Fresh Hope – 29th February 2020

I heard a great quote this week from Bishop TD Jakes. He said “anyone can worship when things are going well, but only a real believer will worship when things aren’t.”

That’s so true.  When things suit you and are going well, then it’s easy to worship isn’t it? 
But when things aren’t going well? When someone is sick, you’ve lost your job, your marriage is all over the place, your children are not behaving as you’d like, you’ve lost a loved one, that’s when what is really in you, will come out. 
You see God wants us to have such a relationship of trust and love with him that WHATEVER is going on, I still have a heart to worship and say “thank you Jesus, you are good.”

Worship isn’t just about ‘doing’ it in Church when the mood takes us and we get carried along with everyone else. Worship is about what you do when you have an audience of one. Just you and God.  
God sees you, He hears you, He knows your thoughts and He knows your attitude.

I love the story of Jonah, but the bit I particularly love is when he is in the belly of the fish and he thinks he is just about to die (well who wouldn’t?!) when all is dark and he is extremely fearful, what does he do? He worships. It was that worship and repentance that God saw and acted upon. He got that fish to spit him out onto dry land. We all know that Jonah came out better, when he could have died bitter.  

So today, desire that relationship with God that says “no matter what, I will worship.”
God always responds to a worshipper. He can’t help it. He can change your situation in an instant because of worship.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th February 2020

Has it ever happened to you that you’ve offered to help someone, that you saw a situation that needed someone to do something, then after all your efforts, you find you are being criticised for going out of your way, or not doing it the way other people would have done it?

Something as simple as offering a seat to a lady or older person results in you getting a stern lecture because it has been misinterpreted as being patronising.  Such a situation can be frustrating, and demotivating, and can result in a feeling of resentment and dejection, and an unwillingness to help other people in the future. The hurt from the criticism of that selfless action sticks with you and becomes a scar that you are willing to show to anyone who asks.

When David fought Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, his task for the day was not to fight, let alone kill a giant. That was a job for soldiers, and it was made very clear he was not one. His job on the day was to deliver food to his brothers then return to look after his father’s sheep, but he goes out of his way to offer to fight the giant.

First, his brothers criticised him, then Goliath insulted him by asking if he was a dog that David should come at him with sticks.

If David had been offended and turned back because of what his brothers or Goliath had said to him, history would have been rewritten. David would not have been introduced to the king. He would not have been remembered as the giant slayer. People would not have sung about him in the next chapter about how Saul had slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.

There are certain doors that will open in your life only when you offer to do above and beyond what is asked of you, and take no offence when the same people you are helping show no appreciation of your efforts. Colossians 3 verse 23-24 says Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Be encouraged to do good, and watch what God will do in your life.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th February 2020

The enemy is after marriages. Marriage is designed to be a picture of the love of Jesus for His bride – the church (that’s you and me). As you can imagine, the enemy will do whatever it takes to sabotage this powerful picture. 

I believe one of the greatest demonstrations of God in society is healthy marriages. If the world can see healthy marriages, they can see God. One of the most generationally and socially powerful things we can do – is not heal the sick, give away everything, have a powerful ministry, it is in fact to have a healthy marriage. 

Two ways the enemy is working to dilute marriage is: 1. Causing us to question the origin of marriage. 2. Causing us to become discouraged about marriage. 

If you can question the origin of something, you can question its design and purpose. If we didn’t originate from God, thenwe no longer have a purpose in God, here’s why the enemy shifts the origin of mankind to “coming from monkeys”. Likewise, if the origin of marriage wasn’t God, then we don’t need to uphold God’s intent for marriage. Suddenly our ideas become warped, as origin is in question.

You may have heard grim statistics like ‘one out of two marriages end in divorce’. As a result many people have lost faith in marriage. They’re fearful of marriage. They’ve been scared off. And these statistics simply aren’t true! Statistics actually show that 72% of people who get married are still married to that one person. It’s never come close to 50%! 

Yes marriage requires discomfort, compromise and challenge, but this is good for you! This is the nature of covenant relationships. This should be welcomed into our lives. Marriage is a sharpening tool for our character (Proverbs 27:17). Marriage is supposed to work like this! Marriage makes you better. We shouldn’t be scared of it. 

Marriage is central to our success as a person, as a society and as a Christian demonstrating the gospel. (I’m not saying that if you are single you are not successful!). 

Let’s celebrate marriage and honour marriage for the gift that it is. Don’t lose hope in God’s model and design. Find people who can breathe life into your marriage – people who can encourage you, model healthy, fun and Godly marriage for you. People who believe in your marriage! 

