Fresh Hope – 31st October 2020

Psalm 1 says “Blessed is the man who does not walk in step with the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. But whose delight is in the law of the Lord and on it he meditates it day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, who yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”

We all like the last bit “and whatever he does prospers.” Yes! We would all like that. Okay – so let’s take note then…

It’s important where you walk and who you walk with. It’s important where you stand and where you sit. They are all actions.

Walk is an action and walking in wicked ways is your choice. Relationships are of the utmost importance. Who you spend time with will either help or hinder you. 

Stand Speaks to me of “who do you stand with, and what do you stand for?”

Now more than ever, it’s vital we stand for the right things. 

Sit is a definite choice.  You can go to someone’s house, but you will only sit down if you’re comfortable.  Where are you sitting today my friend and what are you comfortable with?
Our actions and choices will determine whether we are blessed and prosperous. That’s God’s word.  It’s always true.   

“But his delight is in God’s word, he meditates on it day and night.” Wow! You can only meditate on something if it’s in there to meditate on. So read it and ponder on it. Read it and believe it.  Read it and declare it.  Read it and love it. 

You want the receipe for being blessed? Simple, read Psalm 1.

You’ll be fresh and green, and when everything around you maybe withering, you won’t be.  That’s beautiful. That’s God. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th October 2020

It is true to say that the current season that we are in has its challenges! For Christians, regardless of personality, position or circumstance, there is an incredible opportunity to show a desperate, fearful world how to face such challenges and win!

If you want to ultimately succeed in life, you need to do it the Jesus way. His kingdom perspective, attractiveness to people, generosity, extravagant love and care for those in need, as well as His focus, genuine enjoyment of life, disregard for the unimportant, and seeming ability to ‘win’ in all situations flowed from his willingness to do His Father’s will and live a life surrendered to His Father’s word.

When Jesus got baptised, the Holy Spirit descended not on talent, title or worldly possessions but upon a totally submitted heart, mind and spirit.

The authority that then followed was both deep and enduring because it was not placed on position, or possessions (in other words temporary things) but on a life that was in total surrender to an eternal God.

As a Jesus follower ‘to live as Jesus lived, walk as Jesus walked and talk as Jesus talked’, you need to be asking for help from the Holy Spirit to help you submit and surrender, as Jesus did .
I’ll conclude with this thought from Pastor Craig Groeschel:
‘Do what you can do, anywhere you can’t, surrender control. Surrender is not a one-time event. Surrender is a daily choice. Our God can do way more with our surrender than He can do with our control. You don’t always have the power to control, but you do always have the power to surrender.

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th October 2020

Your words create your world. If you are finding yourself sitting in a state of depression and hopelessness, let’s backtrack and look at what is coming out of your mouth. 

Being made in the image of God, we have the ability to create with our words. God built the world from the power of His word. We too have this ability. We too can build our world from our words. In fact, we are CALLED to shape our world with our tongue. 

Equally, our words can carry death. Life and death is in the power of your tongue (Proverbs 18:21). 

There is a lot we could be negative about right now. There is much we could complain about. There is a lot of doom and gloom we could profess. But be careful. Your words are seeds. Be careful what seeds you are sowing, because tomorrow you will reap the harvest of what you have sown today. 

If you sow seeds of life and hope, tomorrow you will walk in it. If you sow seeds of despair, you will walk in it. This is not Karma, or ‘fake it till you make it thinking’. This is a kingdom principal. 

Declare the truth of God! (By the way, if you don’t know what the truth of God is, get reading your Bible)! 

Watch your words in this season. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th October 2020

Colossians 3:2 says, ‘Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things’. 

There is a lot going on, on the earth at the moment. The state of the earth is heavy on our minds. It is so easy for the ‘earthly things’ of today to be all-consuming. 

The challenge from Colossians is to reset our mind. 

In the words of Romans 12:2, do not conform to the way everyone else is thinking in these days, but change your thinking, and it will change you! 

1 Corinthians 2:16 actually says that we have been equipped with the mind of Christ! That means we carry the ability to see things from God’s perspective. We have the ability to see things from a different angle, from an angle of hope – seeing things the way God sees them. We can see things from Heaven down. 

Rather than viewing the affairs of today through our earthly eyes, let us set our mind on a heavenly order and perspective. Let’s perceive from the mind of Christ, not the mind of the world. 

If your viewpoint isn’t one of hope, redemption, and restoration, you are probably not thinking from the mind of Christ! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th October 2020

If you pour a kettle over a tea bag and the colour of the water doesn’t change you instantly know what the issue is. You forgot to boil the kettle.

You can make tea with cold water but it takes a long time for the flavour to diffuse out of the tea bag.

Heat is needed. When water molecules are heated they move about faster and so more effectively penetrate the tea bag drawing out the flavour.

In our lives we are all trying to make a good cup of tea (bear with me if you don’t like tea).

You can spend your life making a weak insipid cold cup or you can make a lovely attractive hot brew!

It all depends on your heat. The thing is no one really enjoys being in hot water, but it’s vital if we want to grow and be stretched.

