Fresh Hope – 31st January 2020

In the last few years I have come across the term ‘FOMO’ (Fear of Missing Out). FOMO has probably been around since the fall of mankind, but the term has become more widely used over the last ten years. With the rise of the internet and social media, people’s feelings of anxiety have skyrocketed. Many feel they are missing out, they are being left out and their lives are not as wonderful and fulfilling as those of others. Comparison is the thief of joy and it brings nothing but feelings of anxiety, resentment and inner distress.

I remember reading about J.D. Rockefeller. He was an American billionaire, back in the early 1900’s. During an interview, his response to the question, “How much money is enough?” was “Just a little bit more.” Although he originally set out to make $100,000, but then discovered he had an insatiable desire to keep increasing his wealth. It was never enough to satisfy him.

We can learn from this in our current struggles with FOMO, powerfully fanned into flames in our social media age. We might think, “If only I had what these other people have, then I would feel happy”. But this is a lie.

Amazingly, long before the invention of internet, we find the answer to this problem in the Bible. Paul was able to share from his own experience of life, ‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation’ (Philippians 4:11-12). And the ‘secret’ to being content is a principle which applies to all situations always.

It is not having what we want which makes us content. Only appreciating what we already have can do that. Therefore, Paul was content, whether he had a lot or a little. And we can be like that too, when we thank God for what we already have. This applies not only to money but to friends, social life, marriage, relationships – every sphere of life. The miracle is that, when we thank God and appreciate what we already have, it suddenly becomes enough.

In this life we have Jesus with us always, in all circumstances, in all places. In our future life we will have heaven with Him. It is ours to enjoy forever. Whatever the world has to offer, it cannot compete with God. So, I believe that is impossible for us, as God’s children, to ‘miss out’.

My prayer for us all, especially the younger generation is that when we feel unhappy or discontent we choose to thank God for what He has already given us and for what He has promised us.  Matthew 16: 31-32 tells us: Do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Christine Mudenha 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th January 2020

Change is hard. My husband and I recently moved house and the stress was over the top. We had a two-week period of living at my parents and don’t get me wrong, it was pretty good because we had delicious meals, washing, ironing all done for us. But it was change.

The challenge came when we had to sort the shower schedule for the morning, with six people needing to use the bathroom all before 7am it was a crazy schedule. 

For quite a while, I couldn’t find my favourite jumper or my hairbrush. Oh, and my toothbrush? I just gave up looking for it and bought another one.

Having recently moved areas, it meant that I was no longer on auto pilot and I had to get used to a new journey to and from work. I spent a lot of energy trying to find a new direction and when there was traffic, I had to find an alternative route. 

Moving house has been overwhelming. 

On a daily basis we are all going through changes…

Relationships change.

Locations change.

Jobs change.

Our bodies change.

We change.

During our season of change, it’s taught me that life is fragile, uncertain and temporary but something that lasts forever is God.

“For I, the Lord, do not change”

Malachi 3:6

Whether you are moving house, changing job or experiencing a change in your relationships, we can always trust in God. He doesn’t change. 

Through my season of change this verse from Isaiah 40:8 really stood out to me

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our god will stand forever.”

We can find comfort in God, his plans are unshakeable, his word is dependable. 

You can trust Him to carry you through anything you face today. 

Psalm 46:1

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” 

Things may continue to change around us but no matter what changes we face, we must not fear. We must turn to our rock and anchor our unchanging God whose promises remain forever. 

I trust this devotion motivates you to draw closer to God during a change in your life.

Gabby Clarke

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th January 2020

In the story of the calling of the first disciples we see a check list that can help us assess our lives and see if we’re missing anything that could be causing a lack of growth or frustration in our walk with Jesus.

Luke 5:1-11 | NIV One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. 

Firstly they met Jesus! If you are reading this today as a follower of Jesus you can tick it off, if not I encourage you today to invite him into your life. 

Secondly he taught them. Every week we get great teaching in our churches on a Sunday, maybe a podcast or daily devotion like this one, also whenever we open our bibles in a set aside time, tick. 

Thirdly he performed a miracle! I’m sure most followers reading this can look at some point in your life where God has brought a miraculous provision or answer you’ve been looking for, tick. And again, if not, he is faithful and wants to meet our needs so I encourage you to today, give your needs over to him.

Fourthly, he called them! We have all been called to follow him, to live our lives in a relationship with God our maker through his son Jesus Christ, tick. 

So far so good, but finally is the tick box we easily over look. It’s finishes with vs11:
So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. 

Often I believe we struggle because despite being able to tick off meeting Jesus, having great teaching, seeing him act in our lives and being called, we can struggle to take the final step to fully lay down our lives and follow him. I encourage you today put all your eggs in the one basket today and surrender to him in every area of life, as 1 Peter2:6 says ‘the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th January 2020

On the evening before my 20th birthday I remember praying, asking God to bless the years of my twenties. Tonight is the eve of my 30th birthday and it feels like just yesterday that I prayed that prayer. Ten years have flown, and from the other side I can definitely say that God really has given me a blessed decade!  

I appreciate that people much older than thirty, with a lot more life experience than me, may be reading this, but I do think I have learnt a few lessons from my twenties. After all, it was in my twenties that I graduated university, started my career, taught hundreds of people, travelled to nearly thirty countries, got married, and moved to the other side of the world. Safe to say, in all of that I have learnt a thing or two.

So here are thirty lessons from my twenties. Some of them may seem like cliché comments, but they are not. I have carefully selected them from first-hand experiences: 

Lesson #1: The principals of God always stand (it may take years for you to see the fruit, but you will see it!). Always go God’s way. 