God has given you everything you need to succeed.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th February 2020

Tonight I arrived at the airport for my flight. Travelling solo, I carefully checked my boarding pass to ensure I was heading to the correct boarding gate – number 20. I arrived at gate 20 and the waiting seats were totally empty. Not a staff member or person in sight, and the desk was roped off. Immediately I thought that I had got the gate number wrong. I frantically checked the screen with the boarding times and flights, and then my ticket, and then the screen again … 

How often in life to we need the reassurance of others, the reassurance of the crowd, before we believe we are doing the right thing? How often do we use the crowd as our compass and measuring stick? 

A mark of a true leader is their ability to stand alone knowing what’s right, without the crowd having to convince them or make them feel good about their choice. They stick to truth despite the circumstance. 

Human nature at its core fears exclusion and loneliness. It’s in our DNA to seek out approval, inclusion and acceptance in our community and crowd, but it should never be at the price of compromising on truth. 

We are fully approved, included and already accepted by God – the one whose opinion matters. So to stand solo is really not standing solo at all. To make a maybe lonely stand for truth, and what is right, is a stand maybe not backed by the crowd, but backed by Heaven.

More than ever we need the voice of God to be louder than the voice of the crowd in our lives. Be careful that you’re not looking to the crowd for direction. Don’t go by what is “popular”. History will tell you that just because there is mass approval, it doesn’t mean it’s right. Don’t be afraid to stand solo for truth. Don’t look to the crowd to define your truth. 

To be able to stand for truth, you actually have to know the truth, otherwise you’re definitely just following the crowd! Know the truth and stand on it with confidence. 

Despite my self-doubt, I was right. I was at the correct gate. I was just the first one to arrive. 20 minutes later, and the waiting area was filled with people! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th February 2020

If you look back on your life, I am almost certain that you can think about a time when a word you heard, read or saw made a difference.

It may have been a long and terrible day, your little one wrapped their arms around you and said: “I love you”.  Or a time when you made a mistake at work that made you feel so down and a friendly co-worker reached out and said: “it could happen to anyone”. Maybe it was a simple occurrence, like you’re walking down the street and a phrase on someone’s T-shirt caught your attention and touched your heart which happened to me a few weeks ago. 

The words we see, hear or read can indeed transform our lives forever. That’s why the Bible emphasizes repeatedly the power of words.

“A person finds joy in giving an apt reply and how good is a timely word!”

– Proverbs 15:23

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

– Proverbs 25:11

“The Lord God has given me the tongue of discipleship, to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens me morning by morning; He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple.”

– Isaiah 50:4

Words are powerful! In our fast-paced, ever-changing world we have the privilege to use our words in many ways to impact the lives of others. We have the technology to express words in new ways and reach more people. We can talk to a friend in need through text. And we can send an email to a distant relative or use social media to encourage absolute strangers on the internet! We can use the word of God to really transform the lives of people we know and those we may never meet.

In the last few weeks we have seen how words spoken have had an impact over people’s lives, sadly the impact has been so negative to the point of people feeling they are not able to face this life anymore. We can destroy friendships or relationships that we spend years building instantly with a few words.  We can also use our words to completely turn around someone’s day.  It is my prayer that the latter is true for us, that we are found to be those people who speak words that are life-giving and encouraging to others.  

Now if you think about that, ask yourself this: how are you using your words and the platforms you use to express them? If you are not completely satisfied with your word-score on this question, then look around you today and find someone you can touch with your words.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th February 2020

There are one of three ways that you can live your life today. 

You can be either a risk-taker, a caretaker or an undertaker.

Many people want to live out their lives by minimising the risk. They only feel happy if they can do things by having everything sorted first — a play it safe mentality. That’s completely understandable and necessary at times; but if you always only live life like that, you will find that it becomes counter productive in that you lose the passion for doing things and you end up just being a caretaker of your life.

The caretaker kind of person basically takes care of the present to make sure that everything is carefully thought through and water tight, yet has no dream for the future. 

The undertaker only looks back at the good old days and speaks of what used to happen; you tell stories of past achievements without releasing that you have no new material to speak of. 

Yet, the risk-taker boldly marches into the future and dreams of making a better tomorrow. They live life on the edge, they attempt great things for God and expect great things from God. 

All three have their own themes…
The risk-taker – God is doing a new thing.

The caretaker – I hope nothing unusual happens today. 

The undertaker just looks around and says “what happened?”

God is the greatest risk taker of all – He risked having His son, Jesus, die on the cross for those who may or may not accept and love Him. 
Romans 5:7-8 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

The person that takes risks walks by faith and not by sight. He doesn’t worry about what he sees as obstacles in the natural, but believes that the God of the supernatural will meet everyone that is willing to step out and take risks. 

I dare you to be a risk-taker for God today. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd February 2020

Your question this morning may be “why can’t I be happy?”

