All posts by Champions Church

Mark & Gillian Burchell are the Senior Pastors of Champions Church, Dudley, England. With over 25 years in leadership and church ministry, Mark & Gillian are experienced and influential in their role as pastors. Their teaching is both inspirational and practical as they are committed to seeing ordinary people connect with an extra-ordinary God and become champions in life. With a contagious zeal for life, Pastors Mark & Gillian passionately believe in the potential of all people and are devoted to the cause of Christ and building His Church. Mark & Gillian have 3 children, Esther, Joshua & Caleb and reside in Dudley.

Fresh Hope – 30th January 2021

Good morning!

In November 2014 I started to write FRESH HOPE as a means of giving daily inspiration and encouragement to as many people as possible.
Not long after, I was joined by a small team that shared the vision and helped me write for six days of every week. Together, we have written 1,930 posts and now have over 5,500 people that have downloaded the Champions app.

Today sees that journey come to an end, as we embark on our next season. On Monday morning, ‘Fresh Hope’ will be replaced by a daily Bible reading plan along with the whole of the Bible online.

It is my prayer that you will continue to take time to be inspired by God’s daily word for you. Remember, the Bible is ALIVE and ACTIVE.

So, on Monday, all you have to do is click on the tab that says ‘Alive and Active’ as this will have replaced the ‘Fresh Hope’ tab.

It’s now over to you to invite even more people to read the Bible each day, especially during this time of uncertainty.

Here’s one more fresh hope for you, as we excitedly move into the new season…

Today, we find ourselves living in a world that has been turned upside down. Emotions are running high.

How are you feeling?

For many right now, the feelings are one of pent up anger, sadness and frustration. ‘When is this all going to end?’ and ‘will we ever get back to normality again?’ are questions that no one can fully answer.

All of what we feel on a moment by moment basis, depends on how you see life right now. Could it be that this whole pandemic is helping us to gain perspective on what really matters?

Did you know that the entire population of the world, except for one minor exception, is comprised of others?

There is only one way to stop feeling hurt, frustrated, forgotten, unloved, discouraged, and broken—when you feel any of these emotions, help someone else to feel better and take the focus off yourself.

Life brightens up when you help others.

You cannot solve problems while looking at yourself all of the time.

A little saying is very helpful to remind yourself of each day, it goes like this: it’s so hard to see, when the focus is on me.

There have been many times when I have felt discouraged as I have taken to the platform of our church for over 30 years now. I’ve often thought, ‘how on earth am I going to be able to encourage all these people that have come to receive something from today’s message?’

Within a few minutes of standing there, I have regained my composure and given everything to help and encourage others. Almost instantly I would lose all sense that I was facing discouragement myself.

Today, when I feel like I need a friend, I will simply go out of my way and be a friend to someone else. It’s an amazing way of turning the tables on yourself.

If you’re feeling unloved today, stop feeling sorry for yourself and get out there and show love to someone else. You’ll be amazed at how good life can be when you make it your mission to be a blessing to others.

Proverbs 18 v 24
‘A man who has friends must show himself to be friendly, but there is a friend that sticks closer than any brother’

Remember, if you need further help you can always contact us on

I look forward to you joining us again on Monday!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th January 2021

Philippians 2 vs 9. “…and God gave Him the name (Jesus) that is a over every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow.”

A name is important. You think long and hard about the name you give to a child, if you’re like me you prayed over that decision also. Fortunately, my three children still like their names and all of them have a powerful meaning.

In Bible days, names were given that meant something.
Abraham – Father of many (the fulfilment of a promise)
Elisha – my God is salvation
Esther – star (and she was)
John – God is gracious

Names are not only important, they are powerful.

Go back to the verse we started with… JESUS has the name over every name.

What is your condition today? Cancer? – His name is over that.
What is your situation today? Lonely? – His name is over that.
What is your bank account like today? Broke? – His name is over that.
What is your life like today? A mess? – His name is over that.

You see, whatever powerful name is over your life today, whatever name you have been labelled with, HIS NAME is higher, greater and more powerful than all of those names.

Depression, fear, loser and unemployed may be strong names, but they are not as powerful as the name of Jesus.

What a beautiful name it is.
What a wonderful name it is.
What a powerful name it is.

His name has no rival, no equal – so however strong that name is over your life, it’s no match for His name.

Thank Him today that He can write a new name over your life

I love the name of Jesus!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th January 2021

At the end of January, how many people have already broken their New Year’s resolutions?

News of a third lockdown coupled with snowy weather pushed people to break their January diets a little earlier than usual. A few weeks in and the idea of a ‘new me’ was put on a back burner until a later date.

Goals are great. It’s good to set goals and strive to do things that allow us to grow as people. But goals don’t work unless you really have the desire to do them. External pressures or expectations are rarely the driver for successful goals.

Why did you really want to lose weight this year? Because you want to improve your health or because a national diet is the norm in January?

Why did you want to make more money this year? To be able to give more or to portray the appearance of wealth to others?

Unless it’s the first, it’s done for the wrong reason.

We are told consistently by the media (social or conventional), by marketing companies and by society in general, that we should be something different – we should have more and we should be more than we currently are. We’re constantly told that we should want to be a new version of ourselves because the current version isn’t enough.

That’s not what God tells us.
He tells us we are enough; He created us as we are and loves us for that.

Luke 14:11 (MSG)
‘But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.’

The Message version of this verse tells us to be content in being simply ourselves. We don’t need to pretend to be anything more in order to succeed with God.

The NIV version says
‘For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled and all those who humble themselves will be exalted.’

We don’t need to glorify ourselves to impress God. When we live with humility, seeking God’s approval rather than the acceptance of people, we focus more on applying His wisdom than acquiring social position.

The only ‘self-improvement’ goal God sets for us is to be more like Jesus.

Give what you have to offer.
Be yourself.
That’s who God created you to be – and you were created in His perfect image.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th January 2021

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’ve missed it. Your hurt is far more than that. Your hurt is 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.

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 to what you’ve gone through is bitterness, then that’s all you’ve got to offer—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 them through what you went through earlier. Don’t miss the opportunity to give someone fresh hope and purpose 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 – 26th January 2021

Christians can be the best at playing it safe. In an effort not to seem weird, or loopy, we often ‘stay in the boat’, so to speak.

Ironically, Jesus came in the exact opposite spirit and calls us to do the same.

The Bible tells us that, ‘faith without deeds is dead’ (James 2). In other words, believing that God can speak to you, that you can do as Jesus did, and that the word of God is truth, but not living it, is dead faith – also known as religion.

We need to create a culture in our communities where it is okay to ‘step out’ in God. Let’s get confident in praying for the sick, sharing an encouraging word with someone, or speaking out what God is saying and doing.

Here are three things to help create a culture of risk in your life:

1. Be okay with feedback. You wont find a workplace that doesn’t offer regular feedback on what is or isn’t working with your job performance. Nor will you find a professional athlete who isn’t receiving constant coaching and feedback. Christianity isn’t a performance, but let’s be a Christian community that knows how to give feedback well, but also receive it well! Be open to getting better!

2. Don’t get offended. Did you know that Jesus was never offended? The Bible says that Jesus was ‘meek’, meaning that He had power, but it was under control and properly focused. The Greek word translated could also refer to a horse that is broken and all the power it possesses is focused in a productive way! What a picture of how we should manage the inevitably offensive moments we will have in our life! Are we focused on what really matters and who we really are in those moments of offence? Do we use our power to keep silent and focused, or seek revenge and justification?

You living on the edge of offense will hinder your ability to take risks as you will always be ready to take the place of victim, instead of a champion!

3. Be okay with failure!
LEARN from your mistakes. I have never seen a baby go from crawling to running! A lot of falls happen before they get there! There should not be such high stakes in the Christian community around people who dare to take a risk. I am not saying make deliberately poor or sinful choices, I am saying, challenge yourselves to do something that is risky. Encourage others also when you see them taking a risk! Celebrate the fact that they had enough faith to action it and ‘step out the boat’! Also watch your response when people fail. Create a ‘safe place’ for people to fall, learn, and get back up again.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th January 2021

I have recently been inspired again by the life and story of Joseph.

Betrayed by his brothers, falsely accused at times, sent to the pit, yet ended up in governance in a palace with incredible influence. There is so much to take from his story (which can be read from Genesis 37-50).

Joseph had the favour of God on him! Over and over God promoted Joseph. Things weren’t always perfect, but the hand of God was on ultimately on his life. The Bible even says that because Joseph was in the house, everything else was blessed!

God loves us totally and completely already, but the story of Joseph proves there are varying degrees of favour on life depending on how you handle/steward that which God has already given you!

Joseph carefully managed whatever was in his hands, and God saw to it then that he increased in influence and blessing as a result.

So what exactly did Joseph do that attracted the favour of God? Here are three of my thoughts:

1. He always said what God said, even when it was uncomfortably honest.

Right from the start of the story when he came out and told his brothers about his dream, he was sharing the word of God, even if it was crazy. When he was in the palace, he was the same – he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and prophesied about a season to come which didn’t make sense or seem reasonable in the season they were in – but Joseph was a faithful steward with the word from God and it ultimately saved a nation.

2. He served in the palace AND the pit! Yes, Joseph used his gift to minister/serve the top dogs, but he was also seen doing it in the pit / prison with the bread maker. He was faithful in the pit (the tough, unseen places), which gained him promotion, favour and influence in the palace.

3. He kept his heart soft. True to the nature of God and His desire for us to have healthy families, God brought Joseph’s brothers back to him for some relational restoration! Joseph could have easily been full of rage and revenge, but instead he was constantly weeping (tenderness of heart), and the Bible actually says that Joseph had compassion for them. I believe for God to use us, we must keep a soft, tender and forgiving heart!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd January 2021

Does it matter if I pray? Of course it does!
Does it matter if I have faith? Of course it does!
Does it matter if I worship? Of course it does!
Does it matter if my life produces fruit? Of course it does!
Does it matter if I give? Of course it does!
Does it matter if I serve? Of course it does!
Does it matter if I love my neighbour? Of course it does!

There are many things in life that are important to God and therefore should be important to me.
If my life is dedicated to God, then I will obviously have a desire to please Him.
However, it’s not just about living a life to please God, it’s about living a life that God has mapped out for me that will cause me to have the BEST life.
The things that matter to God, should also be the things that matter to me.

If you are happily married, you will know that you often have to do things that matter to the other person, but ‘naturally’ don’t always matter to you.
Eg. My husband knows a day out shopping matters to me, so he ‘happily’ comes along.
Selfish people will say “I don’t care if it matters to you or not, I’m not doing that, because it doesn’t matter to me.”
You know that that is not the basis for a great relationship.

However, when we do what matters to God, we are not just pleasing Him, we are putting principles into our lives that will actually BLESS us.

It’s in giving that you receive – Acts 20 vs 35
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you – Matthew 6 vs 33

So today, I urge you, find out what matters to God and put it into practise.
We were not created to live selfishly.

He wants to bless you, He wants your relationship to be strong and He wants to grow your life, so that you will become the person you were created to be.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd January 2021

I have always loved the words from the book of Numbers, in the Old Testament.
Chapter 6 v24-26 says

‘The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.’

What is robbing you of peace today?
Covid 19? Ill health, financial worries, relationship discord, loss of a job, pressures with your studies or education, loss of a loved one, loss of hope, fear of the future – the list could be endless!

Where is it that there is disturbance?
Where is there a loss of freedom and tranquility, a sense of ‘being at war’ in your life? In this season?

For me, I have come to find that when I have lost my peace it is because I have moved or strayed from my ‘safe’ place in God.
I may have neglected reading His word, grieved the Holy Spirit by my actions or thoughts or behaviour perhaps.
At the point where I realise this, I know that the only way to regain my peace is to reposition myself before my God.
To put right that which is not right in my life, by asking and then allowing the Holy Spirit to examine me. To allow the Holy Spirit to expose that which is not right, so that I can allow His work in me again.

It is always a very humbling place to be, and thankfully, a very reassuring and restful place to find myself.
Reminded of an eternal belonging and unconditional love. At peace.

Here is a short story:
A tiny child would often creep into his father’s bedroom to sleep.
In the dark knowing his father was present was enough to take away his sense of aloneness.
‘Is your face turned toward me, Father?’ he would ask.
‘Yes’, his father replied, ‘My face is turned toward you.’
Only then could the child go to sleep.

Today if you are struggling to find peace, reposition yourself. Look for the one whose face is always turned toward you.
Who longs to be gracious towards you, to shine upon you and bring you His peace.
God Himself.

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st January 2021

Let’s talk about sin!

When we become a Christian, scripture says that we are a ‘new creation’, meaning we are free from our sinful nature (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In Christ you are made holy (Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 1:22). You are seen as pure (Titus 2:4), and free from sin (Romans 6:7, 18, 22).

The Bible doesn’t lie. There is no middle ground. Either we are free from sin, or we are not. Either we are a new creation as the Bible tells us, or we are not. Either we are made righteous and holy, or we are not.

So why is there still sin? Why do Christians still sin if God promises us that we are a new creation?

I would like to propose that God has not done a half-working in us, but perhaps we are yet to come to the full-revelation of what God has done in us.

What you believe, you empower. If you believe you are still an old creation, don’t be surprised if you are still acting like one!

There are numerous verses in the Bible that present sin as a ‘personality’, an independent power, as not just actions we do, but an entity we engage with.

FACT: The two most prevalent Greek words used for sin are hamartano (Verb), and hamartia (noun). In the book of Romans, for example, the verb is used only twice; the noun however is used 46 times!

Romans 7, proves that sin is more than just missing the mark. It is a force that exists outside of us trying to influence us.

If Jesus conquered the sin in us, and it is still evident in our lives, perhaps it because we have let the very thing Jesus delivered us from, still have a say in our life. Sin is still in the world, it comes from the outside (noun), and challenges us with desires that our no longer in our new nature. When we believe these lies that is when we give into them and produce sin (verb).

Remember that sin is deceitful, not defining. Sin doesn’t define you, Jesus has already done that. Knowing not every desire you feel is yours makes dealing with the deceit of sin much easier.

Be aware that there is an enemy fighting for your identity. When you are aware of truth, it is easy to recognise a lie. The enemy will work hard at getting you to question the reality of what God has made you at salvation. Wash your mind in the word of God. Use it as the sword it is (Ephesians 6). Stop fighting yourself, and instead declare over yourself what God has already fought and brought for you! You are pure because you have been purified in Christ (Titus 2:14). Let your behaviour come into alignment with this reality.

‘Your fundamental desire is for Him, not sin’.
Mark Greenwood.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th January 2021

The definition of cynicism is ‘an attitude of suspicion where you believe the future is bleak and that people are acting only out of self interest. An example of cynicism is when you always think the worst and have a hard time seeing the good in anyone’.

The Bible is full of cynical people. People like Job, who struggled with pessimism in his pain (Job 3), and Jonah showed a cynical attitude toward the people of Nineveh (Jonah 4), or Nathanael who said ‘Nothing good could come from Nazareth’ (John 1:45).

Unfortunately a cynical attitude can be found even among Christians. It is usually a response to hurt or disappointment.

A cynical attitude does not produce fruit, hope or love. Here is what a cynical attitude attracts:
1. The bad. You attract what you focus on! If you focus on only the bad, you magnify it in your life. You miss the good. Instead, our minds should be focused on ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things’ (Philippians 4:8).

2. Exhaustion. You will physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually exhaust yourself with a cynical spirit. You drain the life out of yourself and out of others.

3. Ephesians 4:28 says, ‘Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen’. Unwholesome talk isn’t just gossip and swearing! It is anything that isn’t helpful or beneficial to anyone listening…. Like cynical comments!

4. Other cynics. You attract that which you are. If you carry a spirit of cynicism, don’t be surprised when other cynical people find you and feel comfortable around you! Now how joyless and draining is a group of cynics?!

5. Problems. A cynical heart is rooted in a powerless mind. A cynical attitude, adds to the problem, and does not contribute to a solution. It would rather stay bogged down and critical, than be powerful and free.

A cynical attitude will hold you back. It will leave you isolated, depressed, and hopeless. Jesus has called us to live full of hope and expectation that He can do ANYTHING, regardless of past hurts or disappointments! He has given us a hope! (Jeremiah 29:11)

If you are cynical towards people, Christians, non-Christians, the church, your work, your spouse, ask God where the cynical attitude stems from and ask Him to show you hope in the situation.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th January 2021

If you’ve never read the story of David and Goliath, it’s an interesting account found in 1 Samuel 17. Not only because of the underdog defeating a giant, but it introduces each of us to ourselves in a rather awkward way.

Everyone has a Goliath in them, an area of your life that like the giant, is projected as strong, yet always shielded from attack by many layers. A layer of friends who surround you and cover you whenever you are facing a battle. Then a layer of armour to protect your heart and your emotions from what could hurt you.

But more and more during this pandemic, we are finding ourselves increasingly isolated just like when Goliath moved away from the other soldiers to face David.

And in his increasing isolation, the one area he was vulnerable became more exposed, and David could see it.

If a family member, friend or stranger says something that exposes a hole in your armour, it’s normal to be defensive, but do you let that define who you are? Do you lash out and attack or cower and run to hide from anything that exposes the fears and anxieties that you have?

If you allow it, you will become a victim to your vulnerable side, much like Goliath who isn’t remembered for what he said about himself but how his vulnerability caused him to fall.

Your past failures, hidden weaknesses, losses, hurt, should not control you, or condemn you to a life of fear, anxiety, or death. Hidden pain will break your spirit then break your body.

We are reminded in 2 Timothy 1:7 that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

No matter where you find yourself today, God does not want you burdened. Leave it with Him, and enjoy the life He created you to live.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th January 2021

I can still vividly remember the cold winter nights, huddled up in front of the coal fire when I was just a young boy.

My Dad would be out at the little church prayer meeting and my Mom would be at home unravelling an old jumper of mine that she had knitted a few years earlier. You didn’t just throw stuff away in those days, as times were hard raising three children, so instead she would unpick the stitching on the old one and use it all over again!

As the wool started to unravel from the old jumper, she would wind it around the back of a chair, or even my hands held wide apart, to keep it in an orderly fashion. It wasn’t an option to go and shop for a new jumper, so instead we would spend an evening looking at colour pictures of new sweaters in a pattern book. When I had chosen the new style, my Mom would frantically knit for hours on end. The night would eventually come when she would do the final sewing of the seams together and there it was, hey presto, my old jumper now in a brand new style. The wool was the just the same, but everyone thought that I had a brand new sweater.

As we contemplate and navigate 2021 with all its unprecedented challenges, I want you to think about having a new mind-set each day.

Let’s take a look at this important verse from the New Testament…

Romans 12:2 ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…’

Here we see the word ‘pattern’ and then we see the word ‘renew’. The actual meaning of ‘renew’ is to ‘re-do’. Just like my mom unravelled the old and re-did according to a new pattern…that’s exactly the picture.

You renew your old mind set by re-doing your mind.

Instead of keep wearing that old sweater with all its snags, pulls and holes…undo it and choose a new pattern.

The new pattern for living is found in the Bible. As you read it, a brand new way of thinking will start to form. If you would make a fresh commitment to read a few verses from it each day, you’ll be amazed at the new look.

Today, I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to help transform your mind —He will.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th January 2021

Please read and inwardly digest, 2 Kings 20 1-5.
Here are the verses for you:
‘In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death.
The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.”
And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: 5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord.’

Wow! He had just been told he was going to die.
That’s quite final, maybe that’s the end of your hope…
BUT when all hope was gone for Hezekiah, his one hope was still in The Lord.

Here’s three things that I think will help you today as you read and meditate on these few verses:

1. Don’t focus on the problem, it only magnifies the problem.

He didn’t (like most of us would), focus on the fact he was about to die. Verse 2 “he turned his face to the wall and prayed.”
Don’t focus on the problem, just on Jesus.
Focusing on Jesus diminishes the problem.
I love the old song…“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

The strength of his prayer was only in Jesus. Put your focus on the one who is able.

2. Hezekiah prayed once
One prayer was all it took! Sometimes we pray for days, months and even years BUT know this: God’s perfect timing will always kick in.
God has the ability to answer your prayer after once.
Trust in His timing.

3. When you are weeping and praying, God is watching and listening.
God hears you immediately. He sees your heartache, He sees your tears, He knows your innermost thoughts.
BUT, don’t be so focused on the problem that you forget to pray.
God is right there.

Hezekiah did not die there and then! God heard his prayer and answered!

God added 15 years to his life.
It’s never over, until God says it’s over.


Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th January 2021

You know it is perfectly possible to know exactly where you are but still be lost. I remember being on a family walk on some heathland. We had lost our way and all the paths started to look the same. After a while roaming around looking for the right way the kids were starting to complain. “We are lost” they were saying, “we are not lost, I know exactly where we are”, I was claiming, “we just need to find the right path.”

The reality is that both were true. We knew where we were, on the heath behind a National Trust house, probably only a few metres from where we were supposed to be. However, we did not know which way to go to get back. We may have known where we were but without a direction we would have stayed on that heathland all night!

It is the same in life, we can know exactly where we are but still be lost. We might be struggling with financial issues; lost in sickness; lost in grief; lost in broken relationships; lost in loneliness; lost in unemployment. We will be fully aware that this is where we are and even that this has become familiar, normal, comfortable even. Without a direction we will stay exactly where we are and have no idea how to get back to the life that God wants for us.

In John chapter 14:5 one of Jesus’ disciples says to him “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?.”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”
The path back is what we need, the path to the life that God wants us to live, a life of freedom. Freedom from all those issues which hold us down, they are a weight upon us that Jesus wants to lift. Jesus says three things.

He is the way. Notice that Jesus does not say that he ‘knows’ the way but he ‘is’ the way. Focusing our eyes and thoughts on Jesus and lifting them from our own circumstances.

He is the truth. In a world of social media, fake news and deep fake video the words of Pontius Pilot at Jesus’ trial are more relevant than ever ‘what is truth?’. When there is so much noise going on around us it is hard to find the truth. Focusing our minds on the words, actions and person of Jesus shines a light on the true way of being.

He is the life. God does not want us to live in stress and anxiety. He wants us to live life to the full and Jesus came to show us how that life of freedom is possible. That does not mean that troubles will not come but that with Jesus at the centre of your life there we have a rock on which to stand. Making it possible to follow Paul’s exortation to ‘rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Thessalonions 5:16).

Oh, and by the way, we did find our way off the heathland, eventually!

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th January 2021

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

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

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

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

These days, more than ever, are days for us to action out our faith! Christians are made for adversity! Now is the moment we can get out of our comfortable way of living, and actually activate the truth we know. Now we live by faith!

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th January 2021

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

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

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

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

Let’s make sure we are outworking what has been put into us!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th January 2021

Being socially distanced, our mouths covered with face masks and quietly speaking the words of songs during worship, does not fill us with enthusiasm. The constraints, cause much disappointment and anger at the enemy, “he’s trying to stifle, even silence our worship!”

But as we are in what seems to be a very restricted way of offering up our praise and worship, it’s been great to discover that, despite missing some elements, our worship should not be dampened. Instead, at least for this time, it can become more reflective, and made more intimate and personal, ushering in a deeper sense of wonder at who our God really is: His might, His majesty, His goodness, grace and mercy. It’s truly awe-inspiring, and raises our faith levels, whilst at the same time, bringing us to a place of humility before the King of kings.

Dare I say, without the potential to be carried away by the sound of our own voices to the rhythm and beat of the music, we can become much more aware of the profound depth of meaning of the words and songs we sing. And spoken softly, they have become humble, reverent prayers: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty … merciful and mighty … only thou art holy, there is none beside thee, perfect in power, love and purity.’ … ‘My Jesus, My Saviour, Lord, there is none like you, all of my days I want to praise the wonders of your mighty love.’

The enemy might have had a plan (as he always has) to steal the praise and worship that belongs to Almighty God, but God has turned his plan on its head, and at the same time challenged our limited understanding of worship. I believe we are entering into worship from a deeper place in our hearts, which is surely what blesses the Father. 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us, ‘The Lord doesn’t see things the way we see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’

How about looking up the words of your favourite worship song and speaking them as a personal prayer to God today? Repeat it if you have to and be attentive to each word as you say it, let it be a sweet fragrant offering to God, our Lord and Saviour who carries us through all seasons.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th January 2021

A woman who had 15 children was once asked by an interviewer, “With so many children how do you love them all the same?”
She smiled and gave an answer that he wasn’t expecting, “I don’t love them all the same.”
Taken aback, the interviewer awkwardly asked, “Well…which one do you love the most?”
She gave a thoughtful smile and answered softly, “The one who is hurting the most, the one who feels the most loneliness, the one who is brokenhearted…that’s the one I love the most.”

God has a lot more children to love than 15, and I don’t believe that He plays favorites, but He does have a special place in His heart for those who are hurting. He’s with us always, but in our moments of deepest despair, I believe His presence is strongest.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

If you are in a place right now where you feel like you’re all alone, I want to reassure you that you are not alone. God is with you. Jesus has said, “Never will I leave you or forsake you.” God loves you more than you can imagine. He will be your strength until the pain passes and He will bring good out of it somehow. Trust Him and know that you are loved with an eternal love.

Isaiah 49:15-16 ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands….’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th January 2021

In Exodus chapter 4, we read that Moses was concerned about the future – (see verses 1 & 2). He was concerned about how he was going to be able to lead the people? What if they wouldn’t follow him?
Was he good enough? Was he clever enough? Was he bright enough? Was he a good enough leader? Did he have what it took?
God said “What’s in your hand Moses?” In other words, what have I already given you, what have you already got?

Too often, we worry about what’s to come and we concern ourselves with that.
God doesn’t want us to be worried about that, or in fact anything. He is our Father, He has it covered. But here is the thought: What do you have right now?

You see, a farmer may be concerned about his harvest. Is it going to be big this year?
Is it going to be enough for him and his family to survive?
The answer is in his hand.
How much seed he sows now.

Don’t worry about your bills or your future or your blessings to come.
The answer is what you do with what’s in your hand now.
The little bit you have will multiply when you sow it.

What gifting has God given you?
It’s important that you use what He has given you right now. This will lead to your gifting being multiplied and blessed.

God wants to shift your anxiety away from the future and get you to see what you have access to right now.

That’s what God did with Moses – averted his focus off the anxiety of what the future may hold and told him to look at what was in his hand at that moment.
Moses had a simple staff, but he used it for mighty miracles.

Thank God for what you have right now. It may seem small and insignificant, but when you sow what little seed you have today, that’s what will determine your future harvest.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th January 2021

I can still see it perfectly today—the place where I was standing when I heard God speak to me.

“Mark…ask me to use you”, He said.

After a stunned silence, for what must have been all of 30 seconds, I said something like this: “Okay, well if it’s alright with you, I’d like you to use me in healing the sick.”

I honestly didn’t think I’d hear anything more back about that, but I was mistaken. The God of the Bible is the God that speaks…I just didn’t realise it at the time. God spoke to me again, and said that He would let me know when I was to go and pray for my first sick person.

I honestly thought that I would be sent to pray for a simple headache, but that wasn’t God’s idea of easing me in. Just a few weeks later my heart sank, when I felt the strong urge to go and pray for a seriously ill young man of 14 that I knew.

For three days I resisted and rejected what I knew for certain I was being asked to do. On the third night, I couldn’t stand the pressure any more, and off I went and found myself standing by his bedside, surrounded by his mates. This young man was not just ill, he was pronounced incurable by the hospital and had been sent home.

He couldn’t get out of bed or even sit up; his physical frame was diminishing fast. I did pray the most simple prayer for him that night, laying my hands on him asking JESUS to heal him. On that, I confidently walked out and left for bed. My confidence was in God alone.

I hardly slept that night in full expectation that this guy was going to be miraculously healed by God. It was 6.30am on the very next morning that he jumped out of bed and cooked the whole family a big breakfast. He hadn’t eaten for weeks himself, but on that morning he got stuck straight into a fry up with no ill effects.

Today he is still perfectly healthy and never did go back to the doctors.

Mark 16:17-18 “And these signs will accompany those who believe…they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

Will you ask God to use you today?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th January 2021

Where is your focus? You may be thinking ‘well, we’re only a week into the year, so it’s mainly work’. Or maybe it’s on new habits you’re trying to form. Or maybe it’s the news, as you’re keeping an eye on what is happening (which is a lot) in the world.

The dictionary defines ‘focus’ as ‘the centre of interest or activity’.

Therefore, when you focus on something, your attention, your time, your energy, your thoughts become dedicated to it, for a length of time.

Philippians 4:8-9 onwards teaches us something important about focusing our thoughts:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

With so much going on and the busyness of life pulling us in several different directions, it can be easy to become distracted. But what you focus on, you feed. Let’s use the wisdom of God’s word to refocus today. Right at the end of those two verses is a promise – that when we train our thoughts on good things, God brings His peace.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th January 2021

What is the presence of God? The ‘presence’ of someone is when they exist in a space/place. God is actually omnipresent, meaning that He is present everywhere all at once! (Psalm 139:7-12).

We as Christians also ‘carry the presence of God’ (Romans 8:9) – God no longer exists behind a thick, curtain in a Temple. At the cross, that curtain was torn, and Jesus left us with the Holy Spirit within us, so we walk with the presence of God (even if we don’t always feel it). Yep! The God who created the universe, and raised Jesus from the dead, LIVES IN US!

Furthermore, there are times when we can experience the tangible presence of God.

The most common Hebrew term for ‘presence’ is ‘panim’, which is also translated to ‘face’, implying a close and personal encounter with God.

We can and should have a close and personal encounter with the presence and person of God on a daily basis.

The Holy Spirit (presence of God) is described in the Bible as being a person. Just as a person can walk into a room and change an atmosphere, carries an energy, and manifests something of their personality – so does the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that Holy Spirit has emotion too. The Holy Spirit feels! If we are going to be people who host the Holy Spirit in our lives, we have to be people who honour the feelings of Him and create a space for His presence.

Just as you would prepare a guest room for a special person coming to stay, or set up a beautiful setting at the table on Christmas Day for a loved one, we also have to create the space and place for the manifest presence of God in our lives.

What kind of environment and space do you have for the presence of God in your life? Do you honour the presence of God in your life by making room, and creating an atmosphere that His personality loves? If our lives are full of hurry, foul language, perverted songs, TV and media, anything and everything not lovely, we aren’t creating the space or lifestyle for the tangible presence of God. Purity isn’t popular to talk about. Holiness isn’t ‘cool’, but if we want to be people who bring other people into an encounter with the goodness of our God, our lives should host an atmosphere that He loves! This is not a ‘must do’ religious challenge. This is a GET TO privilege. Our lives get to host THE person of God!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th January 2021

‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland’ Isaiah 43:19.

As we sit on the cusp of a brand new year, we usually begin to reflect on the year gone by and consider the one to come.