There are many examples of how heat is used to refine valuable sought after items, such as gold in a furnace, and our lives are the same. If you really want to make the most of life and enjoy it (which I believe is important, why would God want us to be miserable?) I encourage you to embrace being in the hot water of the trials we face. Don’t just see them as a nuisance to be dealt with as soon as possible before you can even consider moving on and being happy.

See them as challenges to be won, be competitive in them, try and see that your capacity to deal with things and lead others in life is increasing as you go through that trial.

There will (if you’re alive) always be some kind of hot water, imagine living a whole life where you are never stretched or come up against an obstacle? So the sooner we can change our mind set to see the positives of going through the trial the better.

As you read this today you may well be in hot water! Trust God and keep stewing, it is bringing (if you choose so) the flavour of God into your life, increasing your ability to carry loads and lead people in your life!

You can make tea with cold water, but who would enjoy it? Keep stewing!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th October 2020

I’d put it off for long enough and the day came when I could delay no longer. The upstairs windows of our home needed cleaning on the outside, and because of the autumn sunshine I was embarrassed at how dirty they actually were.

Out came the ladders and as I got on the top rung, the feelings that I only knew too well started to kick in.

I clung on for dear life as I started to speak out loud to myself the words ‘Mark, you can do this.’

Growing up, I had battled majorly with a fear of heights, that was until God really got a hold of my fear and ever since I’ve been able to climb a ladder. Simple for some, but not for me.

The old fears still creep back in and nervously standing on the top rung of the ladder was no exception.

One of the things I’d found helped me combat my fears was only to focus forward and to never look down or look back.

The more I kept my eyes fixed forwards, the more at ease I became until my fear vanished once again, and the windows were sparking clean.

We can often gain wisdom through the simple everyday things of life and at the same time learn to appreciate the power of what the Bible has to say at the same time.

When Peter asked Jesus if he could step out of the boat and walk on the water to Him, he received a positive YES, however the moment he started to look down and look around him he started to sink with fear.

How often do we mistake fear as a sign that God is saying no, when in reality God has already said yes, but fear is holding you back?

Today, fix your eyes upwards and forwards and stop allowing fear to paralyse you by looking down and looking back.

I had to make up my mind that those windows had to be cleaned, so I had no choice but to feel the fear and do them anyway.

If you’re scared by what Jesus has said yes to, then do it scared, otherwise you’ll start to drown in your own doubt, fears and inadequacies.

What is holding you back today?

What’s stopping you fulfilling your purpose in life?

Take courage from these words and move on.

John 6:16-21 ‘In the evening his disciples went down to the sea, got in the boat, and headed back across the water to Capernaum. It had grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned. A huge wind blew up, churning the sea. They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless, but he reassured them, “It’s me. It’s all right. Don’t be afraid.” So they took him on board. In no time they reached land—the exact spot they were headed to.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th October 2020

There is a time when Jesus is recorded in the Bible as having done something that at first glance, appears rather uncharitable. Not typical of the loving, caring Jesus we know, but it looked like a different side of Him that you wouldn’t expect based on our experiences of Him previously, or what you may have heard of Him.

In Mark 1 verses 32 to 39, we read about Jesus healing many people in a certain town, in fact, the whole town gathered where He was, and word quickly spread about Him healing the sick and where to find Him.

Then early the next morning, Jesus leaves the crowd for some quiet time praying, and when His disciples find Him, He says they can’t go back although more people had come to see Him. This at first glance seems very inconsiderate of Jesus. People had seen miracles yesterday resulting in more coming today looking for healing, why was He evading them and going elsewhere?

But rather than being inconsiderate, this example by Jesus is an important indicator of how we should live our lives, especially during the pandemic we are in at the moment.

The time, the place and the way in which we find Jesus is not only unique to you, but does not have to be the same as when God spoke to you before. Your miracle is not determined by the way someone else received their miracle even though they might have gone through the same thing you are going through. Chasing after the miracles you heard have happened before is different from seeking Jesus, and what He wants is for us to follow Him, not the things He has done for us before.

If our only desire is to go back to the way things were before the pandemic because maybe the experiences we were used to made us feel closer to Jesus, then, we will miss the beauty of the relationship with Christ. Just as no two sunsets are ever the same, every day is a new experience with Christ. Our faith should not be tied to rituals, but to an earnest desire to seek and find Him.

Make the decision to find Jesus in the beautiful way He is working in your life today.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd October 2020

How strong do you feel right now?   Not strong at all, you may say.  Life happens, stuff happens and sucks out all of our strength.

 This week, I have been reading through some of the Old Testament book, Nehemiah.  Here was a man who was called to rebuild the ruins for God’s people. Boy, was that hard.  He faced rejection, intimidation, opposition, he was probably worn out, but he knew God had called him to do it. We can be right in the centre of God’s will AND STILL go through some rough stuff!I love Nehemiah, he was so determined.  He did not get put off by the people who questioned his every move and tried to deter him from the work. 

This year, you may have felt so far, that your strength has depleted. Maybe you have faced rejection, intimidation & opposition.  Fear not! You are in good company. 