Someone once said “the road to happiness is always under construction” but if you have decided you’re not going to be happy then you won’t be. We trade in (even without realising we’re trading) happiness, for moaning, complaining and negativity. 

The moment you slip into one of those three, is the moment you just traded in some of your happiness. If happiness is dependant on happenings only, then none of us will always be happy, because things don’t always go right. There has to be something far deeper than that. 

However, the minute we allow feelings and thoughts to enter our head like “why cant I be happy? I’ll never be happy, everyone else is happy but me.” You’ve just slipped closer towards unhappiness because you made a trade. 
You may lean towards the negative because of parents, or the way you were brought up. You may lean towards it because you’re not positioned correctly now ie. you’re associating with the wrong people and you’re not in a great church. 

You may lean towards the negative because you have a bad attitude about people around you being happy and life “isn’t fair”. Whatever the reason for your negativity, CHANGE IT. You may not be in charge of circumstances, but you can choose how you react to them. 

Don’t live ‘under circumstances’. My Bible tells me I am seated with Christ in heavenly places. (see Ephesians 2 vs 6) which means the circumstances of life are actually under my feet as I am seated with Christ. What a beautiful thought. 

So today, change your thoughts from “why cant I be happy?” To “God wants me happy, blessed and to live a life to the full and today I am going to walk out that truth”.

Go on, I encourage you, don’t just read that sentence, speak it out!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st February 2020

It can be easy to fall into the trap of putting your life on hold while waiting for answers, years can be spent in a holding pattern, waiting on God for breakthroughs, maybe in your health or a relationship issue. 

I want to encourage you today to ask yourself ‘in relation to this issue, what direction am I heading in?’ Basically, what are you bringing to the table by way of an answer, no matter how small?

Let me give you an example of how just small steps in the right direction can transform how you feel about the situation. There were two men – one seriously obese, struggling with depression and low self esteem, the other is super fit, playing sport daily, a picture of physical health. 
Two months pass and our overweight man has finally decided to stopped smoking and drinking, changed eating habits and walks daily. He’s already fitting into clothes he hasn’t worn for years and he feels great!

Our super fit guy has suffered a slight injury, and unable to exercise has spent most of his time in the house comfort eating, he’s put on a little weight and his skinny jeans are a little too skinny, his self esteem is at a low.

Both our men are still in reality at opposite ends of the fitness scale, but as the direction for both has changed, how they feel about their circumstances is transformed! Your direction transforms how you feel about your circumstance! 

This is great news! It means whatever is going on in your holding pattern today, wherever you feel stuck, you don’t need a genie to magic up a long awaited answer, but by making a decision to at least move in the right direction, shuffling little by little forward, you’ll soon start to feel differently about the issue!

The best set of circumstances in the world cannot guarantee happiness, but going in the right direction guarantees peace! 

Think about your life today; are you waiting on God for answers, do you feel it’s difficult to move on with life until certain situations are resolved? I want to encourage you today, get moving, make a decision, do something to begin. Do what you can no matter how small.

It may well not bring overnight success but it can bring overnight peace. 

Proverbs 15:16 | NIV Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th February 2020

I’m currently sitting in Doha, waiting for a flight to Australia. 

Looking around there’s people wearing masks, protecting themselves from potentially coming into contact with the Coronavirus. News headlines tell me that in the last 24 hours alone, there have been 5,000 new cases of the virus in China. 

And I must admit, reading the headlines and seeing everyone around me wearing masks, it’s got me questioning myself, ‘maybe I should be doing the same?’. 

While I’ve taken precautions and used wisdom, we have to be careful not to let fear win over faith. 

When the Devil operates, he is showy, loud, fear breeding. He wants all our senses to be engaged – seeing masks, hearing reports, feeling fear. 

On the contrary, God works by faith, which is often NOT by sight. Faith is about trust in the character of God. 

2 Corinthians 5:17,

‘For we live by believing and not by seeing’. 

The challenge to us is, ‘what’s our first reaction to bad news?’ 

Do we instantly jump to fear, worry and panic? Or do we have greater faith? Do we truly believe the words of Psalm 91, ‘…He will save you from the deadly pestilence…He will be your shield …you will not fear the plague…He will command His angle to protect you’…. OR do the media headlines move us more?

We either believe we are covered by the protecting blood of the cross or we don’t. Sometimes it takes real life circumstances to surface where our faith levels are really at. 

Be aware that the enemy works hard to breed fear in people. Be aware that it takes courage and trust in God to operate by faith. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th February 2020

Did you know that God is referenced to be holy more times in the Bible than He is referenced being love? Of course God is love, but equally, perhaps even more so, He is Holy. 

Could we live up to God’s standard of holy? No, but thank God for Jesus by whom we are brought to God’s standard. 