Lesson #2: Find mentors and models in every season. 

Lesson #3: Feelings don’t always tell the truth. Let the word of God be your standard of truth. 

Lesson #4: Love people. Aside from God, people are the most precious thing you have. You will never regret loving people too much. 

Lesson #5: Travel, experiences, nice things are fun, but don’t totally satisfy, and are not what life is about. 

Lesson #6: Leaders are people, who we honour, but like you, they are also imperfect. Leaders are not God. 

Lesson #7: No church is perfect, but she is still beautiful and Jesus still died for her. You need the church and the church needs you! 

Lesson #8: You reap what you sow. Where you invest and sacrifice is where you reap reward. 

Lesson #9: Have a vision for every area of your life. 

Lesson #10: Life goes quickly. Spend your time well. 

Lesson #11God loves you more than you know. He knows more than you know. 

Lesson #12Hunger for wisdom (the way God does things). 

Lesson #13Look after your body. Your health is precious. 

Lesson #14People all over the world are the same. All of humanity hungers for the same core things – to be loved and valued. 

Lesson #15Ask lots of questions. 

Lesson #16Don’t push your way into opportunity. Be faithful, and let God open doors. 

Lesson #17: Don’t take life too seriously. Have fun. Get over petty things. Regularly ask yourself, ‘in light of eternity, will this matter?’

Lesson #18Worry will rob you. 

Lesson #19Thankfulness will protect you. 

Lesson #20Being busy is not something to be proud of. 

Lesson #21God will use everything. 

Lesson #22The degree to which you honour people, is the degree to which you will have influence over them. 

Lesson #23Sometimes God has something else planned. 

Lesson #24The best things in life are not instant and easy. They require vision, persistence, patience, and help from God. 

Lesson #25: Live to give, not to get. 

Lesson #26: Love people through their flaws. 

Lesson #27: Work hard to keep your heart in a good place. 

Lesson #28: What is popular, isn’t always right. 

Lesson #29: Your attitude will take you further than your ability. 

Lesson #30: Your words are seeds. Careful what you are sowing, because it will start growing! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th January 2020

My mother-in-law had a new washing machine delivered, and my promise was to install it for her.

I was a little pushed for time, but she was eager to get it in place, so I popped in with a few tools one lunchtime.

I secured the water pipes, connected the electric supply and carefully pushed the new machine into a very tight spot underneath the kitchen units.

Everything was seeming to work fine, as I quickly tested it to make sure that the power and water supply were all as they should be. Job done.

For the next three days, I had calls from her telling me that something wasn’t right and that every time the machine went into its spin cycle, the whole kitchen would shake.

Like a Doctor, I asked her over the phone all about the symptoms and advised her about overloading it and anything else that I thought may be the cause.

Eventually, I decided to go back, take the washer out and start again.

It turned out that it was completely my fault.  I had overlooked the fact that I should have taken the very long transportation bolts that come with a brand new washer to hold the drum secure during delivery.

The bolts meant that there was no flexibility in the drum when spinning, so would violently vibrate, potentially damaging everything around it.

As much as it pained me to realise that I could have badly damaged the machine, I also realised that it was a great life lesson too.

Sometimes in our lives we have to acknowledge that we are being held back by the things that have never been removed during transportation.

I love the story in the Bible about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead; but then in the very next breath Jesus says…’take off his grave cloths and let him go.’

It wasn’t enough just to be brought back to life, until the bandages that held him tight in death were unravelled.

How many of us today have felt the effects, not of bandages but of bondages that have wrapped around us during transportation?

Unkind words spoken over our lives, bitterness about our past, unforgiveness over a broken relationship – the list goes on and on but what is true is that not only do these things hold us back, they also affect everything and everyone else around us. When we behave this way, we cause a ripple effect of negativity wherever we go.

We were not created to be restricted by our hang-ups, but to be set free to do what we were created to do by God.

Today, take a brief step back, in order to go forwards.

Ask yourself: what is it in my past that is causing me to behave in such a way today?

Identify the problem and then ask Jesus to be the solution. Allow Him access into your private world so that He can take off your grave clothes and let you go.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th January 2020

Have you ever met a double minded person? Of course you have. People who say one thing and do another; people who are ‘yes’ one day and ‘no’ the next. 

The Bible teaches in James 1 that we are not to be doubleminded, because if we are, we will receive nothing. This is what it says about being double-minded in prayer. Verses 6 & 7  “but when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.. that person should not expect to receive anything for the Lord”

  That’s a challenge to each one of us. How many of us have been in a prayer meeting, praying for someone who needs a miracle, then as we get onto the car park, our speech doesn’t match up to our ‘faith filled ‘ prayer?  “What a shame for that person etc, they are so sick, there’s no hope etc”.Or maybe you’ve asked God to meet your need and one minute you’re believing in prayer for a miracle, the next you’re speaking the opposite. 
Be careful.  The Word of God teaches we will receive NOTHING if we are like that.  

I noticed something this week just a few verses earlier in vs 2-4…(you should always read the context of the verses).
It says we should consider it joy when we face trials of many kinds, because it will produce perseverance…THEN it goes on to say about not being double minded.  

I wonder why?  It’s because when we face trials and difficulties it’s easy to get into two trains of thought…Will God or won’t He? Faith v doubt. Yes God can v maybe He can’t? Is He with me or not?

