recognition comes later.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th July 2017

My Mom and Dad have lived in the same house for all their married life.
One of the highlights of growing up there were the fields right opposite the house. We would go over there as kids almost everyday during the summer holidays and would be out for hours on end. Whenever we left the house to go there we would shout behind us that we were going over the ‘banks’, as that’s what they were. Banks of unkempt grass, trees and ponds on all levels. It was a pretty amazing place to spend your childhood.

The day arrived when the council decided to completely flatten the whole area and turn it into a beautiful flat playing area. Once again it became the perfect place for us as teenagers to then play football. Part of the excitement for me was watching from the window for months on end as excavators transformed the place that had played a big part in our young lives.

All these years later, the ‘Lister Road field’ as it is called to this day, is to be divided into two, with half of being turned into a car park for council workers at the adjacent incinerator plant.

The residents, including my parents, are up in arms about it and a few days ago have had the local MP come down for a residents meeting, which took place on the field. Reporters and photographers for the local newspapers turned out to capture a shot of the gathering so that the voice of the community could be heard.

When the photograph appeared last weekend in the papers for all to see, each of the residents had been asked to make an angry face for the camera. However, my Dad not being able to hear too well didn’t know what was being said, so imagine now the photo of all the angry residents, with my Dad right at the front with his usual beaming smile saying CHEESE for the camera!

It has caused great fun in our family especially as we could hear my Mom laying into him as to why he was smirking all over his face at such an angry meeting.

I have to say however that this picture is a great way of looking at life. You may have enough going on right now to make you concerned, annoyed and even angry, and the folk around you may be trying to pursue you to behave just like they are doing in the situation. Sometimes though we have to just go ‘deaf’ to what’s going on around us and make a decision to smile your way through it. It’s almost guaranteed that the focus of everyone’s attention when opening the newspaper is not on the angry faces of the residents, but on my Dad’s big smile.

Learn to smile through your storm today and you’ll not only change what’s happening inside of yourself, but you will positively effect everyone around you too.

Proverbs 15:13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd July 2017

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Have you ever watched a small child try to lift something that is clearly way too heavy for them? They put all their effort and energy into it and more often than not, they don’t succeed. What they don’t realise is that the adults around them are there to help; that they are stronger.

How many times are we like that small child? As human beings, we often become so sure of our own strength, that we forget who God is. We think we can leave God out, give Him a break, when in actuality, God wants to be our strength. He wants to be our provider.

I love this verse in 2 Corinthians. It’s a constant reminder that when we are at our weakest, God is at His strongest. There have been so many days that I have had to declare that over myself, and today you should too.

Don’t try and face today alone. Don’t try and face your battles alone. His grace is sufficient and when you are weak, He is strong.

Lucy Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st July 2017

I wonder how many ‘buts’ you have in your life?

Let me explain.
She’s financially blessed, but she has a unhappy marriage.
He has a good job, but he has just been diagnosed with cancer.
They have a happy marriage, but their children have major issues.

You see, we can be blessed in one area, yet have a ‘but’ in another.
Some of them we can do something about…
He is a great manager, but he always turns up late for work.
She has some great creative ideas, but she is very lazy.
She is such a lovely warm-hearted lady, but she has a tendency to gossip.
He has great potential to do something amazing, but he is so insecure.

Some ‘buts’ you may not be able to do much about, but most of them we can.

Naaman was a commander in the army, but he had leprosy. (Read the story in 2 Kings 5). He had a great responsible position, but he had a very nasty disease. When you read the story, you’ll learn that Naaman didn’t like what God was asking him to do, yet eventually he did and God dealt with it.
NO BUT is too big for God to deal with.

This is what I’ve learnt: don’t go through life with a ‘but’. They will hinder you and stop you being the person God intended for you to be.
Ask God to help you eliminate them today and live a life that is ‘but’ free.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion of a better way of living

Fresh Hope – 30th June 2017

Just a few days ago, 14 people died from a forest fire that ripped through the tiny village of Varzeas, Portugal.

The area was suddenly engulfed in flames, from what was described by villagers as an ‘inferno’, destroying the area in seconds.

As villagers became aware of what was happening, they started to flee their village in search for safety. Two families in particular managed to get into their cars and make for the main road. Ironically, they never made it, as not only the trees on either side of the road were engulfed, but even the road itself caught fire, killing those that were trying to escape certain death.

The only people that did survive, were those that made the decision to stay put in their homes. It may have seemed like their fate was sealed by doing so, but that one decision led to the survival of all that made that very same choice.

This incredibly sad story leads us to see a parallel in our spiritual lives. There is safety in another kind of home, namely the Church…our spiritual home.

Many people chose to flee the Church when faced with circumstances that threatened their very lives and their faith, not realising that their greatest protection during this time lies in the place from which they are fleeing.

I’ve seen and heard many sad stories over the years, of folk who have decided to run for their lives when depressed, offended, hurt, let down or just feeling the heat of the day, not realising they were fleeing the safe haven of their spiritual home…God’s Church.

If you’re going through the fire today and belong to a ‘life giving’ church, then stay put. If you have not yet found a spiritual home, then I encourage you to do so this very weekend.

Church is just like any family, it’s full of all kinds of people that range from incredibly amazing to incredibly annoying! It’s a family…warts and all. It’s those differences that make it what it is.

Running away from home is what many teenagers and even children do because of immaturity during tough times. No matter what is going on right now, don’t run away from home. God gave it to you for a reason.

Feeling the pull away from God’s house this weekend? Get to Church! Your spiritual life depends on it.

Success begins on Sundays.

championschurch.org.uk. Every Sunday – 9 and and 11.30am.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th June 2017

God calls us each day to a life of obedience without showing us the end result.

I’ve personally found that God will challenge me to do something that I had no plans for whatsoever. I can be starting the day off as normal, and just about to prepare breakfast, when I hear His still small voice asking if I will fast that day. It usually follows with a few questions from myself asking if this is completely necessary and for what reason. This is usually met with silence, not that God doesn’t want to speak, but that He wants to see if I will obey. Sometimes all is revealed that day, but it is often weeks or even months before looking back and finding out why I was called to obey.

There are days when we are all tired of the challenge of getting out of our comfort zone, but no matter how much we whine about it, God’s plan is to stretch us in order for our faith to grow. There’s nothing quite like stretching in order to help strengthen us. I have very stiff hamstrings and I know that at my age, if I don’t keep stretching them several times a week, they will potentially only get worse and never better.

I’m still learning that stepping out into an adventure of obedience, is God’s very best way of stretching us in order to teach us that He’s trustworthy.