This doesn’t mean God hates sin any less than He did before Jesus’ death. God isn’t less Holy today than He was pre-Jesus’ death.

God still hates sin today. Not because He wants us to follow rules, but because He made us and knows that sin violates our design. Fun, for a bit maybe, but the Bible says that the fruit of sin is ultimately death (not necessarily literally death, but lack of life in relationships, emotions, mind, heart etc). 

Holy isn’t a fun word. Our generation especially struggles with the reality that sin has consequences. An emphasis on God being gracious and loving is more palatable, and true, but let us not forget that God is also holy. We need to view God through the lenses of both love AND holiness. 

God is grieved by sin. We should live with a sensitivity to honour God and the price He paid so we no longer need ties to sin. 

At salvation we receive the Holy Spirit…and He LIVES and walks with us as we live out our everyday Christianity. 

If we are sensitive to His nudgings, we will feel when something is grieving Him. After all, He is the HOLY Spirit. 

Be careful not to project your version of God onto Him. God is not defined by you. He is self-defining, and He defines Himself as Holy. That means there’s something in us as Christians, who respect God’s hatred for sin and trust His intentions toward us. And God in His goodness has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us and protect us.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.  

Fresh Hope – 18th February 2020

What’s life if not the accumulation of the choices we make? In Deuteronomy 30 it says we all make a choice, life or death? It seems like a no brainer, who would choose death? In reality, the majority. Here’s just one example of two young men where the first chooses death and the other life. 

Both our guys are at the age where hormones are surging and all of a sudden the female form is everything. There’s two choices: to be disciplined and keep away from temptation, or instant gratification in the form of pornography.

Our first guy makes his choice and too easily accesses explicit images online leaving nothing to the imagination. Photoshopped, unrealistically perfected images that are difficult to unsee flood the mind. Instant gratification is soon replaced by instant guilt which creates a barrier of shame in his relationship with God. This then serves to make it easier to compromise moving forward and aided by the natural release of powerful hormones in the brain, very difficult to break habits are quickly formed. Not just a life of guilt follows but problems being intimate with any future partner are formed. The number one reason for intimacy difficulties in marriage is pornography. Failed relationships add to the catalogue of issues resulting from choosing death, this along with a life of guilt seem to mark out the whole of this person’s life. 

John 10:10 | A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy

Now the second has chosen life, with the same temptations and hormones, he makes effort to keep himself as far from any temptation as possible, he’s set apart not just for his future partner but for God. It’s not easy but it’s much easier in the long run than having to deal with the fallout of addiction and guilt of pornography. He makes wise decisions to be disciplined and to keep away from certain materials, making tough calls to sacrifice and not watch the same programmes that all his friends seem to have no issue with watching. A choice is made every day not to leer at girls and to have a disciplined mind.

In time, a relationship comes along and it begins in the best way; intimacy and closeness haven’t been compromised by the effects that come from indulging the senses with inappropriate images. A healthy fruitful partnership is formed as they serve God side by side for life! 

This is just one example of the choices we make, for some it may be poor use of money, chasing wrong relationships or substance abuse. You may feel it’s too late, that you’ve already chosen death, God is faithful and uses all things together for the good of those who love him. Repent today, make a decision to change bad habits, and little by little start making the choices that lead to life! 

John 10:10 | A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so everyone would have life, and have it fully. 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th February 2020

In the early 1900’s, cotton farmers in Alabama were facing the extinction of their crops. A tiny insect called the Boll weevil had migrated from Mexico and was eating its way through the cotton plantation.

The farmers tried everything they could to get rid of the infestation. They even tried to exterminate it with all kinds of new chemicals, but all to no avail. All they could do was to sit back and watch it happen.

As the darkest days for all the farmers lay ahead, one of them came up with an idea. He said, “instead of planting our normal cotton crops, let’s plant peanuts.” Everyone thought he was crazy; they knew they couldn’t even make a living from them, or so they thought.

However, as they went ahead with the peanut plan, they soon realised that the Boll weevils didn’t like the taste of them, and instead, the crops took off in a way they had never seen. Each of the farmers were now making more in a month than what they had previously done in a whole year before. In fact, many of the farmers never went back to the cotton trade again. They stuck with the peanuts.

At the time, everything for the farmers seemed bleak, but amazingly God used even the Boll weevil to bless them and bring them into a new level of prosperity.

Right now you maybe facing a setback, but God is really positioning you for a comeback. My encouragement to you is to stay in faith and God will turn things around. He works in mysterious ways. What may seem like that its sent to destroy you, God can use to bring about something far greater in your life.

Make your stumbling stones your stepping stones today.

We find in the Old Testament, the account of Isaac living in a double famine; not just one famine, but one right after another causing the land to be desolate. He could have just sat there and complained about his circumstances, but instead we read…

Genesis 26:12-14 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him.

