Fresh Hope – 31st August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More coming up on Monday…

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Love thy neighbour as you love yourself’

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

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

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

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

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th August 2020

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 4:18 says, ‘So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’.

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th August 2020

Can faith and doubt co-exist? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 88:3, Psalm 89:46 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 6:25-27, 34 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christine Mudenha 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th August 2020

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

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

 1. Boredom. 

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

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

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

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

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

2. You struggle to manage your tongue. 

The inability to manage your mouth will destroy your life. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th August 2020

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

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

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

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

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

 1. Proclaiming the kingdom of God

 2. Healing the sick. 

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

If we start, God will help us. 

To step out in faith: 

Step one: Start with God, not with us. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

God will respond to our obedience with His blessing. 

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

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

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

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

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

God moves through action and obedience. 

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th August 2020

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

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

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

It is a lie. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Gillian 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th August 2020

For things to be different, something has to change.

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

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

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

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

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

Recently, normal routines for most of the world stopped.

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

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

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

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

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Second, acknowledge your weakness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st August 2020

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

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

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

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

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.