I’m sure for many of you, 2020 can be defined as a year in which you saw and made it through many unforeseen circumstances and challenges. It is always encouraging to look back and see that which you once thought was impossible, but have now overcome. For some of you perhaps, your growth as a person can be marked. Perhaps there have been difficulties that you are sure will be carried into 2021.

This week I have been culling the cupboards of my house in preparation for a house move. I love the feeling of simplifying. Cutting back on what is not used and making room for the new. I believe in many areas of our lives we should regularly review, cut, and make space for the next season.

God is a God of new beginnings and His desire for all of us is to walk into the New Year with a strong sense of hope and faith for the future. We may not be able to change our circumstances or situations, but we can shift our perspective and attitude.

Focus on what you can do, and leave the rest to God.

Some good questions to ask yourself are:

What do I need to stop worrying about that is out of my control?

What do I need to start including in my day that feeds my soul?

Who do I need to unfollow – in life or on social media?

When is the last time I got lost in the wonder of the word?

What consumes too much of my head or heart space that is unhealthy?

When is the last time I did something for my husband, friend or work mate – just to see them smile?

When is the last time I set personal goals?

What did I do today to prioritise my health (mind, body and soul)?

When is the last time I did something for the first time?

What can I start today to make a positive impact on my future? (saving, investing, reading or writing).

Tune into what God might have for you in the New Year.

Be prepared for God to do a new thing. Cull and make space.

Jeremiah 29:11

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th January 2021

Does 2021 already feel all too familiar?

Have your hopes for a better year already been dashed?

Have the disappointments of 2020 started to present themselves again?

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. Keep believing. Keep praying and keep moving forward. 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 who has promised is faithful.’ (Hebrews 10 v 23)

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 – 2nd January 2021

As a child I often heard the words, “stop, look and listen.” It was whilst I was being taught how to cross a busy road. It was better known as the ‘green cross code’.

It was there to teach me, for my protection and safety.

There are three things I want to share with you that I have learnt and am still learning this past year and they are:

“stop, look and listen”

STOP – sometimes we find it difficult to stop. I am a perfect example of that. A busy Martha rather than a Mary. This year probably like me, you have had to STOP. It’s like God pressed a big ‘pause’ button on life and we all in some way or another, had to stop.
Stop is good, as long as it’s not for too long. A full stop comes at the end of a sentence, indicating that a new one is about to come.
Something has finished and something else is about to start…Yeah!
Don’t look at the negative of stopping, look for the positive of something new starting.

LOOK – these past few months have made me realise how important it is to look. Look around at the things that really matter and be thankful for them. Look at the simple things in life, those we have always taken for granted and appreciate them greatly.

LISTEN – what is God saying? If you don’t take time to listen, you’ll not know. Many people get frustrated (me included at times) because we don’t listen. Stop getting frustrated or fearful or anxious and instead listen to God the Father (I hope He is your Father), listen to the voice of the precious Holy Spirit and get wisdom and guidance for the next chapter of your life.

If you, like me love to quote “the best is yet to come”
then today my friend, I’m reminding you to

Happy new year to one and all.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st January 2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR! (Could this year be any worse than 2020?).

I’m standing with you today and believing that 2021 will be an amazing year ahead.

No matter what the road ahead has in store for us, we all know that there is no magic number, day, or year that will make it a good year —it simply doesn’t have that power or ability to do so. However, what does have the power to do so, is found in your daily routine on each and every day of 2021.


You may ask, ‘what difference does a few minutes make each day?’

Ask your teeth after you’ve brushed them.

Ask your body after you’ve exercised.

Ask your house after you’ve cleaned it.

Ask your kids after your spent time talking with them.

Ask God after a time of prayer.

The answer is huge—a few minutes changes everything when done consistently.

If you were to set your alarm clock just 30 minutes early for just five days out of seven this year, then you would not only get a much better head start on the day, but you would actually gain an additional 125 hours this year. Do you realise that one new habit will give back to you the equivalent of three 40-hour working weeks?! That’s three whole weeks to do something more with your life than ever before.

Even more amazing is this: if you watch TV/social media for just 30 minutes less per day, then you give back to yourself another three whole weeks— that’s six weeks just by adjusting your daily habits at the start of this new year.

I never start a day without spending the first portion of it in prayer with God. The only way I can do that is by getting up before the day does! You’ll be amazed at how that one thing will change your whole outlook this year. You decision has the power to change your future.

Discipline yourself.

Get into focus.

Make every moment count.

Live out your destiny to the full.

Psalm 90v12 ‘Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st December 2020

In this past year, thanks to lockdowns, like many, I’ve had more time on my hands to do jobs around the house. One of these jobs was to replace some solid double doors between our hallway and lounge with glass french doors. I actually just wanted visitors to be able to view the Christmas tree in the lounge from the front door.

What surprised me was how these doors truly transformed the feel of the house. When in our hallway, despite its dimensions not actually changing it felt so much more spacious because your line of sight is taken into the lounge. And vice versa when in the lounge because you can see into the hallway now it too feels so much bigger despite not changing in size. 

This is a great example of how we too can feel so very differently about our lives without them having to change. All we need to change in our lives for them to feel so differently is our line of sight! 

Hebrews 12 2-3 cev
‘We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side of God’s throne! So keep your mind on Jesus, who put up with many insults from sinners. Then you won’t get discouraged and give up.’

Whenever we struggle whether with jobs, disappointments, broken relationships, poverty, illness, it naturally takes our focus. And the house in which we live out our lives, our souls, becomes compartmentalised. Our world in which we experience m this life feels smaller, and we feel we can’t appreciate life again until we have dealt with this issue closing us in. The problem with this is you, for as you have a pulse, you will have issues. So by this rule you can never truly be happy. 

But! When we focus on Jesus, make him and not our issue the line of sight in our lives, we take down these temporary walls in our homes (our souls) and even though we will still have issues we feel so different! There’s space, light and hope in our lives! 

God wants us to enjoy life, however you may be struggling, you can make the change to enjoy the open plan living! What do you need to pull down so that your line of sight is Jesus? So you can live with the open plan joy in all you do, enjoying the wide open spaces God has always intended you to live in?

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th December 2020

Often the more wealthy people get, the less they value their money, and the more they value their time. They realize that wasted time can never be replaced. You can make more money, but you cannot buy more time. It is an irreplaceable resource. 

I’ve watched a lot of people over this last year complain about the ‘loss of time’ Corona has seemingly caused. Single people upset that a year of going out and mingling in the search of a soul mate, wasted. Business people devastated that a year of opportunity and growth has been – wasted. A year of travel experiences or precious moments with family far away – unfilled, again, time wasted. 

What I love about God is that HE has the upper hand on even time. God is outside of time, not bound by it. As impossible as it seems, God is able to redeem lost time, because He is God. What in the natural takes years, God can do supernaturally in days. 

Read this from Joel 2:25-27, 

‘So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust (Corona) has eaten,
The crawling (Corona) locust,
The consuming (Corona) locust,
And the chewing (Corona) locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.
Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:
am the Lord your God
And there is no other.
My people shall never be put to shame’. 

The context of this scripture is that Israel’s crops had been destroyed by a locust invasion, and the impact lasted more than one year. This could indicate that locusts invaded in consecutive years. However, it is more likely that the damage of one invasion had a multi-year impact. When locusts destroyed a crop, they wiped out the seed saved from the previous year, the harvest of the current year, and the seed that would be used the next year. Locust devastation of grape vines and fruit trees would take years to redevelop.What a waste of time! Sounds a bit like the effects of Corona doesn’t it?

Whatever time and opportunities Corona has seemingly ‘eaten away’ in 2020, God can work for your favour! God manages time, time doesn’t manage God! The redemption of time isn’t just evident in Joel. Time stood still for Joshua, God redeemed time for Joseph too. God can fast track a delay! 

Do not be disheartened by time that seems to have been ‘wasted’! God will waste nothing. He will not put His people to shame. God will redeem what Corona has stolen!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th December 2020

A key element of the Christmas season is the gift giving! Christian or not Christian, exchanging gifts is easily one of, if not, THE biggest aspect of the Christmas season (just ask the retail industry). 

Yet behind the generous exchange of giving someone a gift, is something deeper. We’ve heard it all before. ‘The real gift is Jesus’. As cliché as this is, I hope we can understand the truth of the statement once more. 

Jesus was not birthed on earth for a cute nativity scene. Jesus’ birth came with a mission and a mandate – to save the world. Jesus was birthed for His death – our death – the death of our despair, hopelessness, fear, sickness, eternal suffering, disconnection from God, and poverty. 

If Jesus Himself was not the greatest gift of all, God continues to gift us in our lives as Christians. He left us the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-31), He left us Spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12), and He encourages us to ASK for gifts as we go about life (Matthew 7:11, James 1:5)! 

Generosity always has been and always will be at the centre of our Father’s heart. That is why we give gifts – an ultimate reminder that we were given the highest gift from our heavenly father, and that gift keeps on giving!  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th December 2020

Isaiah 9v6, ‘For to us a Child shall be born, to us a Son shall be given; And the government shall be upon His shoulder, And His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’. 

Wonderful counsellor – professional, Christian counselling is excellent, but how incredible that God has also gifted us with a ‘wonderful counsellor’ to walk with us 24/7. The Holy Spirit is also defined as ‘counsellor’. Not many religions, if any, serve a God who reminds us who we are, creates a safe place for us to process our issues, reminds us of our core values, and imparts wisdom and advice on how to find healing and wholeness. 

Mighty God – Let us not forget in the heat of 2020, that Jesus is still MIGHTY. He still sits on the throne. He is still in control. 

Everlasting Father – Many of society’s problems come down to the root issue of fatherlessness. Fatherhood has become one of the most undermined roles of our society – strong men who lead and establish the household, and thus the next generation and our society! We’re in a world hungry for quality fathering! We have an EVERLASTING father – constant and never-ending in His love, guidance, provision, protection and wisdom. 

Prince of Peace – Jesus, son of God, came as a prince, carrying the royal mandate of bringing PEACE to a world in turmoil. This is who He is. This is His mission. When we say ‘prince’ – we aren’t referring to the kind of prince who sits in a palace sipping on tea, being waited on. A real prince carries authority and a mission. A prince has a title to fulfil…and that He has. Jesus, Prince of Peace. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th December 2020

The word “celebrate” means to enjoy a special occasion or to praise. Maybe Christmas for you this year is a little different, less people, missing those you love, maybe it’s a time of quiet reflection and maybe you don’t feel much like ‘celebrating’.

I hope that’s not the case, as when I think of the word ‘Celebrate’ – I also think about the ONE whose birthday it is…and whatever your life is like right now, God is still worthy of our Praise.  

Christmas is a time to celebrate Jesus. It’s HIS birthday.  My Bible reminds me that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will never leave me or forsake me and that He will work all things out together for good for those who love Him. That’s something to celebrate right there!

You see, when stormy times hit – and they always do – stand on the ROCK which is God’s word. Read it, remind yourself of it and declare it. Declare over your life and those you love this season that the best is yet to come. The wise man in the Bible did not lose his house or his life when the storms hit…BECAUSE his life was firmly built on the rock that is Jesus. 

My friend lost her husband to COVID this year. She still declares that God is good. She is still celebrating His goodness and faithfulness. So come on, you can do it too!

Enjoy this special season as you celebrate HIM, for God IS GOOD.   

Happy Christmas to you all.

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

Fresh Hope – 25th December 2020


If your family is anything like ours, then Christmas isn’t complete without a good old amicable argument about the correct answers or scores to the family quiz!  In fact, this year, one of the ways of connecting with family and friends that you couldn’t physically have in your home is to organise an online quiz.  With the competitive nature of some people (mentioning no names) this is guaranteed to liven up the most dreary household this evening. Here’s a question to get you started…
What were the very first words that God spoke in the Bible?
Answer: Let there be light.

It’s one of the biggest clues to the fact that God doesn’t want you to be in the dark. There’s a little more to it than meets the eye too; the word translated light from the original text is the word ‘order’, and the word for dark came from the word meaning ‘chaos’.
Think about it for a moment: the first thing that God wanted for this world was light so that the chaos could be brought to order. In fact, 740 years before Jesus came to earth we read these words…
Isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 

Now skip to the New Testament and we find the fulfilment of that promise…
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ (John 8 v 12)

Have you ever wondered why, when everything seems to working in your life just fine that there’s still a longing for something more? Have you ever wondered why, in a very bright and shiny world, that you feel as if you’re lost?

Maybe you would describe your existence like this…everything is working, but there’s something missing.

That ONE thing is what Jesus called the ‘light of life’. He said that if you find it you will never walk in darkness again. WOW! That, my friend is the greatest Christmas gift that anyone could ever possibly give to you.

I’m sure that we’ve all been in a power cut from time to time. 
What’s the first thing that you reach for? A candle? A torch? The light from your phone? The truth is that everything comes to a standstill until the power comes back on. Whilst it’s off, your life is disorientated and even quite fearful, yet just one light can dispel the darkness. Having the ‘light of life’ means that your life comes alive and you begin to see clearly where you’re going for the first time; Your life literally comes alive.

My question to you on this Christmas Day is simply this: Have you got it? Have you found it? Or is life just one big puzzle?

When a popular town plans a date to have its Christmas lights switched on it usually invites a celebrity to do so. The greatest thing that you could do today is to invite the greatest person that ever walked the earth to switch your light on so that you will never walk in darkness again.

Invite Jesus to switch on the light in your life so that this Christmas day will become the greatest one ever for you.  

Everything changes when the light goes on.
Invite Jesus into your life right now. He’s just waiting for you to ask.

It’s corny, I know, but JESUS is the very REASON for the SEASON. 

Have the most amazing day…no matter what.  

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th December 2020

Christmas in 2020 is going to be a very unique one. On second thoughts, maybe not that unique, but actually quite similar to the very first Christmas in that stable in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph would have been filled with a sense of fear and isolation, the same feelings that are surrounding a lot of people this Christmas Eve.

I can only imagine Joseph’s fears and anxieties about being a midwife, the fear of King Herod’s soldiers searching for them, anxieties about becoming a first time dad to a child who was anything but ordinary, and the cultural pressures at the time of being a father to a child who wasn’t his biologically.

From these, His first few moments on earth, until the days of the denial by Peter and His death on the cross, there were many instances throughout Jesus’ life where the people around Him, those who believed and trusted in Him went through isolation, afraid of something or someone that was going to kill them.

In another instance, in John 11 vs 7-16, Jesus and his disciples have fled from, and are hiding from people who had attempted to kill them. The disciples are trying to dissuade Him from leaving their safe environment and going to the town where Lazarus has died, but Thomas says “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Jesus says let us go so that you may believe, Thomas says let us go so that we may die.

Such a contrast, but the disciples are actually convinced to go by what Thomas said, not what Jesus said. Whose words are you believing and relying on at this time?
On the face of it, Thomas’s words are simply the words of one who did not want to see a close friend suffer and die alone whilst they remained safe and unharmed.

But Jesus can use anything for our good, and He uses Thomas’s words to remind us that although we are in a time of fear and trepidation, the only way out is to continue walking into the unknown with Christ. By letting trust in our own strength and abilities die, we will see Jesus work miracles in our lives.

From the isolation and fear of that first Christmas Eve, Jesus was revealed to the world. Choose faith, choose hope, this isolated Christmas, and Jesus will be revealed anew to you.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd December 2020

What are you anticipating this Christmas? Joy? Excitement? Your favourite time of the year? Or more along the lines of sadness? Loneliness? Just another ordinary day?

Growing up, Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year, and I just assumed it was the same for everybody. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that is not always the case. It’s because our feelings towards Christmas are often based on our individual experiences of Christmas.

There is a difference between a thermometer and a thermostat. A thermometer tells you the temperature of a room, a thermostat dictates the temperature of a room. One reflects what is already there, one decides what is going to be there.

Christmas for many of us this year is going to look different, but the good news is that the kind of Christmas we experience is actually up to us.

A thermometer says, ‘I have no control over the atmosphere’, a thermostat says, ‘the atmosphere is set by me’. YOU get to determine your experience of Christmas this year. YOU get to control the atmosphere within your own heart and within your own home.

Don’t settle for being a thermometer, choose to be a thermostat, and make this Christmas the best one you’ve ever had, both for you and those around you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd December 2020

I’m sure many of you are very familiar with the famous Christmas song, ‘Joy to the World’. Often we sing these Christmas songs, paying little attention to the words we are actually singing! 

‘Joy to the world the Lord is come 

Let Earth receive her King 
Let every heart prepare Him room…’ 

Joy by God’s definition is not a sweet, little, polite cheer. Joy is radical and powerful. Joy can be defined as a deep-down sense of well-being that abides in the heart of the person who knows all is well between himself and the Lord. Joy is not conservative. Joy causes us to SHOUT! 

Psalm 91:4 says, ‘Shout for JOY to the Lord, all the earth…’

From 100 references to joy, the first time it is mentioned in the New Testament it is coupled with the birth of Jesus:

‘When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy’ (Matthew 2:10). 

Our level of joy has nothing to do with the circumstances surrounding 2020 – our disappointments, our heartache. Our joy has everything to do with our King. 

Let the earth REJOICE for our king is here! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st December 2020

Grandad was feeling his age. He found that shopping for Christmas gifts had become too difficult, so he decided to write a cheque to each of his family and friends instead.
In each card he wrote, ‘Buy your own present’ and posted them out nice and early. He enjoyed the usual flurry of activity leading up to the big day, but noticed he had received very few cards from his nearest and dearest. 

Puzzled and feeling somewhat upset over this, he went into his study, intending to call a couple of his relatives and ask if all was okay. It was then, as he sat at his cluttered desk, that he got his answer. He was horrified to find under a stack of papers, the signed cheques, which he had forgotten to enclose with the cards.
The empty Christmas cards that he had sent out to all his loved ones now simply read…’BUY YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS PRESENT’.  

Hopefully, this Christmas amidst all of the lock downs, tiers, confusion and restrictions, will go somewhat better than that. Just in case you need a little help, here is my Christmas recipe for a blessed day ahead:

-Focus on what you can do and not on what you can’t. 

-Make the day all about others. 

-This year is different, so think ahead about how you can be creative in communicating your love to family and friends. 

-Be thankful, for even the small blessings in life. 

-Put yourself out for someone less fortunate than you. Drop a gift/meal/cake on their doorstep. 

-Be bold enough to say a few heartfelt words, along with a prayer of thanksgiving around Christmas lunch table, no matter who is and who isn’t present. 

-Do something this week on the spur of the moment—call up a person you know that is on their own and ask if they need anything. 

-Plan to make some memories. You may never have another Christmas like this one in your life time. 

-Go over the top with love. Jesus did. Forgive and overlook your differences.

-If you still have them, serve your grandparents and somehow make it their best Christmas yet…even if it is from a distance. 

-Stay awake as long as you can and be grateful that you’re alive on another Christmas Day. 

-If you are battling with sadness, grief or loss, remember JESUS cares for you and is in every movement that you feel alone. 

-Remember the Inn keeper! His B and B was full, but he made room for Jesus. No matter how full your life is with stress, trouble, lack, family tensions or even your own importance. Make room for Jesus. Invite Him in right now. 

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Your friend and Pastor,
Mark x

PS. Why not tune in on Wednesday night at 7.30pm for our final part of ‘Hope for Christmas’? on YouTube and Facebook. 

Fresh Hope – 19th December 2020

Watch out for distractions. You can be driving a car and get distracted and have an accident. You can be watching a football game, get distracted by one of the family and miss the goal. You can get distracted by a pretty girl and find yourself out of the will of God. Distractions come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some have more serious consequences than the other.  

John 12 vs 1-8  is the account of Mary spending money on expensive perfume and pouring it on Jesus’s feet.

Judas however wasn’t happy; read vs 4-6  “but one of His disciples Judas Isacariot, who would later betray him, said “why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money used to give to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. He did not say this because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, as keeper of the money, he used to help himself to what was in it.”

Here are two important points I want to leave with you:

1. Judas had got distracted by worldly things and lost sight of his calling to Christ. He was called as a disciple, yet went on to be the one that betrayed His Master and friend. Be careful that worldly things don’t take you away from your calling to Christ. It’s easy for you to get distracted by money etc and lose who you really are and what you were called to do.   
Some people right now are getting distracted by fear and situations and are not where they should be. Beware of distractions!

2. Be careful you don’t let people who have got distracted influence you. Judas had a big voice telling the others and Jesus what he thought about the perfume situation! Yet behind the scenes, he was the one in sin.  Be careful of people who have gone away from God, or not in relationship with God trying to distract you.  

I love how Jesus in vs 7 & 8 shuts the situation down and tells the others what they need to hear.   Today my friend, watch out for that distraction and if relevant , tell it to “shut up and go away!” 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th December 2020

With just one week to go, there’s no doubt this year the celebration of Christmas is going to be so different for millions of people around the world because of the Pandemic. We are in the period of Advent (awaiting the arrival of a notable person), in this season, although it’s with a sense of uncertainty, people are making plans and preparations and buying things to celebrate this special season.

As we make our plans, however limited they may be, let’s not forget those for whom this will be a particularly difficult time coping with fear, loneliness, ill health, the loss of loved ones, employment, livelihood, and homes. May we be able to bring help, support and encouragement wherever we can.

Traditionally, the four weeks leading up to Christmas are recognised as a period of waiting and preparation. We prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus (His first coming), but we also wait for His return (His second coming). As we look forward to Christmas this year, let’s not allow the present circumstance to distract us from the marvellous message that ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ (1 Timothy 1:15). God so loved us that He sent Jesus to die on the cross to save us.

As we look again at the crib and the wonderful gift of God to mankind and what it led to on the cross, let’s remember that was not the end. May this Advent be a time for us to take our eyes off our immediate circumstances and look beyond the pandemic with its struggles and uncertainties. Instead, may we look to His promises to us. This is a time to reset our focus on the truths we can celebrate, and what ultimately lies beyond.  Let’s point our loved ones and those around us to the greatest gift of all (Christ), so they may find eternal life. 

Paul gave this exhortation to Titus, ‘We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ will be revealed’ (Titus 2:12b).

Christine Mudenha 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th December 2020

We are all familiar with the Christmas story. We all know the part about the three wise men, following a star. 

Just to give a bit of context, these wise men, better referred to as, ‘astrologers’ may have visited Jesus a number of months after his birth. 

King Herod, not the star, was the first to direct the astrologers to Bethlehem. When he heard of a rival “king of the Jews,” Herod investigated where the promised Christ was to be born. On learning that it was to be in Bethlehem, he told the astrologers to go there, look for the child, and report back to him.

Only then did the three wise men/astrologers go to Bethlehem. The Bible says, ‘After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when they were in the East went ahead of them until it came to a stop above where the young child was’ (Matthew 2 for the whole story). 

I love the idea of a star or light leading the way in the dark. Jesus was born at a time where there was much political and religious unrest. He arrived during a dreadful time in history to a turbulent land. Sound familiar? Maybe a bit like 2020! Historically, tension had been building for years and years and a saviour was anticipated and needed. 

Yet amidst the trouble, amidst the darkness and unrest, there was a light – there was a star – guiding in the dark to the saviour of the world! 

Likewise today, there is a light, a star, leading us through the dark, to our hope and saviour – Jesus. 

You may be in the darkness, but there is the guiding light of the Holy Spirit, going ahead of you, to your hope and saviour. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th December 2020

4 lies the enemy wants you to believe for 2021: 

Here are four lies that the enemy will use to keep you stagnant and stale in 2021: 

1. The world is an awful place. 

Watch where you are getting your information. The media thrives on fear breeding and disaster focused reports. If you are using the media to form your opinion of where the world is at, instead do some more research into all the good things going on in the world. Shift your focus. Seek out the good. Remember that God loves the world so much that He DIED for it. There must have been something worth dying for! We should therefore continue loving the world, giving our lives for the world, and being the culture shifters we are called to be in our spheres of influence, in order to bring redemption. 

2. New year, same stuff

Every morning God promises new mercies (Lamentations 3:23). God is always doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19). Are you ready to partner with God on what He wants to do next in your life? 

3. My joy level is determined by where we are at with Corona. 

The biblical definition of joy has nothing to do with circumstances. ‘Be joyful in all circumstances’ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), includes, be joyful in a pandemic. Joy stems from an inner, steadfast security in the nature of God – not your happenings. 2021 will not make you happy. Jesus will. 

4. Don’t get excited about anything because it probably won’t happen. 

The world is feeling hopeless. This is the Church’s finest hour! We were made to be bringers of hope on days like this! Be the dreamers, the visionaries, and the hope-givers in your spheres of influence. In the words of Proverbs 31 – ‘laugh at the days to come’. Carry the lightness and freedom that you have in Jesus, into places that are dark and heavy. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th December 2020

I’m pretty sure that you’ve had to face some problems over the last months that you never bargained for when the year began. In fact we’ve all had to navigate 2020 like no other year that we’ve been alive.

Think about how many unique problems that the population of the world faces right now, and then think about how many different answers to those problems there must be out there. One thing is for certain, there is no shortage of problems, but there always seems to be a shortage of answers.
It’s almost guaranteed that you will be scratching your head today about something and asking what on earth is the solution to my problem. The great news is that there is no such thing to God as a shortage of answers—you just need to know who to ask and where to look. 

Believe it or not, God has the answer to your most difficult and detailed problem right now. Many people believe that knowledge solves everything, and though that is good, you can be highly intelligent, know loads of stuff about loads of things and still be clueless. Higher than knowledge is wisdom. Wisdom can use the knowledge that you have and instruct you as to how to apply it in any and every situation. 
But you may ask yourself, what if I don’t have any knowledge to apply?

Once again…great news! There is even a much higher way than wisdom itself, and that is the wisdom of God. The wisdom of God, does not rest on any knowledge that you may or may not possess, but rests solely on what God already knows about every detail on the planet, let alone in your small world right now. 

Listen to how James put it in the New Testament:
James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. 

Stuck for an answer today? Simply ask God to show you the best solution. You’ll be amazed at how much He knows. In fact He is the sum total of all wisdom and knowledge. 

Think of this story for a moment…
A lady called out an engineer to come and repair her washing machine. He arrived at her home and within five minutes had finished the job and swiftly presented her a bill for £100. She argued with him about the cost and asked how he could charge such an extortion price, knowing that he had only taken the front off the machine and hit something inside with his hammer. He replied,”I’m charging you only £5 for hitting the part with my hammer, but £95 for knowing where to hit.”
His knowledge was vast about every part of the washing machine, which enabled him to wisely and accurately give an instant solution. Anyone else could have spent days on the very same job, and still not have solved the problem. 

God has the answer right now to every single problem that you will ever face. Why not ask him to download His wisdom to you today? He’ll be only too happy to help you for free.

Take time to read the fascinating few verses below—they have been a massive blessing to myself over the years:
Isaiah 28:23-29 Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say. When a farmer ploughs for planting, does he plough continually? Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil? When he has levelled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cummin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field? His God instructs him and teaches him the right way. Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is the cartwheel rolled over cummin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cummin with a stick. Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it for ever. The wheels of a threshing-cart may be rolled over it, but one does not use horses to grind grain. All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th December 2020

‘Putting your foot in it!’

Several years ago we were renovating the upstairs of an old night club that we had rented as extra space for our Church. 
Rewiring the place meant that some of the floorboards had to be taken up and had just been placed back in position after the electrician had finished for the day. 

That night, I went upstairs with a couple of guys to see how the work was progressing, and before we could switch the lights on, I walked onto the end of a floorboard and got the shock of my life…my one foot went straight through the floorboard and subsequently appeared through the ceiling tile in what was a shop beneath. What made it worse was the fact that the shop opened late at night and had several customers. They got the shock of their lives as a leg appeared above the cash till!

If was not only a very painful experience in that I was bruised for weeks afterwards, but also a valuable lesson in taking note of where you’re walking.
Paying attention to where you walk in life is important to the degree that many people fall down holes that they never get out of. Maybe that hole is a something you never saw coming, but now you feel embarrassed and trapped by the compromise and sin that you’ve got yourself into. All sin and failure starts off pretty innocently and spirals downwards much like this:

Don’t ever say that you are beyond falling because you think you are so strong—that’s exactly the time that you become vulnerable. 
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 
If you’ve stopped walking in the light and fallen into the clutches of sin, then remember, there is a way back and you need to take it right now before you leave it too late to be rescued. 
Ask a close Christian friend to help you get out the mess you’re in. 
Face up to the truth about your situation and confess it.
Ask Jesus for His forgiveness and receive it. 
Forgive yourself for making such a hash of things. 
Turn to God and get back on track.
Don’t walk in the dark any longer, but bring everything out into the light.
Walk on firm ground again.
Live a forgiven and blessed life. 
Thank God that His forgiveness is total and complete. 
Start to live again. 

1 John 1:8-10 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th December 2020

I’ve been thinking this week about the role of a cheerleader.

They are there to encourage (energetically) and support a team.  It doesn’t matter if that team is winning or losing, playing bad or playing great, those cheerleaders cheer!

Too often we stop cheering in life if things aren’t going great. If we’re having a bad day or if we sometimes feel we are on the losing side and the battle is too great. We even think about switching teams when things aren’t as we’d want them to be. NO! That’s not the role of a cheerleader  – they cheer and support no matter what, they don’t switch teams!

Encouragement is powerful and so is praise. If the enemy can shut you up when you feel ‘the game’ is not going well, then he has succeeded. Because he knows what power it carries.  

Maybe you know someone today who doesn’t seem to be ‘playing well’ or the game for them is going not too well – stick with them and cheer them on, your encouragement will make all the difference. 

Maybe today you feel that you are ‘flagging’; cheer yourself on! Start to praise and worship and lift your voice towards Heaven. Cheerleaders never stop do they? They rehearse and train for hours. Cheerleading is not for the faint-hearted, but it’s so important. 

We are all meant to be cheerleaders. It’s powerful.  Who can you cheer on today?

1 Thessalonians 5 vs 11 “therefore encourage each other and build each other up”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th December 2020

We all have a story. The fact that you are sitting and reading this means that you have experiences completely unique to you. Even this year, where it feels like we have collectively faced similar challenges.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th December 2020

For every situation, thought or circumstance in life that could potentially pull us under, there is a ‘but God’, in His word. In fact there, there are plenty; I’ll start you off:

“I feel weary” – but God says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew‬ ‭11:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬).

“I’m worried about my future” – but God says “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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11-12‬ ‭NIV).‬‬

“I feel like I’m fighting on my own” – but God’s word tells us…“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:6‬ ‭NIV). ‬‬

“I don’t know what to do” – but God’s word says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬).