Whenever I’ve hit a financial crisis, I’ve learnt that its not time to moan and complain but its a time to sow even more.

Whatever is going on in your life today, make a decision not to be intimidated by lack, but to see that God is going to bring about your deliverance through it.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th February 2020

Everyone wants success. Success comes by knowing God’s Word and applying it to our lives. Joshua 1 vs 8 says “meditate on the Word of God day and night and then you will be successful in whatever you do.” Notice ‘and then’ – the principal followed by the promise. 

You’ll only know God’s word, if you read God’s word. ‘Why will this make me successful?’, you may ask…

The Bible gives us everything we need for life.  
It tells us how much God loves us and that He has a great plan for our lives. 
It tells me that even when I feel the opposite, I can trust in His word.  

It tells me that even when I feel like everyone is against me, He is for me. It tells me principals for life including marriage, parenting, business and money. It talks about forgiveness and healing.  
It talks about salvation and restoration. 
The Bible covers everything!

When I walk in the truth of God’s word EVERY DAY, I WILL be successful. But if I don’t read it, then I won’t know it. 

Romans 10 v 17 says that faith comes by hearing (reading) the word of God. Even if I’m in a situation right now that is not good, I can take the word of God, believe it and apply it. That in turn will give me faith. It’s better to walk in faith, than doubt. 

A double minded man (see James ch 1) will receive nothing.  
And when I am faith-filled and when I trust God, THEN I will live a successful life. 
Take God’s word today. Read it. Apply it. Love it. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th February 2020

There are three types of love described in the Greek language.

The first is Phileo.

This describes brotherly or sisterly love; the love of friendship and companionship; the affection between two friends.

Secondly is Eros.

This describes romantic love (this needs no explanation).

Thirdly, there is Agape.

This is described as the selfless love of one person for another. It is this description of love that best describes the love of God or Christ for humanity. 
Jesus demonstrated this love when he gave up his life willingly for humanity He stood in each of our place and took on the punishment and judgement that was rightfully due to us. His sacrifice demonstrated the love he was calling his disciples and his future followers to demonstrate.

John 13:12-17
Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Jesus was so close to death when he spoke these words. Fully God and fully man, Jesus knew full well what was awaiting him after his last meal. His last few hours of freedom were spent with people that would soon abandon him. Yet, with this knowledge what was his response? He wrapped a towel around his waist, bent down, assumed the posture of a servant, and washed the feet of, a betrayer (Judas), a denier (Peter), and 10 Deserters (the remaining disciples)
John 13:7 – Jesus said ‘You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ 
Jesus wanted his friends to understand and experience first hand the love of agape ‘I love you more than I love myself, and I do not demand anything from you.’ A love lavished upon them when they least deserved it. A love undeserved.

Later, most, but sadly not all, would look back and understand what Jesus was saying as he washed and rinsed their feet.
‘I forgive you in advance for your upcoming, epic fail. Though it will surprise you, remember that it does not surprise me. My love will still be here when you return.’

Today, I want to remind you that you are loved! Even on our worst day, God the Father is like the father in the parable of the prodigal son who demonstrates a relentless love that pursues us and unashamedly declares love for us. We ALL need this kind of unconditional, audacious love! It is a love available to us all when we accept Jesus and come into a relationship with him. The experience of this love and sharing it with others, has the power to change our lives and those around us. Ultimately, this love has the power to transform our world. 

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th February 2020

We all have a story. The fact that you are sitting and reading this means that you have experiences completely unique to you.

It is human nature to want to present the best sides of ourselves. It can be tempting to hide our struggles because we want to be perceived in a particular way.

A challenge for all of us today is to be our authentic selves, flaws and all. The Bible says that where we are weak, God is our strength. Your struggles could encourage someone else today.

That redundancy that you overcame? It may push someone experiencing unemployment to their breakthrough.

Those children that you prayed so hard for? They may just show other couples God’s faithfulness.

Your past mistakes and how God changed your life may show someone the way out of their sin.

You never know whose faith can be lifted by your story. The greats that we read about in the Bible faced major struggles and made huge mistakes – God still uses their stories to encourage us today, on our own journey.

‭‭‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬ ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”’

‬‬Never be ashamed of your testimony. God can use it in the most amazing ways. Nothing is wasted.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th February 2020

At one point or another we will all come face to face with disappointment. Disappointment is a product of unmet expectation, delayed dreams and hope deferred. It can be a real painful pang deep in our hearts and comes in all shapes and sizes. Maybe that promotion you’ve been working toward for years wasn’t offered to you, perhaps a loved one is ill and you are still waiting on healing, maybe someone you care about didn’t come through like you wanted them to, you let down yourself, or there is a promise from God that He seems to have forgotten. 