Today, be single minded. Even if you’re going through a trial. Be true to the courage of your convictions and what you know to be true. Stand firm on the promises of God. If you don’t believe it, don’t pray it. For a double minded person will receive nothing.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24 January 2020

How would you empty a lake? One bucketful at a time!

It sounds very simple, but in practice, it’s very easy to be cynical or show contempt for the little things in life, especially ones that don’t seem to provide big, immediate results.

In Luke 13 verses 6 to 8, Jesus tells a parable of a man who went through a vineyard he owned, and when he didn’t find fruit on one of the trees, demanded to have it cut down. The gardener instead asks to be given a year where he promises to consciously take better care of the tree in the hope that it would produce some fruit and thereby save it.

This gardener is a lot like us. He was in charge of the garden, but hadn’t been concerned with tending to the tree because his attention was focused on other trees that bore good fruit.

It’s well known that the best hardwood comes from slow growing trees. Each year, they grow new leaves, knowing full well that the leaves will grow and eventually fall off, but that knowledge doesn’t make them stop the process.

As we grow, we also go through seasons where we’re looking vibrant, full of life, and growth is evident to everyone looking at us.

Then seasons come where from the outside, it looks like you’re down and out, as if you’ve thrown in the towel.

Throughout the different seasons, the tree remains rooted in the same place.

Wherever you find yourself today, the dry season is not the time to give up and move away from the things God has spoken to you to do. He allows you to develop through slow processes, but you have to remain consistent in your prayer life, and faith that not only is God growing you, but He is preparing you for greater things to come.

As Napoleon Hill said, “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd January 2020

We have a generation on our hands that is hungry for success and significance. Where previous generations may have been content with a more ‘simple life’, we desire the big, the ambitious, the best. 

While the desire for success is absolutely from God, we must consider what our measuring stick is. What are we defining as success? Are we holding ourselves to a standard that actually is not from God? 

God wants us to be successful, or another word – fruitful. In fact, Jesus hated anything that was not bearing fruit. If God has created something, He has designed it to carry life and reproduce/bare fruit. Jesus cursed the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22). Why? Because it was bearing leaves, it had the appearance of life, it had the appearance of fruitfulness, but it wasn’t actually producing fruit. God doesn’t want us to have the appearance of fruitfulness (religion), but actually just be a bunch of leaves. He wants success to be a real part of our lives, because of who we are connected to. We should be producing fruit as we are a branch connected to the true vine (Jesus), John 15:1-8. 

So what is this true success then? What should be our focus? To find out what God defines as true success, let us look at the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. 

FACT: Three men were given different amounts of money in which they were told to increase. (This was a common way of investment for masters of servants in the context of this scripture). 

POINT: There is no point comparing to the person next to you, because despite what you may think, God doesn’t actually operate on fairness. He gives each of us something different based on what He believes we can handle. 

FACT: The third man returned exactly what God gave him. 

Point: Don’t think you can just give back to God what you started with. He wants to see increase in your life. 

FACT: Even one talent was a lot. 

POINT: Just because the person next to you may have more, doesn’t mean you haven’t already been given a lot in life. 

FACT: They had to give an account to the master, with what they did with their money. 

POINT: We will have to give an account to God on what we did with our life. 

FACT: The master congratulated them on being ‘good and faithful’ not once mentioning the amount of money that they made. 

POINT: God is not looking for numbers, or titles (things we may define as success), He is looking for character, heart and stewardship of whatever we have been given. 

‘Well done good and faithful servant’ is the definition of success. To hear God say to us at the end of our life, ‘well done good and faithful servant’, you were faithful with what you were given – you stewarded your marriage well, your relationships well, your mouth and words, your job, your money, your body – whatever you were given, you were faithful and managed it well’. THAT IS SUCCESS! 

It isn’t about the amount. It isn’t about the numbers. It isn’t all the facts and stats that is going to interest God. What God is looking for is – WHATEVER He gave me, I was faithful with it.  

At the end of your life, you want to ask yourself:  Did I do what God said to do? – Did I use whatever I got given? – Was outcome my focus or stewardship? – Did I hear Him say, ‘well done, good and faithful servant?’

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd January 2020

You may be aware of the fires currently raging in Australia. 1400 homes destroyed, 28 lives lost, 25.2 million acres of environment burnt to a crisp, killing 1billion animals. And with no sign of slowing down, these fires are predicted to continue into April. 

I personally know people who have experienced significant loss because of these fires. I also have friends who are fighting the fires, or rescuing whatever wildlife remains. Yesterday my Dad was photographing some of the most devastated areas. He commented on how silent the environment was – deep ash covering the earth,cblack poles for trees, and no sounds of blowing leaves or tweeting birds. Any remaining animals are starving as they root around for some remains to feed on. 

Amidst the dire situation, there is some hope. There are some seeds that are actually only activated by fire. Their species require fire for the seeds to sprout. The fire melts the resin on the outside of the seed. These cones/fruits can only open to release their seeds after the heat of a fire has physically melted the resin. More than 60 plant species, never before recorded in some parks, have flourished since the fires. Plants that were under threat before the fire, are now germinating prolifically. 

I wonder what new life is available amidst the fires of our lives. Even after absolute loss and devastation, there is a hope. In fact there is a new life and fruit in us that only a fire can produce. We may be burnt, we may feel completely devastated, but even after the flames, there is life that would have otherwise never existed if it were not for the burn. Your devastation now has unlocked something new. It can be easy to focus on the significant and heartbreaking loss, and the loss must be acknowledged and grieved, but what if God is able to bring about something new because of it? 