It is a well known fact that when a mother eagle knows that her baby eaglets are ready to fly, she starts to dismantle the nest until there is only one option, and that is to get out! She literally pushes them over the edge into a totally unknown experience, knowing that that is what they were created for. They weren’t designed to sit in a nest all day, but to get out there and soar. Those first few moments for them is anything but soaring, but more like flapping for dear life. However, they soon realise that is what they were made for and it becomes the most natural thing in the world.

Feeling like God is ruffling your nest? Good – He’s simply preparing you for your future.

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight.

Isaiah 40:28-31 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th June 2017

James Michener said he had a neighbour whose tree had stopped producing apples. So he hammered rusty nails around the trunk and that year he got his greatest crop of apples ever. He said ‘hammering those nails in was a shock to the tree and was a reminder to it that its job was to produce apples.’ Unscientific, maybe, but it worked.

Michener explained how heart bypass surgery, hip surgery and a bout with vertigo were like nails God hammered into the trunk of his life. It got his attention. Realising that he wasn’t going to live forever he got busy, and in five years, he wrote 11 books, including best sellers.

What pain are you going through today? Why not seize it as an opportunity to step up to a new and more productive level in your life?

Losing a job that you felt you were good at can force us to discover untapped talents that we didn’t know we had. The loss of some physical capacity can push us to develop other ways of being an inspiration to others that come our way. Having to let go of some of our material comforts can move us to simplify our lives.

Harold Sala says…’let’s face it, when those rusty nails get hammered in we take notice and our lives become more productive. When you get a ‘wake up’ call from God, it is His way of allowing us to get a jolt to get on with living the life that He has for us.’

Hebrews 12:11-13 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th June 2017

The well known Bible character, Joseph, was 30 when he became governor of Egypt. He was 17 when he was sold into slavery. For 13 years he dealt with pain and confusion, maintained both his character and commitment to God, and allowed his trials to make him triumphant.

Jospeh didn’t simply forget what had happened to him by simply pretending that it didn’t, but took positive steps to prevent his past having a hold over his life and his future. God gave Joseph two sons: he named them Manasseh, which means ‘God has made me forget,’ and Ephraim, which means ‘God has made me twice fruitful in the land of my afflictions.’

God helped Joseph overcome the memory of his painful past by naming the things that he would see everyday as reminders of God’s goodness. Everyday that he saw his children, their very names spoke volumes. Forget, and be twice fruitful. The other option would have been to name them ‘remember your pain’ and ‘never move on.’

He still had the memory, but he prospered in spite of it. When you walk with God, the promise before you will be greater than the pain behind you.

Here are five principles that Joseph taught us to live by:

Don’t try to ignore or pretend it never happened. God will give you the grace to handle it, not deny it.

Believe that God will more than make up the time, relationships and opportunities you’ve lost.

List the people that have wronged you. Forgive them and release them to God in prayer. Now tear up that list.

Tell God that you are ready to start over again.

Don’t look back, but keep moving forward into all that God has for you.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th June 2017

When booking a holiday, you do your utmost to find the best possible destination with the budget you have. Why wouldn’t you?

It’s normal to presume the success and enjoyment of that holiday will be based on how good a destination and hotel you manage to book.

Have you ever though, been to a great destination and had amazing weather, but it still wasn’t the best holiday? Maybe the dynamics of the people you went with didn’t quite work, or you yourself were just not in a great place?

Having dreamed and planned the vacation for so long you come home really disappointed and regretting spending so much money on the trip.

How true in life that we can seek success in the best possible destination, i.e. new job, better car, but it doesn’t make us happy because it’s the same us in the new job or car.

‘Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.’

How true this saying is; we’re always looking for the next event to bring us closer but we never seem to arrive. Learn to enjoy and make the most of where you are. Stop focusing on a change in circumstance but a change in your soul!

Luke 17:20-21
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

People have always been waiting for some future event to right the world. We can stop waiting, because the kingdom of God is in our midst.

I encourage you today in whatever your need or future dream is, make sure you’re not missing out on what God has for you right now, today!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th June 2017

The Bible teaches us that obedience brings blessing.
I’ve had to do some things this week that I didn’t feel like doing, or particularly want to do, but I knew that God was asking me to them.
I know that if God asks me to do something, even when I don’t understand it, He will bring blessing into my life because of it.
So thankfully, on both occasions I obeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Deuteronomy 28 and verses 1 and 2 tell me that if I obey His commands and follow His ways, then all these blessings will come on me and overtake me.

Wow – if blessings come upon me and overtake me, that means I’m surrounded by blessing!

Blessing isn’t always about money. It can be beautiful sunshine, a good cup of coffee, seeing your children happy, meeting a new baby for the first time, seeing someone get well, getting a bargain from the shops, feeling a great sense of peace.

I want to live a life FULL of God’s blessings. Which means that each day I have to be sure I’m walking in His ways and doing what He asks of me.

It’s quite simple really, isn’t it?

Too many people don’t feel blessed. It’s sad.
God wants to bless us all.

For the best results, follow the maker’s instructions.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd June 2017

EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES.

10 reasons why I don’t wash.

1. I was forced to as a child.

2. People who wash are hypocrites – they think they are cleaner than everybody else.

3. There are so many different kinds of soap, I can’t decide which one is best.

4. I used to wash, but I got bored and stopped.

5. I wash only on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter.

6. None of my friends wash.

7. I’ll start washing when I get older and dirtier.

8. I can’t spare the time.

9. The bathroom is never warm enough.

10. People who make soap are only after your money.

Have you noticed that when we laugh, we become more open to receive something more serious?

Every day, people make lame excuses concerning just about everything. Most of them fortunately don’t have too many serious implications, but some do.

The decision as to whether or not you will step out and fully trust Jesus with the leadership of your life, is the most major and most life changing decision you will ever make. That decision changes everything from the quality of your life right now, to the forgiveness of your past sins, right through to where will you spend eternity.

For many people, they are just one excuse away from surrendering their lives to God, and in a funny sort of way, those excuses usually sound like one of those listed above as to ‘why I don’t wash’!

Isn’t it time today to stop being so underwhelmed by God and allow HI’m to defeat every excuse you have with His very real love that He has for you right now?

Defeat your excuses – decide to follow Jesus.

Jeremiah 31:3 ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd June 2017

‘Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.’ Proverbs 29 v 25

Here are 10 things from my own journey that fear causes.

Fear causes us to reduce the size of God and elevate the size and opinion of man.

Fear causes us to go in the wrong direction – usually backwards.

Fear causes us to stay quiet when we should speak up.

Fear causes us to be passive about an issue that that God has clearly broughy to our attention.