I hope you’re encouraged today. There is nothing in your life that is a surprise to God or that His word can’t help you to navigate.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th December 2020

I am 21 weeks pregnant. Last week I went for the routine 20 week scan where they check every possible organ in your baby’s body (which can be quite a nerving experience) – the face, the spine, the bones, the stomach, the kidneys, the lungs, the brain and the heart. Praise God, everything is healthy and strong! 

What struck me most after the scan was how this baby at just 20 weeks was already a fully formed human! It may not be fully developed (but then, neither are children), but it was a complete human, that just needs to grow! 

The heart is one of the first organs to develop in human life. In fact, at just five weeks, a heart is beating. Life is evident. At an ultrasound, one of the first things you look for is the flicker of a beating heart – the sign of life. The heart beats at double the rate that my heart is beating as it works hard to pump blood to sustain life. The heart is the vital sign of life. 

It is no wonder that God mentions our ‘spiritual heart’ so much in scripture. 

Just as our physical heart is one of the first signs of life, so is our spiritual heart. The condition of our heart is EVERYTHING as from it our life flows (Proverbs 4:23). 

I wonder if I put my spiritual heart on an ultrasound, I would be as nervous to see the condition of it, as I was our baby’s heart? I wonder if I would care about the health of my spiritual heart that much? We should, because our lives stem from it. 

Our hearts should be beating for the things of God. They should be healthy and whole, free from bitterness, resentment and anger. Broken hearts, or hearts with holes, will compromise the quality of our life. God, as the life giver, wants our hearts to grow big and strong, delivering life to ourselves, and those around us at double speed! 

Although unseen, let us never neglect the condition of our hearts – our emotions, our mind, our will, and desires.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th December 2020

As we approach the end of a turbulent year, let’s reflect! 

You don’t have to be a genius to point out what has ‘gone wrong’ this year. A lot. Many of us are hanging out for the fresh start that 2021 might offer us. 

Instead of wishing away the challenging year that has been, instead of wanting to forget 2020, instead of expecting 2021 to solve all of your 2020 problems, how about coming to the end of the year and reflecting on the following: 

– What did you learn about yourself this year? 

– What did you learn about God this year? 

– How did God speak to you this year? What did you learn? 

– How did the challenges shape you? 

– How will the lesson learnt in 2020, change how you live in 2021? 

I think a far bigger tragedy than 2020, would be leaving 2020 behind having gained or learnt nothing. 

A new year will never be your saviour. I don’t want to be negative Nancy, but troubles will always be present. Let God be your fresh start, your hope and your promise, not a new year. Life is not about reaching this utopian standard of living (impossible). Life is about journeying alongside Him in EVERY season. 

Let’s be people of faith who can stand in every season and storm. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th December 2020

Put a man behind the wheel of a car and he’s always right!  

His way is the best, the shortest and the smartest. Any form of interference or challenge from anyone inside or even outside the car is very unwelcome! Really? 

Driving out in the car with my wife one night, the sign ahead said ‘road closed’. Being one such man, coupled with the fact that it was a quiet Sunday evening, I boldly continued the journey believing that I would be vindicated for being such a brave fella in risking the ‘closed’ route.  

After a hundred metres or so, I settled back into my seat, filled with pride that I’d beaten the system! And then…you’ve guessed it…after a complete mile of full steam ahead, the road was closed.

I suggested to Gillian that I could mount the pavement, dodge the barriers and the occasional street light, but after a sharp rebuke and slap on the leg, I turned around and went all the way back. 
Interestingly, instead of arriving at our destination early like had planned, we actually arrived later than anyone that presumably had obeyed the warning signs. Lesson learnt.

If you want to add time to your journey, simply ignore the warning signs. 
Warning signs and diversions are placed in our lives for a very good reason. They seem like a hindrance at the time, but actually are there to help. 

Getting ahead in life will never happen if you chose the ‘I know best’ attitude. In fact the longest distance between two points is a short cut. 
A short cut around integrity will always lead to a very long road ahead. If you are ever given a choice between doing the lesser of two evils, choose neither. Always choose the higher path. Do what’s right. 

In the Old Testament, the followers of God had just been released from Egypt, the land of slavery. Every one of the three million or more people were very anxious to get going to their land of freedom. At last, they would soon be there. 
Surely the best way would be the quickest way?
God had a plan. Not the quickest way, but the best way. A way that would guarantee their safe arrival. 

Exodus 13:17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ 

Ironically, the shortest way can often get you to a place too quickly. A place that’s ready and prepared for you, but you’re not ready and prepared for it. 

What signs are in front of you today?
They come in many ways…through a friend, circumstances, a Bible verse and of course the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. 

If you want to live a significant life, then don’t ignore the warning signs—God has placed them there for a reason. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th December 2020

The Power of 10 minutes 

When a 10 minute walk is better than a 10 minute sit down.

When a 10 minute sit down with a book is better than a 10 minute sit down with the PlayStation.

When 10 minutes of reading your Bible is better than 10 minutes reading social media.

When 10 minutes talking to someone by phone is better than 10 minutes of texting.

When 10 minutes of talking to someone face to face, is better than talking on the phone.

When 10 minutes of preparing food, is better than a 10 minute drive to the take away.

When 10 minutes writing a note to tell someone how special they are, is better than 10 minutes of thinking how special they are.

When 10 minutes of talking to someone face-to-face about an issue, is better than 10 minutes of talking to someone else about the issue.

When 10 minutes of thinking through what you’re about to do, is better than 10 minutes of just doing it.

When 10 minutes of doing something, is better than 10 minutes just thinking about doing something.

When 10 minutes of being helpful to someone, is better than 10 mins of being selfish.

When 10 minutes of talking to God, is better than 10 minutes of talking to yourself.

When 10 minutes of declaring God’s truth over your life, is better than 10 minutes of worrying.  

When 10 minutes of telling your soul to worship, is better than 10 minutes of being miserable.

There are lots of ‘10 minutes’ in a day. 

Use them wisely. 
Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th December 2020

In Philippians 4 v 8 (NIV), it says ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.’

You may be looking at 2020 and be struggling to find anything excellent or praiseworthy. And you wouldn’t be the only one.

The truth is, it is much easier to be negative than it is to be positive. Why? Being upbeat takes just that little bit more energy at times.

I want to set a challenge this weekend. Use the verse at the top as a guide and begin to count your blessings. Write them down, to read at a time when you need encouragement.

Think of something true that God has said about you in His word and declare it everyday. He has a plan for you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. The list goes on.

Begin to thank God for even small things that you consider lovely.

Instead of the scary news that is constantly reported, dig a little deeper and find out something good that has happened.

If you’ve seen a breakthrough, no matter how minor, be thankful.

Reflect a little and think of a time when an opportunity arose that you couldn’t have made happen for yourself. That was God.

Who are the people in your life that lift your spirit? Thank God for them. In fact, why not reach out and let them know?

God has a promise for us, when we are deliberate about filling our minds with good things; verse 9 goes on to say ‘that the God of peace will be with you.’

Counting your blessings will change your perspective and I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd December 2020

I have the car insured, I have the house insured, I have my life insured, I even have the dishwasher insured. We all understand insurance. We pay the price and if it all goes wrong someone else gets us out of trouble.

I think I can sometimes also be guilty of treating God as if he is insurance. I give my tithe, I serve in Church, I try to be good. When it all goes wrong I pray to God and he sorts it out for me and gets me out of trouble!

The problem is that faith in Jesus is not insurance! Firstly, we all know that bad things happen to good people. Jesus himself tells us that ‘in this life you will have trouble’ (John 16:33). Not may or perhaps but definitely will have. Secondly, our relationship with God would be a bit one sided if it only consisted of ‘please God get me out of the mess that my decisions and choices have created’. I am afraid that sounds a bit like most of my prayers!

Now don’t get me wrong, God loves every one of us, is gracious and forgiving and so he gives us a new start every morning. However, our relationship with Jesus is not about ‘paying’ for insurance but about something far more powerful and life changing. It is about Assurance. 

The definition of assurance in the dictionary is:  a promise or pledge; a guarantee; full confidence; freedom from doubt; freedom from timidity; self confidence and even presumptuous boldness. I love that last one – presumptuous boldness. When was the last time I was presumptuously bold about my faith?

So now we know what assurance means let’s apply that to the word of God.

‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see’ (Hebrews 11:1). What the writer of Hebrews is saying is that our faith in Jesus brings us a promise, a pledge, freedom from doubt, freedom from timidity and presumptuous boldness about the things that are currently hidden from us. Having assurance that God is there working, even when we cannot see of even feel it.

‘let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings’ (Hebrew 10:22)

It is easy to have assurance in things we do see but God says we should have the same assurance about what we cannot see – now that is a life-changing word. Right now there are a lot of things in my life that I ‘do not see’ but God’s word says that I need to sincerely draw near to him with faith and know that I can be free. Free from doubt, free from timidity, be self-confident and even presumptuously bold because God is with me and therefore who can be against me.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd December 2020

Christmas is coming! Christmas at its essence is a celebration of the hope, joy and peace found in Jesus. 

Ironically, for many it is the exact opposite of joyful and peaceful. The season can become a stressful flurry of functions, blowing budgets, navigating busy shopping centres, and attempting to orchestrate family gatherings. It can be stressful! 

Stress is actually a modern day word for fear and pressure. Let me find your greatest stress points, and I will probably find your greatest fears. 

Stress will do the following if you let it: 

1. Compromise your health. 
2. Increase your irritability and anger. 

3. Hinder your ability to hear from God. 

4. Cause you to lose perspective about what Christmas is really all about.

 5. Impact your connection with others. 

The purpose of Christmas should be literally the opposite of the above:

 1. It should be a time for your body and soul to rest, relax and get refreshed. 

2. It should be a season of rekindled joy in Jesus. 

3. It should be a time to hear from God and find fresh hope. 

4. You should be able to maintain focus on the reason for the season.

 5. It should be a time of connecting with others on a deeper level. 

Stress is far from what God intends this up and coming season to be about. In fact, God invites you to step into new levels of hope, peace and joy this season! 

Can I encourage all of us, to not just accept the culturally normal ‘stress’ of the season and to choose a better way? Protect yourself from stress. Eliminate anything that robs you from the true meaning of Christmas.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st December 2020

This year many people have been living under an incredibly heavy sense of fear, worry and anxiety. 

I have intentionally chosen to face fear head on in this season. 

I have been reading a book by Mark DeJesus, called ‘I Will Not Fear’. Let me save you some time and give you a quick summary. 

One of the keys in overcoming fear is renewing your mind/changing the way you think. 

DeJesus poses five questions: 

1. What are you focusing on? 

Whatever you give your attention to grows. 

2. What is the narrative you are listening to? 

You choose what story you are listening to – the news, the negativity from your colleague, or the truth of the word. 

3. What do you look for? 

You will be taken wherever your expectations are. If you have a radar for fear and drama, you will find it. 

4. What do you talk about? 

Your language reinforces what you think. Your words also speak things into being. Pay attention to your words. 

5. What actions are you taking? 

Making decisions based on fear is not faith living. It is not the life God has empowered you to live. Consider what is motivating you in your day-to-day decisions. 

Romans 12:2, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’.  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th November 2020

Smith Wigglesworth was born on 8 June 1859 to an impoverished family in Yorkshire. 

As a small child, he worked in the fields pulling turnips alongside his mother. 

He was illiterate until, at the age of 23, he married Polly, who taught him to read. He often said that the Bible was the only book he ever read.

He was a successful plumber by trade, but left it behind it after God spoke to him and called him from his small beginnings to a world-wide ministry of preaching and healing. 

There are accounts of at least a dozen people being raised from the dead after he prayed for them. One such person was his wife, who complained that heaven was far too wonderful to come back. He said on one occasion that he would rather see one person come to know Jesus through his preaching than 10,000 healed.

Life was not always easy for Smith Wigglesworth. He went through some very hard times. He wrote, ‘Great faith is a product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.’

The Bible is very realistic when it comes to describing how we all have to go through hard times, stating that it is these very trials that make us rather than break us. 

Smith Wigglesworth’s life inspires us to understand that out of the some of the most difficult beginnings, an amazing plan can unfold if you will simply hand your life over to God. 

Stop thinking that something is wrong when you go through difficulties; stress and strain are all part of life’s rich tapestry of forging something deep inside of us that can never be bought.

What does an obstetrician say when a pregnant mother complains about morning sickness and her clothes are getting too tight? They simply say that it’s all part of the process of giving birth to something very special.

Today, don’t try to escape the pain, the conflict and the problems of your life, instead embrace them as your best teacher and your best coach. You are about to give birth, not only to a next level you, but to a next level life.  

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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th November 2020

How you enter a place is very important.  You can usually tell in the first few seconds about a person by the way they enter.  
“Hello!”  “How are you?” Happy smiling faces… usually indicate good things are ahead.  
I’m sure we’ve all dreaded the person who has entered a room and we’re wondering what they are going to be like today? Good mood? Bad mood?  You know the ones.

Psalm 100 vs 4 says “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, give thanks and praise His name.”  

Even the writer here knew how important entering was. 

When we come into God’s presence (and that in itself is an absolute privilege), we should do so, with thanksgiving and praise, 
not straight into a list of “God I need or want this.”  

This week is thanksgiving. A time to remember how thankful we should be and how blessed we really are.  
We shouldn’t however, just wait until thanksgiving to be thankful.  

Being thankful will take you to a new level in your life.  
The way you start a sentence, the way you enter a room, will set the scene for what’s to come.  
So when we come into God’s presence, let’s do so with thankfulness.  
When we enter into a new day, let’s enter with gratitude.  
When we enter into bed at night, let’s do so with a thankful heart.

When you walk into someone’s home, you should be careful how you enter…with respect and thankfulness that you have the opportunity to be there.  
The way you enter says a lot about you.  

If you as a parent, see your children enter into your presence with thankfulness, think about how that impacts you as a parent and does your heart good. 

Today, I want you to really think about the word ENTER and whether it be going to a place, walking into your own lounge, 
or entering into the very presence of God, let’s enter well.  

It will determine the blessings and the experiences that are to follow.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th November 2020

One of my husband’s main jobs in our home is sorting out anything to do with the cars such as taking them for service. I remember a few years back when he had to take my then car for its annual safety check, which is known as an MOT Test. As the car was only a few years old, and had had no issues on previous test occasions, and was running well and feeling safe to drive, the thought of failure didn’t cross my mind. I had every confidence that everything was alright. I was therefore surprised and saddened to  hear that the car had failed the test and that certain parts had to be replaced before it would pass the test and be considered safe again.

It made me think of how we can be going along in life quite happily, oblivious to things in our hearts which have the potential of taking us off course and causing harm to ourselves and others. I thought of unconfessed sin, past hurts, wrong attitudes and mindsets, beliefs and thoughts that are contrary to God’s word. In certain circumstances, any of these hidden issues could be triggered and cause problems.

As with an unsafe car, it is not only the driver who is in potential danger, but also those travelling with him and other road users. There can be those issues in our lives past or present, which can cause us to act, speak or behave in a certain way. In this way we harm ourselves, those nearest and dearest to us, and those we meet and spend time with. If undealt with this can become a cycle or pattern in our lives. 

I have heard a teaching once on how we often need something similar to a spiritual MOT. This is an opportunity to allow God (the divine mechanic) to lift the bonnet of our lives and, in the words of the Psalm 139 vs 23 -24 it says ‘search’, ‘test’, and ‘point out’ those things which ‘offend’. Then, as David’s prayer would suggest, when these things are exposed, the Lord is able to help us deal with these problem areas in our lives, as He leads us along the path of everlasting life.

If we come to Him in humility, acknowledging our need of Him, in His grace and mercy, He will help us identify what is not right, and show us what we need to do about it. Then, as, in obedience, these matters are dealt with in the way He directs, we will become a stronger, safer and a person of integrity on the roadway of life, as we honour and serve Him.

Christine Mudenha 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th November 2020

We don’t do things for God, with a selfish ambition. That would not be doing it for God, and God knows the motives of our heart. 

But there are biblical promises and principles that are in the Bible for the very purpose of releasing blessing over your life. God wants you to be blessed, so he gives you some pretty clear, and practical handles on how to be. 

Here are five things you can do for others that the Bible promises will release blessing on your life: 

1. Be kind. Kindness goes a long way. Kindness is not this soft and passive attribute, it is actually very powerful in the kingdom of God. The promise of kindness according to Proverbs is that ‘those who are kind benefit themselves’ (Proverbs 11:17). 

2. Be generous. There is more than enough evidence in scripture that living an open-handed life will release blessing into your life. ‘One person gives freely, yet gains even more…a generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed’ (Proverbs 11: 24&25). 

3. Be forgiving. This one can be a tough one. Letting go of what others have wrongly done to you is a challenge. The Bible is clear though that if you cannot forgive others, how can you expect God to forgive you. If you have truly had a revelation of God’s grace and mercy toward your shortcomings, you should have the ability to extend it to others. By forgiving others, you release blessing in your life and save yourself from the destructive power of bitterness. 

4. Have a heart for the poor. We are called to have a generous lifestyle, but more than that, have a heart for people in lack and need. God says that when we serve those struggling, we are honouring God himself. Isaiah 58:10 says, ‘If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday’.

Proverbs 14:21 says, ‘blessed is he who is generous to the poor’. It seems that as we look after the poor, God looks after us. 

5. Promote peace. Proverbs 12:20 says, ‘…those who promote peace have joy’. Someone who is not promoting peace is someone whose words are reckless, and lips cause division through gossip or lies. A peace promoter, is someone with a tongue that instead heals and builds. A peace promoter is someone who is trustworthy and ‘God delights in people who are trustworthy’ (Proverbs 12:22).  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th November 2020

What is your Red Sea right now? 

The Israelites stood on the edge of what seemed an impossible barrier – a sea. (Exodus 14:29-31). 

The Egyptians were closing in on them from behind. 

There came a moment where the Israelites had to trust their God to do the impossible. To defy natural order. God had to make a way – literally. And He did! A miracle wind blew the Red Sea into two walls of water, allowing the Israelites to walk through the impossible, before the water crashed in on their enemy! (Sound crazy? Well they have actually discovered in recent years the weapons and armour of the Egyptians at the bottom of the Red Sea!). 

Perhaps you are standing on the edge of a Red Sea so to speak – an impossible situation where only God can make a way. 

Perhaps you’re feeling claustrophobic as you feel the enemy closing in on you. 

Our God is the God of the impossible. He can defy natural order. He can part your Red Sea, but there has to be a moment of trust. A moment where you call on God to do what is far beyond anything you could do. Have faith that He is able. 

Don’t forget that timing is everything. Had the Egyptians been any closer, and they would have got the Israelites. Had they been too far off, and they would not have been swept away. God’s timing for a miracle is never late, but always on time.   

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th November 2020


According to the laws of aerodynamics, the bumble bee should not be able to fly as its body mass is too heavy for its wingspan. One problem—the bumble bee has not been informed.

The world would come to a standstill if it were run by those who say ‘it can’t be done’.

Today, refuse to let the word ‘impossible’ stop you.

Do you feel you are in a hopeless situation? Is there no sign of a change in the natural? Hold on in there—what looks impossible with man is possible with God.

In the Bible God told Abraham that 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 the verse (ROMANS 4 v 18) says ‘…hoping against all hopeless circumstances he believed’, but just as he was promised they eventually had a son named Isaac.

Most of us are persuaded into believing for too little, rather than believing for too much.

Today I encourage you to go against all the odds. Hold on to your promise by faith.

Keep believing. Keep moving forward.

Don’t focus on the impossible circumstances, focus on the God who makes the impossible possible.

Attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd November 2020

The story is told of a man who kept a private list of 15 men that he prayed for every day of his life.

Each day he would pray for all 15 by name.

Some of them alcoholics, some of them criminals and some of them just plain old atheists.

His prayer was simple: “JESUS, I want each of these men to be transformed by you and for them to acknowledge you as their Lord and Saviour in my lifetime.”

The years rolled by and one by one he was able to tick the names of the men off his list, as they came to know Jesus and have their lives transformed.

As he lay dying, he was perturbed that his prayer for just one remaining hardened man, had still been unanswered.

Would it be that this man would escape his prayers? Sadly, he never lived to find out.

However, the day of his of funeral came and at that very service the man that had seemingly escaped his prayers, surrendered his life to Jesus.

Fifteen out of fifteen! 

Sometimes you can pray for something, but you don’t see the answer right away or maybe not even in your lifetime.

It’s possible that the thing that you’re praying for is not ready, or is not God’s perfect timing yet. Your prayers will not be ignored or discarded.

Prayers don’t have an expiration date, so keep praying for that loved one that seems a million miles away from God; keep praying for that impossible situation, keep believing for God to move.

He is doing much more behind your back than He is in front of your face.

Hold on in prayer. 

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st November 2020

Elijah asked the widow in 1 Kings 17 to bring him something to eat and drink. “I have nothing she said, except a little…”

The widow was about to die. No husband to care for her and a famine in the land. She had nothing!! (Or so she thought). Maybe she had prayed for a miracle? 

God sent the prophet Elijah to ask her for some food, this was actually a test. When you’re in the middle of a great need and you’re praying, remember this: God is already up to something!
So Elijah came and asked her to feed him “I don’t have anything” she said “except…”

Don’t say you don’t have anything.  
We will always have something. It may not be money, but it may be a little food, or even if there is neither, you may have time or a skill. We all have something. God wants to use you in the miracle! Did you hear that? 

So often we sit around waiting for God…and God says “I want to use what you have.”
Here she practised the principal of FIRST. Before she died (because she said this was her last meal before she died) God wanted to know if she was willing to give what she DID have.  

A little oil and a little flour, to FIRST make the man of God some food. 
God always wants to know what we are doing with what we have and are we putting God first with it? Are we returning our tithe to God? Are we bringing an offering?  

For it’s in what we have and the principles that we apply from God’s word, that will bring about our miracle. 
Today, ask God what He wants you to do, what He wants you to give. 
It may not be much that He is asking for, it may be everything you have, but know this: He is about to bring your miracle into play. 

The widow was saved and her son, her food supply didn’t run out (even in a famine) because she put God first and applied the principles of God’s word. 

So the next time you think “I dont have anything” think again.  
God wants YOU to be part of the miracle. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th November 2020

The benefits of wisdom are priceless! I am not talking about book-smart knowledge, or worldly wisdom. I am talking about the wisdom of God – thinking the way God thinks. 

Proverbs is packed with truth after truth on how wisdom will save your life, add to your life, bless your life. 

Proverbs 4 alone says that as you gain wisdom, ‘you will live’, ‘wisdom will protect you’, ‘wisdom will watch over you’, ‘wisdom will exalt you and honour you’, ‘it will add years to your life’, ‘it will allow you to run and not stumble’, and it will ‘give health to your body’. 

It is funny how we don’t always stop to hear God’s ideas on things, or pick up the Bible to get Godly perspective, but we will constantly hustle for things like life, peace, health, protection, honour in other (less secure) things like; insurance, CCTVs on our houses, multi-vitamins, careers, approval of others. I am not saying all these things are bad, BUT there is a promise from God that hungering after Godly wisdom and applying Godly wisdom will offer you all those things that you are after (and sometime pay a lot of money for)! Wisdom will safeguard your life and allow it to thrive. Attaining the wisdom of God should be our absolute priority! 

It gets even better! God offers us wisdom generously! As priceless as it is, it isn’t this rare diamond that you have to hunt down! James 1:5 says, ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.’

Come on! Who doesn’t want or need the wisdom of God in their life?!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th November 2020

Sometimes as Christians we forget the spiritual authority that we have been given! 

Jesus said that we would do all He did PLUS more (John 14:12)! The authority that Jesus walked in is available to us. We already have it, some of us just need to access it. It is like having a bank account that you aren’t withdrawing from (it’s a limitless bank account too).

The Devil knows the only way he can rob you of your God-given authority and position in Christ is if he can get you to doubt it. A doubting Christian makes for a very ineffective one. Just as he would like it. We blend in with everyone else that way. 

Look at what the Devil said to Jesus in the desert … ‘IF you are the son…’ (Mathew 4:6). The enemy’s first tactic is to get you questioning your position, leaving you passive in exercising your heavenly authority. 

A few weeks ago my husband and I were in Scotland on the hunt for some highland cows! We finally found three on someone’s property and they were HUGE, beast-like creatures. You certainly would not want to go near one. Funnily enough, they were enclosed in this pathetic, tiny little wire fence that they could tear down in an instant! If only they knew their capacity and ability. The same goes for many passive Christians. We have no idea of our capabilities in God. We struggle with identity and doubt, ‘maybe I’m not really a son or daughter of God?’ As a result we have relinquished our power to walk as Jesus walked.

Remind yourself of who you are in God, and your position in Christ. Step into all that God has called you to. Walk in your heavenly authority. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th November 2020

Do you wrestle with comparison? Me too!

I want to try and help you today to see the reality of comparison, and I think it will help me as well!
What brought this to light recently was a story I came across in the Bible, where a guy by the name of Jacob wants to marry a girl called Rachel. Jacob strikes a deal with Rachel’s father where he can work for him for seven years in return for his daughter in marriage.

So Jacob completes the seven years of work, but instead of being given Rachel, he is given Rachel’s sister, Leah. The Bible says that ‘Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful’ (Genesis‬ ‭29:17‬). So Jacob makes a second deal with Rachel’s father where he can marry her in return for another seven years of work. Now Jacob has two wives! (Cultural differences… don’t get any ideas).

Then here is where the reality of comparison hit me… Genesis 29:31 says, ‘When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.’

In other words, Leah had something that Rachel wanted (to bear children) and Rachel had something that Leah wanted (to be loved). And isn’t that the truth of comparison? While we’re envying what others have, without even realising it, they’re envying what we have.

While we want their influence, they want our friendships. While we want their earnings, they want our joy. While we want their career, they want our family…

So here is what I propose to you today… be content with what you have!

I am confident that life becomes so much more enjoyable when we are content with who we are, rather than focused on who we’re not, grateful for what we have, rather than wishing we had what we don’t.

I’m not saying not to have dreams and aspirations, but please understand that what is celebrated in others always has a cost attached to it.

So today, let’s be thankful for who we are and what we have, remembering that many of the things we overlook are on somebody else’s wishlist.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th November 2020

Anyone that knows me will know that I don’t like the cold. The circulation in my hands and feet has always been pretty poor which means I have to endure the winter months. I also have an aversion to cold water. My family laugh at me standing at the side of a swimming pool on holiday as I pluck up the courage to get in, even when on such occasions the weather is usually hot.  They shout from the pool ‘it’s okay once you’re in’, to which I reply, ‘I know, but I’m not in.’

I’m frustrating to watch, but I prefer to take my time to acclimatise rather than feel the sudden shock on my body.  I know I’m a chicken, but I have my reasons — two in fact. The first came as a result of being pushed into a freezing cold pool as a child and being unable to do anything about it. The second was much more serious. A school friend of mine died of shock through getting into a freezing cold reservoir while his body had baked all afternoon in the sun.

Both events have affected my life by instilling fear into me.

FEAR robs us of doing simple things that normally wouldn’t have been a problem. Fear is a limit-setter for your life. It’s not something that you were born with but is something that you pick up along the way.  My two grandsons know nothing of my fear, so they are happy to be thrown into water as many times as I have the strength for.

I also feared flying, but have overcome that by ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway.’ Many times my wife would have to hold my hand on a turbulent flight just to reassure me, however, I refused to allow it to limit the opportunities that were coming my way. 

The simple question that I had to ask myself was this: are you going to let fear rule your day or your destiny? My answer had to be NO!

What pool do you have to jump in today? What plane do you have to fly on today? I don’t mean literally, but in the sense of what fear do you have to conquer today?

Whose hand are you holding?

Perfect love drives out all fear.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

The simple meaning of this verse for you today is this: once you know the hand of the one that’s holding you, loving you unconditionally, and refusing to let you go, then you can step on fear and use it as a springboard to move forward.

DON’T allow fear to cripple you, defeat you, or destroy you.

Trust in Jesus. He’s waiting to catch you as you jump into the pool of your greatest fears.

It’s okay once you’re in!

You’ll never look back.  

Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th November 2020

Joseph had a great destiny. How do we know that? 
Because God told him in a dream that one day he would be great and that people would bow down to him. 

It seemed to all go horribly wrong, because a short time later he found himself fighting for his life in a pit at the hands of his very own family. 
Life can suddenly turn, but what happens to us in that hole is very important. 
Had God changed His mind? No. Did He still love Joseph? Yes. Would He still fulfil His purpose for Him? Yes.

Just because life doesn’t always run like we would want it to, doesn’t mean that God has left us. 
Why is it that the minute something ‘seems to go wrong’ in our eyes, we thinks it’s all over? No my friend, it’s called life. God uses any and every situation to ‘work things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to HIS purpose’. (See Romans 8 vs 28). 

Joseph did not die in that hole and neither should you. Keep trusting and believing God. He is the master builder of our lives… and to build something ‘master class’ takes time. 

Your responsibility is to keep a great heart and a great attitude in the meantime. Whatever ‘hole’ you find yourself in. 

One day Joseph was in a pit, the next day he was running someone’s household. One day he was in a prison cell, the next day in charge of everything and living in a palace!

It doesn’t matter what today looks like, tomorrow can be different. 
Trust God and keep a great heart and attitude. 

Pastor Gillian 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th November 2020

There’s a great documentary called ‘The Great Whale Rescue’. In it comedian John Bishop follows the story of the relocating of two Beluga Whales from captivity in a small water park in China to a wild sanctuary in Iceland.

What was amazing was the amount of effort and cooperation needed by so many to fund the project, build specialised harnesses and transportation tanks, get correct authorisation for transport by lorry, ferry and planes to go 6000 miles around the world. And not to mention the six month acclimatisation needed in a bespoke tank in Iceland to help the whales put on enough blubber to cope with the new temperatures.

Not only did it take this colossal effort on the part of people but also the whales themselves had to go through a process of real discomfort. Travelling for days in a tiny transport tank, being separated from each other for the first time in their lives. 
So, was it worth it? The vast funds it took and effort, the stress on the whales themselves? 

When you finally see them swimming in the wide open spaces that God had always intended for them, compared to the 10 years they had spent in a small circus tank, certainly for the whales it was well worth the cost. 

This I felt is a great picture of what our lives are. We were uniquely created to live in the wide open spaces of a relationship with God. You may have spent many years suffering and frustrated in the smallness of a fruitless and at times confusing life. But God made huge plans and fulfilled them at a great great cost in the person of Jesus Christ to pave the way for us to enter into a new life, one we were always created to be in. 

You may at times feel like you are in the wrong place, a square peg in a round hole, swimming in circles to please people and ultimately feeling disappointed at lack of progress. I want to encourage you today, you are uniquely designed to thrive in the wide open spaces, to soar like an Eagle looking down on all creation with the ultimate peace of knowing you are home.