There are many occasions in the scripture where Jesus bought life after death. Jesus raised people from dead (John 11:1-44), even His life is a testament to life after death (Mark 16:6), and WE have the promise of life after death (John 11:25-26). 

When Jesus is involved, new life is an absolute. He removes the painful sting of loss, by providing a hope, a sprouting seed, while we stand in the ash (1 Corinthians 15:55). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st January 2020

If you’ve ever been made a promise, you will probably know that the level of expectation you have that that promise will be fulfilled is determined by the level of trust you have in the one who made it.

For instance, if someone with a not-so-great reputation makes me a promise, I will have my doubts that they will keep to it. But if a long-time friend who I have grown to know and trust makes me a promise, I can almost be certain that they’ll be true to their word.

All that to say this… a promise is something that you could argue against. What cannot be argued is a proven principle.

The Bible is full of proven principles, that if abided by can lead to you experiencing a better way of life. One of these principles is recorded in 2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:6‬ ‭and it says this; “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
Now you may not believe in God and therefore you might switch off at the inclusion of a Bible verse. However, this here is not a promise to be argued, but rather a proven principle to be applied.

Just ask any farmer, whether a believer in God or not, and they will tell you that the principle of sowing and reaping is a law of life. It is what it is. It works.

Ask any gym-goer, and they will tell you, what they put in determines what they get out.
I believe that God is the One who set this principle in motion, so that we might have a key to experiencing a blessed life. But the ball is in your court… how are you going to sow your words, your time, your money? Will it be sparingly or will it be generously? Because the harvest that you experience in your life of any one of these things will be determined by the level in which you give.

The choice is yours and the choice is mine… at what level do I want to reap? Once you decide that, you know what to do next.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th January 2020

It was not until we moved house several years ago that I had to learn a new skill…that of lighting a real fire.

It looked pretty simple to me, and I couldn’t wait for the winter nights to draw in, so that we could have our very own coal fire. It would bring back so many fond memories from when I was a child. A few pieces of newspaper, a pile of tinder wood and then finally the logs and coal – what could be difficult about that?

Several failed attempts later, I sought the advice of an experienced coal merchant that I knew. I soon learnt that it was all about having thoroughly ‘seasoned’ wood to start the fire, otherwise you would actually be putting the fire out more than getting it going.

I’d never heard of seasoned wood before, but soon gathered that it was wood that had stood outside in all weathers for at least 18months and then kept really dry before use. Seasoning wood effectively ensures that the sap is dried out and the wood is crisp and dry.

Since I learnt that lesson, I’ve never had a bad fire since, well that was until last week when it dropped particularly cold one night, and I threw some unseasoned wood on the fire to get it going in a rush and hey presto…it went out!

Ever wondered why your life seems to just smoulder and continually keep going out? Take a look at the people that you’re surrounding yourself with and that will be your biggest clue.

They all look much the same, just like pieces of wood, but if they are not well seasoned they are simply going to dampen the most positive spirit around.

Ask yourself at the start of this day: ‘how many people around me are unseasoned, damp-spirited people that keep causing my passion to die?’

Finding the right people can sometimes take time, as they often all look the same, but when you find the right ones you will see such a difference; that passion, that vision, that dream, that fire burning in you will be ignited and become red hot.

Ask God to send well seasoned people into your life in 2020 and then be willing to bring them close to you. One of those people may be right under your nose everyday, but you’ve never noticed them in the wood pile.

Don’t just align yourself with the newest friends on the block, they haven’t yet been seasoned, and could well put your fire out, instead embrace those whose lives are lived with passion, and you’ll soon discover the effect they have on you.

Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th January 2020

Have you ever heard the phrase “you don’t get because you don’t ask”? Well, guess what? It’s true! You won’t get more dinner if you don’t ask for seconds, you won’t get a discount in a store if you don’t try, you won’t get a refund if you don’t return the item and ask for one and sometimes as a Mom, you may not get a hug if you don’t ask for one!
We have to go through life asking- think about it.   Several times a day, we are asking.  “Please do this, please go there, please can I have this”. Our lives are made up of ASK.

There are three levels in the Bible; they are ASK, SEEK, KNOCK.

 You’ll find them in Matthew 7 v 7. “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Ask is entry level – bring your requests and ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. 
Seek is the next level – like in the game “hide and seek’ – you have to make time to actively seeking and not giving up until you find.

 Knock is the persistent higher level – keep knocking until the door gets answered.  

There are times when my praying has been all three. That’s how it works.  Jesus is obviously happy with all three, as He taught us that way.  
Is it okay to keep bothering God with my request? Absolutely.  Do I need to not give up after one ask? Absolutely. Is it ok to get earnest and persistent? Absolutely.  

Some answers may come after one ask…that’s great and it’s refreshing. But if everything was like that, we wouldn’t learn persistence and patience and God’s timing.  

Today, be someone who ASKS.  Not someone who doesn’t receive because they didn’t.  

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

Fresh Hope – 17th January 2020

Recently I read an online newspaper article about a young 26 year old woman with a PhD and a great job in a laboratory who according to the article took her own life because of bullying. A tragic and more and more common story. There were hundreds of comments left by people online, and they all pretty much said the same thing, ‘the bullies must be held to account’ ‘we must eradicate bullying from society’ basically they were all saying the issue in the story and society at large is bullying, and if we could just stop them then what a better place the world would be. 