Fear causes us to seek a consensus of opinions, rather than really seeking the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Fear keeps us from engaging with the broken, the hurting, the misfits and the neglected in our community, because we fear they will mess up our lives.

Fear causes us to refuse to embrace change because we care more about being comfortable than being conformed to Christ.

Fear causes us to control things and take matters into our own hands rather than trusting God and trusting others.

Fear causes us to conceal our sin rather than confess our sin.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Fear causes us to seek the easy decision rather than the right one.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st June 2017

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;  through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 24 v 3-4).

Like a house, our lives are built brick by brick.

If each brick is made of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, then that house will stand the test of time, however, if that house is built out of any old stuff then you know what’s about to happen. The first time a storm comes to your life, you will collapse and have to start building all over again.

Wisdom comes in many forms; I chose to live by the wisdom of the Bible every day, but I also glean wisdom, knowledge and understanding from people that have successfully built something with their lives. Why would you trust the sayings of someone that’s never built anything?

Here are a few wise sayings that will help you build a successful life…
The greatest danger for most of us is not that we aim too high and miss, it but that we aim too low and reach it – Michelangelo

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty -Sir Winston Churchill.

A different world cannot be built by indifferent people – Peter Marshall

A fool is quick to quarrel…Watch out for quarrellers. Proverbs 20 v 3

You’ve heard it said ‘strike while the iron is hot’, but why wait for the iron to be hot before you strike it…why not strike it until it gets hot -Reinhard Bonnke.

People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be – Pastor Jentezen Franklin.

A happy person is not a person with a certain set of circumstances, but a certain set of attitudes.

The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he were never found out.

The only sure way to avoid criticism, is to do nothing and be nothing.

The truth always outlives a lie.

Happiness relies on happenings, but real joy relies on a real Jesus.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th June 2017

Since last Thursday evening, our lives have been turned upside down.

Early morning and late night phones calls have had to be exchanged.

Extra journeys at inconvient times have been made daily to ensure that life carried on as best as it could, even though to a much lesser degree than before.

Welcome to our world of having both a Mother-in-law and a mouse…or two.

My mother-in-law, Alice, had spotted the first one running across the carpet while she was reading in her lounge on Thursday afternoon. She is petrified of mice and although she could hardly speak on the phone through fear, we did get the message this was nothing more than a tiny little field mouse. To most a cuddly little thing that the cat plays with, but to Alice this was a giant rat.

For five days now, I and others, have had our lives disturbed and dictated to by this tiny little rodent that is cowered in some tiny space, probably laughing at how these huge humans are completely paralysed by its presence.

Rooms have been vacated, and on most days the house itself abandoned, as we have had temporarily housed and fed Alice for fear that she may have a nervous breakdown of sorts.

When you think of this whole scenario, you cannot help think how irrational this is – a tiny mouse takes control of a whole house and several people’s lives too.

How true it is though, that very small things can take over our thinking and create huge implications for our lives.

Little thoughts can be magnified in our minds and render us useless.

Little problems, once mulled over a few times can become insurmountable.

Little words spoken to us in jest can reside in our hearts for months at a time, and little actions that we perceive were personally done against us can bring us down and cause us to lose our way.

The wise words of Solomon make complete sense to everyone that feels the huge destructive weight of a very small problem. This is what he had to say…

Song of Solomon 2:15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.

He noticed that it was the ‘little’ foxes that ruined the vine.

Often we can handle huge problems because we can identify them much more easily than the little ones that seem to run and hide when we try to tackle them.

What is it that is rendering your day useless? In reality it’s often such a small thing that really YOU should be chasing down and killing off with ease.

Ask yourself this question today: Will the seemingly mountainous problem that I’m facing today be a problem to me in a month or even a weeks time?

If the answer is no, then don’t even give it the attention it’s looking for right now.

Pick yourself up, get back on track and start to live your life again.

Let God be God in your life today and don’t give the devil credit for authority he doesn’t have.

Romans 8:31-39 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th June 2017

Romans 5:8 gives us a window into exactly how God loves people. In a matter of one verse we see the entire gospel (the good news of Jesus) on display.

The apostle Paul writes, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The word I want to focus on contained within that verse is the word ‘died’. For those of you who are great students of the English language, and for the rest of us who just use Google, you will know that the word ‘died’ is a verb (a doing/action word).

I want us to notice how at the very centre of the demonstration of God’s love is action.

The Bible does not record that God demonstrates His love by telling us that He loves us, but by showing us He loves us.

You see, love cannot only be spoken, it has to be shown. And the way God’s love was shown was through sacrifice.

Now God already made the ultimate sacrifice by sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross so that we don’t have to, but you and I have the opportunity to be sacrificial in someway on a daily basis…

Maybe it’s your time, or your talents, or your resource that you can sacrifice today. Whatever it may be, I want to encourage you to let your love lead to action.

Today, don’t just tell the people in your world that you love them, but do something to demonstrate that love.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 17th June 2017

Here’s a few thoughts to encourage your Saturday.

1. It’s not what you feel, it’s what you know.

If we only ever did what we felt like, we wouldn’t do a lot. I don’t always feel like brushing my teeth, taking a shower or getting out of bed, but it’s what I know to be good and right.
Sometimes we may not feel like God is with us, but He is.
Sometimes we may not feel like He loves us, but He does.
We may not feel like there’s a purpose to our lives, but His purpose is perfect for our lives, as long as we remain faithful.

Don’t always go on feelings, they made lead you up the garden path.
Go on what you know is true.

2. If you don’t learn it, you wont know it.

There’s a saying that says ‘what you learn in the light, you can practise in the dark’. That is saying, that in good times, learn as much as you can, because when you’re in a dark situation, you may have to call on that which you know to be true, to help you through.
But if you haven’t learnt it, you wont know it.

3. Learning often comes the hard way.

Oh yes it does. How often have you said that to your children?
But learning stuff often comes when times are hard.
This is what I’ve learnt through my many years as a Christian. That when I’m going through a tough time, I ask God ‘what should I be learning from this?’ Then if I’m mature, I’ll be happy to be teachable and learn quickly. (If I’m immature, I won’t want to know).

Learning may often come the hard way, but learn we must, If we want to become champions in life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th June 2017

I am convinced that resilience is a major key to achieving your destiny. The real test of who you are is measured by what it takes to discourage you. Some people talk a great game, but then buckle under the slightest pressure. Others function better under stress and pressure.
Pain, in any form is not nice, but it need not be debilitating, or even immobilising.

At 56, I’ve just decided to join my local gym. I’m just learning that body building is built on tearing down muscles through resistance, which sends the body’s healing systems into overdrive to repair and restore the weary muscles. It could well be that your current hurt is the secret to tomorrow’s strength.