At times we have to, like the whales, put ourselves in situations we naturally don’t want, like a harness lifting us into a smaller tank. The Church is God’s chosen transportation device to help relocate us to our natural habitat but we have to be brave and have faith that He will work all things to our good!

With all that’s going on in this season, keep believing, keep trusting, stay connected to the church and know that he has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future!

Romans 5:1-2 | MSG By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th November 2020

Are you desperate for a holiday? Did Corona cancel your trip? Struggling to find the motivation without the promise of your next break? 

Can I encourage you in that there is refreshment available to you? There is respite for you. 

And it is not just a physical rest, it is deeper than that, it is a refreshment of the soul. A soul refilling. A rest for your heart. 

God says, come to me if you are tired and weary and I will give you REST (Matthew 11:28).

God didn’t say come to Hawaii for rest, come to a spa for a break, (as necessary as these things are), He said come to ME for deep rest. 

If you are exhausted from 2020 (most of us I imagine), if you are drained and dreary, if you are quite simply – ‘just over it’, then I encourage you to go to the Father for what you really need. 

Spend a few minutes now, receiving a fresh infilling from Him. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th November 2020

Proverbs 29:18 says, ‘Without revelation people run wild, but one who follows divine instruction will be happy’. Another translation, ‘Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint.’

Restraint is really good for you! Is it always fun? NO! Does it always FEEL good at the time? NO! Just ask a screaming three year old being held back from a busy road by a parent, or an engaged couple waiting to move in together. 

Saying ‘no’, setting boundaries, have restraint is not always a feel good experience, but it is biblical and leads to great satisfaction, blessing, wholeness, favour and health! 

Resisting the urge to eat badly and going to the gym instead, will earn you the body and health you want. Honouring God’s word and keeping sex for marriage will reward you with blessing, protection and favour in your marriage. Withholding from buying that outfit you ‘must’ have will reward you with financial freedom from debt and allow you start saving for things that really matter. 

Restraint = reward! 

Restraint could also be called ‘self-control’, which happens to be a fruit of the Spirit! In other words, when you are walking with the Holy Spirit, self-control should manifest in your life! Restraint should be one of the hallmarks of the Christian life! Which means that the subsequent blessing, health and freedom should also be one of the hallmarks of a Christian life. When the world looks at you, they should see you thriving in the safety and security of restraint! Don’t let the world fool you into believing that true freedom is following your feelings. That’s not freedom. Quite the opposite in fact – you are a slave to your feelings and wants. 

So how do you practice restraint according to proverbs? You get a vision. Get a God-given goal for your relationships, finances, health, and job. When a vision from God is propelling you forward, it is easy to say no to anything that is not in line with that vision – you know what you want, you know what you are running towards!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th November 2020

Psalm 118 is the exact middle chapter of the entire Bible.

Psalm 117 is obviously before Psalm 118 and is the shortest chapter in the Bible.

Psalm 119 is obviously after Psalm 118 and is the longest chapter in the Bible.

The Bible has 594 chapters before Psalm 118, and 594 chapters after Psalm 118.

If you add up all the chapters, except Psalm 118, you get a total of 1188 chapters. 

1188 or Psalm 118 verse 8 is the middle verse of the entire Bible.

Is it hardly surprising that the very central verse of the whole Bible should contain a very central message for every human being on the planet?

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” – Psalm 118:8.

If ever there was a time to trust in God rather than to put our trust in mere men it is surely now.  
There we have it. Beautiful.  

Proverbs 3:5-10 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th November 2020

Be careful what you ask for!

Billy Graham was one of the most well loved and respected Christians in all of history. His wife, Ruth, told the story that she had asked God on many occasions to give her a husband. She had had several of her prayers ‘turned down’ by God—something that she was not happy about. Later in life, after being married to this most incredible man, she said that she was forever grateful that God didn’t answer any of her prayers that she had prayed as a young woman. He had only answered the one that gave her the husband that was right for her. They were happily married for almost 64 years. 

In the book of 1Samuel, the Bible records that the people kept insisting that they wanted a King. Their current leader, Samuel, was now well advanced in years and they felt that a younger guy needed to replace him. No matter how many times they were counselled that a new king would lead them into disarray, they still insisted that they wanted a new leader. 

In 1 Samuel 8:10-22, Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: he will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plough his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we shall be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.’

When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, ‘Listen to them and give them a king.’
In the end, God gave into their requests and gave them Saul as their king. 

Saul was neither the right man or the right choice. God only gave him to them because they insisted that they knew better. Remember, you have a free will. At times God will allow you to make decisions and to ask for things based on what you think is right for you. Before you make foolish decisions, seek wise counsel and be open to God to change your mind. 

A lifetime of misery awaits those that insist that they know what’s best. 
Be careful what you prayer for and insist on. God may just give it to you!

Ask yourself some simple questions today:
What am I insisting on just because I think I know best?

Am I seeking counsel from anyone wiser then myself in this matter?

Do you sense that the Holy Spirit is telling you to back off?

Is one of your traits that of being ‘pig headed’?

Remember: God knows what’s best for your life; If you get your own way you are actually pushing away the very best that God has for you if you’ll only wait. 

 If Ruth Graham had have had her prayers answered according to what she felt was right, she may have had a life of misery! Instead, she waited for God’s best and had the most incredible life. 

Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th November 2020

In this time of restriction and being unable to do certain things, let’s remember again how important it is, to not concentrate on what we can’t do, but concentrate on what we CAN do. 

Prayer & Worship are two things that you’ll always have the privilege of.  Even if you find yourself in a jail cell (like Paul & Silas) you will still have the opportunity to pray and worship. And remember: those are the best two things you can do, they are the most powerful and the most effective. 

Never take for granted the opportunity to talk to God at any time and always make the most of every opportunity to open your mouth in worship. It’s prayer and worship that brings miracles, opens prison doors and sees the impossible become possible. 

In Luke 18 there’s a blind man sitting by the road begging, he hears a commotion from the people and asks what is going on. They tell him that Jesus is passing by. He sees his opportunity (not with his physical eyes) but spiritually and internally,  to call out to Jesus.  Jesus hears him and asks in verse 40 “what do you want me to do for you?”

“I want to see”  he says. Jesus would have known he was blind, but he wanted him to speak out his desire and need.  Jesus immediately heals him and says “your faith has healed you.”  Wow.  That’s what Jesus can do for you!

In these days of commotion and rumblings, take every opportunity to call on Jesus.  He’s waiting for your shout.  Even in the midst of all that crowd noise, he heard that blind man! Have you thought about that?   

Prayer & Worship are POWERFUL.  They will change situations and bring down those walls.  They will bring about your breakthrough, deliverance and healing. 

No wonder, the enemy tries to shut us up. 

Call out for Him today. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th November 2020

Psalm 121:1 ‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord,the Maker of heaven and earth.’

In this crazy time of uncertainty, it’s completely natural to look to the world for help and security. We can easily look to circumstances as a solution and a safety net for our lives. This makes perfect sense! And yet this psalm tells us not to look to the obvious for help.

The hills represent worldly strength, or the logical place of help. I.e. You have a health issue, look for a doctor. You need more money, look for a pay rise at work. You’re lonely, look at getting a pet.

It makes sense in life to look for help in the obvious places (the hills) yet this psalm encourages us to look up past the hills and to the creator of the hills.

He is where our help truly comes from, and he wants you to trust in him, to look to him as provider. God loves it when he sees his children choose him over the easier more logical solutions to their problems.

This also then encourages us in our needs to actually see them as opportunities! An opening for us through faith to make God’s day by looking to him, the maker of the Heavens and the Earth!

I encourage you at this confusing and uncertain time of lockdown to look to God for help. It doesn’t mean we forsake helping ourselves or being reckless but that we seek Jesus first.

Also when we look to him for our help it takes pressure off our jobs and relationships. We stop seeing our job as the only possible provider of cash and achievement, we stop seeing relationships as the only place we get acceptance.

Shift your focus today and put your hope in Him – the maker of Heaven and Earth.

‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.’

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th November 2020

Nothing that is happening in your life right now is a surprise to God. An obvious statement, you may think but sometimes, I find myself relaying the details of my life to Him as though he wasn’t there.

Uncertainty can have the potential to derail us emotionally. A lot of the anxiety that we experience in life is caused by feeling out of control.

Today, I want to remind you that the burdens you’re carrying were never designed for you to carry. Naturally, when we’re faced with problems, our instinct is to want to fix them. But Philippians 4 v 6 tells us otherwise: ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’

Our relationship with God doesn’t require solutions, it requires trust. Start by inviting Him into your day today, talk to Him about what you’re carrying and then make a conscious effort to lay it down. And watch peace sweep in, where your troubles once were.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th November 2020

Yesterday I was trying to keep a dwindling log fire going. 

I regularly had to poke the fire, prod the embers and add on logs. The fire was lovely, but a degree of maintenance was involved. 

It reminds me of when Paul encouraged Timothy ‘to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you’ (2 Timothy 1:6). 

You may feel a bit flat in your faith. The fire once burning in your belly is perhaps dwindling. 

There is a spiritual responsibility for us to “fan into flame” that which has been imparted. The flame of our faith isn’t going to roar if we aren’t feeding it fuel.
If you’re feeling weak, disconnected, and cold, can I encourage you to add fuel to your faith? Connect with the Holy Spirit. Spend time in prayer, worship and the word. Reflect. Connect with others. 

Your flame is your personal responsibility. It is not the job of your pastor, leader, spouse or parent to keep your spiritual fervour alive. Your relationship with God is personal. 

The flame of your faith needs feeding. Don’t neglect it. Keep on burning!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd November 2020

I’m writing from the Scottish highlands – surely one of the most beautiful parts of the world! 

We’ve been driving around for days, marvelling at the majestic mountains, teeming with waterfalls, the on-top-of-the-world-views, and the vibrant autumnal colours. 

On day one of the trip we found the most basic river absolutely stunning and had to pull over for a photo. By day four we were so used to the vast, grandeur of beauty that we actually started to lose our sense of awe (despite the scenery being far better than what “wowed” us at day one!). We got used it. It became familiar. 

It’s really easy to lose our sense of wonder. It’s easy to lose our sense of gratefulness. We get used to the wonders in our life and start to just see them as the familiar normals of our day-to-day. Dare I say it, we can even become entitled about them – I expect my pay, I expect to come home to a heated house with food, I expect to wake up healthy, I expect to have everyone in my life for another day. We expect that which is actually a gift from God. 

Especially in these times, I would encourage you focus on what you do have. Remain grateful for the beauty in your life already. Don’t miss what is special because you expect it and are used to it. Be thankful. Be careful of what familiarity can breed in you. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18, ‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd November 2020

Do you find yourself worrying about the future? What’s more, do your find yourself fearing that something bad is about to happen to you, your spouse, your children and your family? Do you keep thinking about how your wonderful life could all be swept away in an instant for no apparent reason? Do you always stop short of enjoying your life for fear that it all may be taken away? If so, you are not on your own —this is a very real fear that millions of people face on a daily basis. 

Now, of course those thoughts that plague you are a possibility, as we do not know what tomorrow may bring. However, in reality they are more than likely to be sent to your mind in order to keep you paralysed with fear. Think of it like this —rather than being set free to live, you are bound by worry that is keeping you chained in the prison of your own mind. 

My Dad confessed to me some years back that he was overwhelmed by the fear that something bad was about to happen on the family holiday that he and my Mom were about to go on. This was completely irrational for my Dad as he had never been the kind of person to think like that. In the days that led up to the holiday he was privately battling with the thoughts of not going away, but couldn’t really pull out. He was convinced that should they go ahead as planned then it would surely end in disaster of some kind. 

Well, the holiday did go ahead, and upon his arrival home I asked him how it had gone and if any of his worst fears had been realised. He started to tell me that it was one of the best holidays that he and my Mom had ever been on, and that he had come back feeling totally refreshed. ‘I can only think that this was the devil trying to stop me from going somewhere that he knew would be so enjoyable and so refreshing’, he said. Agreed!

Corrie Ten Boom helped more than 800 Jews escape the Holocaust and said about worry: “Worrying about the future is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength. It is carrying two days at once. The truth is each day has its own problems, pressures and concerns. Yet, so often we are tempted to add to the strain of today, with anxious thoughts about tomorrow; regarding things which may never happen.”

How many days so far have you lost worrying about tomorrow’s problems that have never even amounted to anything? I guess the answer could be as many as several years worth. 

The opposite of worry is faith and trust in Jesus that cares about you. He never promises that you won’t go through pain, difficulty or hardship, but He does promise that He will be with you no matter what. 

For nine months a certain Bible character by the name of Job lost almost everything in his life. Listen to his confession, ‘What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.’ (Job 3:25-26)

He confessed that his fears had resulted in no rest and plenty of turmoil. We can’t say whether his troubles came to him almost as a self fulfilling prophecy, but what we do know is that they had kept him bound long before they happened. 

Today I encourage you to think like this: No matter what may come my way in my life, I’m not going to let what may stop me from living in the now of today. 

Listen to the words of Jesus:
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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

Think about it — worry is worthless. 

Now, get on with making a difference today. 


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

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.

Fresh Hope – 30th September 2020

The peace of God is powerful. Often we associate peace with all things still and passive, but in the kingdom, peace is powerful and active. Peace isn’t a feeling, it’s a person. One of the names of Jesus is ‘Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). When you are experiencing peace, you are experiencing the person of Jesus. In the world, peace is the absence of something – the absence of noise, clutter, and demands. But in the kingdom, peace is the presence of Jesus. 

The Devil is always trying to rob you of your peace. Yes, He brings fear, but He also loves to work with more socially acceptable feelings of anxiety and stress. If He can keep us occupied with stress, then our creativity is the first to go. If he can keep us anxious, then we are idolizing our circumstance, and diminishing Jesus. We have given more power to our situation or circumstance, than we have to God.

Mark 4:35-39 tells the story of Jesus on a boat with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee, ‘And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm’. 

What I most love about this account was that Jesus was asleep on His pillow. A little boat in a big storm – Oh what peace of heart He must have had to just be sleeping! And it wasn’t the storm that eventually woke Him, it was the stressed outcries of His disciples! 

Jesus calmed the storm, but corrected His disciples for not having faith, ‘But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”. The disciples had allowed stress and anxiety of circumstance, to take priority over the peace that was available to them in the midst of the storm. 

‘Anxiety’ comes from the Latin word which means ‘to choke’. A related word means ‘tightness or narrowness’. Fear works by choking and constricting the peace, life, lightness, and spaciousness of your life. This is not the model Jesus set for us. This is not the life purposed for us. 

In whatever stressful situation you are facing, fix your mind on the person of Jesus – the Prince of Peace.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th September 2020

Have you ever asked the question, ‘who am I?’ Have you ever struggled with knowing your true identity? I believe that in order to establish who you are, you must also uncover who you’re not.

Let me present to you three ‘who you’re nots’ today…
Firstly, you are not your issue. You may have an issue, but that issue is not your identity. You may be a wife who’s unable to conceive, but that is not the sum total of who you are.
You may be struggling with an addiction, but an addict is not your identity. It is possible that over time your issue has merged itself with your identity, but you need to know today that you are not your issue.

Secondly, you are not what others have called you. You may have been called ugly, stupid, worthless, a mistake, but none of those things are true about you. Just because it was spoken over your life doesn’t mean it gets to define who you are. No doubt it hurt, no doubt it has affected you in some way, but you need to know that the labels that have been placed on you do not determine your identity… you are not what you have been called.

And thirdly, you are not what you do.What you do does not define who you are. What you do is what you do, not the sum total of who you are. Yes you have a purpose to fulfil, and yes there is something amazing about a person who operates in their purpose, but it does not define you. Your value is not found in your occupation, nor is it found in your title, or lack thereof, it is found in who you are.

So who am I? You’re God’s creation. His child. His son. His daughter. Created in His image. Before you were born, before you could do anything, good or bad, His mind was made up about you. Your identity had already been set in place. You are His, and nothing you can do and nothing anyone can say can change that.

Who am I? You are not your issue, you are not what others have called you and you are not what you do. You, my friend are a child of God – that is who you are.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th September 2020

There is not a single person reading this today that will be exempt from temptation – in fact, everyone at some time this week will be tempted.

You may well right now be battling with the most severe temptation of your life and are doing everything you can just to stay afloat.

Temptations are like presents—they come attractively gift wrapped and they come in all shapes and sizes! They get delivered right to your door at the time when you are most vulnerable. The urge will be to open them as soon as possible.

Here are some misconceptions about temptation:

  • Temptation is sin—No it isn’t!  Jesus was tempted but never sinned. Temptations role is to lead us to sin, but it is not sin itself.

Hebrews 4:15 ‘Jesus…has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin’. 

  • I’m the only one struggling with temptation right now —No, you’re not! Temptation is common to all people.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear‘.

  • There’s no way that I can overcome this temptation—Yes you can!

1 Corinthians 10:13 ‘…But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’

  • I’m a very strong person so I’ll never get pulled down by temptation—be careful!

1 Corinthians 10:12 ‘So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!’

  • I’ll be glad when this phase of my life is over – This particular phase will pass, but temptation will be part of your life until the day that you die!

Luke 4:13 ‘When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him [Jesus]until an opportune time’.
Whatever you’re going through right now, be sure to know that you are not alone. Jesus has gone through it all for you so that you can overcome. Ask Him to strengthen you right now. 
Remember: there’s always free cheese on a mouse trap…so walk on by. 

If you are finding yourself overwhelmed by temptation of ANY kind, then be sure to call someone that you trust and tell them the truth about what you are going through. Make yourself accountable to them, otherwise you may well end up ruining your life as you travel by yourself down this very slippery slope. 

Ephesians 6:10-12 ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th September 2020

I wrote a couple of weeks ago from the life of Daniel. About how he set himself apart to pray and seek God… even though setting yourself apart is not always easy, in fact it’s often a sacrifice – God will always bless you.

 I love how no one else knew the answer, but Daniel (the Christian) did.  The sorcerers, the wise men of the day, the magicians, the people with the supposed knowledge hadn’t got a clue, so Daniel said to his friends “come on, we are going to pray.”

 Daniel 2 vs 17 & 18  “Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends…He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of Heaven, concerning the mystery.”

I’ve said it before and I will say it again… when you don’t know what to do, when you don’t have the answer, ask God, He will give the wisdom to those who ask.   James 1 vs 5 “if anyone lacks wisdom, ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.”

Right now, there are many people who are struggling for answers. Those who try to come up with some are even changing their minds days later. My friend, today if you have a relationship with the living God, then you have an advantage. 
You can get yourself into the presence of an Almighty God and talk to Him!

As a parent, if your child came to you because they were confused and needed help and answers, what sort of parent would you be if you ignored them?  How much more then does our God give wisdom to those who ask Him?  How much more does God want to help those who earnestly seek Him?

The biggest cause of unanswered prayer, is un-prayed prayer. Today, take advantage of the beautiful thing that we have – being able to get into His presence and have a relationship with Him.  
I have been asking God this week to speak to me about things. Guess what??!! He did. You only have to ask.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th September 2020

When I got married my name changed.
I took on my husband’s name, Cartwright. 
(nowhere near as cute or interesting as Mukoyogo, but way easier to pronounce).

When I fell in love with Jesus, I became a Christian and entered into a relationship with the Creator of the Universe Himself, God (aka Yahweh).

In the book ‘God has a name’ by John Mark Comer, he helps to illustrate the incredible privilege it is to be known and loved by the living God and in so doing helps us to recognise the true identity and name by which we should live under.

God ‘Yahweh’ is locked in a relationship with us. There is a symbiotic relationship between Yahweh’s name, his reputation and how we the people of God live.

As God’s people we are called by his name. We are in an incredible marriage-like, family-like relationship with the God of the universe. With that comes a staggering responsibility to mirror and mimic what God is like to the world!

He is after a godly people who are like the God they worship.
A people compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
A people who live in the tension of mercy and justice.

The above describes the nature of God s character, attributes that we who follow Jesus should desire to emulate.

How are you doing on that front? 
Take a look again at the description of the nature of God, as he describes himself in Exodus 34 v5-7.

You are a living breathing example to the world of what God is like,
You are a house of God,
You carry his name,
Everywhere you go,
In all that you do,
You are His!
And he calls you Beloved!

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th September 2020

Recently I have felt challenged to pray for the geographical area in which I live. I was hearing story after story, through various podcasts, of people testifying as to how they prayed for the geographical area in which they live and started seeing breakthroughs. They started to feel and see an atmosphere shift. Darkness to light. God started giving specific words of knowledge as to what was going on in certain homes, and how to pray for them, crime rates started to drop, notorious drug spots no longer were hot spots. Essentially, the kingdom of God came to the suburbs of these people, through prayer. God was speaking to me through these stories, asking me why I too was not praying for my streets – streets that desperately need Jesus. 

Did you know that God has determined the place in which you should live? The Bible says, ‘God determined the times set for you and the exact places where you should live’ (Acts 17:26). 

There is purpose in where you have been placed. 

The church was never made to stay in a little Sunday bubble, in a building. The church is called to GO OUT into the world and bring the kingdom of heaven (joy, peace, beauty, wholeness), to earth. This is our mandate (Mark 16:17)! This is YOUR mandate. We have been given a heavenly authority (Matthew 28:18) to pray into order anything that is not in alignmentwith the way of heaven. 

We are called to bring the kingdom of light into areas of darkness. If you live amongst crime, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, theft, lack of ambition and hope, dysfunctional families, generational poverty mentality, then you have been purposefully positioned to call forth the purpose of heaven to your geographical area. Rather than judge, criticise and complain, PRAY! Pray for generational cycles to be broken, pray for opportunities to change a culture – opportunities to encourage, be generous, and display the gospel. Pray for demonic activity that has been operating to leave! 

(A positive of all this mask wearing, is that you can literally walk around your shopping centre and grocery store, praying behind it without looking like a total freak!).

There is a heavenly responsibility on us as the church to not be self-contained, self-focused, comfortable people, but rather powerful people who shift atmospheres, change cultures and usher in transformation!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd September 2020

If ever there were a year where we lost all sense of control, it is 2020. Cancelled parties, rescheduled travels, post-postponed weddings, furloughed jobs… the list goes on. Every single person on the planet has probably had to let go of something this year. And is there an end date for when all this is over? No. We don’t know what will happen and when it will happen. It is beyond our control. Pretty scary, I know. 

It is easy for Corona to seem like the most powerful force on the planet at present. It seems to have us under its thumb, determining the course of our personal lives. Its movements impact us and we don’t know what it’s going to do next. 

Yes, things may be out of our control, but they are not out of God’s control. 

Corona is not God. Corona is not Lord of God. Corona is not on the throne. 

God always has been and always will be, above it all. 

Psalm 47:8 says, ‘God reigns over nations’. 

Psalm 9:7 says, ‘But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne’. 

Revelation 19:16, ‘And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS’. 

God has the last say, the highest authority and the ultimate hand. 

We shouldn’t be looking to ourselves for a sense of peace. We shouldn’t be looking to our government for a sense of peace. We should be looking to God for our peace – our Lord of lords, King of kings, prince of peace. 

Watch what you allow to be the ultimate lord of your life in this season. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd September 2020

Aesop the Ancient Greek story teller observed “After all is said and done, more is said than done.”

How true this is. We can often boast about tomorrow as if it has nothing to do with what we are or aren’t doing today!

Another saying is The road to hell is paved with good intentions or an alternative form is “hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works“.

This sounds harsh, as though there’s something wrong with good intentions, but what it’s saying is there’s nothing wrong with them but there’s nothing right with them either if they don’t materialise into action. 

At my place of work we are always trying to move away from a ‘meeting culture’ where lots of people are involved in lots of discussion but there’s not always a lot of action resulting. A big danger to a business with a ‘meeting culture’ is a false sense of security that’s created as people feel something has been achieved but in reality nothing has changed. It’s the resulting actions being put into practice that makes progress.
The same can happen in our everyday life, we can feel better about ourselves and situations when we meet and talk with people about what we’re planning to do to move forward as if somehow by talking about it makes it feel like progress has been made. It hasn’t. We need to start moving, even if just little baby steps in the direction of what we want to achieve or do.

If you’ve been threatening to start a business venture for a long time I encourage you today to make preliminary calls, get quotes, scope out projects, create business plans, leaflet areas, make inroads, apply to banks, get the ball rolling and stop talking about it, just do it!

I’m not saying it will work, but you won’t know unless you try! Failure isn’t a problem, never trying is the problem. Failure leads to learning, lack of activity can’t lead to anything. If fear of failure is holding you back, let go, it’s better to have tried and failed than to have never tried. 
Maybe you’ve been talking or thinking about putting some things right in your life, making a call to a family member you fell out with 5 years ago! Stop reading now and put a time in your diary to make that first move.

Maybe you know you need to start the day better creating time to read and pray but haven’t yet made a plan, stop reading right now and set your alarm.

Don’t procrastinate, plan, apply, apologise, move!
Jesus has done everything necessary for us to live an exciting life of authority, stepping out taking risks and making things happen! Let’s move today and see what great stories we can create for us to talk about, instead of talking about what stories we would like to create. 

Just do it!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st September 2020

The word ‘isolate’ or ‘isolation’ has become one of the most used words of 2020. It’s always been a familiar word, but never has there been a time when its impact has been felt so strongly right across the planet.

By nature, many people before 2020 will have enjoyed their own company, perhaps more than they should have. In fact, whether it be physically, mentally or spiritually, each part of us needs interaction in order to best function—‘No man is an island’ is a very true saying.

One of the great temptations, when life’s path becomes difficult, is to isolate yourself. It is a natural instinct to try to pull back from your emotions so as not to feel the sharp pain caused by your crisis. If you’re like me in, when almost unbearable trials come my way, I feel drawn to retreat and become isolated. Even when I’m around people, I can withdraw emotionally.

Going through a trial, a temptation, or certainly this current turmoil makes us feel quite vulnerable, so it’s natural to want to put up your walls and hide behind them. But that never helps the problem and its little comfort to you and those closest to you.

Isn’t it interesting that since we have been forced into various lockdown situations, with more to come it would seem, that the prospect of being alone is now enough to drive us all pretty crazy?We didn’t mind isolation when we were in control of it, but how true is it that because we are being told to do it we now want to break the rules and keep our own sanity in tact.

When you least feel like being with others, it is often a sign that you need people most. If you’re struggling through a difficult part of your path, the best thing you can do is get into a positive faith-filled environment.

All over the world people are being governed by a very real fear that is coming from a very real virus. However, don’t let the fear of the very thing become bigger than the thing itself.

You may have a hundred and one questions as to why you can’t come back to church right now, but in just the same way that you have the need to go shopping in order to keep yourself from starvation, then the same applies to starving spiritually.

Don’t miss this crucial time of your church being open again —it’s there to lift you and encourage you—it’s your very lifeline. Of course, both shopping and church online are here to stay, however, the part that’s missing with any online experience is the much needed interaction with like-minded people.

Sunday’s coming — be sure to register.

We’ve missed you!!

Your friend and Pastor.


(Why not make a plan to join Gillian and myself online this Wednesday Night@7.30pm for live information and inspiration?).

Hebrews 10 v 24-25
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more you see the Day approaching”

Fresh Hope – 19th September 2020

Maybe you have heard the phrase “sometimes you have to act your way into a feeling”.  Let me explain…

Sometimes we don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning, or brushing our teeth or taking a shower but we know we need to, so we have to act – even if we don’t feel like it. 

Having been a Pastor for over 30 years now, I have talked with many people about forgiveness and how they can sometimes struggle to forgive those who have wronged them. We know that God teaches us to forgive and that if we don’t, then we are the ones who will suffer, carrying around that unforgiveness. This is what I say: “Sometimes you have to act your way into a feeling”. You may not ‘feel’ like it, but you know it’s right.  

Ask God every day to help you.  Say out the words “Lord I forgive…”. Even if you don’t feel that you even mean it, the words you pray are powerful.   The more you pray the words, the more you will start to ‘feel’ like you are actually forgiving.  Believe me, I know this is to be true.  You will eventually start to feel like you can love them again and want no harm for them.  There’s “NO WAY”, you may say.  There’s always a way with God.  

If you’re like me, you like to ‘feel’ right. Feel the presence of God when you get up in a morning, feel like He is there when you pray and when you’re alone with Him. After many years of being a Christian, I know that there are days that I don’t feel Him right there with me, but that doesn’t stop me from praying, even if I feel like “are these prayers even getting to Heaven?!” The more I act upon that which is right, the more I will start to feel the right feelings. God wants us to feel loved, feel His presence etc but we may not always feel those things, but it doesn’t mean they are not right. 

If we had to rely on our feelings all of the time, we would be in big trouble!

Today you may need to ACT your way into a feeling. But when you do what is right and do it consistently, the rest will follow and you WILL be blessed. 

Pastor Gillian 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th September 2020

The phrase ‘chink in the armour’ has been used since the 17th Century to describe a weak spot – a point of vulnerability. 

Individuals would wear armour for protection in battle, so any gaps in the armour offered an opportunity for harm. 

Just like a gap in physical armour, a gap in our spiritual armour can offer an opportunity for attack. The enemy will find points of weakness and use the opening as a chance to damage us. Accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke prove that he even did this to Jesus during his time in the wilderness. 

Jesus had been fasting for forty days and forty nights; Satan saw His empty stomach as a weak spot and began by encouraging Jesus to turn stones into loaves of bread. Even in his hunger, Jesus didn’t fail. He responded by quoting Deuteronomy, ‘It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”(Matthew 4:4)

The devil continued to try and wear Jesus down. He was relentless and even quoted scripture back at Jesus. 

However, Jesus’ spiritual armour was greater and he continued to counteract every threat with truths from Deuteronomy, which is filled with protective instruction. 

Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with your soul and with all your strength.

We protect ourselves by wrapping ourselves in scripture. To love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength means there is no chance of giving any strength to doubts or insecurities.  

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

We don’t have to look hard to find scripture to put the enemy’s temptations at bay. The Bible is full of promises to us and about us that cover any point of lack in our lives.

Where are your weak spots? What are you hungry for? Focus on strengthening these things by equipping yourself with scripture to fight back with. Be conscious of your weaknesses; bring them to God and protect yourself with layers of protective spiritual armour.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th September 2020

I love the book —The Fred Factor — by Mark Sanborn.

It’s a book about how passion in your work place and in your very mundane life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. 

In it, he lists the Seven Be’s of great relationships:
They go like this…

1) Be real. Don’t try to impress anyone by trying to be anybody but yourself. Always do your best at being you. Let your actions come out of who you really are, what you truly believe in, and the things that you are committed to. 

2) Be interested. Being genuinely interested in others is always an appreciating asset in anyone’s life. 

3) Be a better listener. I always used to think that I had to have all the right answers for anyone that came to me for counsel; now I realise, that in the main, I just need to be a great listener.