Disappointment is a reality of life, but it is so important that we learn how to overcome it before we find it taking root in our hearts and turning into depression, resentment or rebellion. 

So how can we deal with disappointment? 

1. Acknowledge it! Don’t deny your feelings of disappointment by covering them up and ignoring them. Recognise them and share them with God. Even David a mighty warrior and ‘a man after God’s own heart’ said, ‘My eyes fail, looking for my God’ (Psalm 69:2–3). Why would God include someone expressing their disappointment in Him, in scripture? I believe God is secure enough to let us know that disappointment is part of the Christian life and acknowledging it and expressing it to God is part of processing it. 

2. Choose joy! If ‘the joy of the Lord is my strength’ (Psalm 28:7) then that means the level of my strength is determined by my level of my joy. Happiness is to do with happenings, which changes all the time. Joy is choice. The level at which we believe God loves us, cannot be determined by our circumstance, it needs always to be defined by the finished work of cross! That is our reference point and reminder, and source of joy. 1 Thessalonians 16 – 18 says, ‘be joyful always’. ‘Always’ implies always – good times and bad!

3. Surrender! Nothing feels quite as good as just letting go. Coming to the end of yourself so God can carry you in the pain. Habakkuk knew what it was to surrender to God and choose joy. When it was revealed that his country would be destroyed, he concluded: 

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

Find hope today that truth reigns over your feelings. Trust the nature and goodness of God, despite what your feelings and circumstance tell you. 

Proverbs 3:5 ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.’

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th February 2020

Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken through, is a person who lacks self-control.

Every supermarket nowadays has a very basic range of products in order to appeal to shoppers that want or need to purchase goods at the lowest possible value.

We are all aware of entry level ranges that carry labels like ‘smart price’, ‘basics’ or ‘value range’.

Those special labels that we have come to recognise, help us to identify quality at affordable prices, knowing that there is not going to be anything of a better value than this. The supermarket branding is telling us that this is the lowest we can go. There is no need to search for a bargain, as this is it!

As we search in life for what is of great value today, we have to come to a point of understanding that there is a very basic entry level to which we can go and no lower. If we go any lower in the way we conduct ourselves, then we have passed the point of being effective and helping anyone out there today.

The basics of our faith can be displayed at the very least in three areas…our Mouth, our Mind and our Moods.

The labels on the value range of our faith have got to be displayed in us being trustworthy, having integrity, and living honestly.

If you are living below the very basics of who we are, then we are living below the ‘spiritual poverty line’. You cannot live any lower than that and profess to be a Christian.

Stop blaming everyone else for your mouth, mind and mood. The only way others can influence you is by you allowing them to.

One translation of the above verse, says…’ like a city whose walls are broken down, is a man who has no rule over his spirit’.

Its time to get back to basics and start taking rule over your own life.

Stop telling half truths which are really lies. Stop compromising your stance on things which really means you are afraid to be counted. Stop making lame excuses for being late, stop being in a mood and ripping into someone with your tongue again.

Your values have been compromised and there is no one to blame but yourself.

Ask God to forgive you right now, and then ask Him to fill you with His power so that you can be an overcomer. Now start to live a life that is worthy of Gods calling on you.

You can’t do it alone but WITH God all things are possible.

Colossians 1:10 … live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th February 2020

Discipline and routine is good. It develops character, creates the momentum for consistency, and brings order into our lives. 

Be careful with routine though. Routine risks us coming into a place of ‘just going through the motions’. 

How often do we give out of routine, or complacency, forgetting the ‘why’ behind what we are doing? In our routines we can become comfortable and complacent.  

If we are simply routine in giving – giving of money, time, energy, it no longer becomes a sacrifice for us. Our routine of giving is just something to ease our conscience, not something that costs us something, not a true sacrifice. 

The purpose of sacrifice is to transform us, not to ease our conscience. Our giving, our sacrifices, should be done with reason, not just routine.  God falls on sacrifice – that which we give him, that which has cost us something. When something truly costs us, it is challenging and uncomfortable. This is good. 

Be careful in your relationships that they are no longer void of costing you something. Our relationships should be causing us to sacrifice –our comfort, our time, our effort, our money (this does not mean you should be in draining, compromising or damaging relationships). Don’t just look for relationships that squeeze into your routine and comfortable bubble. God is moved by relationships that cost us something. 

God is moved by sacrifice. When giving challenges us, it is transforming us.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th February 2020

Do you remember your first encounter with Jesus? 
The word ‘encounter’ simply means to ‘run into’. When we ‘run into God’, that is the best thing that can happen to us. 
We need those encounters, because only an encounter with God can transform us and give us purpose and direction like no other.

Sometimes when life has beaten us down, we are worn out, or just tired of being disappointed, it can be hard for us to seek in those times or remember those times we have already had… Those times when we experienced God in a fresh and real way. 