There is one other important factor in this area of overcoming pain and hurt. That ingredient is having both the support and concern from and toward those around you. Significant relationships are what empower us to reach past our challenges and move beyond obstacles.

Children run with open arms to a Mom or Dad when they are afraid or hurt. Teenagers tend to hang around the house in order to send a coded message that they need support from you. Grown-ups seek mentors when trying to negotiate life’s challenges that come to us all.

It is in these significant relationships that we receive empowerment to bounce back.

I have personally had a life that was full of set backs, and naturally speaking I would have just given up, but with the support of people and the help of God I have turned each set back into a come back.

Champions Church is a place where you can find such great relationships with very ordinary, yet amazing people. Our Champion life groups exist all over the area with the aim that no one needs to do life alone. We continually make it out theme tune that ‘life is better together’.

If you are finding it hard to bounce back, then I encourage you to find your way to church on Sunday, where you will immediately feel at home as well as becoming part of a growing family.

You can also sign up to a local ‘Champion life group’ by attending Champions church this weekend at 9am or 11.30am.

I look forward to personally meeting you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th June 2017

Jeremiah is one of God’s major spokesmen in the Bible. His role, like any other prophet, was to declare what God wanted to say to a person or to a group in any given situation.

In Jeremiah 20, he is sent to speak to the leader of the temple, and to tell him that he needed to set things straight in God’s house or else. Everyone was doing their own thing and totally disregarding the laws of God.

As Jeremiah brings this strong word, he is rejected and the following day is beaten and chained.

Now you would think that Jeremiah would be really made of strong stuff as he was used to delivering pretty harsh words to bring people back to God, but notice what he says after delivering such words…

Jeremiah 20:7-9 You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.

It’s what I call the pain of speaking out.

Speaking out on God’s behalf brings with it a very real sense of pain and even insult and reproach at times. You can make a lot of enemies as well as friends for saying what’s right.

Have you ever felt like giving up because your words are seemingly always met with disdain?

Do you feel that the cost of being a mouth piece in this generation is too high?

Jeremiah certainly wanted to just bury his head in the sand and say ‘enough is enough…I’m not opening my big mouth again.’

But no sooner had he said it when he described a feeling of God’s word being like ‘a fire shut up in his bones’. He couldn’t stay quiet, he had to speak out. That is exactly what God had called him to do with his life.

If you feel like quitting from time to time, then jooh the club…you’re normal.
Jeremiah was no different to you or I today. One day you feel like speaking up with boldness and couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks and then the next you are totally sidelined with such forceful negativity that you just want to die.

Listen to his further thoughts about his life, after communicating exactly what God wanted him to say…

Jeremiah 20:14-18 Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad, saying, ‘A child is born to you – a son!’ May that man be like the towns the Lord overthrew without pity. May he hear wailing in the morning, a battle cry at noon. For he did not kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave, her womb enlarged for ever. Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?

My friends, take a lesson from Jeremiah’s book; if you speak up, you may well get shot down by others, and if not you may well want to shoot yourself down.

If you can identify with this today, then don’t dismay. They are just feelings, and they will come and they will go. God needs your voice.

Don’t be silenced – speak up!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th June 2017

As I write today, I should be a very happy and blessed man. The reason being is that I have ten trillion dollars sitting right beside me!

It’s actually just one note, and before you ask, its not fake.

It’s real alright, however there are just a couple of problems…it’s in Nigerian dollars, and so its value is not great, but even more to the point is that it’s no longer legal tender. Drat!

It looks impressive, but has no value simply because it can’t be spent today.

That one crisp note speaks volumes about our lives.

Let me ask you a question: are you valuable, but not current?

You can look great, sound great and have everyone falling at your feet, but if your life is not relating to this generation, you cannot be spent by God. You’re just like an ornament that gets everyone’s attention when they walk into the room, but apart from that, you have no usefulness.

You weren’t placed on this planet just to look pretty, but to serve the generation in which you’re alive.

You may be doing all the right things and can’t understand why you are getting little or no results. Could it be that your good intentions and methods are just too outdated?

People often ask the secret of why we have so many people coming to church each weekend. The answer is no secret, but it’s often a surprise to many when they hear what we believe may partly be the answer – BE CURRENT. In the time frame that you’re alive, if you don’t stay current, you will be left behind and lose your usefulness.

I used to love wearing flared jeans that used to drag on the floor. They were so cool and so current…ten years ago. Today if I wore them I’d simply have no respect in the ‘cool’ department.

In the early 1900s, a revival came to Wales. At that time, thousands were swept into the Churches as a spiritual awakening emptied the pubs and clubs.

More than 100 years later, those same packed churches lie dormant and even derelict. Its leaders cannot understand what went wrong, yet the answer is so simple. Because the revival mainly hit the welsh speaking churches, they believed that the welsh language should be revered and still be the only language spoken in those same places of worship. However as the generations came and went, less and less people spoke the welsh language and so the chutches rendered themselves ineffective and irrelevant.

Are you hanging onto what God did in your life in the past, yet have failed to recognise that He wants to do something new today?

I love what it says on king David’s epitaph…

Acts 13:36 ‘Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed.’

The key was that he served God in HIS GENERATION.

The modern worship in our church admittedly doesn’t suit everyone, but it’s not meant to. I have to make sure that it’s current in the generation in which I’m serving.

New versions of the Bible may not suit those who prefer the ‘thees’ and the ‘thous’, but my question is not one of what suits me, but one of who does this relate to today?

There’s nothing so sad as being alive and yet living a life that no one understands.

Looking pretty…but cannot be spent?

Find out what God is doing today and simply join in.

Are you valuable and yet not current?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th June 2017

Continuing from yesterday when we were looking at the life of Daniel, and what happens when we take time to set ourselves apart and really seek God…

4. You will get great favour.
Daniel got many lavish things thrown at his life because he heard from God and helped the King.

Lesson:There will be times that God’s favour is obviously on your life. Don’t be embarrassed by it, just embrace it and be thankful for it. God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Hebrews 11 v 6)

5. You can’t be touched.
Because of some nasty schemes, by some nasty people, Daniel got thrown into the lion’s den. But God shut the mouths of the lions.

Lesson: God will be your protector when you honour Him.

6. God will sort your enemy.
Daniel walked free from the lion’s den and his accusers got thrown in!

Lesson: its not your concern to worry about those who come against you. God will sort it. Every time.
Learn some lessons from Daniel, set yourselves apart to honour God with your life and just see what He will do.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th June 2017

Often there are situations in our lives that don’t seem to ‘shift’.