4) Be empathic. The need to be understood is one of the highest human needs, but too often people either don’t care or don’t make the effort to understand how we really feel. 
Philo Judaeus was a wise man that lived 2,000 years ago. He said these words…“Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a tough battle”. There is never a truer word spoken then for now. 

5) Be honest. Be a man or woman of your word—that’s integrity. 

6) Be helpful. Go out of your way everyday to just be kind and caring to someone. Little things make a big difference. Lots of little things make a huge difference. 

7) Be prompt. Time is one thing many people have far less of than money. Helping them save time by being prompt is a gift of great value. 

Hope you enjoyed these seven points and felt impacted as I did.

Why not purchase your own copy of the book today from Amazon? Or even better, why don’t you drop me a line at and I’ll put you a copy in the post. 

Your friend and Pastor,

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th September 2020

In Acts 16 a slave girl followed Paul exclaiming, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved’. Appears to be truth doesn’t it? But her motives were off. Paul discerned the spirit behind the girl’s words and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!’ Sure enough, it came out. 

The girl was actually proclaiming truth, but it was rooted in evil! 

Motives matter to God. All through scripture God emphasises the heart. ‘Man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7). Paul speaks about all the great, Godly things we can do like selling everything we have for the poor, outworking our spiritual gifts, having faith and wisdom, but not operating from a motive of love. When our ambition is ultimately self-seeking, the ‘godly’ stuff we are doing is just a loud, ugly noise to God (1 Corinthians 13:1). 

In the words of Kris Vallotton, ‘It is possible to sacrifice in selfishness, or serve to self-serve’. 

Don’t be fooled by people doing all the right things, ticking all the service boxes, and saying all the right stuff. The Bible says that a tree is recognised by its fruit (Matthew 12:33). Let the fruit in people’s lives be the telling of what is true and genuine. Do they operate in integrity in the unseen moments of their life? Is their private life fruitful? Is it a love for God and people that is compelling them or something else? 

We don’t need to have a critical approach towards people, but God has given us the ability to discern, through the Holy Spirit, to protect us. The Holy Spirit gives you the capacity to see through darkness and deceit. Watch out for noble acts done in the name of God, with an ungodly agenda. 

And may we too keep a pure heart in all that we do (Matthew 5:8). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th September 2020

There is power in praise. Praise means ‘to commend, to applaud or magnify’. It is expressing who God is, what He is done, and what He can do. 

Isaiah 61:3 speaks of the goodness of Jesus and that He would come ‘to give a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified’. ‘Garment of praise’ suggests that like clothing, praise is something that you put on. Praise isn’t always a feeling. It isn’t always just there. It is a choice to remember the truth of God and speak it out. 

Praise shouldn’t be reserved for just Sunday – it should be a lifestyle. Our declaration of the goodness of God cannot be determined by our mood or circumstance. In fact, it is in times of trial, that we should declare the goodness of God all the more! In Acts 16 Paul and Silas were in prison and began praising God. The doors of the prison they were in were opened, their chains fell off, the jailer and his family were saved, and they were released! This is a physical picture of the power if praise. Likewise, when we are in an internal prison, praise lifts us out of the oppression, and helps us out. Praise is a powerful weapon against the strategy of the enemy to let our circumstances overwhelm us and question the goodness of God. 

Even if we lost everything, we would still have reason to praise God. The price He paid for us is alone enough. 

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

The Bible says that God inhabits in the praises of His people (Psalms 22:3). Since praise manifests God’s presence nothing grates the Devil more than rising above our feelings and choosing praise, declaring our victory, and speaking out the goodness of God. 

Psalm 18:3

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th September 2020

I wonder what mental picture you have of God as you wake today?

Could it be that the picture has been blurred over the years by the opinions of others?

Could it be that you started out with completely the wrong picture based on what you were taught?

It’s possible that your own experiences have somehow created a very different canvas of God. Maybe you have become bitter towards Him over the way that your life has turned out. Every single person on the planet has an understanding of God, even atheists, but often our understanding is nothing more than a ‘misunderstanding’ or ‘distortion’ of who God really is.

In 1936 the speaking clock was created for people that didn’t have a watch. They would dial the speaking clock on the telephone (123) and then receive a posh lady’s voice that told them the precise time in words. Would you believe that today over 30million people still use the service?I’m really amazed that anyone uses it at all, but then I’m reminded that the reason they do so is to bring their own clocks and watches into alignment with the ‘true’ time.

Just like the speaking clock, the Bible is the true picture of the nature and character of God. It’s God’s speaking standard by which we can measure, check and adjust our lives by every day.

If you’ve lost sight of the magnificence of God, then let the words of Psalm 145 help you to see more clearly again today.

Here are just a few of the amazing brush strokes found in just the 21 verses of the Psalm:

…the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

…the Lord is good to all.

…the Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving to all He has made.

…the Lord upholds all those that fall and lifts those that are bowed down.

…the Lord is righteous in all His ways.

…the Lord is near to all who call on Him.

…the Lord watches over all who love Him.

If you’ve ever travelled across a different time zone, then you will know that one of the first things you need to do is set your watch to the correct time of where you are going to, otherwise you’ll either be too late or too early for everything.

Want to walk in God’s time zone today? Then set your belief to His word — it’s the one certain thing that you can count on. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th September 2020

I’ve been looking again at the book of Daniel. I love how he ‘stood out’ for God. When he was summoned by the King to be trained in the Babylonia ways, Daniel decided he wasn’t going to be like the others.
 No, he was going to stand out…not by his fine clothes, but by another way. They wanted Daniel to eat the King’s fine food and drink the King’s fine wine, to fatten him up. But Daniel was having none of it. He only wanted fresh fruit, vegetables and water to drink.  After 10 days, he looked better than all the rest of them!

You see, there are times you have to set yourself apart, not go with the flow, go against the normal and do what you know is right. 

In a world that’s quite chaotic at the moment, the normal is probably fear, confusion and panic. Not for God’s children. We should be setting ourselves apart and showing a different way. 

Don’t let the ways of the world dictate to you how you should be. No, instead, set yourself apart and you’ll come out better than the rest.  In vs 15-16 – he not only looked better and was healthier, but in vs 18-21 – his gifting was also 10 times better. 

It’s easy to go with the flow, accept the King’s food… when actually it may be time for you to make a stand and take a stand and say “no” this is how I’m going to act… this is what I’m going to say, and this is what I’m believing and standing for. 
When you make a stand against the ‘norm’ you watch GOD work in YOUR life.  You will experience favour (like Daniel) blessing (like Daniel) protection (like Daniel) promotion (like Daniel). When I’m set apart for God, I’ll come out better than the rest!

What you may have to do, may be a sacrifice but the blessing will far outweigh what we give up.  
Sacrifice (obedience) will always bring blessing. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th September 2020

We are in the most unprecedented of times in so many ways. A word used over and over in the last six months. 

Not only are we facing unique circumstances, but the biggest problem seems to be the ever increasing division in society on the solution to the issues, whether COVID, race relations or other divisive ideologies. 

In 1 Kings 18, we read about Elijah addressing the people in another unprecedented moment in history when a famine was risking the lives of an entire nation. Again there was a division in the Lord’s chosen people on the best solution of either following God or the false prophets of Baal. We read in verse 21:
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”But the people said nothing. 

This is the same challenge to us today and we can’t afford to ‘say nothing’. Is Jesus Christ the way the truth and the life, or isn’t he? Is Jesus the only way to the father or isn’t he? Is he the creator and author of life or isn’t He? He is our reward and portion and our very meaning of existence or he isn’t!

Let’s be encouraged today that we can call on his name and he will answer us! Let’s be encouraged today that because of our faith in him, we get to be called children of the living God! He is the answer the world desperately needs and he wants us to be the carrier of this message.

Whatever you face today, whatever challenges you face, let’s make sure we don’t waver between two camps. 
2 Timothy 2:4 | NIV No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 

Let’s not compromise our faith by getting entangled in politics and external circumstances, but let’s be resolute in our internal conviction that there isn’t a secular solution to the world’s problems, but that his name is Jesus! Let’s remember we carry this treasure within us which is a hope for all mankind!

Let’s not become fearful and fret, getting involved in trying to build a secular solution, let’s stick to what we have been called to be, salt and light for our generation, a beacon of hope pointing to the true way, Jesus Christ!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th September 2020

It may appear that the world is in somewhat of a state of chaos lately. I don’t think that any one of us could say that we haven’t faced challenges in various areas of our lives – from finance, to relationships to mental health, we’re all just doing our best.

A popular quote that you’ve likely seen at some point says ‘we cannot choose our external circumstances but we can choose our response to them.’

Maybe you’ve found yourself wondering where God is, in the midst of everything happening around you. Be encouraged today, He is still everywhere.

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

Every day, there are gifts from God with your name all over them. God’s love is not only extravagant, it’s detailed. He cares about the innermost workings of your life and if you look, there are tiny miracles everywhere. The parking space at the front of the building. The job you’ve been praying for, with no lengthy interview process. The financial blessing that was the exact amount you needed. The list can go on and on.

When you pray, be specific because He cares. And He will show up. Every time. Seeing and hearing God won’t always be shouts or roars of thunder; it’s in the quiet and seemingly ordinary too.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th September 2020

I wear contact lenses. When you put in a new set of contact lenses they are very comfortable to wear and you totally forget that they are even on your eyeballs! As the contact lenses start to get older, they start to get increasingly uncomfortable. For non-contact lense wearers, I would describe the feeling of old lenses as being like a gritty feeling in your eye – like you have a sand grain in your eye. It bothers you all day, and you cannot wait to get home and get the lenses out! If it weren’t for my eyes getting uncomfortable, I wouldn’t know that my contact lenses are actually getting old and know that they need to be changed. It is when they get uncomfortable, that I know it is time to be out with the old, and in with the new!

What are some areas in your life where you are feeling uncomfortable? Perhaps, like an old pair of contact lenses, the discomfort in your life is the trigger point for CHANGE! 

Humans are creatures of habit. We love consistent routines. If we follow the same pattern, it minimises mental stress and we feel comfortable. Leaving our comfort zone can mean risk and anxiety, which we don’t generally enjoy. 

But here is why we should be open to change and therefore discomfort: 

1) God is always on the move. He is alive, not dead. While the character of God remains the same, God is always up to something new and wants to include us in on the journey. If we are followers of Him, expect change. This is a privilege, but can be a discomfort if we are set in our ways. 

‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!’ Isaiah 43:18. 

2) God cares about character growth. Growth involves change. Growth and therefore change can hurt. Expect growth pains if you desire to step into all God has for you. 

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful’ (John 15:1-2). 

3) God loves to challenge us to think beyond ourselves, and our “feel-good bubble”. One area in which we may need some change in is our relationships. We love hanging around people like us – people who agree with us, and people who are what we are used to. This feels comfortable, but what if there are different aspects of God to learn in different kinds of people? What if there were different perspectives to be found in other people? Actively seek people who don’t just agree with you, but challenge you! A healthy diet doesn’t just consist of all the same foods. Imagine how boring and unhealthy a diet of just bananas would be! Be open to a healthy variety in your life. Be open to people that perhaps make you feel uncomfortable, but bring about healthy change in your life! 

Get comfortable with uncomfortable in order to walk into the fullness of all that God has for you! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th September 2020

For anyone who has built a house before, you would know the importance of laying down a good foundation, before you start with the other structural features of the house.  When there are issues with the foundation, there are likely problems elsewhere in the home. Buying a house with foundational issues means you’ll have more household repairs to contend with down the line – things like cracks in the wall, crooked doors and windows, broken tiles (which can lead to water leakage), and the list goes on – what a nightmare!

Even a perfectly laid foundation can be laid on poor soil.  If the ground begins to shift under the foundation – the house isn’t going to last long! Most builders perform a soil test to ensure that the foundation will stay in place. This process can take some time, and you can get impatient when you just want to see the house come together, but in the long run, it is well worth the time and effort it takes to lay a secure and sure base.  

The same is true of our lives. Perhaps you are constantly trying to plaster over the cracks, straighten crooked doors, manage water leakage and the broken tiles of your life. The issues of your life will only perpetuate until you lay down a solid foundation. A good foundation will influence the strength and security of your life. You can have a beautiful and impressive home, with all the trimmings, but if the foundation isn’t right, there will be problems when pressure is put on the house, or the foundation moves. 

The Bible is clear that in order for your life to have stability, it must be built on Christ alone. You can’t have a life built on the security of money, or power, or even people. It won’t last, and will cost you down the line. 

Multiple times in scripture God is referred to being ‘a rock’. Jesus uses this metaphor in Matthew 7:24-27 when He says,  ‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it’. 

Jesus is also referred to as “the Cornerstone”, such as in Isaiah 28:16-17, ‘So this is what the sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed’. 

The most secure, and sturdy foundation to build your life upon is on the word and nature of God. Test the soil of your life. Examine the quality of your house, and if you have to, knock down what you have already built, and start again with the right foundations. 

Psalm 62:2

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th September 2020

I’m pretty sure that all of us today are patiently waiting for a better tomorrow.  So far 2020 has turned out pretty disastrous, so is the hope of a better day ever going to come?
The answer is a resounding yes!

In fact, it’s waiting to happen for YOU right now! Every brighter tomorrow has to find itself wrapped up in one of your mundane todays. 

In John chapter one, each new section begins with the same three words, ‘the next day’.
The next day‘ appears three times in that chapter. 
Maybe your life at present is punctuated only by those three words: the next day. It’s possible that your very existence is being rolled into one big mundane experience. In fact, It would seem for most that each of the days in the last five months have been staring right back at us, and declaring that nothing has changed, in fact if anything, it’s just getting worse.  But then comes that breakthrough moment; a moment when the mundane ceases, and the miraculous comes knocking on our door.

John Chapter two opens with a brand new set of words… ‘on the third day’.
These four words not only open the curtains to a new day, but a day that announces fresh hope for us all. 

On this particular third day, Jesus performed His very first miracle for two very ordinary people at their wedding. Today, Jesus has a third day waiting for you too, no matter how ordinary you may feel, as we realise that at the very heart of the Christian message is a third day on which Jesus Himself rose from the dead.

I want to encourage you to be full of expectation that your third day is waiting just around the corner. Meanwhile, enjoy every moment as you wait patiently for your breakthrough. Invite Jesus into your day right now and allow Him to meet your deepest needs.  

John 2:1-11 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’ ‘Woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from eighty to a hundred and twenty litres. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’ They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realise where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’ What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th September 2020

“Behold I am doing a new thing… do you not perceive it?”  Isaiah 43 v 19. 

It’s a new season! Yes it is. September is the month of something new starting. Summer has gone.  Autumn is on its way.  In the natural, the nights are getting slowly darker, the leaves are changing colour, the weather is cooler and the children are back at school! We have to adapt to a new season. We have to wear different clothes. We have to put the lights on, maybe light candles and put on the heating. We cannot hold on to summer even though we want to. It’s gone. 

Another season has just passed. A season of lock-down. A season of strangeness. A season that we have never experienced before.  Maybe for you, it was a season of anxiety and concern. We have to get ready for the new season.  

God is about to do something new and fresh.  How do I know that?  Because everything the enemy meant for evil, God will turn it for good.  You can’t embrace or enjoy a new season, if you’re still in the mentality of the past. You can’t fully enjoy autumn, if you’re still hanging onto summer clothes and thoughts of long summer evenings.  Some of us are still hanging on to fear instead of stepping out in faith. 

God wants you to let go of your anxiety, your concerns, your fear and TRUST HIM for the new season.  “I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” – that’s an awesome statement.  It’s from God! It’s from His Word. We’d better believe it!

So today, decide in your heart. The old season has gone, I’m ready for a new one… and then show God that you are, by your words and actions.   Declare over yourself and your household, God’s word… and don’t miss what God is wanting to do in YOUR life.

Pastor Gillian 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th September 2020

If everything that you were praying and believing God for landed in your life or happened right now, would you be ready?

Every apparent overnight success is actually someone who spend a long time preparing. Take an athlete for instance; we may see them out on the track or field or court performing but what we don’t see are their training sessions, their ice baths, their early mornings.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a time for everything. In order to reap, you must sow. If this time during lockdown has taught us anything, it’s a few lessons about time. We’ve either been gifted the opportunity to use our differently, as we’ve been shut in the house or sadly, we’ve realised how short time can feel.

What seed can you sow or action can you take towards the things you’re believing for today? What course can you take? Who can you speak to who has a resource that you need? Who can you be a blessing to?

God has incredible things for us all but our relationship with Him is a partnership. Ask Him how you can be a good steward of what you have in your hand while you wait for more.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd September 2020

Growing in our faith, means growing in spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is not about age, it is not about achievements, and it is not about appearance. 

Here are some markers of spiritual maturity:

 – You can serve without needing recognition. You may have the serving thing down pat, but if you still need people to recognise you and acknowledge you for it, then you are missing the point. Colossians 3:23 says, to go about your job as if you are doing it for God, not for man. This is a very liberating place to come to as you no longer become motivated by the applause of man, but instead you work FROM the approval of God, FOR His glory!

– The highs and lows of life don’t throw you off track. You will notice that babies cry hysterically at the drop of a hat, over something quite simple – like food or dirty nappy. As we grow and mature physically and emotionally, painfully crying over small things like a milk bottle shouldn’t happen any more. Spiritually speaking, as we mature, we develop a resilience and consistency within us where the trials and tests of life don’t impact our walk with God. We should know how to celebrate on the mountaintops of life and walk with God through the valleys. We aren’t in, then out, up, then down, committed and then uncommitted. We don’t crumble under pressure or drama. We are strong in the Lord! 

– You don’t fear when situations are out of your control. You trust in the faithfulness of God to pull you through all seasons and circumstances. You have seen him do it before, and you trust the nature of God to do it again. Rather than worry, you pray and trust in the sovereignty of God. God is your reference point, not the media or the news or the atmosphere in the office. 

– You value the unseen and simple things. Much of growing up is unlearning things – detangling the simple things that we have complicated. Maturity is understanding that often times the most valuable things are not the glamorous, exciting, mountain top moments of life, but in fact the private, simple, personal and deep times spent in meaningful conversation with God, and people. Things like prioritising quiet time, prayer, studying the word of God, being generous, worship and community. These are the things that count. Consistent intimacy with God is utmost priority. The simple gospel.

 – You listen more than you speak. When you are secure, know whose you are, and walk closely with God, you don’t have the need to always been seen and heard. You are comfortable with shifting the focus from you to others. It doesn’t have to be about you. You listen to understand others. You listen to learn from others. Maturity understands that your perspective is limited, so you are eager to glean from others. 

So how do we mature?

 1. Time with God

 2. Time with His word (the Bible)

3. Trials and tests in life

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd September 2020

How to deal with difficult times according to Philippians 4: 

1. Be cheerful and joyous in every season of life (verse 4). How? Because you are united with Jesus 24/7, so regardless of your ever-changing world/circumstances, your connection to Him is constant! 

2. Let gentleness be evident in your relationships (Verse 5). Why? Because you don’t know when Jesus is coming back or when your last day is! Being brutal or harsh is the opposite of being gentle. If today was your last day, have your interactions with others been marked with gentleness?

 3. Don’t be pulled in different directions and worried (Verse 6). Being worried is when your mind goes into different directions/thought tracks. Keep your mind steadfast and focused on ‘prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude’. 

4. Tell God every detail of your life (Verse 7). Why? Because the peace and answers of God enter your life as you process it out with Him. 

5. Keep your thoughts fixed (Verse 8). Fixed on what is authentic and real, honourable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind AND on the work of God. 

6. Follow the example left for you in the word of God (Verse 9).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st September 2020

Are you needing some wisdom from God? Are you needing an answer from the Almighty Himself?    If so, this will encourage you…The book of Daniel is a mighty one.  

Mighty for the fact that Daniel was not even touched when he got thrown into a lion’s den! (God will protect you when your enemy surrounds you). But it’s about prayer and seeking God for answers. Answers that others may not be able to get, you can, by prayer. 

In Daniel chapter 2, the King needed his dream interpreted. No one could do it… so in verses 17-19 we read that Daniel went home and said to his friends, ‘we need to pray, we need the mystery to be solved.’

They knew that if they couldn’t, then their lives may be ‘on the line’. During that night and during prayer the mystery was revealed.

I love how Daniel DID NOT go home and panic or worry, instead he said “let’s pray”. If you focus on the problem, the problem gets bigger. If you focus on God, the problem gets smaller and smaller.  
God will always answer His children.  If you’re a good parent and your child comes to you for wisdom, help or knowledge, you’re going to give it. How much more will our Heavenly Father give to those of us who ask?

Don’t stay confused or worried any longer. Get to prayer! Even if like Daniel, you have to stay up at night and take time to talk to God, do it.  Maybe it’s so important, that like Daniel, your life or your future is on the line. Don’t see prayer as a last resort, see it as the FIRST thing you do. 

See your problem decrease and your wisdom increase. See the path you need to take. See the answer from the one who knows everything. 
God is ONLY a prayer away. When no one else can seem to figure it out, you will. Because you took time out as a child to go to your Father.  

Pastor Gillian 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

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.

Fresh Hope – 31st July 2020

What are you growing? 

During lockdown many of us have been spending quite a bit more time in the garden, one or two projects, some new plants, weeding the borders, trimming the shrubs. I have to admit that I am not much of a gardener and would rather be sitting in it than working on it.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus describes the Kingdom of God as being ‘like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched on its branches’ (Luke 13:19). 

Jesus also refers to mustard seeds in relation to faith and we take from that account that the mustard seed is the smallest of seeds. Jesus is describing the Kingdom as something that starts in a small way and grows to strength and maturity when it is planted and nurtured.

In Luke 17:20 Jesus is asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come. The Pharisees were strict adherents to many precise religious rules and Jesus responds by saying ‘The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is’, or ‘There it is,’ because the Kingdom of God is within you’.

So we have two descriptions of the kingdom as something that starts as a tiny seed that is planted not in a garden but within us. That seed needs to be nurtured in a church community; fed by the word of God and watered with prayer and worship in order that it grows within us into a tall and strong tree.

Even though I am not much of a gardener I know that if I just sit, relax and do nothing then the garden will not flourish. It will turn into an overgrown, weedy mess. I know that I have to put the time and effort into nurturing the plants.

It takes care, effort and work to grow a beautiful, fruit filled garden. What am I growing in the garden of my heart? And how am I feeding and watering it?

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th July 2020

Jesus made it clear that our number one priority as Christians is quite simply to LOVE – to love God first and then to love people (Matthew 22:36-40). Most of us are okay with the idea of loving people, until it is hard to love people. 

It is easy for us to love people when they are like us. It is easy for us to love people when they agree with us. It is easy to love people when they look like us, talk like us, and understand us. 

But can we love when it isn’t easy to love? How deep is your love? When does your capacity to love like Christ loves reach its threshold? Is it when someone doesn’t agree with you? It is when someone backstabs you? Is it when someone treats you unfairly? Is it when someone acts differently to you? Is it when things aren’t going well for you? Is that when you reach your limit to love?

Can I challenge us, myself included, today, to push the boundaries of our love capacity? Get uncomfortable. Love, honour and bless people not just when it’s easy, but when it challenges you to the core. Go out of your way, against your feelings and natural instinct, and love people when they do what aggravates you. 

What is love? 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and alwaysperseveres. Love never fails’. 

Can you be patient when people test your patience? – Because that is what it means to love! 

Can you be kind to people who are not kind to you? – Because that is what it means to love! 

Can you celebrate others, rather than get jealous? – Because that is what it means to love!

Can you take a posture of humility around others?   –Because that is what it is to love!

Can you honour others who may have dishonoured you? – Because that is what love is!

Can you seek out the needs of others – when they’re not thinking about you? Because that is what it means to love!

Can you forgive those who have wronged you? – Because that is what it means to love!

Modeling how it is done, let’s look at Jesus. At the moment of his arrest, on the cusp of his cruixification, carrying the weight of all the sin of humanity, in that moment, he loved. Malchus was the servant of the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas who participated in the arrest of Jesus.One of the disciples, Simon Peter, being armed with a sword, cut off the servant’s ear in an attempt to prevent the arrest of Jesus. Jesus’ response was to stop for the one. Stop, even in a personally and spiritually heavy time for him, and love on a servant. Jesus healed Malchus’ ear in that moment. In a moment where he could have easily had his mind on other things. Right to the end, his mission was clear – to love. Can we say the same for ourselves? Can WE love people who come even against us? 

This seems radical. But, HELLO, that is the kingdom of God!

We aren’t going to look any different from the world, if we also just love others to the extent that they love us, or as long as they don’t offend us, or keep us happy. If this is the depth of our love, then we are no different from a world that does not know the love of God. Anyone can love people when they are loveable. It is perhaps the irrational, illogical love of God towards others that will truly set us apart. 

Let’s get some depth in our love. Let’s get some maturity in our love! Let’s not love based on feelings. Let’s love based on Jesus’ model.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th July 2020

I had the privilege of going to a Christian school where reading books like Rick Warren’s ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ was a compulsory part of the school curriculum. 

I read this book when I was 16 and it without a doubt laid some of the key fundamental ideas of my Christian faith. 

One of the chapters is called ‘Experiencing Life Together’. The chapter expresses how life is meant to be shared. 

Warren gives four keys to building healthy relationships with others: 

1. Be authentic. Surface level chitchat has its place, but we need to have relationships where genuine, heart-to-heart, gut-level sharing takes place. This happens when people put down their facades and get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives. You need to have relationships, and create space for relationships where people can share their hurts, feelings, failures, and acknowledge their weaknesses. 

Let’s create an atmosphere of honesty and humility in our lives rather than one of pretending, role-playing, politicking, and superficial conversation. Keeping your guard up is the death of real relationships. 

2. Build mutuality. This is the art of giving and receiving. It is depending on one another. You are not responsible for everyone in the body of Christ, but you are responsible to them. The Bible commands mutual accountability, mutual encouragement, mutual serving and mutual honouring. 

3. Offer sympathy. Sympathy is not just giving advice, or a quick fix. Sympathy is really stopping and engaging with how someone feels. It is sharing in the pain of others. To be sympathetic is actually a command in the Bible. Sympathy meets two fundamental relational needs – the need to be understood and the need to have your feelings validated. Every time someone understands and validates you, you build a bond with them. Every time you create a space to understand and validate someone else, you bond with them. Often we are too much in a hurry to fix things, that we don’t take the time to UNDERSTAND people. 

4. Give mercy and grace – Real, Godly relationships need to be spaces where grace and mercy are outworked. Forgiveness needs to be part of the culture. Mistakes are inevitable. We are all imperfect people. Therefore forgiveness is paramount. Bitterness and resentment will destroy friendship. We will inevitably hurt each other – sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally, either way, grace and mercy will be needed. 

‘Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ’. Galations 6:2

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th July 2020

Did you know that God cares about every little detail of your life?

I don’t just mean the big stuff, and I don’t just mean the ‘God’ stuff, I mean the every tiny detail stuff. God doesn’t compartmentalise your life into important and non-important things either— He’s passionate about every minute detail of your life. Whether you are asleep or awake.

It goes something like this; If it matters to you, it matters to Him. If it concerns you, it concerns Him. We are all prone to think that God is only concerned about all the major things, or at the other extreme, He’s not concerned about anything. But take this verse in the Bible for instance…

Matthew 10:29-31 ‘What’s the price of a sparrow? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail-even numbering the hairs on your head!’ 
Every insignificant detail He has time for. He even takes interest in your hair —now that’s what you call detail.

Some time ago, our youngest son, Caleb, lost his expensive sunglasses at an event that we had held in our garden. We searched the garden, the house and every other imaginable place several times.

Every few days we would have another look and ask ourselves how could they suddenly disappear?
The following Sunday we had just arrived home from church when my wife went to the bedroom to get changed. For some reason she started to pray about where the sunglasses might be. At the very same time, Caleb went to his room and felt compelled to pray about the very same thing. Whilst this is happening, I’m in the kitchen and at exactly the same time I hear God speak to me and say ‘go and look in the downstairs closet and you’ll find the lost sunglasses.’

Now remember, this is NOT a coordinated search party. None of us know what each is doing right now. As I kneel down in the closet to look in my tool box (the one that Gillian continually tells me shouldn’t be in there), I glance round to find Caleb standing in the doorway, asking what I’m doing on my knees whilst looking through my tool box. 
‘I’m looking for your sunglasses…God has told me to come in here and I’ll find them’.  
No sooner had I said it, when he coolly reached down to where I was and picked up the glasses as if from nowhere!

Now I know they’re only sunglasses, and I know that there are so many huge problems going on in the world right now, but once again God just wanted to give all of us today a glimpse of how much He cares about the small stuff. 

One of the greatest things that you should know about God today is that He cares…but even more amazing than that is He cares for you.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th July 2020

One of the greatest mistakes that we are all prone to make is to talk too much and listen too little! Getting the balance right between these two things is of utmost importance for your personal growth.

If there’s one person that we all love to hate, it’s the person that doesn’t know when to shut up. Second in line only to this person, is the one that believes that every opportunity for a conversation is to make themselves look or sound good. How strange is it that those that need to listen the most, talk the most? However, when you think about it, it’s not that strange at all – they have become deaf to anyone else’s voice apart from their own, and have therefore rendered themselves absent of all sense and wisdom. As a result, you will observe that the people who have the most serious character flaws don’t change — they rarely listen to what needs to be said.

How many people make the mistake of meeting with someone for advice. They then feel that it’s their big moment to off load everything that’s going on in their world, when really it’s their big opportunity to listen to the wise words of advice being given. 

Over the years, I’ve tried to teach that one of the simplest and yet most life-enhancing questions that you and I could ever ask someone that you look up to, or even aspire to be like, is this one: ‘Is there anything that you need to say to me?’

When that question comes from you and you are willing to not only hear what is said, but also take on board what is said, then you will be on the fast track to change and growth like no other.

Now, only ask the question if you’re willing to take on board the answer, and only ask the question if you are serious about change and personal growth!

Make a conscious decision to seek out wise counsel from those who are ahead of you, and determine to spend 75% of the time listening and just 25% talking.

Don’t waste your life talking about yourself, instead enlarge your life by listening. 
Proverbs 20:19   ‘…avoid anyone who talks too much’. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th July 2020

God calls us to be brave. Brave and courageous. 

I’ve been reminded this week of how brave Esther had to be in the Old Testament. Brave to go and see the king on behalf of the entire Jewish nation. Brave enough to not let the fact that she might get her head chopped off in the process deter her! Her bravery brought about the deliverance of the Jews and a great victory!

To firstly get brave, she needed to pray, fast and put on her royal robes. You see there’s preparation to getting brave. Some of us may naturally ‘feel brave’ in certain situations and others may not. But when we spend time in the presence of an Almighty God and when we seek His face, then He gives us supernatural courage for any situation.