This is the predicament in today’s culture. Trying to make life better by removing any adverse situations rather than looking at the real issue. The problem with this thought process is if you remove all adverse scenarios you will have no life left. Bullying is an awful human tendency, but the reality is if you get rid of all the bullies you would need to eradicate the human race. If you have ever made a cheap joke at someone’s expense then you’ve bullied, and if you’ve ever been made to feel uncomfortable then you’ve been bullied. 

The real issue in life is simple, we don’t really know who we are! We don’t realise just how incredibly important and immeasurably precious we are. If only this girl knew the truth of how she was loved and what hope there was in a relationship with her maker in heaven, she would not have even contemplated what she did. 
In Johns gospel we read the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet, what’s interesting is the 2 verses before he begins to serve.

John 13:3-4 | NIV3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 

Jesus lived his life 100% from the knowledge of who he was! He served and gave himself, not to earn or receive anything, but from the secure knowledge that he was the son of God! I want to encourage you today in what ever season you find yourself, live from the safety of knowing you are a child of God! Understand circumstances can be tough, and as long as you’re alive you will have tough circumstances, don’t live a frustrated life trying to create a perfect environment, but instead wrap a towel around your waste and in the knowledge you were chosen before the creation of the world, serve and live in freedom!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th January 2020

‘Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him’ (Psalm 34:8). 

When David invites the reader of this Psalm to see that God is good, using language like ‘taste and see’, we can learn several things: 

1. Tasting and seeing are experiential, not intellectual. Relationship with God isn’t always rational or intellectual, it is something that is to be interacted with and experienced. The goodness of God isn’t just an idea. It is something for us to experience.

 2. Tasting is a test. David invites us to call God out on His word. If God promises us that He is good, let’s put it to the test and see that He is good. Let’s test taste, and expect His goodness. 

3. When we taste something it is a sample of something more. When we experience the goodness of God, it is only a taste of something more. We have only had a sample of all there is to Him and His goodness. 

4. Tasting and seeing are personal experiences. I cannot taste for you, and you cannot taste for me. You cannot see for me, and I cannot see for you. David has called us to have a personal experience of the goodness of God in our lives, not just see others experience the goodness of others. He has something for you that only you can taste. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th January 2020

There seems to be a popular idea that ‘hustling’ or being busy and stressed is necessary in order to achieve. Juggling plates, missing sleep, living off of coffee, and calling it ‘hard work’ is the new normal, and sometimes even celebrated as an esteemed quality.  

In Jesus’ ministry on earth, I never read of Him being in a hurry. In fact, much of his effectiveness and fruitfulness was a direct result of being UNHURRIED. He stopped on many of his journeys to pause and talk, heal and deliver people. Equally, there were times where he stopped listening to the demands of people, as valid as they may have been, to get away to the quiet place with the Father (Mark 1:35-39). Jesus didn’t hustle. What he did do was ALIGN. He aligned to the voice of the Father. When God said, ‘stop’, he stopped. When God said, ‘get away’, Jesus got away. The voice of God was His primary priority, regardless of whatever else was pulling on Him. 

Our lives would be far more productive and fruitful, if we pursued the voice of the Father, rest, time in ‘the secret place’, and alignment, rather than ‘hustle’ to the point of exhaustion. 

Alignment means to ‘place in a straight line’. In order for you to make something straight, you have to align it up against something perfectly straight as the standard. To rule a straight line in a book, you need a ruler to align your pencil. To hang a picture on the wall straight, you need a spirit level as the standard as to which we measure the frame to. Our lives need alignment and the voice of God does this for us. 

When our schedules and energy levels are in shambles, we must question, ‘what are we aligning ourselves against?’. Is it the voice of God, or is it the demands of people and life? Our lives should be pulled into the alignment of His priorities for us then ‘He will make our paths straight’ (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th January 2020

There are over 7 billion people that occupy this world today, and yet you are totally unique. 
You have a unique purpose and destiny that is distinct from anyone else who has ever lived. 

You can have a dream, a plan, a role and a vision that will make a contribution to humanity. 
Have the courage to be uniquely you! 

Don’t just settle for an easy life, that requires no effort on your part; I know it’s much easier and far less stressful to be mediocre and to blend in. 
Everything within you at times says don’t make waves, just swim with the tide and go with the flow. 

No courage is required just to be normal, but all that does is neutralise what God has planned for your life. 

Being courageous doesn’t mean you will never doubt or afraid, quite the opposite; the one who has courage pushes through the fear and keeps moving forward toward the goal that you were created for. 

Destiny is not only a destination, but a process taking place within you.

You need to see yourself doing what you were born for, before you actually do it.

Long before you get married you need to see yourself at the altar. 

You need to get educated, if you are dreaming of that degree. 

You need to see yourself as the supervisor before you get the title; but if you don’t behave like a supervisor you will never become one, even if you do get the badge. 

If you believe you are called to be a communicator then start to prepare a short message that you can try out on the dog or even a tree before being let lose with a bunch of human beings.

If you are to become the musician that you believe you are called to be, then don’t wait for the stage. Become skilful with your headphones on, shut away in your bedroom, while all of your friends are out partying or watching TV. 

A surgeon is only able to pick up and use the instruments that are already clean and at hand in the operating theatre. In the same way today, God is looking to use those that are prepared, clean and ready to be used.

In 1982, I waved goodbye to my career in order to go to Bible college for two years. I did so in the belief that God was calling me to pastor the church, and therefore needed to train for the future. I didn’t want to get the point whereby God was ready for me to step into that role, but I was not ready myself. 

Do I recommend that everyone does the same? Of course not, but I do recommend that you do everything you possibly can to become the best in the field that you are called to be in. 