When Daniel in the Old Testament was faced with a dilemma, he decide to fast and pray. He didn’t want to do what the others did and eat the choice wine and food, he decided to set himself apart, because he was believing for a breakthrough.

Here’s some things that will happen when you do.

1. He came out better than the rest.
He only ate fruit and vegetables and he came out looking healthier and better than all the others. So much so, that everyone noticed. He not only looked better, it says his gift was 10 times better.

Here’s the lesson: when we give up something for God, we’ll come out better than those who didn’t. God always rewards sacrifice.

2. When you earnestly pray, God will answer.
When no one else got the answer to the need, Daniel did! He didn’t panic, stress or say “oh no, what are we going to do?” He just said “guys, we need to pray.”

Here’s the lesson: When you focus on the problem, the problem gets bigger. When you focus on Jesus, you get the answer.

3. God reveals stuff to those who seek Him
Yes, Daniel received revelation and answers, all because He had taken time to pray and fast. In this instance, it was the answer to a weird dream that he urgently needed.

Here’s the lesson: when you take time seek God and pray, He will give you the answers you need.

Continued tomorrow….

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th June 2017

We continue our journey from yesterday, as we look at more stories of how God prepared some of the greats in the Bible…

David was anointed king, but it took years of fight and flight to finally claim his God given throne. His faithfulness in the small things meant that he would be ready to step up to his destiny.

Daniel was an exile in Babylon, but was selected for the King’s court. He became the top ruler in the land, but first he had to be delivered from the mouths of the lions.

Peter made a grand proclamation of loyalty to Jesus, just hours before denying even knowing Him. After the resurrection, Peter gave up on the mission and went fishing, but Jesus found him and made him the leader of the first church.

Paul despised Jesus and all Christians. He set out with ferocity to destroy the people of faith, but Jesus met him and completely changed his heart. His passions were totally transformed and he became writer of two thirds of the the New Testament.

We could mention countless others, but we would have to conclude that painful experiences aren’t a mistake in God’s world, even if self inflicted by doubt and sin. Everything gets used by Him to usher us into the very reason for which we were created.

Many years ago, Erwin McManus, world renowned speaker and Pastor of Oasis church in LA, was helping serve behind the scenes at a Christian event organised by is wife. The event drew as many as 20,000 people. Erwin had been there all week and told this wife that he was too tired to go on the final night. After reasoning with her back and forth, she insisted that he should be there albeit under protest. On the way, he decided that he needed some new clothes for the event, so went to a store, but in the rush didn’t check the sizes and didn’t realise til he put them on later that they were all too big. All of a sudden, one of the main organisers came up to him and told him that the speaker for the evening had not been able to come, and felt that he was to ask him to speak. That night, Erwin Macmanus left his behind the scenes position and took to the stage in his oversized clothes to preach to thousands. What nobody knew that night is that the only crowd that he’d ever spoken to before was no more than 50 people.

Just imagine what would have happened, or not as the case may be, if he’d have not pushed through the pain!

God graciously weaves the strands of these experiences into something beautiful – if we’ll let Him.

*with special thanks to Sam Chand over the last 2 days, for insights from his book, ‘Leadership Pain’.

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th June 2017

Throughout the Bible and church history, we see a clear pattern emerging of how God works with people. No matter how gifted they were, God humbled them before He used them.

The humbling process is invariably painful for us, but is completely necessary in order for us to become pliable in the hands of our Creator.

God’s methods may vary of course, but He always manages to get a person’s undistracted attention to teach the most fundamental lessons of trust.

Let’s take a look at a few such examples over the next two days together as we see how God moved in the lives of some of the Bible greats…

God told Noah to build a huge boat on dry ground. The deluge didn’t come for 120 years.Noah had to trust God while all the other people around thought he was crazy.

Abraham was promised that he would be the father of a great nation, but he remained infertile for 25 long years before he and his wife had their son.

Joseph had two dreams that his family would someday bow down to him. His brothers resented his arrogance and their father’s favouritism. He was sold into slavery and ended up betrayed and in a dungeon, But after 17 years, when God saw that the time was right, Joseph was ready to rescue two nations – Egypt and his family.

Moses grew up in the luxury of Pharaoh’s palace. When he realised that he was a Hebrew, he tried to defend a slave by killing an Egyptian. He spent 40 years in the backside of nowhere before becoming a mighty deliverer.

Elijah saw God perform one of the great miracles of the Bible, calling down fire from Heaves to consume the water drenched sacrifice on mount Carmel. He then destroyed 500 false prophets. However, he then became so fearful because of just one demonised woman named Jezebel, that he fled for his life and became deeply depressed. In the depths of his despair, God met him.

Please join me again tomorrow for more stories of how God prepared some of the Bible greats.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th June 2017

Matthew (not his real name) had been married for five years when his marriage began to struggle.

He was a committed Christian and so he took his concerns to the Lord and asked him to supernaturally infiltrate his circumstances.

While searching the scriptures, Matthew was reminded of how God had given His life for him even when he didn’t deserve it. He knew God was asking him to love his wife in the same way he was loved by God – unconditionally and completely.

Matthew asked God to allow him to see his wife through the eyes of Jesus and after his time of praying, he started to notice a change. His wife was the same, his marriage was the same, but he was different. God’s voice had changed him. He saw his wife in a brand new way. 35 years later, this couple testified to the changing power of God’s word.

Often when things in our lives start to change for the better, we attribute the transformation to something other than God’s voice, as we assume that all our hard work has paid off, yet in reality, when we see things changing, we should consider that God has been moving on it all along.

If you’ve written off your situation, then start to pick up the pieces in prayer and allow God to have the final say in the matter. You never know, you may be surprised at the outcome.

One word from God can change your life forever.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th June 2017

Most of the time we don’t need to be told things for the first time, we just need to be reminded of things that we already know.

Think of a child being told to brush their teeth. They are literally told the same message hundreds of times during their formative years before it becomes part of their daily lives. They know what to do everyday, but just to be reminded.

Because my wife knows I can be forgetful, she will repeat the same things (much to my annoyance) every day. When I’m left to lock up the house, she will ask me if I’ve locked the house, even though we have been married for 33 years!

Living the Christian life is often one of being reminded about things, even more than receiving an amazing fresh revelation everyday.

As you read through Romans 12:10-12, 15-16 you will notice some very powerful reminders on how to live a great life.

I’ve broken the verses into 12 statements that you can easily take on board as you launch into this week…

1) Be devoted to one another in love.

2) Honour one another above yourselves (treat other people how you would like to be treated)

3) Never be lacking in zeal, (energy passion enthusiasm) but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.