Through His faithfulness in my own life, there are a couple of things I have learned about God encounters: 

  1. Don’t fear the encounter.

We often fear what we don’t understand. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1 v 7) 
Don’t worry that God isn’t going to show up. You will encounter Him. We spend more of our time worrying about life than actually living life. The recipe for God’s peace is clear.  Do not worry about anything. Pray about everything. Tell Him what you need. Thank Him for what He’s already done. (Philippians 4v6).

2. The promises He gives us are true 

God promises that He will always be with you and will never forsake you (Deuteronomy 31 v 8). Sometimes it can be really easy to forget the living presence of Jesus in our lives because we can get complacent or we can make excuses to not spend time with Jesus. We can easily forget what God has done for us. His word is full of promises, it’s when we spend time in His presence that He reveals those and speaks those promises to us. 

Let us all be patient between those God Encounters, expectant of future ones, and thankful for the miracles He’s already done in our lives. God Encounters often will come at the perfect time and often in ways in which we don’t fully understand. God chooses us all, but it is only those who respond and are available to that call that really encounter Him. We need to ask ourselves, “Are we available for Him?” 

Let’s start spending time with Jesus and His Word and as you do that, you will encounter Him… and those moments have the potential to be life-changing. 

Natalie Bloxwich

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th February 2020

Sometimes we can be presented with a chance to share something important and it’s up to us to seize the opportunity. 

I love the perseverance of Paul in Acts 20:7-12.

Paul was speaking to the people of Troas but he wasn’t going to be there long so took the opportunity to use the time to the fullest and kept talking until midnight. 

However, the late-night talking and dim lighting got a bit too much for a man named Eutychus, who nodded off and fell out of a third storey window. 

Verse 9 (NIV) says ‘he was picked up dead.’

Not ideal for Paul during his message.

However, Paul went outside, threw his arms around Eutychus and he came back to life. The chapter then goes on to say that they all went back inside, had supper and Paul carried on telling faith stories until dawn.

Paul quite literally talked someone to death, rose them from the dead, took them back inside and carried on talking.

Paul had something important to say.

Sometimes we can feel like Paul. Sometimes we can feel like when we are sharing the good news to people in our world that it falls on deaf ears. It can be disheartening when the person we keep inviting to church doesn’t come. But Paul didn’t get disheartened by the death in the middle of his message. 

In verse 12, it says ‘the people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.’

Paul’s perseverance in sharing the Word of God resulted in people leaving greatly comforted, not annoyed that he’d (momentarily) bored someone to death. 

God didn’t punish Eutychus for not listening; his life was restored and he was given another opportunity. 

Like God perseveres with us, we should continue to persevere with others. Continue to encourage people with Godly words. Continue to invite people to church. 

Nights of Hope are approaching; it’s the perfect opportunity for lives and hope to be restored.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th February 2020

Afford yourself the luxury of having time to think.

Busy-ness is what seems to give us our identity.

When asked how you are, the standard answer always seems to be ‘busy thanks, how are you?’ … ‘I’m busy too, really busy.’

It’s as if the 21st century has inbred a sense of failure or weakness into us, if we are not constantly busy.

Being busy seems to be a way of hiding the real me. It’s a way of saying ‘I’m really needed’, ‘I’m important’, ‘I haven’t got a minute’, ‘I have a full diary.’ ‘I’m successful.’

Is it possible that you are a busy fool? Or maybe you are pretending to be so busy so that you don’t come across as unsuccessful, without any purpose.

One of the tensions in our house is trying to get my wife to sit down for a few minutes. Her standard reply is one of two things: “there’s too much to do” or “ “I feel guilty if I stop and sit down.”

My standard reply always goes like this: “if you feel guilty about stopping, then you have a problem.”

Every one of us needs to be guilt free when it comes down to making time to think.

Without thinking time, you lose your way in life.

Without thinking time, things get out of proportion.

Without thinking time, you lose perspective.

Without thinking time, you lose sight of God.

Without thinking time, you are prone to make wrong choices.

Dedicate a chair in your home as a thinking chair and stop seeing that ceasing from work is wrong and start to see that thinking is a necessary form of work that helps keep our lives on track.

Thinking punctuates our lives and gives them greater meaning and effectiveness. Sit down today and allow yourself a little luxury thinking time.

Proverbs 23v7 ‘As a man thinks… so is he.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th February 2020

Life can throw us some unexpected curveballs. Things can be different to how you imagined, prayed or planned. 

Perhaps we are living in the product of our poor choices, and it’s not good.  BUT there is ALWAYS hope with God. 

Romans 8:28 says, ‘And we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’. 

If you love God, and if you have been called (which you have), then God is working whatever situation you are in for good. 