Did you know that if you read and study a particular subject for just one hour a day for seven years you will become an international expert in that field?

Instead of just praying the prayer…’Lord use me today’, why not change it to…’Lord make me usable today’.

My prayer for you is that you will have the courage and determination to make a difference by being prepared for who God intended you to be. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th January 2020

Once a young guy observed a man in his eighties planting an apple orchard. The old man lovingly and painstakingly prepared the soil, planted the tiny saplings and watered them. After watching for a while, the young man said,”you don’t expect to eat apples from those trees do you?” “No”, the old man replied, “but somebody will”.

As I get older the more a realise that my actions today will either help or hinder all those that are following on behind me. How often do we have an attitude that just wants to please ourselves. We live in a day whereby it seems like for most people that as long as it’s not hurting anyone else then it’s ok for me to do it. When you think about it, it’s totally a backwards way of living. What we should be saying is …”how can ensure that what I’m doing today is going to help everyone else around me and behind me”.

The decisions, plans and even the culture you are building into your life and that of your family can literally shape the generations to come.

Living a life of integrity may seem like old fashioned nowadays, but anything less will always come back to bite you.

When you serve people and influence them positively you literally create a chain of impact that can outlive you.

Some people want to put restrictions on themselves according their talent, intelligence, or experience. Others worry about their age. But with God, one person can always make a difference, regardless of circumstances or situation.

When Jesus fed the five thousand, a little boy provided the food for the miracle. When Noah was six hundred years old he provided a boat for the miracle.

You’re never too old or too young to make a difference, and it’s never too late to start.

Make a difference today and change a generation tomorrow.

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

Fresh Hope – 11th January 2020

2 Kings 4  1-7 

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbours for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you give God a space to fill. Elisha the prophet asked the widow what she had… her reply was “nothing”.

Many times we feel we have nothing, when in fact we all have a little “something”. 

She then went on to say: “except a little oil in a jar.”.

Notice what happens; he told her to collect some empty jars and not just a few. When God wants to do a miracle, he doesn’t just want to do something small, He will however respond in accordance to your faith   

Believe for a little, and you’ll get a little. 

He filled exactly what she gave him to fill and all of that out of her “nothing”.

Give God what you have and watch it multiply!  

Her supply was not in her husband (he had died) – her supply was not from anywhere apart from God.  

Today, trust Him again. Be obedient to what He asked of you, and watch Him do a miracle with what you bring.

God doesn’t just match what you give Him, HE MULTIPLIES that which you bring.  

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

Fresh Hope – 10th January 2020

At times in life, things can get complicated. Scheduled gets busy. To-do lists get long. Diaries fill up. We overcommit to things. A straightforward project produces an unexpected problem.

At the top of the year, let’s begin to notice the moments where we’re being pulled in many directions and learn to get on top of it.

We can take our cue from Jesus himself who was often known to break away from the crowd to be alone with God.

Start the day right

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

Start the day in conversation with God and entrust your day to Him, before you take in everything else that’s going on in the world around you.

Let the Word encourage you

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Even five minutes in God’s word can give you a fresh perspective and a renewed hope.

Make prayer a priority

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

If we’re honest with ourselves, one of the hardest things to do when life gets hectic or we feel overwhelmed is make proper time for prayer. The Bible never says that prayer ought to be complex. Write down what God has done already and thank Him, then tell Him what you need.

Switch off and embrace the silence

Being still and silent is profoundly simple but biblically powerful too. Just sitting in God’s presence is enough to renew our strength but we have to make time. It’s amazing what God can tell us, if only we’d be quiet enough to hear His voice.

I hope that these few things help you to unplug this year and draw nearer to God.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
‭‭James‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NIV

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th January 2020

In John 12:25 Jesus says, ‘The person who loves his life and pampers himself will miss true life! But the one who detaches his life from this world and abandons himself to me, will find true life and enjoy it forever!’ (John 12:25). 

By ‘detach from his life’ does Jesus mean he wants us to quit our jobs, sell our homes and flee to the forest? Definitely not! This scripture is a matter of challenging our priorities. 

As many of us ‘reset’ for a new year, review the year gone, where we are at now, and cultivate new goals and ambitions in alignment with where we want to be, let us ask ourselves: 

What are we building towards? What really matters to us? Who does our life belong to? Is our life about our own feeble plans and goals, or God’s plan for us? 

A life built on pleasuring and pampering self is futile and ultimate completely unsatisfying. It is also a waste of a precious life. A life surrendered, a life ‘let go’ to God is fruitful and ultimately fulfilling. 

Abandoning yourself to God is scary, but like a bird spreading its wings and leaving its nest, it is also freeing. 

As you look forward to the year ahead, consider the plans that you perhaps need to ‘abandon’ to God. 

In Ephesians 1:2, Paul speaks of Jesus imparting ‘total wellbeing into our lives’ or in another word, ‘peace’ into our lives… But it isn’t a worldly peace. It is more than just a feeling of tranquility. Hebrew peace (as in the context of this scripture) is referring to a steady heart and complete wellbeing in soul, and mind. 

Ephesians 1 goes on to talk about how God has a plan for us. 

If you were to highlight key words in Ephesians, you would find words and phrases like (Passion Translation): Spiritual blessing, chose us, riches of grace, plan of His heart, redemptions promises, unfailing purpose, destiny, future inheritance. 

Ephesians wasn’t written to people who weren’t Christians yet, these words were for devoted Christians, people following Christ already – there was more for them. God had big plans for them. Equally, He has an inheritance for you. He has chosen you, has a destiny and future for you. There are ‘redemption promises’ and ‘riches of grace’ for you to tap into in 2020!