4) Be joyful in hope, (happy about waiting).

5) Patient in affliction, (patient when things are not turning out right).

6) Faithful in prayer. (Never give up on believing).

7) Rejoice with those who rejoice; (be happy for others when things are going good).

8) Mourn with those who mourn. (Be compassionate with those when things are going bad).

9) Live in harmony with one another. (Don’t be the one singing out of tune).

10) Do not be proud.

11) Be willing to associate with people of low position (be a friend to the little man).

12 Do not be conceited. (Vain, egotistical and self centred).

We are all appalled again at the level of attack that our country has come under over the last few days. Let’s all make a decision today that we will fight back with love and by becoming the very best people that we can be.

Matthew 5:43-45 ‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven…’
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th June 2017

Almost 11 million people in the UK tuned in on Sunday night to watch the Ariana Grande ‘One Love Manchester’ concert.

Once again our beloved nation rose to its feet to overcome evil by doing something positive. Ariana Grande may not be your cup of tea, but at 23 she made a decision to not just sit back and do nothing and turned a massive negative into massive positive for the nation. People from around the globe tuned in to see how we would once again react to the demoralising and demonised religious maniacs that have tried once again to take us down.

In the midst of this, who would have thought that a young Justin Bieber, would become a humble spokesman for the living God.

Whilst the world has been focusing on the radicalisation of young men for evil, God was quietly preparing this particular young man to take the centre stage on Sunday in order to speak out that our GOD IS GOOD.

Some will have thought it nice, whilst others will have been shocked or even offended for him to speak about such things, but unbeknown to many, Justin Bieber has been going through a radical transformation all of his own…a transformation to Jesus. Yes, this kind of transformation is radical too, but instead of being filled with a message of hate, he is filled with a message of hope; it is a million miles in the opposite direction to what many are seeing on our streets as religious fanaticism.

Who would have thought a few years ago that this wayward 23 yr old would be given the platform to speak about a God of Love to millions? Yet we should not just brush it off as something easy to do in front of a watching and highly sensitive world. He CHOSE to stand up and be counted. All of his mentors would be proud of him and so should we. Who better to convey the message of the Bible than this pop icon himself?

The only question remains, is not one of do you agree, but one of where, when and in front of who, will you stand today?

You don’t need to be famous, in fact you can just be plain foolish by all accounts…but God so wants to use you today.

The question then is are you willing?

1 Corinthians 1:26-30 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th June 2017

The resurrection of Jesus is of course an astounding miracle…God raises His Son from the dead after being in a tomb for three days. It doesn’t get any better than this.

I then began to think to myself, ‘why after performing such a phenomenal miracle, would God chose to leave the holes in Jesus’ hands, created by the nails that were driven through as He was hung to the cross? Surely God could’ve amended that issue…?’

But I think God knew something when He made that very intentional decision, and that is, what your words cannot show people, your scars will.

It is possible that you yourself have some scars. Maybe you’ve been broken and life has dealt you some pretty tough blows. What you need to know is that God can heal you and God can resurrect you, but often He chooses to allow the scars to remain, so that other people may see Him through them.

You see, God is not always found in your success, but He’s often found in your scars.

It amazes me that the very thing we would hide away, God chose to put on display.

And today, you may be embarrassed or even ashamed of your brokenness, but I want to encourage you that God has a plan for your scars. It is through your brokenness that God wants to reveal Himself, it is through your hurt that God wants to give other people hope, it is through your scars that God wants to set other people free, that they might recognise, if God brought them through it, He can bring me through it too.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 3rd June 2017

Did you know that studies show that 85% of us are wearing shoes that don’t fit correctly. Can you believe that?!

Some of us wear shoes that aren’t the right ones for our outfit, some wear shoes that don’t suit us, or are bad for our feet and some of us wear shoes that went out of fashion with the ark.

Our purpose in life is a lot like our shoes.
Some of us are still wearing some that we wore many years ago and are afraid to try new ones.
Some of us only wear slippers, because they’re comfy and we only want to be comfortable.
Some of us only wear training shoes, because life is all about playing and maybe we don’t take anything too seriously.
Some of us only wear black lace-up brogues, because everything is too serious.
Some of us only wear flip-flops because life is like one big holiday, where we have no responsibilities.

God wants us to live a life that is not like the one we lived years ago. He has something new for us every day.

He wants us to get out of our comfort zone and experience new adventures with Him.
Some of us need to understand that God has a great work for us to do, and whilst its good to play, we also have to work hard.
Some of us need more fun in our lives and to stop being so serious all the time. Be more serious about God and less serious about yourself.
Some of us need to understand that the purpose God has called us to is great and we have a responsibility to fulfil it.
To run this race called life and run it effectively, you need to make sure your shoes are correct. What are yours like today?
‘So let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us and let us RUN with perseverance the race marked out for us.’

Check your shoes today and maybe go out and get some new ones.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd June 2017

One of my pet frustrations is with people that don’t text back. I just don’t understand how a person can completely ignore a message.

Now, there are those that text back immediately. There are those that text back later. There are those that text back within a week, and then there are those that don’t text back at all. (Maybe they didn’t get the text of course).

In my days of growing up, there were very limited ways in which to communicate with each other; most of the time it was by letter. If you remember those days then you will remember what it felt like to apply for a job or write a love letter, and then have to endure the long wait. Part of the excitement was in the waiting, but part of the major disappointment was in never receiving a reply. It made you feel worthless.

It’s just the same today, apart from the timing that is. Instead of waiting for days or weeks, we now have to wait for minutes or hours.

When I don’t get a text back, I’m prone to think thoughts like…’have I offended them…don’t they like me anymore…am I a nuisance…or worst still…am I so unimportant to them that I’m just worthy of being ditched altogether?’

The reality is, we have no idea what’s going on in their minds or their worlds for that matter, at the time. We are left either guessing or having to have the courage to ask point blank.

No matter how our way of life has dramatically changed over the years, thankfully God hasn’t. He still hears and He still answers.

The purpose of communicating with God in prayer, is not to ascertain whether or not He likes us, as judged by His immediate response or by His silence, but to bring us into a close relationship with HI’m. His silence brings about a more mature love as He draws us towards Himself, and is often more effective in doing so than an immediate ‘text back’.

Maybe some people are forgetful or just plain rude, but God never is. Your questions, prayers and concerns are immediately received and attended to…you just may not feel it at the time.

God is never too busy and He’s never too late – but He may not be early either.

Always remember when praying, that NO is an answer. WAIT is a much needed answer, and is often far more of a blessing long term than an immediate YES.