Maybe you’re feeling nervous right now about a new season, maybe you don’t know what the future will hold… be brave, God has the perfect plan.  Maybe you have to ‘deal’ with something, like Esther did, or confront a situation you know isn’t right. 

Today the word to you is simple. Be brave. 
Daniel was brave when he went into the den of lions, he did so because he wouldn’t bow down to foreign gods. The same for the three guys who got thrown into the fire because they stood for their God. 

David was brave in 1 Samuel 30, when he had to go and get back everything that the enemy had stolen. He did, and he got victory!
Don’t let the enemy tell you that you can’t do it, because you can!

You won’t see a victory, if you’re not brave. Pray and praise through it…and the victory will be yours.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th July 2020

Life is wonderful, enjoy it!

That’s a slogan we have in our lounge – ‘Wonderful‘ is written in large swirly gold lettering and the whole piece is in a simple black picture frame. It’s a great phrase and I love it. Except on the days when ‘Life is hard’.
That’s a great phrase too. Perhaps not so catchy, but one we can all relate to. We’ve all faced tough times, difficult seasons, and for some reading this, you could be walking through a difficult season right now.

It’s in tough times that I am thankful for the words of Jesus. Whether life is ‘wonderful ‘ or ‘ hard ‘or somewhere in-between’, Jesus’ words bring encouragement, comfort, hope and principles to live by, in every season.

Matt 11 v28-30 (The Message) gives us an example:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?Come to me. Get away with me and you will recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

What a promise when you’re feeling run down, exhausted, fed up, lacking motivation or just wondering how do I just keep going? 
In this passage, Jesus’ invitation is to stay close to Him; find him if you don’t yet know him and walk with him, and remain with him.

There are so many things that we can pay attention to, be distracted by and give our time to, with little gain or reward. Time spent with Jesus – a life that walks closely and is spent on getting to know Jesus – is a great investment. Few things in life truly promise to help us recover our peace, sanity of mind or sense of freedom, but Jesus promises all this! 

Take time to go over this passage today and respond to the invitation yourself – recover your freedom, stay light and be reminded that life in Jesus IS wonderful.

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd July 2020

The Christian life is a building site. The outworking of your faith is an ongoing journey. Whilst your salvation is perfected through Christ, the full expression of the work of Christ in you is a process. You are under construction! Your life is under constant construction!

When you are building, work is involved. If we are going to ‘build our faith’, there is going to need to be intentionality and work involved on a very practical, day to day level. 

The Bible talks many times about ‘building your faith’. 

Jude 1:20, ‘building yourselves up in your most holy faith’. Did you read that? Building YOURSELVES up. There is a personal responsibility on us to train ourselves, encourage ourselves, and build ourselves! 

Not only that, but there is also a call to build one another up! 

1 Thessalonians 5:11, ‘Therefore encourage one another and build one another up’. 

Ephesians 4:29, ‘Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up’. 

Hebrews 10:24, ‘let us consider how to stir up (build up) one another’. 

Building yourself up in your faith means: 

– Making intentional time to hear from God.

 – Making intentional time to read the word of God. 

– Making intentional time to find people who will build you up. 

When I train at the gym, it is to build myself up physically. 

Here are some facts: 

– I don’t always feel like going. 

– It is not always easy. 

– Sometimes I am simply doing it because I know it is good for me. 

Building yourself up in your faith, undergoing spiritual training, carving out time for God is not always easy. It is not always what you feel like doing. Sometimes you have to do it simply because you know it is good for you. 

It will cost you to build your faith, but it is well worth the sacrifice. 

Whenever I finish a workout, I never regret starting it. Likewise when it comes to building your faith, no matter how you feel when you start, you will never regret building it!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd July 2020

Often the first thing we let go of on our to-do list is intentional time with God. Popular culture rewards whatever is ‘outwards’ – that which is seen. But the kingdom of Heaven, the culture of Heaven, is upside down. It rewards what happens in private. It rewards the unseen – not the hustle, the grind and the productivity.  

We often neglect time with God because we know our gracious God will forgive us if we just go another day without time with Him. But what if time with God isn’t so much about what it does for God, but rather what it does for us?  

Did you know bamboo trees spend years growing their root system underground? From the outside you could look at a bamboo tree and think, ‘where is the fruit? Where is the growth? Why is it not being productive?’. Then all of a sudden, the tree in a matter of days will rocket up 80 feet! If you compared that bamboo tree to the way an oak tree grows, you would consider the bamboo tree a failure. Popular culture likewise looks for showy productivity in order to be considered a success, but sometimes you have to grow some things so deep, in the private, and unseen places of your life first.  

Perhaps we need to shift our efforts and focus less on outward production, and slow down, and invest on the unseen root systems of our lives.  

Intimacy with God, times where you allow God to ‘see into me’, does not just happen. Powerful men and women of God don’t just happen. They are built on the back of intentionality. Any relational bond does not just happen. It is built on the back of intentional time and effort – dates and schedules in the diary, conversations and time invested.   

Don’t get intimidated by the idea that you need to start spending 30 minutes to an hour every morning at 6am with God in order to grow. That kind of pressure is sometimes unrealistic and unsustainable. See intimacy with God as a training ground. Train yourself in the Lord. Spend less effort trying, and more effort training. An athlete doesn’t just run a marathon. They train and train and build up to it. Train yourself in intimacy with God. Start with just 10, undistracted minutes a day, and begin to see how your life changes. Then build from there. Schedule in that time like you would book in an appointment with a friend. If something else comes along, ‘sorry, I’m not free then’, should be your response. Prioritise time with God at all costs.  

Many of us are burnt out, stressed, overwhelmed in the soul, and venting to others that which we should be giving to God. Not making time for God is costing your emotional and spiritual health. Time without God will hurt you and time with God will heal you. 

Let’s not just be good at ‘asking God for stuff’, let’s train to become good at BEING with God and hearing from Him! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st July 2020

Imagine for a moment that I’m holding a £10 note. As it stands, that note is worth what it reads on the front and back… ten pounds.

Let’s say I left that note in my jacket pocket, hung up in my wardrobe and a few weeks went by and I presumed I’d lost it. How much is that note now worth? Still ten pounds.

What if I took that same £10 note and dropped it on the floor? It would still be worth ten pounds. How about if while it was on the floor, someone rode by on their bike and went over it? That note would still be worth ten pounds. What if… you get the idea.

What I’m wanting to communicate is that despite all that the £10 note went through, it didn’t lose any of its value – it was still as valuable as the day it was made.

Today, like that ten pounds, you may have felt lost, you may have felt abandoned, even trodden on by life, but I want you to know that in spite of all of that, you have not lost your value.

How can I say that? Because your value is not determined by what life throws at you or by what people say about you, your value is found in the God who created you.

And His opinion about you has not changed. When God sent His one and only Son, Jesus to die on the cross for you, as a way of demonstrating how valuable you are to Him, He knew everything that you’d go through. He knew the mistakes that you’d make and the hurt that you’d feel, and still, He poured out His love for you.

I want you to know today that your value is not founded upon changing circumstances or opinions, but it is built upon an unchanging God.
So if you were valuable when you were made, you can rest assured that you’re still as valuable today.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th July 2020

“I know not why God’s wondrous grace to me has been made known, nor why, unworthy as I am, He made me for his own. 

But I know whom I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able, to keep that which I’ve committed, unto Him against that day.”

Old fashioned words from a very old hymn (1880’s) but true as ever today. I don’t know why God’s grace, keeps on loving and coming after me, I don’t know why, even though I’m so unworthy, He chose me to serve Him. But I do know this, that I continue to trust in Him and I am persuaded that He is able to look after and care for me, to never leave or forsake me and to present me before the Father on that day I meet Him. 

There are some things we can’t work out, there are some things we will never know. BUT there are some things we can be certain of – because if God’s Word says it, then it’s good enough for me. 
Have you ever wondered why God chose you? You may not be man’s obvious choice, but you are certainly God’s. Have you ever wondered that even though you may doubt and mess up, He still ‘bothers’ with you? That’s amazing grace. The grace that chases you down when you didn’t deserve it. The grace that abounds every day. It’s undeserved favour and for that I am eternally grateful. 

Don’t worry about anything. His Word says that He is able to KEEP you. Knowing that God ‘keeps’ me is precious. Keep = to continue in a specified position or course. By His grace, I am a child of God. He will keep me that way until the day I meet Him face to face. 

Thank Him today, that even though you may not fully understand the wonder of it all, He loves you and He keeps you. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th July 2020

Florence Chadwick was a champion swimmer. In 1952 she attempted to swim a span of the peaceful Pacific Ocean between California’s Catalina Island and the state coastline. As she began the twenty-six mile journey , she was accompanied by small boats of supporters who watched for sharks and were prepared to help Florence if she got hurt or grew tired. Thick fog rolled in after about fifteen hours of swimming.

Florence recalled that after already having spent so many hours navigating the waters with her body, she began to doubt her ability. She didn’t think that she could make it, but she kept going. She swam for another hour before asking to be pulled out, physically and emotionally exhausted. She was tired, and in her mind the Californian coastline felt like it was a million miles away.

After she got into the boat, she learned she had stopped less than a mile short of her destination.

She couldn’t see the shoreline and the journey began to feel impossible.

“All I could see was the fog,” she told the news paper reporters the next day. “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

Today, you may be closer to your destination than you realise.

I often tell the story of part of my own journey of faith in order to help people. For 17 years of my life I believed that one day we would be able to build a church that would be fit for the 21st century. Every year I believed it would happen and every year it didn’t! There was never an end in sight, and at times I grew weary and wanted to give up. I knew that God had promised it and He would one day bring it to pass. That’s exactly what He did…but not until we had ‘swum’ for 17 years in order to reach the shore. Each time that I decided to quit, I would regain my strength and composure and start to believe it could happen again. It did!

Your next attempt could well be like Florence’s, who two months later actually made it, because she kept an eye on her destination albeit through another foggy day. When you’re in a struggle, keep your goal in sight. It may be physical, financial, relational or spiritual, and it may feel like that you’re never going to reach the shore of a new day.

You may well ask “if this is my God given destiny, then why am I battling to stay afloat with no sign of the destination?”

Remember: don’t take a life-storm as the absence of God; No one can see clearly in the fog, that’s why we must walk by faith and not simply by what we can see. The storm can make you stronger and give you confidence to handle future challenges.

When you get through battling, you’ll have more wisdom, more tenacity, more strength and more vision to take you forward.

Today, don’t get so distracted by your circumstances that you lose awareness of God’s presence, instead, let this challenge drive you to your knees, where you know you can find help in your time of need.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.

Pastor Mark 

A daily devotion for a better way of living. 

Fresh Hope – 17th July 2020

Every evening before I go to sleep, I pray. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I pray throughout the day too, but my evening prayer time is a time of reflection and looking forward. It’s the time I talk to God about my day and I bring to Him my list of daily prayer requests – the big ticket items. 

However, before I get started on my prayer requests, I work periodically through the day and say thank you. Some days these ‘thank you’s come flowing, other days, I have to scramble for the little things. However, no matter how bad a day has been, there are ALWAYS multiple things to be thankful for. 

Sometimes it takes the bad days to make you realise the little things we have to be thankful for every day – a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, a friend to go to, a church I call home.

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the goodness in that day alone, so I just need to express my gratitude. Other days, it can feel like I’m starting my conversation with God like this to not be cheeky – I don’t want to ask for big things without first saying thank you for what He’s already done. I don’t want Him to think I’m just asking for more. (Clearly on these days I forget He is God and knows my intention, no matter what words come out of my mouth.)

On occasion, ordering my prayer like this can quickly shift my sole focus from prayers that have been answered and blessings I have received, to the things not yet done. It’s like saying thank you, with a big ‘but’; “thanks for doing this, but you haven’t done the other thing I’ve been asking for.”Appreciation quickly depreciates and want takes over. On bad days, I can even start to question whether the things on my prayer list will even happen, particularly the things that have been on that same daily prayer list for years. 

Reflecting on those bad days, it amazes me how quickly I can go from gratitude to doubt. How can I be thanking the same God who has provided for me in the day, then question whether He will provide in the future?

It takes a fight to counteract those thoughts. It takes effort to remind yourself of the promises of God. It takes conscious competition to not let the enemy infiltrate your prayers – seems ironic that that’s the time the doubt can creep in. It makes me realise that on those days, they’ve become empty prayers. Prayers without faith are just words.

On those days I pick up my bible. I read the words God is speaking to me. I have there in front of me, in black and white, undisputable communication that God is for me(Romans 8:31), that He will work everything out for my good (Romans 8:28).

God knows our struggle; but our struggle is so diminished when we truly trust Him. 

Honour Him with genuine gratitude, daily. 

Whole-heartedly trust Him with faith-filled prayers and speak the outcome with conviction. 

There is proof of His goodness in every day and He works everything out for good.

Psalm 34:8 (MSG): Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good GOD is. Blessed are you who run to him.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th July 2020

God does not operate on the timings of the man, He operates on the timings and rhythms of our heart. 

If our inner man is full of grumbling, complaining, bitterness, unforgiveness, prejudice, resentment, or idolatry than God will lovingly keep us where we are, as long as it takes, to process our issues before we move into our promises. 

Thankfully you don’t have to process the inner workings of your heart alone. You have been given the Holy Spirit to help you with that job. Ask Him to ‘lead you to truth’, and show you what needs to be dealt with. 

Don’t be like the Israelites who had a mountain to overcome, in order to reach the promise land. Instead of facing, and scaling the mountain, they went around and around and around the mountain, complaining all the while, until the penny finally dropped and they learnt their lesson. When they had learnt their lesson. They overcame the mountain and reached the promise(Deuteronomy 2:3). 

 Be careful not to compare your process with the person next to you. Remember that a tree’s health and fruitfulness is determined by its root system – the part that you don’t see. 

There is more purpose in your season today than you will probably give it credit for now. Hindsight will show you later on. Stop and listen to what God is saying to you in this season. Ask Him what lessons need to be learnt. Ask Him what needs to shift in your heart. Trust that He is working together all things for your good right now! As crazy, as it might sound, take pleasure in the process. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th July 2020

What do you do when you are in a season that you don’t want to be in? 

You may be waiting for better days. Wondering why God has you here. Dreaming of the future, and disappointed with the present. 

Adding salt to the wound, you may be looking around at others further along than you. Others, in a season where you yourself long to be. Others, who seem to have life easier than you do. They seem more blessed or favoured than you. 

Whether we feel like it or not, the truth is that God promises to never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He also never goes to sleep on us (Psalm121). He also promises that He is working things together (Romans 8:28). He Promises that His plans for us are plans for us to succeed (Jeremiah 29:11). 

So what is God doing in the present then? 

The answer is that God is probably getting you to your promises through your present circumstances! IT IS CALLED PROCESS. Something we don’t like. Something that is not instant. 

While we are waiting on things to change around us, God is often waiting for something to change IN us. 

If you are struggling with the way your life is at present, that is okay, but also know that there is probably a process going on IN you.  

More on this tomorrow! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th July 2020

The camel is an unusual animal. It was created by God to thrive (not just survive) in hot, desolate places. I always thought that the camel’s humps were full of stored water – not so! In fact, they are full of fat that gets stored when the camel eats… so, when the camel has no food for days, it can call on its reserve and eat at the fat that has been stored. How great is our God!

The camel was also made with oval blood cells, so that it can also retain water in its body. A camel can actually go up to a week without water, but when it drinks, it can consume up to 30 gallons of the stuff!

What a great lesson for us here; the camel has a reserve and so should we. We may find ourselves in dry and difficult places, but it’s then that we can call on the reserve that we have. The danger is, is that if we don’t have one, then we are in trouble.
Every time you pray, you worship, you read God’s Word, you listen to God’s teachings, you are filling up your reserve. So that when you are in a difficult place, you can call on that which you know to be true. 

Don’t wait until you’re desperate to try to call on that which you don’t have. Keep your reserve topped up at EVERY opportunity. 

The camel doesn’t say “I don’t need to drink or eat today, because I have some in reserve.” No, it takes it, so that when it does need it, it’s there. 

Let this be a lesson to us today. Fill up your reserve…at every opportunity. 
Worry will rob your reserve? Anxiousness will rob it. Fear will strip it. Life in general will take from you. So each day, take time and make time, to keep it topped up. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th July 2020

Every new week that you live, you’re in the process of becoming. What you become depends on what and who you give yourself to. Before you head into yet another week, whereby you will have the potential to either remain the same or become someone better, consider these seven steps:
1- make a commitment to grow daily — it won’t be long before you see real change. Growth comes by what you read, who you listen to and how much value you place on the Bible and prayer. 

2-value the process, more than the event. Certain events may be helpful in making you have a growth spurt, but inevitably it will be the process that matures you into what God wants you to become. 

3-don’t wait for inspiration…it’s not always available! Sometimes you can run on excitement, but most times it will be commitment that will carry you through. 

4- if you’re willing to delay short term pleasure in order to have long term gain, then the results will taste much sweeter in the end. 

5- don’t limit God. By only focusing on your limitations you will magnify them and down size God’s unlimited power. The God that lives in you is able to do ‘…exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think’. (Ephesians 3 v 20).

6- learn to master your time. Since you can’t recover lost time, make every day count from now on. What difference does a few minutes make? Think about it —if you save even 5 minutes every day by streamlining your morning routine, 10 minutes by eliminating things that take your focus from starting the day, 10 minutes by avoiding other distractions and even people that just want to waste your time, and 5 minutes by taking a shorter lunch break — you’ll gain an additional 125 hours a year! That’s three 40hr working weeks that you can use for better things! You can double that by watching TV or scrolling social media for 30 minutes less each day. 

7 – life is filled with decisive moments when you have to trade one thing for another. Always trade up and not down. If it’s the case of choosing the lesser of two evils…chose neither. 
Want to achieve your God given destiny? Follow these steps.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th July 2020

Author, Alex Haley, has a picture in his office of a turtle sitting on top of a 2m fence post! The caption reads, “you can be sure he didn’t get up there by himself!”

Samuel may have been the greatest Bible prophet of his age, but you can be sure that he didn’t get up there by himself. It was the prayers and the influence of his mother, Hannah, that moulded him into a man of destiny. The same goes for young Timothy in the New Testament: 2 Timothy 1:5 ‘I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also’. The same goes for me and I’m pretty sure it goes for you too?

Do you remember who gave you your first encouragement and break?

Somebody saw something in you. That’s why you’re in the position you are in, enjoying the blessings you have right now.

Who was it? A loving parent? A perceptive teacher? A demanding coach? An appreciative employer? A praying pastor? Or just a friend who dug down deep into his pockets to come up with the help you needed? Whoever it was had the kindness and foresight to want to be part of your future.

Today, why not take a few minutes and write a note, or send a text of gratitude to someone who helped you? It will mean the world to them. Then take another few minutes to think about a person that you could give the kind of ‘lift up’ that others gave you.

Who knows, someday you might get back an appreciative note—one of the most gratifying things you’ll ever receive. But even if that note never comes, you will live on through the seed you sowed into somebody else’s life. Priceless.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th July 2020

Do you desire something so much you feel like you can’t be truly happy until it’s satisfied? Do you have a dream or a passion that you feel is the reason you are on this planet? Do you have a heart for something, a passion that consumes your thoughts and you can’t be content until you’re fulfilling that dream?

Do others seem to have it, and there’s no way they could appreciate it as much as you would? No matter how much you pray or work for it, it gets no closer. The more you try and grasp it, the further it seems away from you. 

You feel sick when you think about it, disappointment mixed with frustration. The last piece of the jigsaw of your life and it’s missing. Friends can help cheer you up and take your mind off it, but once they leave the despair is quick to greet you, waiting like an obediently trained dog. 
Then you read this proverb and it makes your blood boil: Proverbs 13:12 | NIV Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

You feel like an expert on the first part of this verse, you have a diploma on the subject of carrying unrequited love, being in a one sided romance. But the second half ‘a longing fulfilled’ is a foreign concept, a pipe dream. You can’t go on anymore, how long can you live like this?

You ask God, ‘why? I’ve prayed, fasted and sought you, I have this desire and I don’t know why I can’t have it?’  
God answers you ‘because I have something better! Much much better!’
‘What could possibly be better?!’

He answers loud and clear in the person of Jesus Christ ‘Me! I am your reward, and no one who puts their hope in me will ever be disappointed’ 
Lamentations 3:20-25 I remember my affliction and my wandering,the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them,and my soul is downcast within me.Yet this I call to mindand therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,to the one who seeks him;

The irony is, when you finally have what you’ve always wanted, it never truly satisfies. But…if we turn our hope to God, he can truly satisfy our hearts like no other, he fulfils every desire and can meet every need. 

I encourage you, if you’re feeling hope sick, if you’ve been left disappointed and in doubt, turn to him today, seek him with all your heart and all your strength, as Psalm 37:4 says ‘Delight in the Lord and he will fullfill the desires of your heart.’

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th July 2020

Recently, at work, I’ve been working quite closely with a team of software developers. Our jobs are all so different but we’re working towards a common goal: to get a particular website up and running.

I’ll always find it fascinating to see how they make things work ‘at the back end’ or behind the scenes, to change what the users see at ‘the front end’, which is the part of the website that is on display for all the world to see.

Part of my job is to go on the ‘user journey’ and pre-empt the possible scenarios someone would come up against, whilst they’re using this website and try to solve them in advance.

It got me thinking about God’s word. It forms a part of the behind the scenes of our lives and how we apply it changes what plays out in our worlds.

The more our relationship with God develops, the more roadblocks we can come up against and more scenarios we find ourselves in. God knew what our ‘journey’ would entail and created solutions in scripture all throughout the Bible for us to draw on and overcome.

However you feel today, you’ll find encouragement in His word, if you’re just willing to look.

‘Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path’ | Psalm 119 v 105.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th July 2020

Love assumes the best about others. None of us would argue that as Christians our primary mission is to love. I’m not talking about love as a feeling, I’m talking about love as an action. 

It can be difficult to believe the best about others when we have experienced an ugly side of people in the past. Maybe someone has broken your trust. Maybe you have even had recurring negative experiences with certain types of people. 

Even in our failures, when God looks at us, He believes the best about us. He is not blinded to our flaws. He is more aware of them than anyone else. He CHOOSES to focus on the gold on us. He chooses to see what we are, not what we are not. He chooses to believe the best about us over and over and over again. 

If you struggle with trusting every person you meet, if you have something critical to say about every person in your life, if you struggle to celebrate the success of others, if you are quickly threatened, if your immediate response is to see what people lack instead of what they have, then it is time to switch the lenses in which you view people. 

The entire religious law was summed up in two commands: 

1. Love God. 

2. Love people 

It is very difficult to do the latter if you don’t believe the best about them. 

Until that person violates your trust, until that person actually says what you assume they are thinking, until people actually do something for you to question their integrity, give them the benefit of the doubt.  Remove your heart of judgement and replace it with a heart of love. Ask God to give you the ability to see people the way He sees them – the ability to see the gold in them. 

Galatians 5:14, ‘For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.’

As you would want people to believe the best in you, let us believe the best in others. Let’s be quick to love, and slow to judge. Don’t believe the lie that being cautious and closed off is ‘wisdom and discernment’. This attitude will make for a lonely life with few close relationships as you struggle to be vulnerable, warm and open.  I’m not saying you bare all to anyone and everyone. I am encouraging you to see where believing the best about others will take you! You may actually find that believing the best in others in fact brings the best out of them! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th July 2020

I recently saw a billboard advertisement for an insurance company with the slogan, ‘FREE, NOT FREEISH’. 

Many of us have come to learn that nothing in life is really free. ‘What’s the catch?’ is our initial response if something is given away. Is anything really no-strings-attached free? 

When Jesus said, ‘Whom the son sets free is free indeed’ (John 8:36), he was not saying, ‘whomthe son sets free is freeish’… he was declaring that who Jesus has set free is COMPLETELY and utterly free!

Can I remind us today that if Jesus has set you free, then you are free indeed? There are no strings attached. This tells us that true freedom is found only through Jesus. 

Humanity is hungry for freedom. It is within human nature to want freedom. But anything outside of Jesus will only make you ‘freeish’, not truly free. 

It is in relationship with Jesus Christ, through abiding in His Word, and being His disciple that we find the freedom we have been looking for. 

Don’t think that because you have been a Christian for many years that you don’t need to be reminded of your freedom in Christ. Even seasoned Christians can too easily fall into the trap of believing that they need to earn their freedom or behave their way into freedom. You don’t set yourself free. The son sets you free. He is the only one that can do that. You can only make yourself ‘freeish’, the son makes you free indeed. 

If there is any area of your life that is not feeling free. If you are only feeling ‘freeish’ then can I encourage you to go to the one who sets you free indeed? Jesus.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th July 2020

“I am your constant companion, your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.

I will push you onwards or drag you down to failure, I am completely at your command. Half of the things you do, you may as well turn over to me and I will do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed. You must be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great people, but alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with the precision of a machine, plus the intelligence of a person. You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin – it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you. Who am I?”

You may have guessed it… it’s a habit.

There are good and there are bad. But actually it’s habits that will determine your future.

Cleaning your teeth and taking a shower are good daily ones, but so is reading God’s word, praying, worshipping and praising, being generous, encouraging someone, helping someone, declaring positive things over your life, exercising regularly, eating healthily and having a positive outlook on life, seeing the best in everyone and working hard. The list, my friend, is endless.

Ask yourself on this Monday: what are yours? Are they leading you to success or failure? Blessing and prosperity or lack? Health and strength or weakness? How are your habits affecting your family?
Show me your habits and I’m sure I can determine your future.

Pastor Mark’s current Sunday series “What Happens When You… ? “is encouraging and inspiring us. Don’t let your day just go along ‘as the wind blows you’. Be intentional in everything you do. Make some great habits. Keep doing the right thing for long enough and it will become a natural habit and part of your life – your life to success and significance.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th July 2020

Centuries ago, wine was stored in leather wine skins rather than bottles. When the wine skins were new, they were soft and pliable, but as they aged they became hardened and couldn’t expand. If new wine was poured in an old wine skin, the container would burst and the wine would be lost. 
When Jesus wanted to encourage His followers to enlarge the capacity of their lives, He reminded them, ” You can’t put new wine into old wine skins”( Matthew 9 v 17). He was saying that you cannot have a larger life if you have an old restricted mind. Don’t be fooled into thinking that having an old wine skin only relates to those that are older in age; You can be young in age, and yet still have thinking that has already got old and hardened.

Ask yourself this question: Have I already developed a mind set that says thatI’ll never do anything successful or enjoy the good things in life that I used to dream of?

Today, I encourage you to stretch your faith, your vision and your mind in order to get rid of that old restrictive stinking thinking — it’s holding you back from all that God has got for your life. 
Start to make room in your life for the much bigger things that God has in store for you. You must conceive them in your mind and heart before you can receive them in reality, otherwise they will simply pass right through you. 

This pandemic has maybe already caused you to shrink back with your life, but now you need to allow it to push your forward into all the new possibilities that God has for you. 
Ask yourself a simple question: If God poured a new dream into your life today would it just quickly disappear through the cracks of your old attitude?

The key today is to allow your heart to become pliable and supple again to all of the great things that God has in store for you. He’s never short on ideas for your life, but you maybe short on space to contain them. 

Pray right now, and ask the Holy Spirit to drench you with His presence in order to soften your heart and make you pliable once again. 
Expect Gods favour to help you break out the rut that you’re in and expect to excel in whatever you do.

Expect great things from God…attempt great things for God. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd July 2020

Last year I was invited on a 10k run that included obstacles through a muddy course – they call it a ‘Tough Mudder’.

I said ‘yes’ so as not to lose face and it was so far in the future I thought it would never arrive, unfortunately it did. I soon found myself amongst thousands on the starting line of the event.

The first kilometre wasn’t too bad, and I carefully ran around the mud and kept myself quite clean. Soon though we were passing muddier terrain and I wasn’t enjoying the anxiety of trying to keep myself free of mud and I found myself regretting being there.

A few kilometres in and I could maintain my dignity no longer. There was a swamp to get through and in front of us were hundreds of contestants queued up to their waists, stuck in the mud. At this point we realised the quickest and least energy-sapping way through was to lie flat on our backs on top of the mud like we were doing a snow angel (a mud angel) and then flipping over onto our fronts, then flipping again onto our backs, and so flipping over the surface of the swamp. 

Considering I wasn’t enjoying anxiously trying to stay clean at the beginning I was now strangely absolutely loving rolling like a pig in muck. Once I let go of my sensibilities and embraced the course and came to terms with the fact that I was in a state beyond repair, I absolutely loved the rest of the day and when we finished we all actually wanted to go through the whole course again.

Often, our approach and attitude to following Jesus can often be like me at first in the run, stifled as we try to maintain some composure and dignity, not totally committed as we try and get a sensible balance with church/family/work.

I want to encourage you (and myself), to let go! Let’s not waste time trying to keep our dignities. Jesus Christ has called us to lay down our lives and follow Him! 

If you’re feeling – in this strange quiet season -discontent, maybe apathetic and bored with life, challenge your approach and attitude. Life isn’t about maintaining a dignified appearance – it’s too late for that, let’s let go, get stuck in, give 100% to our passions and enjoy this amazing journey called life!

Stop worrying about what you can’t change and focus on what you can, stop trying to fit in; stand out, don’t allow fear to make you hold back but jump in with both feet and fall back in love with the reason for it all, Jesus Christ! 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd July 2020

Galatians 4:7, ‘…you are no longer a slave, but a son’. 

Slavery is essentially the act of being made to work by compulsion. 

Almost every ancient and economic civilization, throughout history, has sadly used slavery as a means to gain economic prosperity. 

Slavery meant that people could pay for their debts. You didn’t file for bankruptcy. You just worked as a slave in exchange for freedom from what you owed. 

But something happened – Jesus came.  

Jesus came to abolish slavery, both spiritually and economically. 

Historically speaking, as the power of the Roman empire (slave driven) began to decline, Christianity began to grow. 

Long story short, a slow transformation in society began to take place. Society began to change its heart around slavery and people who were once slaves, began to own their own property, and learn their own crafts to have their own means of making money. 

The economy began to change from one of slavery to citizenship. 

The church actually shifted things from a pagan/slavery model into a new economic model. 

Creativity was born. Ownership and freedom was born. 

Sadly, it did not stay like this. Division birthed a new system of slavery, yet again. 

The heart of God is for His people to be free. 

Jesus paid the ultimate price so slavery, could be exchanged for sonship. 

Freedom from being a spiritual slave means: 
– We don’t work to pay off our debts/sins/wrong doings. 

– We don’t work FOR our freedom. We work FROM our freedom.