In Nehemiah 8 vs 10 – we get this beautiful verse.  “The joy of the Lord, is your strength”
I want you to hear this… the strength is not your responsibility (it’s God’s). Your responsibility is the joy. 

If you’re feeling weak right now, I’m going to challenge you about your joy. Where has it gone?
You can go through bad and difficult times, yet still know the joy of the Lord. If the enemy can rob us of our joy… BINGO. He has won. Why? Because your joy is what brings God’s strength into your life.

So today, spend time in His presence and in His word.  Thank Him for the things you have and stop concentrating on the things you don’t have. Ask Him to fill you with joy.  It won’t just happen.  Sometimes you have to battle for it. 

My friend, the JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH. No need to be weak anymore.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd October 2020

We live in an instant culture. We love immediate gratification and we struggle with process. We are a generation of instant dinners, self-serve checkouts, faster internet and quicker phones. Retailers are getting on to same-day delivery services, apps allow us to get cars, a date, food,and a myriad of other services as quickly as possible and with minimal effort. . . but it comes at a price!

It is no wonder that when it comes our spiritual lives we often crumble in the midst of having to wait and perservere. 

Adding to our quickening culture, social media convinces us that life is a whole heap of mountaintops and surely anyone godly, blessed or even normal doesn’t go through trials and tribulations! 

Scripture says over and over again that it is through the testing, the waiting and even the pain, that we grow, are trained and prepared for the peaks of life. 

I see it first hand teaching high schoolers. The groans and complaints when they are handed a new assignment says it all! Many of them hate the idea of process and hard work. They want the good results, but they don’t want to put in the energy required. Any educator can tell you that it is in the toil, learning from mistakes, and perseverance in overcoming problems, that the most learning and brain development is made. Embracing this process of resiliency is called having a ‘growth mindset’. 

If we trust the nature of God and know that He is infallibly good, then we can embrace process and pain, knowing that it will produce a strengthening of spirit and gold in our lives. 

That is why Paul says in 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’.

Imagine trusting the nature of God so much, that you take joy in the struggle knowing the fruit of the trial is on its way! 

God cares about your character and maturity, far more than He cares about you getting instant gratification. 

Next time you see a champion take gold at the Olympics, don’t forget the grueling years of training behind it. When you see a student graduate, remember the hours of sacrificed time and dedication to reach that achievement. When a baby is born, don’t forget that it took nine months  of growth and development before it was ready for the world. When the person next to you finally has a miracle take place in their lives, don’t forget the hours of prayer and pain behind that breakthrough. 

Process and perseverance is not from the devil, it is part of the kingdom of God. Let God do what He wants to in and through you! He knows what He is doing!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st October 2020

How we process the times we are in is really important. It can be easy to capitulate to the spirit of the age – one of doom and gloom, depression and negativity. I’m not saying we ignore our disappointments and frustrations, but what we do with them is vital.

We need to be people who perceive what is happening through the eyes of God. 

As people of God, we are actually born for times like these! We carry the spirit of God, we carry a hope and perspective that is counter-cultural! We process trials and tests differently. We carry a champion spirit – the spirit of a victor and an overcomer. This is our time to step up as people of faith, not of fear! 

May our lives be a testament to the peace, joy, and promise that God offers the world. Let’s carry the presence of God in these days. 

Kris Vallotton offers some brilliant wisdom on how to process these times: 

1. Remember your core values. Remember what you are about. If we don’t develop our core values in these times, the world will shape them for us. 

2. Feed your mind on the truth. ‘When you meditate on the word of God you are bulldozing new neural pathways in your brain that train your mind with TRUTH.’

3. Feelings are great servants, but terrible masters. Don’t allow them to dictate your life. Acknowledge them, take them to God, but don’t set up camp with them. 

4. Don’t let varying opinions divide you. A family is connected by love, not an agreement of opinions. Don’t let people’s differing opinions cause division – physically or in your heart. 

5. Guard your heart against offence. The enemy is looking for gateways in this season. His strategy is always divide and conquer. Protect yourself against relational division. Stay connected even in offence.  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th October 2020

Famous failures…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you going to trust Him today? 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th October 2020

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

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

The power of proximity!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fresh Hope – 15th October 2020

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

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

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

1) Know who to speak to

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

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

2) Watch what you’re saying

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

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

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

3) Listen carefully

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

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

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

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

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th October 2020

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

We have lost our sense of control. 

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

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

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

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

What if being uncomfortable is good for us? 

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

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

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

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

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

1. Rest in God.

2. Open your heart to learn from this time.

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th October 2020

God never wastes a hurt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th October 2020

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

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

Three things that trees do to prepare for winter:

1. They grow strong roots

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

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

2. They slow down

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

3. They strip away the excess to protect the heart 

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

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

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

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reasons anxiety, stress and depression are so high: 

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

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

 3. We maintain relentless, ultimately unsatisfying consumerist lifestyles. 

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th October 2020

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

Is there no sign of change in the natural?

Remember, we serve a supernatural God.

What looks impossible with man is possible with God.

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are a number of things to draw on here:

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

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

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

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

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

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.