Feeling like you’re not getting a text back?

God is onto it right now…you may however have to sit tight for the answer.

It will be worth it.

Hebrews 6:12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Philippians 4:5-7 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st June 2017

A few days ago, I asked to see a young man. I sent the message via someone that knew him well, as I didn’t have a contact for him. My reason for seeing him was simply to ask him an important question.

It wasn’t many hours later that I was face-to-face with him, however I was concerned as to why he seemed really nervous. He immediately launched into the conversation by asking if he was in trouble or had done or said something wrong. It became obvious that he had been fearing the worst. It took me a few minutes to reassure him that is was merely an important question that I needed to ask him, and had no negative connotations aimed at him at all. He’d simply jumped to the conclusion that it must be bad news.

Interestingly, a couple of days later I had someone come and tell me that a couple wanted to come to my house to talk to myself and Gillian; I was now on the other side of being the slightly concerned and nervous one.

I was asking myself questions like…’why hadn’t they told me direct that they wanted to see us? Why the urgency? Why do they need to come to my home? What could possibly be so bad that they want to see us without warning?’

As I thought through any number of things that it could be, the very last thing on my list was that they could be bringing us good news.

As they arrived on the doorstep and were welcomed through to sit with us in the garden, it became apparent from their huge smiles that this was to be anything but bad news, in fact they were having their first baby, and wanted us to be among the first to know.

Throughout my life, I’ve come to realise how much time has been spent believing that I’m going to be on the receiving end of potential bad news that’s going to come my way. How many times have the kids been late coming home and I’ve believed the worst, or how many times has my phone rang late at night believing it to be bad news? It appears that we live in a world that has conditioned our minds to always think the worst.

One of God’s promises to you today is about this very thing…

Psalm 112:6-8 Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered for ever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

If you are one of those people that wakes and lives in fear of what’s lurking around the corner every day, then you need to hold this promise close to your heart every day and begin to believe for the best.

That visitor that is about to arrive on your doorstep, may well be bringing to some wonderful news.

Stop fearing what may be, and start enjoying the goodness of our God.

His promise is to give you a steadfast heart everyday, if you’ll simply place your trust in Him.

Today…is a to be a good day.

Today…is to be a GOD day.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st May 2017

From time to time, we all face undeserved criticism. On occasions, it comes when we offer our best to the Lord and our good intentions are misunderstood or even ridiculed by those  who don’t get us.

One such event in the Bible, describes a woman who took a bottle of precious perfume and poured it on Jesus’ head as He reclined at the table. There is no record of any great results coming from this loving gesture. No lives were saved, no converts were made, and nothing measurable was obtained. Worse still, the woman was scolded for her actions by those sitting around the table. Her efforts were viewed as extravagant, unreasonable, and irresponsible. Jesus, however, thought otherwise. His commendation for this woman’s loving sacrifice was astonishing. In His mind, it deserved to be memorialized—He said, “What she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matt. 26:13 NIV).

Do you sometimes wonder how much God is noticing our efforts to please Him? At times, some of our greatest sacrifices seem to bring nothing but misunderstanding or even criticism from our family and friends. Voices from others—and even from within our own heart—rise up to condemn us for godly choices that now seem to be incapacitating us.

Don’t worry, Jesus knows the depths of our soul, and sees and understands the torment we face. He hears the condemning voices of our accusers. When our sacrifices for Jesus make little sense to the selfish world around us, it’s God’s commendation that really matters and He will be your reward.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th May 2017

In the Bible, Thomas is unfortunately known for being a doubter, stating in John 20…

“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Then a week later Thomas exclaims;
“My Lord and my God!” to which Jesus replies;
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

We often read this story from the point of view of being blessed as a Christian for believing in a God we can’t see, but let’s look at these verses from the point of view of being faithfully upbeat in our lives when potentially we’d have good reason to cry.

How often when in real need do we cry out as if the world is ending telling anyone who will listen? When Jesus (faithfully as always) performs a miracle we exclaim like Thomas ‘My Lord and my God!’

But Jesus says to us, ‘you say I’m Lord because of the answer, try being this buoyant and positive before you see the answer, then you’d be really blessed!’

I believe we would take so much more ground in our lives if we could learn to walk as if we’ve already won the victory especially when we can’t see it! It’s called faith!

Isaiah 54:1 (NIV) says “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate womanthan of her who has a husband,” says the Lord.

Living in this very logical world with the knowledge of a God who loves us, should make us positively very irrational at times. How irrational, and non-logical for a woman who’s barren to sing and shout because she’s going to have many children – at least wait until your pregnant, right?

No!

When struggling for answers that seem like impossibilities and when everyone else seems to have seen Jesus but you, believe and exclaim Jesus is Lord regardless!

Because…

“blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th May 2017

On Saturday, we read about having higher thoughts and trusting God’s higher ways.

I love to read about the Eagle…
– It can fly higher than any other bird
– Its wing span can reach 9 feet across
– It uses the stormy weather to soar higher
– It has an amazing view because of the height it reaches.

The Bible talks a lot about eagles and a lot about high places.

You’ll never see an eagle mixing with a chicken. Why? Because a chicken can’t get very far off the ground, but an eagle was made to fly high.
An eagle and a chicken were not meant to mix or mate.

Maybe one of the reasons you cant get very far off the ground, is that you’re mixing with chickens, when you should be mixing with eagles.
You’ll end up with the potential of an eagle, but starting to sound like, behave like and live like a chicken. How sad is that?

You have been created for a higher purpose, a higher way of thinking and you need to get to some higher places.

Jesus often went to some high places to pray. Why? Because there aren’t many people there, it’s never crowded and he needed that special place.
God often met with people in high places.

Did you know that whatever situation you find yourself in today, you have the opportunity to get to a higher place?
When you get there, you can behave like the eagle and USE the storm to help you soar.

Desire to go higher in your life today. Make some decisions that will help you get there. However hard they may be, they will certainly be worth it.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th May 2017

In the book of Isaiah chapter 55 and vs 8 & 9, it tells me that God’s ways are higher than mine and His thoughts are higher than mine.
That reminds me that whatever way I may think is best, He has a better one and whatever my thoughts are, He wants me to think higher ones, because His are higher. He challenges me to raise my thinking.

When something doesn’t go the way that maybe you wanted it to, thank God, instead of blaming God and say “Thank you, your ways are higher than mine.”
God always has a plan…you just need to wait and trust Him.