 – We have the ability to take ownership of things. We have the privilege of being stewards. 

– We have the privilege of being creative and developing our gifts. 

Unconsciously believing you still are a slave to God means we:

 – Exhaust ourselves trying to earn our way to freedom. 

– We don’t have ownership of anything. We believe we haven’t been given any authority to steward anything. 

– We aren’t free to explore, get creative, operate in our gifts, and be our true selves. 

– We don’t use the authority we have.

 – We don’t access the resources we have. 

No only did Jesus free us from spiritual slavery. It gets better. We have been made SONS. 

Romans 8:15, ‘The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.’ 

As sons, we have been made ‘heirs’ (Romans 8:17). That means that not only are we freed from our debts, but we are receivers of reward and special authority. 

A true revelation of this has radical implications in every area of our lives. 

You are no longer a slave, you are a son. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st July 2020

‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’, Matthew 6:19-21. 

Jesus talked about money a lot. It was one of the topics he talked most about. Why? Because he knew the power it could hold over one’s life. 

When Jesus councils us to not store up treasures for ourselves, does he mean we shouldn’t save and should just give all our money away? No. Jesus’ message was more about what you’re spending your life working towards. Is your pursuit of money ultimately for earthly, temporary goods that can be easily stolen and taken? Or is your pursuit of money second to the pursuit of Jesus? Is your money under the Lord, or is money the Lord? 

Jesus’ point in the scripture you just read, is that right now, here on earth, we have an opportunity to build for our future. I’m not talking 20, 30, 50 years down the line. I’m talking about your ETERNAL future. 

Rewards in heaven are a real thing. There is a rewards system in heaven. You will be given treasures according to how you lived on earth. You will live with your heavenly reward for not just 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years, but for ETERNITY. What could be a better investment than investing into your eternal situation?! No wonder the Bible tells us it is better to give than receive (Acts 20:35)!

We have a very short, brief window on Earth to invest, invest and invest and to give, give, give, in order to live eternally in the reward of our sacrifice! 

Matthew 6:24 says, ‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money’.

Again, Jesus is not condemning money, He is condemning it as an idol in our life. He is condemning the love of money. He is condemning money having a hold on you, instead of you having a hold on money. 

Make sure you are making a good investment decision.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th June 2020

Recently I saw an America’s Got Talent audition of a man called Archie Williams who had been wrongly imprisoned for 37 years. Despite his innocence, he was sentenced to 80 years imprisonment for multiple crimes he didn’t commit. After 37 years, DNA proved he was innocent and he was freed.

During his audition he said that in prison he prayed and he sang, and that’s how he got peace. He said: “Freedom is of the mind. I went to prison but I never let my mind go to prison.”

His story reminded me of Joseph, who was also wrongly imprisoned. A couple of things struck me most about Joseph and Archie’s stories of glory through suffering.

 1. They didn’t let their minds go to prison

When wrongly accused of anything, big or small, it can be easy for us to get defensive. Aggression can build and bitterness can start to grow. Bitterness can easily start unnoticed by others but the unaddressed hurt quickly becomes a catalyst for our own bad decisions. If Archie had grown bitter, his life could have looked very different and he might not be walking free today. If Joseph had grown bitter and sought revenge against his brothers, he might never have had the opportunity to save his family and fulfil his Godly purpose. 

2. They stayed with God

Archie needed peace in a situation that was unfair and that he didn’t understand. He knew that praying was what was needed for his peace. 

Philippians 4:6 ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.’

Joseph became a successful man in prison because it was obvious God was with him. His actions and demeanour remained that of a man walking with God and he was promoted and trusted. Despite the situation, he didn’t let negative feelings transform his character and derail him from his purpose. Romans 12:2 ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.’

Archie’s audition won over the judges and the nation. His humility was so apparent. What impacted me was, when asked how he felt about being out of prison, he said “I’m still trying to digest the freedom I have right now.” 

Because he had been imprisoned, he remained overwhelmed by the freedom in which he now lives. In truth, we all live in that same freedom. Because we have not experienced physical incarceration, we don’t recognise it. We can, however, let ourselves become imprisoned by worries, decisions or circumstances. These things can stop us living, they can trap us without us even being consciously aware of it.

Galatians 3:13 (MSG) Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself.

Our freedom is a lot to be grateful for. Let go of anything that’s trapping you, and live the free life Jesus died for us to have.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th June 2020

If you’re reading this today and feel frustrated and uncomfortable at the confines of this current season, then I encourage you to read on and get ready to embrace change.

Did you know that a lobster can only grow by shedding its protective shell and growing a larger one to expand into?

How often do we all find that the very thing in our lives that protects us most, can end up being the very thing that stops us from growing and achieving greater things! This is a great picture for us…in order to grow, we have to go through a season of shedding our security blanket.
Lobsters only shed their shell because of discomfort. They grow too big on the inside, become uncomfortable, and so make the change. However, that same Lobster becomes very vulnerable once its shell has been shed, it’s often the reason that we don’t grow. We don’t feel it’s sensible to expose ourselves to a weakened position, but if the lobster doesn’t take the risk, its shell eventually kills it!

Be careful that you don’t confuse the current restrictive shell that you’re in believing that it was from God, whilst failing to see that it’s from a previous season. This can make you feel that it’s where we should live forever; but the life of faith is one of advancement and growth and that which was previously correct for us may now be restricting us. God always has new miraculous provision for you today. It’s a new season that you’re coming into.

In Luke 17:33 Jesus said ‘Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.’

The life of faith is a life of stepping out and taking risks. Be prepared to lay down your old life today in order to come into the real freedom of a new and much bigger one. You won’t be disappointed!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th June 2020

Did you know that you weren’t an accident? 

Did you know that you were born on purpose and for a purpose?

You may not have been planned by your earthly parents, but you were certainly planned by God. My parents were told that they wouldn’t be able to have children. I came along six years later. A miracle. God obviously wanted me born. I have a purpose to fulfil. AND so do YOU. 

God has had His hand on your life every day up until now…you may never have stopped to think about that. You may never have had any regard for God until today. He’s not fazed by that. He’s watched over you, protected you and He’s been with you, even when you didn’t realise it. 

You are not here today, reading this by accident. It’s part of God’s plan for your life. Your life may have been one of struggle and strife, but you made it! It doesn’t matter how much you messed up, or how those bad circumstances have affected you, because God has a beautiful plan for your future if you allow Him in. He’s a gentleman. He doesn’t force His way into anyone’s life. He waits to be invited. 

You can buy a new car, or a new kitchen appliance and ignore the manufacturer’s instructions. It will soon stop working, or even blow up. That’s like us, when we ignore our Maker’s instructions for our lives, we can get broken or lost or in a mess. 

Today, stop and thank God that He has been with you (even though you may not have known).

– Thank Him that He has a plan for your life (even though you may not yet know what it is).

-Ask Him to help you live your best life yet.

 -Invite Him in to be the Leader and Lord.

 -Ask for forgiveness for your past mistakes and mess ups. 

-Ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit. 

He has some great things in store for you. You were born ON PURPOSE. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th June 2020

The Aspen is a deciduous tree found in the northern hemisphere. Unusually for a deciduous tree it thrives in places that are normally reserved for coniferous forests. The Aspen tree has some features that make it able to survive where few other deciduous trees can.

Aspen’s grow in groves of many trees but within each grove all the trees are in fact connected by their root system. Each tree in a grove is actually part of the same tree, they are all shoots from the same interconnected mass of roots.

This gives the Aspen tree some unique attributes. It can survive forest fires and storms. The trees may burn or be felled but the root system simply sends up a new shoot to replace the damaged trees. Each individual tree may only live between 40 to 150 years but the whole root can survive for thousands of years. There is a grove in the USA that scientists believe is 80,000 years old, making it the oldest living thing on the planet.

The Aspen’s root system enables the tree to survive in conditions and through traumas that other trees cannot. The secret to that ability is it hidden underground interconnection.

In John 15:5 Jesus says ‘I am the vine and you are the branches’. Jesus is painting a picture of what it is like to be a child of God. He is explaining that through him we are not only connected to him, but to the root. The root is the source of all the nutrients that we need to survive. The root also gives us stability and an anchor to hold firm to in a storm. That root is God.

As we are all branches of the same vine, then not only are we connected to Jesus and the root but also through him to each other. Some of us are old branches, gnarled and rough to the touch whilst others are new fresh shoots, but nevertheless we are all connected to the same vine.

The fact that we can be so connected helps us, like the Aspen tree, survive through the storms in our lives. We can draw our strength, our hope, our joy and our salvation from our connection to Jesus and to each other. Jesus urges us to remain in him and he will remain in us. Through that invisible interconnection, our lives will ‘bear much fruit’.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th June 2020

The word, ‘worship’ comes from the word, ‘worth’. This means we worship what we value. What you deem worthy is what you will worship. 

You were born to worship. It is in your DNA. As natural as it is to eat, so it is natural for you to worship. Why are you a worshipper? Because you were created to LOVE. You worship what you love. 

The big question is: what are you worshipping? We all worship something, we can’t help it. 

When you love something, you make sacrifices. Sometimes the sacrifice is easy, sometimes it is hard. The point is that all through history, worship is connected to sacrifice. Love is connected to sacrifice. 

So if you want to know what you worship, look at what you will make sacrifices for. You could make sacrifices for good things like your job, or your family, but the question is, where does God fit amongst these things? Is He after? Is He somewhere in the middle, or is He worshipped ABOVE these things? 

Frankly, when we worship the wrong things, it is called idolatry. Yes, even good things can become idols. Your spouse can become an idol, your kids, your job, your church, your ministry, people’s opinions. 

All immortality flows from idolatry. What you worship, you end up obeying. What you worship, you end up becoming. Be careful what you make sacrifices for, and the order of your sacrifice. When your worship is disordered, your life becomes disordered. 

Ironically, when your sacrifice is in order, and is entirely fixed on ‘one thing’ (Psalm 27:4), and your ‘seeking first’ to worship God (Matthew 6:33), your life comes into order. 

Check the order of your sacrifice. Check the order of your worship. 

Romans 12:1, reminds us that in light of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, we in turn sacrifice our own lives (note, we don’t just sacrifice our Sundays, we sacrifice our LIFE), as an act of worship. ‘…By the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.’

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th June 2020

Could there be a more challenging scripture for today than that of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18?

‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’. 
1. REJOICE ALWAYS  – Not just when things are going well. Have great joy and delight ALWAYS. 

2. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING – That means praying non-stop!

3. GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES – When your circumstances aren’t your preferred circumstances, thank Him through it. 

These are incredibly uncomfortable and confronting scriptures for many of us. 

Was Paul, the author, totally out of touch with the realities of life and hardship? No. Quite the opposite. He went through more trials than many of us probably ever will (2 Corinthians 11-25). 

Many of us want to know what the will of God for our lives is. Well, here is it: rejoice always, pray non-stop, give thanks always. There is the place to start. ‘For this is the will of God for you’. 

We can rejoice always because our joy is not tied up in circumstance. It is tied up in the cross. We can pray non-stop because prayer is not and should not be exclusive to an occasion or an event. Prayer is all day, every day, constant communication and relationship with God. We can give thanks no matter the situation because through Jesus we ALWAYS have something to be thankful for. 

These actions may seem idealistic, impossible or even ridiculous, but perhaps that is exactly why they are in fact the most powerful weapons you could use right now. 

In the words of a true worshipper, David in Psalm 34:1, ‘I will bless the LORD AT ALL TIMES; His praise shall CONTINUALLY be in my mouth’. 

Rejoice, pray, give thanks, repeat!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd June 2020

Does this season of your life feel wasted? What feels like a wasted season right now could become your greatest season, if you choose to put in the work.

Imagine waking up today, looking at your physique and being disappointed that you don’t have as many muscles as you’d like. You then ask yourself, ‘why is that?’ After a few seconds of pondering you realise it’s because you haven’t worked out as much as you should have.

Now think about a farmer; you would call him crazy if he went out into his field one afternoon to find no crops. You then ask him if he remembered to sow some seed, to which he replies, ‘You know what, I forgot that part!’

The principle here is that you cannot expect to receive a harvest in one season if you failed to sow the seeds in the previous season.

Therefore the question I want to pose to us both today is: ‘what work are we putting in during this season of our lives that is going to produce results in the time to come?’ I want to say it again, what may seem like a wasted time in your life right now could become the greatest time in your life.

Maybe you want to see your friendships thrive. Use this opportunity to invest into them. Make that call, send that text, arrange that FaceTime.

Maybe there’s a skill that you’ve been wanting to develop. Read that book, watch that tutorial, listen to that podcast. Don’t just step into the future, create it.

Today, make a decision to turn this season around and work it to your advantage. Sow the seeds so that you can reap the harvest, and when you look back on the first half of 2020, you won’t see a time that was lost, you’ll see a time that was well spent.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd June 2020

The winds of adversity have been beating on the world for several weeks now and there have been many casualties in so many ways. As we enter a brand new week with all of its challenges, and of course its opportunities, I want to encourage you to stay strong as I remind you of just 4 verses from Psalm 92.

12-15 ‘The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’
Draw strength today from these simple yet profound words… ‘The righteous will flourish like a palm tree…’

  1. You can cut it, but you can’t kill it! The minerals and nutrients most trees need to survive are found on the surface, just below the bark. When you cut them, they die. But not so with the palm tree. Its life comes from within, so it flourishes even under attack.

2. It will bend, but it won’t break. Tropical winds can blow most trees away, but not the palm tree. The stronger the wind, the further it bends, sometimes all the way to the ground. Yet when the storm ceases, it straightens up again and is actually stronger in the place where it bent. What a picture! We were made to bend, but not break, because God gives us the strength to endure.

3. Its depth always exceeds its height. While the roots of the average tree go only a metre or so under the ground, the palm tree’s roots can go down hundreds of metres in search of water. Psalm 42:1-2 ‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…’ When you put your roots down deep in your relationship with God, there’s no guarantee that you won’t get blown around, but you’ll certainly never get blown away.

Joshua 1:7-9 ‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th June 2020

How many of you look at people’s shoes?

Some may wear the wrong colour for their outfit, some may wear some that are too big or too small, some people may wear really old ones that have gone out of style, some may have new ones every week…

I wonder what shoes you are wearing today?
Our purpose in life is a lot like shoes – God has the perfect fit for each of us.
Have you ever thought someone’s shoes were totally unsuitable for their age or stage of life? How many little girls loved to dress in ‘Mommy’s shoes’, yet obviously we wouldn’t allow them to wear them for school or even outside, they may fall and really hurt themselves. How many little boys have wanted to wear ‘daddy’s work boots’, yet again, only for ‘dressing up’.

What are your shoes like today? Are they suitable for you? You see, wearing the right shoes, and walking in the purposes of God for YOUR life is a perfect fit. You will go where you’re supposed to go, be who you’re supposed to be and fulfil the purpose that GOD has for you. One size does not fit all when it comes to God’s purposes for us.

We each have a different one. Yes, we are all created to love God and love people and bring others to know Him, but in doing that, we have each been designed specifically and beautifully unique. We all have the same mission, but a different part of it.

I love the story of David when he was going to fight Goliath. You can read about it in 1 Samuel 17 vs 38-40. King Saul wanted David to wear his armour; the offer came with good intentions and right motives, yet it was completely wrong for David. He had to keep his ‘shepherd boy’ shoes on and fight Goliath as he knew best, with a sling and some stones, not with some huge heavy armour.

You may like other people’s shoes. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that doesn’t mean they are right for you. Walk with the shoes on that God has given you to wear. Other’s shoes will be too big, too small, won’t fit, will hurt you, cause you to stumble, not be able to run and you will be ineffective in them, just like David knew he would be in Saul’s armour. Your shoes may not be as ‘flashy’ as someone else’s. I’m sure David was tempted by the offer of the King’s armour, but just because it looks good, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
You never see athletes swapping shoes. No, they have a specific pair reserved for them and them only, ready to run their OWN race!

If you don’t know what shoes you’re supposed to wear, ask God, He will help you – and if you’re trying to wear someone else’s, get out of them quick and into your own. For that’s where you will be most effective… and everyone will say “WOW, look at their shoes” and like David, you too will be a hero.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th June 2020

In Luke Chapter 4, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness. He ate nothing for 40 days and during this time, was tempted by the devil.

Although we may not be wandering around the desert, there are times in all of our lives where we find ourselves in the wilderness. The time we’re living in right now had certainly brought about uncertainty and nervousness.

Maybe you’re waiting on God for an answer to prayer or a promise from Him. The wilderness can feel like a lonely and uncertain place.

When Jesus was in the wilderness, He did things that we can learn from:

1) He clung to God’s word

40 days is a long time to wait. No matter how long your wilderness season lasts, God’s word never expires. When the devil tempted Jesus, he fired back at him with scripture.

See, when you’re feeling lost, having scripture to draw on is vital. Psalm 119, verse 1 says ‘I have hidden your word in my heart’; in your moments of desperation, there’s no time to look verses up.

2) He resisted temptation

This one is tough. Absolutely none of us are above temptation.
Jesus was shown ‘all the kingdoms of the world’ by the devil. It was of course, all an illusion.

When you’re waiting on God, you will often be faced with a quick fix, or an easy way out. The longest route out of trouble often comes in the form of a shortcut. If it looks too good to be true, or you know it isn’t God, flee.

3) He endured

Jesus’ resistance and obedience brought great reward.
In verse 14 it says ‘Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised Him.’

Did you catch that? God got the glory. Jesus was faithful and he came out of the wilderness ‘in the power of the Spirit.’ Not only did He see great things happen, following his time there but He was more powerful and effective than ever.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th June 2020

Some years ago when we bought a new fridge freezer, not only was I surprised to find that you had to have it plumbed into the water mains, but also that you had to fit a special water filter to the pipe work — something that no-one ever gets to see.

The filter system provides perfectly filtered water from the water dispenser at any time of  day or night – no more continually filling a water filter jug several times a day!

Every six months, a warning light appears on the front of the fridge to let you know that it’s time to change the filter. The filters are not only expensive, but changing them requires effort and time. I’m probably just the same as everyone else, in that I wait for the warning light to annoy me sufficiently before I make the change. This is usually about a month at least after the light comes on. 

Purity is something that you not only have to give attention to when you get a warning signal from the Holy Spirit, but it’s something that you have to actively work on and fight for within yourself on a daily basis. 

I have discovered that one of the greatest ways of maintaining a pure life is to be accountable to others that you respect around you. 
The people that I’m talking about will be usually further ahead and carry a greater level of maturity than you, although they will not always be older than you. 

Accountability operates like a filtration system. If you’re unsure about something, or if you find yourself in a difficult position that may compromise you, then by talking it over with a trusted friend you are in effect passing your thoughts through their filtration system of wisdom and sound advice. 

The benefit from being accountable is that you get shielded from making unwise decisions, and the decisions you do make are pure because of the process. 

Accountability also means that you get warned when others watch you going head long into an unwise decision or disaster. 
Don’t go it alone today and end up spending the rest of your life regretting the poor choices you’ve made, instead select some great people in your life to help filter out your impurities.

Proverbs 4:5-6 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th June 2020

Philippians 4:19, ‘…For I have learnt to be content in whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.’ (Philippians 4:19).

Let’s look at the context of this scripture – Paul was writing this letter to the church in Macedonia. Paul was not on his sun-lounger, drink in hand, sun on face, telling people to ‘be content’. He wrote this letter from prison. And it would not have been the first time he was imprisoned either.

‘…I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have travelled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm’ (2 Corinthians 11).

After Paul had endured all this, still his words, ‘I have learnt to be content in whatever the circumstances’ suddenly takes on a different meaning. Paul is not calling us to be content while life is ‘good’ or even ‘okay’. He is calling us to be satisfied when life is a challenge. He is calling us to be content now in lockdown, in the middle of 2020!

This doesn’t mean we stop praying and believing for more, it simply means our circumstances do not need to determine our level of happiness and satisfaction. Our happenings do not need to have a hold on us because we have strength in something beyond our happenings. We have strength in Christ. It is in Christ that we find contentment. It is not in the absence of a virus, or the presence of people, or abundance of finances. It is in God that we find contentment in EVERY situation and season.

If your strength and contentment is found only when you are in control, know the future, are back at work, and are around people, then you are in for a scary ride, because life doesn’t always guarantee those things. But if you can find strength in an unchanging, good God, then you will find contentment in whatever the circumstances.

Did Paul just have this understanding and ability to be content land in his lap? No, the verse says, he LEARNT to be content. We won’t get this perfect, we will have days where we struggle, but let us have the posture of LEARNING to be content in whatever we are facing at the moment.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th June 2020

1 Corinthians 13:1-8, ‘If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails’.

Love is the essential ingredient in all we do. We can do a good thing, but if the love is missing, it is pointless, useless and ineffective.

Love makes a powerful combo, when teamed with truth. In fact, truth and love must go hand in hand with each other. I love this quote from Timothy Keller, ‘Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical,unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace’.

Let’s look at the Bible – it reveals a realistic, sometimes unflattering picture of who we are. The Bible takes you by the scruff of the neck at times and addresses you. What we read in the scriptures challenges the core of who we are, but we know it is really the road to liberation. We cannot resist this power that truth has to blow the lid off and turn the light on to issues in our life. Equally, Jesus came with ‘truth bombs’, but he delivered them in love. His mission was to deliver truth, but with an unmatched affirmation that could heal the deepest wounds and hurts of your life.

Loving to speak the truth is different to speaking the truth in love.

Truth without love ruins unity, and love without truth gives the illusion of unity but actually stops the growth. The solution is GRACE – the experience of Jesus’ grace makes it possible to practice the two most important skills in the Christian walk: forgiveness and repentance.

Speaking the truth in love requires emotional humility and emotional wealth – a fundamental inner joy and confidence – this can only come from God… both his example and his empowering grace allow us to be this.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th June 2020

After more than 13 weeks in lock down, we have all been subjected to what can only be described as an exceptional set of circumstances. Living in each other’s pockets has been both an unexpected blessing and an unexpected strain at times. 

Spending so much time under one roof, with little opportunity for any outlet, has proved very challenging for many families as well as those living alone. I’m sure that you will have noticed that while emotions are running high, we are more prone than ever to do and say things that would not normally be an issue. 
By way of an MOT during this time, here are ten reasons why relationships fail:

  1. Communication breaks down. 
  2. Truth is violated 
  3. Integrity is forsaken
  4. Time isn’t invested 
  5. Risks aren’t taken (not social distancing risks I might add)
  6. Control rises to the top
  7. Trust is broken
  8. Self-interest is the rule
  9. Manipulation is allowed
  10. God is ignored 

How well did you do? Before you lose heart because you feel like you’ve failed, here are just three values that I find helpful in my daily thinking:

  • Become a good listener. In the book of James chapter 1 v 19, he writes… ‘be quick to listen and slow to speak.’ Sometimes the greatest gift that you can give to others, is to listen with not just your ears, but with your heart. Just ‘being there’ for someone, even if it’s just on their doorstep or on the end of the phone is enough. 
  • Speak the truth in love. Nobody likes to be corrected, but when you’re heading down the wrong road or settling for less than your potential, a true friend will have the courage to tell you. If you truly care about someone then you will make time to speak the truth in love even though it may cost you. 
  • Always believe the best. Love sometimes sees you at your worst, but never forgets your best. Love will often see you as far more wonderful than you know that you really are, but is able to see past your faults and failings. 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”. Love doesn’t sweep things under the carpet, but it does see beyond the dirt on the carpet. 

Whatever relationship challenges you are facing today, let’s be mindful that if we can learn to overcome the challenges in this season we will have learnt to overcome them in any season!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th June 2020

I was thinking about the story from the Bible in Matthew chapter 7 about the wise and the foolish builders. One built his house upon the rock, the other on the sand. Growing up in Sunday school, we regularly sang a song about the wise and foolish builders.

Along with many actions and sound effects, it told the exact story and that was that when the storm and the wind and waves came along, the house on the rock stood firm and the house on the sand fell flat. Matthew 7 teaches us that if our lives aren’t built on God’s word then we are like the foolish builder.

 You and I have to make sure our lives are built firmly, with great, solid foundations. For surely, life’s wind and waves and storms WILL come and what will be left? Hopefully we will still be standing firm. 

When my life is built on prayer, God’s word and a relationship with Him, then even when I’m tested (and we all will be) my life will still stand. My husband always says that what we learn in the light, we have to practise in the dark. Many people base their lives on feelings. This is too dangerous. For life isn’t always ‘happy’ and things don’t always go as we would want. But, when we instead build our lives on what GOD says, and not what I feel, that’s a firm foundation. When I listen to what He says and not what social media tells me, or the news media, then I am building the right foundation. 

God wants to build something great in you. Storms will come and storms will pass. You will remain standing… IF you have taken the time to build some great foundations. 

As children you may remember the story of the three little pigs…the same story as the Bible really. The wolf came and blew down the house of the homes that were built of straw. Yet, those that had been built with bricks, were able to stand when the wolf came. 

The enemy of our souls, the devil himself, may want to take you out. He may want to blow our house down with a big crash! BUT… he can’t if your foundation is strong. 
Check it today. Ask God to help you. Do something important that will last you forever. 

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

Fresh Hope – 12th June 2020

A few years ago, I watched a movie titled the Life of Pi. In it, a young boy is shipwrecked and finds himself lost at sea sharing a small lifeboat with some wild animals, one of them being a tiger.

Faced with dehydration yet surrounded by miles of water around him, the boy doesn’t drink any of it. He knows that although he faces certain death unless he can find something to drink, he would die sooner if he drank the sea water, and so waits for rain.
He was thirsty, yet surrounded by the very thing he was craving. He could touch it, feel the cool waves lapping on his skin under the hot sun, but hidden inside the water was salt that would kill him from the inside.

What are you thirsty for today? I, like many people, have been yearning for news of things settling down, and news is available everywhere you look. Information, both verified and unverified, and opinions are an unyielding torrent on social media, news channels, the sources are endless. But Proverbs 4:23 tells us to “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Guarding your heart and mind is especially difficult when you wake up to the heart-breaking news of the horrific killing of an unarmed man by police officers in America, and the resulting polarising protests demanding that they, and other perpetrators be brought to justice.

The assumption in the scripture is that we are going to act when it says “everything you do flows from it”, but what action do you take? How do you empathise with the hurt of another person, and make yourself vulnerable enough to feel their pain whilst protecting your heart and your mind? How do you let their hurt touch you enough so that you can feel enough compassion to become passionate, but remain rational? Proverbs 4 is an encouragement to get wisdom, and understanding; to allow things to touch you, and through God’s Word, discern which is the salty water, and which is the fresh, living water.

Let your prayer be that God gives us the willpower, strength and perseverance to come out healthier and stronger in our minds and relationships as we seek His wisdom and understanding.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th June 2020

When I was 18 and got my first proper job I remember looking into getting a mortgage on a small terrace house. I then decided against putting all my money into a house but should enjoy being young and so I got a motorbike. 10 years later, I got married and I remember wishing I’d gone ahead and invested in that house because I would own half a house that would have significantly increased in value! 

In this unusual time where it feels like our lives have been put on hold, there is an opportunity for reflection. You may be thinking like I was, ‘what have I been investing in?’ ‘What should I now invest in?’

Let me encourage you with this thought from the parable of the talents found in Matthews gospel chapter 25. 
Just to summarise the story, a master is going away and entrusts to three servants 5, 2 and 1 talent respectively. Then after a long absence returns to find that two of them have doubled their master’s money, but one (out of fear) buries it. His master is delighted with the two and very angry and punishes the latter. 

If you’re like me, when you hear this familiar parable, you hope that firstly you get trusted with the larger portion, but then secondly you manage to increase it. What’s interesting though is that we often overlook the fact that none of them actually got to keep the talents but had to hand them back. They weren’t theirs and never would be. What actually was said to the faithful servants was ‘Come and share in your master’s happiness!’

This was the ultimate reward not the talents. Therefore maybe in this life you haven’t been given the most, don’t worry, just be faithful with what you have, stop worrying about the size, and make sure you invest wisely. 

Okay, now here’s some math. Did you know that 1p invested in eternity is worth an awful lot more than £15billion invested today here in this very temporary world?
Also this is odd but 1p invested eternally is actually equal to £15billion invested eternally.

Because anything multiplied by infinity is infinity. 
Houses, cars and holidays are great, building a business or an organisation is fulfilling, but not necessarily eternal.

When you keep being faithful to God’s call on your life, when you invest in the community, feed and clothe people, when you continue to serve your local church, helping to man the spiritual life boat by helping to pull the drowning to safety, it’s eternal and you will reap a reward that will never perish.

Keep on serving in the church, keep on investing in people and remember: your pennies in eternity far outweigh any cost or value in today’s currency! 

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

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th June 2020

If you have ever purchased a real leather item of clothing, you would have noticed a removable tag that reads ‘genuine leather’ on the piece. This implies that the item is not made of imitation leather or a plastic material, that looks like leather, or “pleather” as I like to call it, but is the real deal. There is nothing like an authentic leather item – the quality, the smell, and the feel. On the contrary, a fake leather item, won’t last as long, can smell toxic and just doesn’t have the same feel. 

God hasn’t called us to be “pleather” Christians – doing the right thing, looking the right way, but without a genuine love.  Fake smells toxic, doesn’t last long and just doesn’t feel the same. 

A simple value, but one that scripture speaks about over and over is that of ‘sincerity’. Romans 12:9 says, ‘love must be sincere’. 1 Peter 1:22, ‘…fervently love one another from the heart’. 1 Timothy 1:15 says, ‘The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith’.

One way to tell the difference between a real diamond and a counterfeit diamond is how it responds under the intensity of heat. Diamonds are one of the strongest materials on the planet and therefore they will be resistant to such heat. On a real diamond, heat will disperse quickly and the diamond won’t be affected by the change in temperature, on a fake, it will crack and break. A sincere person can withstand the pressure of trials and circumstance as their character and motive is genuine. 

If we are going to change the world, people need to feel that we are the real deal. Fake is toxic and doesn’t last. Before you do something good, don’t just do it, ask God for a heart of sincere love as you go and do it.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th June 2020

We’re not even half way through 2020 and this year has already been like no other. The year kicked off with the Australian bush fires, we’ve then launched into a global pandemic, and now another race-driven murder weighs heavy on our hearts.  I have seen and heard many people wishing 2020 away, waiting for 2021 where they can ‘start over’. It’s interesting how people desperately need to feel comfortable in order to believe life is good and they are good. It’s interesting how much we struggle with discomfort and want to run from challenge. The Bible contradicts this notion encouraging us to in fact ‘consider it PURE JOY whenever you face trials of many kinds (James 1:2). Why? Because tough times produce something in us! Like the purification of a diamond that is only achieved by fire, so we too produce something invaluable under heat and pressure. There is fruit only after the pruning. 