There is more for you on the other side of letting go.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th January 2020

In Psalm 133, unity is described as being like ‘precious oil’. The thing about precious oil in this context is that it would have smelt really good. Unity carries a spiritual fragrance. When the world looks at the church and sees a picture of unity in diversity – the smell is beautiful and attractive. 

Being a Christian and growing up in the church, you get used to the sweet smell of unity. It becomes normal. I’m not saying the church is completing protected and void from any kind of division, but when a culture of unity is promoted it becomes the standard – building alongside different people, and overlooking silly differences for a greater cause. 

Substitute God’s model of unity, and I have been shocked at times at how quickly people outside a ‘unity mentality’, can get offended over petty matters, are quick to cut off relationships, ‘unfollow’ if someone challenges what they consider right, or struggle to work with people who are different. God’s love changes how we do relationships, confrontation and boundaries. 

There is beauty in diversity operating in unity. Imagine trying to create a powerful car that was only made of only steering wheels? Impossible! Imagine a functioning body of only hands? Impossible! Power and function comes through diversity working together! 

We don’t tolerate different kinds of people, we celebrate the differences because we couldn’t actually function without them. Diversity is necessary and healthy. 

On its own a car brake is interesting, but has no power. On its own a steering wheel has great potential, but has no power. On its own, an engine is a great concept, but it has no power. 

On our own, we have no power. Without being unified with those different to us, we lack power and purpose. Our purpose is found in our connection and function with others. One part is not better than the other. To reach my fullest potential, I need you, and equally you need me to reach yours!

Although it isn’t very fashionable to talk about the Devil, he does exist and he is on a sneaky mission to bring division to relationships. We can think a person is bringing division, but actually it is the distracting work of the enemy. Remember that we are not in a flesh and blood battle, but a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12).  If your words or actions aren’t promoting love, celebrating people who are different, and carrying the fragrance of unity, think about whose work you are advancing.

Let unity be one of the highest values we esteem in our lives and in the church!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th January 2020

Just because you have all kinds of thoughts going through your head today( you don’t have to think them. Let them pass through!

Just because you feel that it’s not going to be a good year, you don’t have to live out the year governed by your feelings.

Just because you started the day wrong, it doesn’t mean that you have to punish yourself for the rest of the day. It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters.

Maybe someone spoke something negative over your life yesterday – remember that they don’t have the final say today.

Did you wake up in a bad mood this morning? Remember: it’s only a mood, talk yourself out of it.

Got a difficult meeting today? Remember that it’s not the end of the world, no matter how bad it may turn out.

Centuries ago whenever a city was being built it always started in the same way; a plot of land was identified only when a source of water was found within its boundaries.

The spring of water was the life of the city, and as the walls went up the people were secured from outside attack. They knew that if all else failed, they would have a constant supply of water from within. There was never a need to go outside for sustenance.

Today, it can be just the same for you and I.

If you are already defeated from within, then you will always be defeated from without.
If you have all that you need from within, no matter what comes against you, you can defeat it because of your inner source.

The power of these thoughts are only realised when you know the one who has the living water to give to you.

John 7:37-38 ‘Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’

Today, if you find yourself searching outside for the answers to life, then turn to the one who can fill you and sustain you with living water from within.
You’ll be amazed at how life can take on a whole new meaning by drinking from the source of living water.

He is the source, the force and the course of everything.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th January 2020

What you do today matters.

What you say today matters.

Someone’s life may be dependant on what you do and say today.

Be a difference maker.

I have to admit that one of the low points in my life happened a couple of years ago.  

Gillian had been asking me for some time to go to Dudley Market to get the batteries replaced in a couple of our watches that had been lying around for months.

The guy we had used for years was always pleasant and was known for his ‘while you wait’ service, let alone being cheaper than anywhere else.

On the afternoon that I managed to get to him, I noticed that he was not his normal self. He seemed to have lost his spark and his usual smile had disappeared. As he tended to my watches, I asked him what was wrong. He simply looked up, smiled and carried on. I felt compelled to persist with him, and so I repeated the words twice more. As he handed over the watches in a small bag I asked him what had happened for him to look so sad.

Reluctantly he leaned across his work table and told me that it was family problems. He went on to explain that illness that had not only taken his mother in law, but was now about to take his mother.

I offered him my condolences and asked him if I could add his name and that of his mom to my daily prayer list. He agreed, and in doing so his face seemed to brighten and a smile broke out.

Four days later he took his own life.

I asked myself many questions as to why I didn’t say and do more on that day, but whatever answers I came up with could not change the tragedy that I had been so close to possibly doing something about a few days earlier.

My story I’m sure can be repeated in different ways by thousands today all over the world. The truth is we all have missed opportunities to save precious people’s lives.

Today is a not only a new day, but for many the first working week of a brand new year. It is my hope and prayer today that my story can inspire you to join me in understanding that what we say and what we do matters.

Let’s go all out in 2020 to be difference makers and not just people with good intentions, which, if we’re honest, is an excuse for doing nothing.

Ephesians 5:15-16 Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th January 2020

Recently I was sitting in a traffic jam with my husband, we had driven that same way, maybe for 35 years – the same duel carriageway, going the same way at the same speed. Yet on this occasion we had to unusually stop due to traffic. I looked around at the homes in my view and I noticed threehouses that I had never seen before.  I was amazed! I said “I have never seen that before, yet must have driven past it hundreds of times.”