Once I become a Christian, if my thinking stays the same, then my life will pretty much stay the same also. Your thinking has to change.
When faced with a situation, a difficulty, a crisis, we can often think like we have always done so. Yet my Bible teaches me there has to be a higher way – God’s way.
My first thoughts, may not always be God’s. Don’t always act on your first thoughts…ask God for His.
When something doesn’t go the way you’d planned, ask God for His thoughts. Ask for His wisdom, He will give it you.

If you’re a parent, your child may not see your ways or understand your thoughts on the parenting front. But you know they just have to trust you , even though they may not at first like it.
Today I say THANK GOD that He didn’t and doesn’t always agree to ‘MY WAY’ or allow me to be ‘boxed in’ by my own thoughts.
I’m thankful for the times things didn’t go as I had planned, because He had a far higher way to show me.

Start thinking higher thoughts today, start thinking God thoughts. Start trusting Him that His way is best.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th May 2017

I pulled up early this morning at my local coffee shop. As I sat in the car for a few minutes, I watched a mom with her young family getting out of her car, trying her best to gather everyone together, whilst at the same time erecting the pushchair at the back of the car.

Eventually she managed to coordinate the whole family and made her way from the car park to the coffee shop. The stressful process caused her to lose her focus, and without thinking she left the driver’s door wide open.

Being the Good Samaritan, I found the family in the coffee shop and told her what she had done. What was interesting is that she had no idea why she would have done such a thing, however the answer was pretty simple – distraction.

Every day we can easily live distracted lives simply because of the sheer weight of our daily responsibilities.

Living a distracted life not only leads to losing focus in what is important, but equally it leads us to leave certain doors in our lives wide open.

A door left open attracts the attention of intruders.

Imagine for a moment that you get so busy that you let your guard down and the lines of what’s right and what’s wrong get blurred. Some people wouldn’t even dare take a paper clip from the office, but a person with blurred lines would not think twice of taking a whole ream of paper. That person has left the door open and allowed themselves to become what they vowed they never would.

Take an inventory on yourself today and ask what doors are you leaving dangerously open. You may well find yourself judging other people about the very things that you are now doing yourself…and you haven’t even noticed.

Don’t lose sight of what’s important today, just because you’ve been distracted by everyday things. You may not even be busy with work, you may have simply got busy watching too much TV! The effect can be just the same.

Take back control of your daily life and make sure you shut the door before someone steals it from you.

1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th May 2017

We are living in a world without windows.

A world without windows is a world that no longer sees an unseen world beyond where we are.

We have so perfected ourselves, or so we think, that we don’t see the need for any supernatural intervention.

I’ve been at a conference for the last three days and just like a cinema, the auditorium had no windows.

Outside it was hot and sunny, but I had no concept of that because I was kept from seeing it. As all the delegates made for the fresh air at lunch time, I was stunned by the brilliance and heat of what had been there all morning. It was a shock on the eyes, and then on the body. It was real, so long as you stepped into it.

Today, don’t allow the conditioning of this world to get you to believe that there is no radiance of the supernatural power of God beyond where you are.

If you are sick…reach outside of your world and touch the healing power of Jesus.

If you need answers, step outside and open your eyes to His brilliance.

If you want to experience His love, open the doors of your life and feel the warmth of His love.

If you’re in a dark place right now where there seems to be no natural solution, don’t forget there is a whole new world beyond you.

God wants you to tap into it by faith right now.

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th May 2017

Your mind is your most vulnerable organ in the body. It’s where all temptation begins. To reduce temptation, keep your mind occupied with God’s word and other good thoughts.

‘Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honourable.’ (Philippians 4:8)

You defeat bad thoughts by thinking of something better. This is the principle of replacement. You overcome evil with good.

The more you think about something, the stronger it takes hold of you, which is why the Bible teaches that we should “run from anything that gives you the evil thoughts . . . but stay close to anything that makes you want to do right.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

Temptation begins by capturing your attention. What gets your attention arouses your emotions. Then your emotions activate your behavior, and you act on what you feel. The more you focus on “I don’t want to do this,” the stronger it draws you in.

Ignoring a temptation is far more effective than fighting it. Once your mind is on something else, the temptation loses its power. So when temptation calls you on the phone, don’t argue with it — just hang up!

Many years ago I was in a room, and in a potentially compromising situation.
I was praying like mad for the Holy Spirit to help me, and for Him to speak to me. Then all of a sudden He gave me the simple solution with two very simple words…THE DOOR. All I had to do was walk over to the door and walk out of the room. If you keep putting yourself in the way of temptation, no wonder that you’re struggling.

This is one time it is okay to run away. Get up and turn off the television set. Walk away from a group that is gossiping. Leave the theatre in the middle of the movie.

Don’t compromise yourself any longer.

Stay pure.

Stay strong.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd May 2017

Both the Bible and History record for us that Dagon was the national deity of the Philistines. He was huge and made of stone.

You are probably aware that the most famous Philistine was named Goliath. He was the guy that kept taunting the Israelites and was eventually taken down and killed by a young boy named David.

Goliath and the Philistines worshipped Dagon, and so revered him, that they had a temple built in order to house this god of stone.

One day, the Philistines captured the ark of God, which in the Old Testament was a special box that contained items that represented the presence of God (some of you will remember the movie…’Raiders of the Loat Ark’)and placed it beside Dagon in the purpose built temple. I’m pretty sure that they thought that this would be the safest place to store the box, maybe thinking that Dagon would kind of ‘baby sit’ the ark.

Little did they realise that the one thing you should never do, is underestimate the power of God’s presence.

During the first night, Dagon, the God made of stone, fell face down in front of the ark. The Philistines promptly stood Dagon back up and thought it was just a coincidence.

However,  the next night things got a whole lot worse. Dagon not only fell prostrate again, but this time his head and his hands were broken off. This was no longer a coincidence…it was plain scary!

When you are in the presence of God there will be times when you need to fall on your face and acknowledge His presence. And then there will be times that you need to surrender your head and your hands to Him.

Your head is your brain power.

Your hands are your brawn power.

Stuck for answers?

Lacking in strength?

Are you willing to surrender your head and your hands today? He’s right beside you now and is awaiting your response.

Whatever your response is, don’t be foolish like the Philistines that thought that the presence and power of God was just a myth. God is real and so is His presence.

Once you’ve experienced it, you’ll never be the same again.

Psalm 16:11 In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

He wants to make a splash.

You can either fall forwards or you can fall backwards.

Choose today which one it will be.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd May 2017

Have you ever felt like sometimes you are under too much pressure and that you can’t cope anymore?

I’m sure from time to time, we all feel like that.

Today I was thinking about rubber elastic bands. When I open my desk drawer, there they are, all different shapes and sizes and really are quite useless…UNTIL…they are stretched.
Yes, that’s right, the