God doesn’t just have a plan A and if that doesn’t work, then we are stuffed. God has a plan A, a plan B, a plan C and a plan D… and He can work the plan D to be as brilliant as plan A!

Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection was never plan A, as glorious as all that was… that was plan B. Plan A was walking closely with God in the Garden of Eden, in perfect unity and relationship, but sin brought plan B into motion, and God in His goodness made a way where perfect unity and relationship with God was possible again. 

God is bigger than you. His grace and abilities far outweighs the worst choices or situations you could possibly make for yourself. He works all things for good. So if things aren’t good yet, God isn’t done yet. 

Yes they’re consequences to actions, but with a repentant and surrendered heart, there is nothing God cannot move, shake, transform and remake. 

Instead of focusing on what has gone wrong, or what could go wrong, focus on what God can make right. Focus on the impossible that God can pull off, not just despite the bad, but actually USING the bad and the ugly, turning it into something good and beautiful! God said he will turn ALL THINGS for good…not some things…ALL THINGS!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th February 2020

Did you know that 90% of our communication with one another is done not through words, butbody language? 

Actions literally speak louder than words. 

People will notice what you do, more than what you say. They will hear your words, but follow your actions. 

Our actions are constantly communicating something. 

In our relationships we are saying something through our actions. If we say someone is important to us, but rarely make time for them, what we are actually communicating is that they are not that important to us. If we say we are available to someone, but don’t bother replying to their messages, we are really saying that they are not that important. If we say we value a friendship but forget important dates, and are never giving, then we are communicating that they aren’t worth it to us. If we are arriving late to appointments with people, we are communicating that we don’t respect them enough to honour their time. Our actions can seem small and insignificant, but constantly communicate loud and clear messages. 

We have all failed in communicating what we really want to. This isn’t to shame anyone. 

This Christmas just gone, the Queen gave her annual Christmas Day speech. Her overarching message, was ‘small steps not giant leaps bring about the most lasting change’. We crave the big, dramatic leaps of life – but it is in the small steps, the small choices, that bring about the most meaningful changes. The most lasting change is in the seemingly insignificant honouring of someone’s time, a thank you message, a reply or response, an honouring gift on a special date or just for no reason, an unexpected phone call to see how someone is going, listening carefully, following up on someone who has told you they are struggling. These small gestures make for a lasting difference. We want to change the world, but it starts with the small things we are already communicating. 

1 John 3:18 says, ‘…let us not love in word or talk, but in action and deed’. James 2:17 says, ‘…faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead’ and ‘be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves’.  

God is not looking for big, grand, noble acts from us, He is looking for the ongoing, daily personal sacrifice, and honouring of others. Jesus shines through how we do relationships. A transformed city (a big change), starts with valuing people in the small and seemingly insignificant things (small steps). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd February 2020

Pearls of wisdom for a Monday morning …

  • Upgrade to the size of your future
  • Don’t read your child’s school report as though it were a prophecy. 
  • Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen —Sir Winston Churchill
  • The most significant achievement of our age is not that man stood on the moon, but that God, through Jesus walked upon the earth —Astronaut James Irwin.
  • We stand tallest when we are on our knees. 
  • Stop everyday and look at the size of God. 
  • The future belongs to those that see possibilities before it becomes obvious. 
  • Giving is the highest level of living. 
  • Our confidence is not in answered prayer, but in the fact that God hears us. 
  • When your output is more than your input then your upkeep becomes your downfall
  • When Jesus said ‘ I am with you always..’ He didn’t make a promise, He stated a fact. 

And finally…If at first you don’t succeed – you’re normal.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st February 2020

Moses’ mother hid him in a basket because she didn’t want him to die.  That basket signified a lot of things, but one thing it shows us about his mother is that she was a defender. When God has a special plan or purpose, defend it.When God shows you something precious, defend it. When you see the significance you have in God, defend it. 

The Bible tells me that Satan comes to steal and kill and destroy.  (John 10 vs 10). Would we willingly leave our front door open for robbers to come and help themselves? Of course not! So why do we let the enemy steal from us?

Our joy – at the first sign of trouble or difficulty it goes out the window. Our peace – when we take our focus off God and not onto God, we lose peace. Our faith – when we start to let doubts in and don’t keep trusting His word.  

You may have played the part of a defender in sport, you are there to stop the opposing team (the enemy) score a goal.  A defender has to be switched on and diligent.  Not with their focus elsewhere or asleep.

The Bible says “we are not unaware of the devil’s schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2 vs 11)

Watch out my friend.  Be alert today.  Don’t get robbed of your joy, your destiny or your purpose.  
Be a DEFENDER.   Do whatever you can, with whatever you have, to defend the life of God in you and those around you. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.