Recently, I watched one of my favourite christmas movies (that I watch every year) and yet saw something different that  I hadn’t seen in the 20 or so times I watched it before. 

I want to challenge you at the start of a brand new year, to read the Bible again. I have just finished reading it through in one year and seen things I had never seen before. I want to challenge you to take a ‘familiar’ passage, one that you think you may know everything about and re-read it.  Challenge yourself to be open and ask God to reveal something new to you again. 

God’s word is new every day. It will speak to you in different situations about different things. It has NOW words and it reveals life to those who read it. Take a moment to do something usual and let it turn into something ‘un’ usual. Linger for a moment, follow His leading… you will be refreshed.  

Psalm 23.  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters.  He refreshes my soul.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd January 2020

Perhaps it is the Christmas break, perhaps it is just the ticking over of the clock and sounding out of Big Ben at midnight, signalling in another new year. For whatever reason, this is often a time for reflection, for planning and making resolutions. Resolutions, that if you are like me, you have probably already broken!

When Adam and Eve were faced with the ultimate New Year, the beginning of creation, God had set out very carefully the world that they were to live in. 

‘and the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (Genesis 2:9).

God had provided a world that was both beautiful and fruitful, that provided all they needed. Including a close and personal relationship with God (He walked in the garden in the cool of the day). However, it was a world that had choice at its centre. In the middle of the garden were two trees, one leading to life and the other leading to knowledge of good and evil.

Now knowledge of itself is not a bad thing, but this knowledge speaks of our human belief that we know better than God, that we can be self-reliant and have all the answers. The serpent says ‘you will be like God’. Adam and Eve chose not to obey God and that is often our downfall.  

Resolutions should really be called choices. Choices about how we are going to change from this moment forward. We are faced with the choices at the centre of our ‘garden’, that is the world God has placed us in, every moment of every day. It is a beautiful world that has all we need, but at its centre is choice.

The other tree at the centre of the garden, the tree of life, was not forbidden by God. It reminds me of another Scripture, Deuteronomy 30:19 ‘I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life’.

I pray that each choice I make today will be to obey God and choose Jesus who is the ‘life the truth and the way’.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd January 2020

Our technology-centered world is making it increasingly difficult for us to learn how to be patient. Social media gives us immediate feedback. Anyone, anywhere in the world can be contacted in a matter of seconds. Anything can be delivered: food, flowers, furniture, and fashion. Instant answers to all questions are available on Google.  

The diagnosis of ADD in children has skyrocketed in the last decade, and adults are equally finding it increasingly difficult to focus. 

Studies have shown that if an Internet video or advert doesn’t ‘grab’ a viewer in the first two seconds, the viewer doesn’t have time to watch the rest and scrolls right on past it. 

Patience is something that has to be developed and grown. Hopefully from an early age we start learning the discomfort, yet essential quality of being patient. When your parents don’t give you whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted it – this was good for us! The ability to say no to instant gratification and keep your focus on something bigger and better is essential to our maturity. 

Today we have fewer waits in our daily lives, but it is also giving us less patience for other things. 

Why do we need patience? Because most good things take time. Most things that provide instant gratification, also only offer fleeting satisfaction. Think about it – your phone lighting up with a new message, your pizza order arriving, that quick fling with someone you know isn’t right for you. Most things that offer lasting satisfaction, take time, effort and a whole lot of patience… Working towards a healthy body, a meaningful friendship, waiting to have sex, a lasting marriage, saving for a house, raising a child – these are deeply fulfilling experiences of which we were made for, at the end of being patiently focused. 

God’s way of doing things is contrary to the way the world is doing things. God isn’t driven by the need for ‘things to happen quickly’ and He is not a quick fix, feel-good-instantly God. God is more interested in us developing a strong character. A strong character includes the ability to be patient. 

Are we willing to wait? Are we willing to wait for the right spouse? Are we willing to delay gratification for something better? Are willing to wait for God to speak? Are we willing to wait through the processes that God needs to take us through? 

Perhaps you are waiting for breakthrough on some things, and perhaps God is just waiting for you to wait! 

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

Romans 12:12, ‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer’. 

Psalm 37:7, ‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st January 2020

A couple of years ago I purchased an expensive, beautiful houseplant. It has been fairly low maintenance until recently when I noticed it starting to lean awkwardly to the side. 

The plant had grown so much that it needed to be repotted into a larger pot with more supportive soil. 

I had to uproot the plant in order to get it reestablished in a new pot. This plant is now sitting in my bathroom looking rather brown, and if I’m honest with myself, I think it could be on its way out.  Why? Because I ripped it from its roots. I took it from where it was established and being fed, and broke its system of security! 

It is much the same with us. When we are not rooted and grounded, we quickly die. 

Maybe we aren’t rooted in God – our security is found in other things that can’t nourish us. The Bible calls us to ‘be rooted and established in love’ (Ephesians 3:17).  

Or perhaps we aren’t rooted in a church community and so we aren’t experiencing the nourishing encouragement of others. 

A root system is about connection. It is the connection of the plant to the soil – that which offers it nourishment. We should be deeply rooted (connected) to people and to God if we are to flourish and thrive. 

The Bible speaks of tree/person that is plugged into a source of nourishment – the word of God. 

‘Blessed is the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers’ (Psalm 1). 

We all desire to produce fruit and prosper. The key is being grounded, rooted, established and connected to God, and the right people. 

‘Have your roots planted deep in Christ. Grow in Him. Get your strength from Him. Let Him make you strong in the faith as you have been taught’ (Colossians 2:7).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.