As crazy as it sounds, we shouldn’t wish the pressure and pruning away. As overwhelming as it is, let’s lean into what God is saying and doing amongst His people. Let’s suck the marrow out of the discomfort, so we can bear the fruit. Let’s embrace the heat, so we can produce a diamond. 

2020 has been wake up call, after wake up call, after wake up call – if you’ve allowed it to be. The saddest thing would be to let this year pass, and have learnt or gained nothing. There are lessons for all of humanity here, and there are lessons for you personally here. 

God is shedding light in the dark areas of our culture where the enemy has prospered. God is asking us to not turn away any longer. 2020 is an invitation. An invitation for all of us to humble ourselves and listen, to understand, to grow and to step into our divine calling and privilege of proclaiming freedom for the captives. 

‘He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations…
…You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice….’ (Isaiah 61).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th June 2020

A well known medical Doctor writes: “unresloved emotional pain wreaks havoc on your imune system, cardiac function, hormone levels and other physical functions”. He goes on to say, “we must make peace with our past, because our life may literally depend on it”.

Challenging words!

Here are four thoughts in order to help you deal with your past:

1- reframe it. Ask yourself, how did it make me stronger, what did I learn from it, what do I know now that I didn’t back then?

2- break the chains of shame. Shame isn’t feeling bad over what you’ve done, it’s feeling ashamed of who you are. It’s lethal. When God created you in His image He said, “this is very good”. (Genesis 1 v 31)

3-stop the constant dripping of regret. Stop punishing yourself with the ‘if onlys’. In the Bible David said these words, “Happy is the person whose sins are forgiven…whom the Lord does not consider guilty…” (Psalm 32 v 1-2) If you’ve opened your heart to God, and sought His forgiveness, then you have to not only receive His forgiveness, you have to forgive yourself. 

4 -move from grief to gain. Healing takes time, so expect some anger, fear and sadness. Don’t disown them and pretend that they don’t exist, they are all part of the healing, however, don’t adopt them either! You have to move on. You can’t move backwards into your future. The future that God has for you is ahead and contains more happiness than any past you can remember. 

Psalm 25:7-11 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good. Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. 

Isaiah 43:25 ‘I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th June 2020

Unfortunately as human beings, we have the tendency to dwell on negative things. If someone is ill that can become our entire focus. If money is tight and things are difficult we can easily focus on that. If someone has been mean to us, we make it a huge mountain in our lives. I have challenged myself many times this week to get my eyes off situations and on to Jesus. 

I was fascinated to read a surprising study from the university of California, whereby its researchers discovered that the feeling of ‘awe’ can actually counteract dangerous and chronic illnesses. 

The kinds of awe that they studied included people’s responses to nature and beauty, listening to inspiring music and viewing great works of art. 
These ‘awesome’ responses stimulated hormonal messengers that tell our immune systems to work harder and thus produce emotions that are associated with good health.

Whilst we have all known for a long time that a healthy diet, adequate sleep and healthy exercise bolster our body’s defence mechanism, this study is one of the first of its kind to state ‘the effects of a sense of awe’ promote positive emotions in the context of total wellbeing. 

Being awestruck is of course nothing new to a Christian.
Being a follower of Jesus cannot fail to bring us daily to a place of joy, contentment, love, compassion, amazement and wonder. But to receive those wonderful blessings we have to put ourselves in a place to receive. 

Psalm 121 vs 1-2 “I lift my eyes to the mountains, does my help come from there? no it comes from God”Psalm. 61 vs 2. “When my heart is overwhelmed (with stuff) lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

However, we have to be willing to be led there. 
Let’s never lose sight of how awesome God is and all that He has created for our benefit. 

Let’s never forget His faithfulness and His never ending kindness to us. 

Let’s never lose sight of how “awesome” it is, to get into His presence. What a privilege!

He knew exactly what He was doing when He inbuilt within us a sense of awe for all that He has done. 
Take your eyes off ‘your mountain’ and take a fresh look today at something that God has blessed you with and once again be ‘awestruck’.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th June 2020

There’s a lot going on in the world right now. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll have been faced with feelings of overwhelm at times. 

What can I say? What shouldn’t I say? Maybe you have big decisions to make about your life and business, since the impact of the pandemic. Whatever it is, there’s no doubt that the world is having an effect on your world. 

No matter who you are or what your circumstances look like and how fast things are moving around you, our God is the same. His word tells us to be still. 

Don’t allow your fear to freeze you into inaction. That’s exactly what the enemy wants.

There is nothing that we can’t overcome when we turn to him. James 1:5 says “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”


 Change is uncomfortable but God already knows what you need. 

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th June 2020

We all have rituals. It’s what makes up every day of our lives, they include cleaning your teeth, feeding yourself, your thought life, what you read and watch, where you go, people you do life with. The daily rituals of our lives make up a narrative that displays what we really believe, irrespective of what we say. 95% of our lives are generally unchanging day to day ‘walking the dog’ rituals.

The old testament is full of rituals. Law after law of do’s and don’ts, list after list of names and endless routines for the sacrifices, offerings and festivals of God’s chosen people.

As a modern day liberal Christian there’s a danger in thinking that Christ came to set us free from all this Law, but actually Jesus said, he didn’t come to abolish but to fulfil the law! All those rituals the Israelites were commanded to fulfil were there to help them break their ingrained pattern of Egyptian idolatry. To break the narrative of their previous slave lives and to create a new cultural identity. It’s a massive undertaking. Our biblical rituals (reading the bible, prayer, fasting, tithing) do not in any way earn salvation (forgiveness of sins) but they massively help us to break the idolatrous culture we have grown up and live in, and so helps us live in a different realm. The film Karate Kid has a great example of the power of rituals. 

The young hero Danny LaRusso is getting bullied so approaches Mr Miyagi (Karate expert) to learn to fight. But for weeks he doesn’t train him but has him doing mundane tasks such as painting his fence and washing his car.  He’s instructed very specifically on how to ritualistically complete the tasks. Using very deliberate repetitive movements, to wax on, wax off, when washing the car over and over. When Danny finally says he has had enough and wants to learn to fight, Mr Miyagi throws a punch and Danny blocks it without even thinking, using the ‘Wax off’ learned movement! His boring mundane ritual (that many push away because they have an unhealthy liberal Christian attitude that Jesus came so they could please themselves) was training his reactions so that when danger and difficulty comes, his natural  ‘wax off’ instinct serves him well. We must get an appetite for the seemingly mundane in order to live in the extraordinary! 

What are your rituals? What great habits do you have that you perpetually repeat day after day,  constantly reenforcing the positive reality of you really are, a child of the living God?

It’s not being religious, it’s not earning brownie points; it’s maintaining behaviours to position you in truth, they’re strengthening your inner posture daily so when difficulty comes ‘wax off!’ If you want your life to grow, if you are bored of the same old problems and want some new ones, assess what’s making up your day that creates your reality, good or bad.

Position good healthy habits to help maintain you in the constant reality of the grace of God. You’ll be amazed how differently you react when trouble then comes… ‘Wax off!’

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd June 2020

The Devil will do whatever it takes to stop you from walking into all that God has for you. Pride is one of the subtle strategies of the enemy to delay your growth, shift your focus, slow you down, and hold you back from receiving and producing fruit! 

Pride is dangerous! Some of the greatest men and women of God throughout history, with once powerful ministries, have quickly come to the end of fruitfulness, because of their pride. Even if you are doing a good thing, it is important to have regular heart checks. Pride comes right before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Don’t treat pride lightly!

Pride is actually a characteristic of the enemy and not a trait in our God-given design. Look at Lucifer, the Devil himself. He was an angel made for worship. His purpose was to magnify God, but his desire shifted to himself. He then wanted to become the one being worshipped! Pride was the very thing to rock heaven (Ezekial 28).  

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

Quick heart check: Am I open to correction? Am I teachable? Do I judge others, often thinking I am better than them? Am I self-focused most of the time? Do I honour authority (even if I don’t agree with them)? Do I struggle to say sorry? Do I struggle to associate with people of low position? 

If you have an area of pride, then you are sadly missing out on the more that God has for you. But there is hope in surrender! James 4:10 says, ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up’. 

Jesus is the ultimate picture of humility and whom we are called to imitate:

‘…Who, being in very nature God,
 did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
 he humbled himself
  by becoming obedient to death—
  even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
 and gave him the name that is above every name (Phillipians 2:6-9).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd June 2020

God is unlike anything or anybody. 

Humans can only understand something, by building upon what they already know. In the words of A.W Towzer, ‘we learn by using what we already know as a bridge over which we pass to the unknown’. Hence why in scripture, the authors often attempt to describe God by saying He is “like” something that we already humanly know. Even Jesus Himself used metaphors and stories over and over again, in order for the human mind to comprehend how the kingdom of God works. 

At present, our understanding of God, no matter how many years we have been a Christian, is finite in comparison to the great nature of who God really is. This is actually a very reassuring thought. 

God is creator. We are His created. To reduce all of God down to our level of understanding would be to make him as powerful as us. How comforting it is to know that my mind cannot fully fathom Him, because He is far bigger than me, and thus I can rest in the mystery of His almighty, sovereign nature. If He weren’t a mystery, then He would be no bigger than me. 

Yes we are made in the image of God, but scripture didn’t say, ‘The EXACT image’ of God. Just like a painting reflects the attributes and the mind and heart of the artist, but isn’t the artist itself, so we as people reflect the mind and heart of God, but are not God – and thank God for that! 

Often we want a God we can manage and control. But don’t try and reduce God to manageable terms. Rest in the mystery of His magnitude. One of the great paradoxes of God is that we can know Him so personally and intimately, yet so much of His ways still remain a mystery. In the words of Frederick W. Faber, 

​‘Darkness to the intellect

​But sunshine to the heart.’ 

In other words, there are aspects of God that the mere human mind cannot understand completely and rationally, only a heart can receive in faith, and then experience the love of God. 

In the gospel we see the helplessness of the human mind in understanding the mystery of God. Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 teaches that God can be known only as the Holy Spirit works in a hungry heart. 

‘For to us God revealed them (deep thoughts) through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God’. 

So stay hungry to understand more of God, let the Holy Spirit enlighten you on the ways of God, as you partner with Him. Equally, rest in the reality that you never will know it all – and that is the beauty of His mystery.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st June 2020

During this time of isolation, how many of you have thought (be honest), “I’m wasting my life, time is passing me by, I have too much life to live, than sit around and do nothing”?

My friend, you shouldn’t just be doing nothing. I remember many years ago, when our main church building was being built. For years, we saw no building going up, yet, there was a lot of preparation going on that wasn’t seen. Mineshafts were being filled. Ground was being prepared, surveys were being done and then the most important of all the things, were the foundations.

Yet I just wanted to see the building built! How many times have you thought recently, not only “what is going on?” But also, “I’m wasting time!” Don’t be impatient to see the rest of your life take place. I’m in my 50s, I could easily think these thoughts. You may be a lot older than me and thinking “I don’t have lots of time to waste.”

My friend, recognise what God is doing in the now. God wants you to use this time to make some adjustments down deep. He has some work to do on you that no one else may see. He wants to create some great foundations in your life.

Maybe some that weren’t there before. These things take time. When the building goes up, it will be beautiful. (And it is). But it won’t go up successfully unless the foundations are right. Remember the higher the build, the deeper the foundation. If you want to see and experience something new and fresh and something you’ve never seen or experienced before, then you’ve got to do something that you’ve not done before.

You’ve got to let God do some ‘foundation’ work and not see it as wasted time at all.
So get ready – because God always brings something better and bigger out of a difficult situation and out of a time of preparation. Don’t sit around bored or as if ‘nothing’ is happening.

Get on it! IF you use this time to prepare right, you will realise the best IS YET to come. No time is wasted. It’s all in the plan!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th May 2020

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

A few years ago at the Special Olympics, the competitors lined up to run the 100-metre dash. Everyone took off, but as they rounded the corner one of the runners fell badly and was left in tears, knowing that the race for them was over. Suddenly all the others stopped, came back, helped him up, then locked arms and walked across the finish line together. It was an unforgettable moment. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

What made the Special Olympic runners all stop and come back when perhaps in the regular Olympics they would have just all kept going? Was it not because they realised that they all had weaknesses? They knew that it could have been anyone of them lying there on the track, so they reached out to him. In a very real sense, all the runners won the race that day.

During this current time of crisis, I pray that we will have all had a wake up call to help us appreciate once more, that it is more important to help each other win, than it is to just be a winner myself. In fact, God is more interested in how much we are lifting others up, than He is in just putting me on a podium. I pray that our new normal will be more about running together, stopping daily to lift and encourage each, and treating people with respect that they deserve — that way we all become winners in life.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th May 2020

I’m a person that likes to know what’s going to happen. I like to be prepared. I’d ideally like to know in advance what will happen next so I can be fully ready and tackle it to the best of my ability. In some circumstances this can be a good trait, however in life, it’s not always. 

I love how the words in the Bible challenge us when we don’t know we need to be challenged.
Recently, I was reading Daniel 3. King Nebuchadnezzar created a golden image and commanded all men to worship it—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship anyone but God. As punishment for their defiance, they were cast into the fiery furnace.

If I were one of them, I’d think God was going to rescue me but I’d want to know how. I’d probably be staring into the furnace working out whether something was going to swoop in and save me, if the furnace was going to suddenly become cold or if Nebuchadnezzar was going to change his mind. 
Daniel 3: 17 (NIV) If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

Daniel 3:17 confirms their faith. They know God is going to deliver them. They stand affirming this to the man who is about to kill them.
The bit that gets me is the start of verse 18. ‘But even if he does not.’
It takes a lot of courage to be staring into the fiery furnace but then saying ‘BUT EVEN IF’ He doesn’t do what we are believing for, we still trust him.

They believed that God was going to deliver them one way or another. Either they’d get their earthly miracle and be saved from the furnace, or they’d be delivered home to God. One way or another, they believed God would deliver them from this situation.

Jesus guaranteed our rescue by stepping into the fire himself. He faced our choices and took our pain, and always trusted in God’s will. “Not my will, but yours be done.”

While we’d rather avoid suffering and the unknown, God promises to bless us and others through it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire unharmed and as a result, Nebuchadenezzar believed; “for no other God can save in this way” (Daniel 3:29).

We might not understand what’s going on right now, things might not have gone the way we planned, we might not see where the story is heading but we do know that there will always be blessings as a result.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th May 2020

In James 3:13, we learn that there are two kinds of wisdom – heavenly wisdom and earthly wisdom. Both operate very differently and have different outcomes. 

Earthly wisdom is decision making at the world’s standards – which is actually foolishness to God (1 Cor 1:20). The world’s wisdom is often based on whatever appeases the desires of the flesh – whatever feels good, and is most self-gratifying, which obviously is not always a good life compass.  

On the contrary, heavenly wisdom is out of this world – literally! It sees further down the line, it sees the bigger picture, and has a better outcome. It comes from God as we partner with Him. It puts God first, rather than self. The fruit is not destruction, but life and peace. It is limitless in outcome and sometimes seems irrational. 

King Solomon had the opportunity to ask for whatever his heart desired and he asked for wisdom.

God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honour, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honour, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” (2 Chronicles 1:11). 

What an example of how wisdom ushers in a life of success, peace and fruitfulness! As we seek first the kingdom, all the rest is added. Put another way, as we seek Godly wisdom first, ironically a successful life is a bi-product. 

Wisdom is more precious than jewels (Proverbs 8:11), yet the Bible says that if we ask for it, God will give it to us…and not just a bit… GENEROUSLY! ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him’ (James 1:5).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th May 2020

‘Authority: the power or right to give orders, and make decisions.’

Perhaps our immediate response upon reading this definition of authority is to picture a person of control, someone abusing their power, someone restricting and restraining from freedom and happiness.

Unfortunately many of us struggle with the idea of authority and hold negative connotations towards the word and idea. This is not uncommon for people of this generation.

Historically, many a time, authority has been oppressive, and sometimes abusive. Consequently, we have a generation today that has mostly rebelled against the idea of authority. It is believed that freedom and independence are achieved by breaking away from those who try to govern over us. When we are able to make our own choices, unrestrained by anyone or anything, then we think we are most free. This is wrong. Becoming a slave to your own feelings, ideas and opinions is quite the opposite of freedom. Your allegiance has simply shifted from an all-knowing, all-loving, all-protecting God, to your finite, limited self. How scary.

Authority is essential in the life of the believer, both the authority of God and of certain people. Instead, we have a people today who are disrespectful (culturally and broadly speaking) to the law/government/police. We have children exercising power over their parents in the home. We have women trying to assert themselves above men. We have teachers desperately trying to behaviour manage their students, and we have a cultural mentality of ‘let’s break free from the controlling government’. In whatever sphere there has been a historical abuse of authority, today there is a generational uprising of people rebelling and suppressing that authority in the quest to find identity and freedom. Sadly, their efforts are fruitless as true freedom and identity is found in our submission to HEALTHY and BIBLICAL authority.

The Bible speaks a lot about the value of authority in our lives. Not the kind of authority like we may have seen been abused in the past. The Bible has a different picture of what authority should look like. God has actually designed authority for our blessing and protection. Authority over us equals covering for us. When authority is abused, it hurts those under authority. In such cases, God ultimately will judge the abuser. But when it is exercised properly, authority blesses and protects those under it. Authority does not imply superiority. ‘Coming under’ authority or ‘subjection’ to authority doesn’t make us weak. It puts us in a powerful, protected position of freedom. If subjection means inferiority, then it would mean that Jesus Christ is inferior to the Father, which is heresy!

So what DOES biblical authority look like? Being in a position of authority means that you have a responsibility and a level of accountability. Those in authority have the weighty call of serving, leading and loving their people toward what is best for THEM. Ultimately, the people in these positions of authority must give an account to God on how well they did this. If they used their position and power for their own advantage, rather than blessing and protecting those in and under their care, then they have God to face for that one!

Some positions of authority that God tells us to honour in our lives, as we come under their covering:

– The word of God / God

– Our Parents

– Our leaders (both Christian and non-Christian)

– Our pastors

Here are rewards that are promised to those who submit to the healthy authority in their life:

Things will be well with you (Ephesians 6:2–3).

You will have a long life (Ephesians 6:1–3).

You will bring delight to the Lord (Colossians 3:20).

You will bring joy to your authorities (Hebrews 13:17).

You will receive God’s reward (Colossians 3:18–24).

You will be given clear direction (Proverbs 6:20–22).

You will be protected from evil people (Proverbs 6:23–24).

You will gain discernment (Proverbs 15:5).

You will receive praise from your authorities (I Peter 2:13–14).

You will escape the destruction of pride (I Timothy 6:2–4).

You will receive the grace God gives to the humble (I Peter 5:5–7).

Now who doesn’t want all that!?

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th May 2020

Part two – Life is too short to be average (Continued from yesterday)

The Bible says that Daniel had an excellent spirit, and he stood out among his peers because God was with him (Daniel 5:14, 6:3).
A spirit of excellence will cause people to notice that there is something different about you, because you are living to fulfil God’s purpose in your life.

The fourth principle for success is to choose the people you let into your life. Your friends will influence your future. It’s better to walk alone at times, rather than walk with the wrong people. 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ 

The fifth principle is persistence. You cannot succeed without persistence. Persistence can be defined as courage under pressure. I’ve found that it’s impossible to be courageous without fear. Fear gives birth to a courage that says “I won’t quit.”
 Remember: no one succeeds all of the time. You can’t live a significant life without living a persistent life. 

More or less everything in my life that has had any lasting value has been birthed out of a long hard slog. I call it the ‘God plod!’.

The sixth way for living a life of purpose is to have high values. Values are standards that you live by. They produce character, and character is how you act when no one is watching. Character means spending time alone with God, letting Him guide you and refine for your dreams and desires. 
My values come from the Bible. A long time ago I made up my mind that the most important thing in my life was to live for an audience of one – Jesus. 

My declaration today is this: ‘God’s power works in me every day, and I can excel at what He has called me to do if I will simply lay down my life and trust Him’.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th May 2020

Life is too short to be average – Part one of two parts. 

The world is filled with amazing people, but sadly most of us settle for being average. Living an average life is not annasset, as it simply means that you never reach your full potential. 

I believe that there are six principles that will help you maximise your ability to be more than average. 

First, you must discover God’s purpose for your life — you were born for a reason. You were not just born to make a living, you were born to make a life. There’s something that God needed done that required you. 

Second, you must develop a passion. Passion comes from purpose. When you discover your purpose in life, there’s a sense of passion that will follow. Martin Luther King Jr. became a leader long before his great speech… ‘I have a dream…’ and his dream came out of his passion.

He became a leader in a small church of 200 people when he spoke of his death threat on his life. He told his wife, “I’ve got a passion. Someone’s got to do something, and I’m willing to do it. If it kills me I’ll do it.” You wont change the world if you try to protect your life. Jesus said, “if you cling to your life, you’ll lose it; but if you give it up for me, you’ll find it.”

The third most critical thing for developing excellence is to make a plan for your life. Plan beyond what you’re doing right now. Find something that’s bigger than you. Don’t just make your plan; work your plan. Then discipline yourself to follow it. Pursue your dream with a passion to please God—you were born to make a difference. 

Maybe part of my story will help someone today…
I was just turning 20 when I felt that God was calling me to a very different life than the one I’d imagined. I was passionate about becoming a top chef in London and had already spent two years in training and was now climbing that ladder. I sensed that God was asking me to surrender all of that and to give my life to becoming the pastor of a church! I was shocked, as this was something that was never even on my radar. I just knew that I’d heard clearly from God.

Then came the crunch…would I follow through? In much the same way that I’d spent two years training as a chef, I now felt I would need to train for Pastoring at a Bible school. This took me so much out of my comfort zone, that I felt sick at the prospect of leaving home, and not least of all the girl that I knew I would marry.

I drove three hours for that first interview at Bible School, and got rejected there and then due to being considered too young! That was it, I drove home feeling elated that I wouldn’t have to go through with it. Twelve months later I was back again, and this time with a passion and a plan that it was now or never. I was accepted on the course and went home to tell my parents, my girlfried and my employer that I was leaving. The following two years came and went and two weeks later we got married.
I had followed the call, the passion, and the plan, and was now ready to completly change the direction of my life for ever. It would be five years before I became the full time Pastor of the now named Champions Church.

The last 30 years have been a roller coaster of incredible highs and lows, but I wouldn’t swap it for anything. I was doing what I was born to do — make a difference!

You will also have to make some tough choices in order for your life to count. They won’t be the same as mine, but nevertheless they will take the same kind of courage to do so. 

Here is my declaration today: ‘My life has a purpose and I will not settle for less than what God has for me.’

Would you like to make it yours too?

Part two tomorrow. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd May 2020


I am a firm believer in trust. I’m a firm believer in faith. I’m a firm believer in not doubting. My Bible tells me. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11 vs 6) I’d like to say, I never doubt and I never waiver in my faith. 

So… let’s be honest, sometimes when we do have doubts or questions, we wonder why? And then feel ‘bad’ or ‘guilty’ for doubting.

 I was reminded this week about Jesus. In Luke 22 vs 39-44, just before He went to the cross, Jesus took Himself away to a solitary place and He asked His Father this…“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” He was saying, “if there’s any other way” – in other words, “do I really have to die on a cross, the cruelest of deaths? Is this really Your will God?”

He was scared, He had doubts, fears even. We know that, because it goes on to say that He was anxious, so anxious that he sweat blood. (Vs 44) Now, I know He was going to the cross, something too hard to even begin to imagine (it makes our troubles seem like nothing) but if Jesus had a momentary lapse of faith, then how much more are you and I going to?

He addressed His concern to the Father. It says an angel ‘strengthened’ Him (vs 43) then He went on to pray some more. 
I think we all beat ourselves up if we doubt or get concerned or ask “why” questions. Don’t, it’s part of human life and we are indeed human. I am not perfect and neither are you. 
I love what Jesus says in full in vs 42 “…yet not my will, but Yours be done.”
Let’s get to that place of saying “okay God, I trust You, let Your will be done in my life.”

If you have concerns or questions, address them to the Father – just like Jesus Himself did. Get into His presence, because it is there He will surely help and encourage you. It is there you will find His peace. It is there in times of uncertainty, that you will receive strength. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd May 2020

In the last few weeks, we have been teaching our son to ride his bike without stabilisers.  I say ‘we’ but it’s been mainly my husband, a keen cyclist; whilst I look on and cheer.  I must say, sometimes it has not been easy to watch – especially when Zachary’s fallen off and he cries, but my husband assures me that he’s looking out for him and a few grazes on his knee are part of the learning process.  Soon he’ll be skilled and will enjoy cycling more. 

It reminds me of how we are experiencing this new season, a season that is filled with uncertainty. I’m sure I speak for most when I say our lives have taken a complete turn in the last few weeks because of this pandemic and it seems like our stabilizers have been taken away from us.  Simple things we used to take for granted like going to the supermarket, visiting friends and family, going to work, college, school or church have suddenly changed.  The routines we had and things that perhaps made us who we are, are no longer relevant.  Some are in a place of constant worry; what is tomorrow going to bring?  Is my job or source of income going to be secure? When is life going to get back to ‘normal’ again?  We all have asked ourselves at least one of those questions at some point in recent weeks.

I am reminded of what we have a loving Father in Heaven, who’s always got our back.  Like Zachary, we may lose our balance a few times, fall and even cry, but one thing he knows is that “daddy is right behind me and he will catch me when I fall.”

God promises us this in the following verses 

Isaiah 41:10 “I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’ Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

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

Even after several falls, our son will be able to balance on his own and cycle independently.  That is how we will also come out of this season.  When we balance our lives but adding Faith and Trust in God through a relationship with Him, the process becomes bearable.  It will become a season of great strength and we will come out of it stronger and bolder than we have ever been. 

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st May 2020

Without a doubt, Corona has swept in and totally interrupted all of our lives to some degree. It has cut in and shut down our usual routines and systems. Interruption can really shake us. At the very least it can be uncomfortable. It contradicts our usual flow, order and natural need for control.

Sometimes, and I would dare to say, often times, the Holy Spirit doesn’t operate on what is convenient to us. Yes He works within our schedules, but often He interrupts them. Are we open to such interruptions?

Many of us hunger for God to break through in our lives, many of us desire to be ‘used’ by God, and yet we are so determined to get through our daily schedule and personal agenda no matter what! We pack our calendars so full that we leave little room for interruption from God. We get to the end of the day and wonder why we haven’t heard from God, or been aware of what He is saying or doing. Could it be because we aren’t living open to interruption? We are so focused on our to-do list that we haven’t been aware of God’s gentle prompts and opportunities.

Do we see the interruptions of God in our day as an inconvenience, rather than an invitation?

Perhaps we encounter someone with a need, and we process our encounter with them as a delay to our day rather than recognising that we were just given an opportunity to allow God to work through us.

If we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, he was often on his way somewhere and about his plans for the day when he was then ‘delayed’ by someone in need. What was Jesus’ response? Well, he saw the delay as an opportunity to partner with God and then perform a miracle. Interruptions are often the avenues for miracles. The disciples many a time watched people interrupting their planned agenda for the day and rather than Jesus rushing them away, he stopped and engaged with the opportunity to partner with God. Jesus recognised ‘delays’ as the very purpose for which they were there.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to-do lists. I love order. I love productivity plans and fulfilled schedules. And I still think those things have a place, BUT let us be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit in the day, and let us be flexible to where and when God may interrupt our day-to-day comings and goings. Let us be Spirit driven, not agenda driven people. God is always inviting us into a partnership with Him.

Often we imagine God will fantastically and supernaturally lead us to a person in need, but if you look at the life of Jesus, often, it was simply Jesus and his disciples going about their very normal day and then having very normal interruptions where a need would then present itself and Jesus would step in as the solution.

As Jesus followed the gentle nudgings of God, he would be ready to minister according to the need that arose. When a need pops up in our lives, we don’t need a booming audible voice of God to tell us to do something. As people of God, walking with the Spirit, we recognise a need, and we get to be a solution to the problem.

We get to be inconveniently interrupted, and we are open to that. We get to put aside our agenda for a moment and do the work of God.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th May 2020

Your heart is possibly the most important thing about you! I’m not talking about the organ beating inside your chest, I’m talking about the heart as your centre of hidden emotional-intellectual-moral activity.

Your heart plans, makes commitments, desires and decides. It is your inner forum where decisions are made after deliberation. It is where a person engages in self-talk.

The Bible says that while people focus on outward appearance, God is searching our hearts. (1 Samuel 16:7, Jeremiah 17:10).

Our words create our world, and our words echo what’s going on in our heart. It all starts with the heart.

PROTECT IT against bitterness, GUARD IT against attitudes, CHECK IT against the Bible, EDUCATE IT by filling it with God’s word (Proverbs 22:17-18), and OPEN IT to what is good!

Fight for a healthy heart. ‘Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life’ (Proverbs 4:23).

Before we start trying to make modifications to our life from the outside, let’s start with the inside. Let’s start with the condition of our heart.

Consider, what does our inner world look like? Our outer world manifests what started in our inner world. A healthy heart springs out to a healthy life.

I wonder what our lives would be like if we invested as much time on our heart as we did outward appearance. Studies show that on average we spend about 30 minutes a day getting ready. 30 minutes, ensuring we look outwardly presentable. Imagine if we took just half that time, each day, to examine our hearts and inner world? Our outer world would truly be transformed! The Bible speaks many times about self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:28-32, 2 Corinthians 13:5, James 1:23-25, Lamentations 3:40).

Busy lives often keep us from facing the issues of our heart and inner world. As many of us are now in self-isolation, with perhaps some extra time on our hands, let’s use this season to process and consider the rooms of our heart. Many of you have been re-decorating, clearing out lofts, and cupboards lately. Maybe it is time to do a bit of that kind of work on our heart, and consequently – life. What needs to go? What needs to be re-built? What needs to have a break? What needs to grow? Once you have identified it, put in some practical steps to see it happen. It is time to work on some private matters, so when we go public, we are better than ever!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th May 2020

One of my favourite quotes is by Friedrich Nietzsche who said “He whose life has a why, can bear almost any how!”

Basically when there is a purpose behind the pain you are going through, it’s bearable. The pain of child birth is made bearable by a baby, the pain of studying is made bearable by passing those exams. 

But the opposite is also true, when your suffering has no purpose, it’s unbearable! Such as illness or loss of a loved one. In this current season where there seems to be so much fear and suffering, it can feel like ‘what possible ‘why’ can there be for this loss?’ and it may be unbearable.

The key is to (by faith) attach purpose to whatever it is we’re suffering. The story of how Doubting Thomas got his name can help. 

Imagine how confusing and disheartening it was for Thomas when first Jesus dies but then reappears to the other 11 without him there. Thomas must have felt, ‘this is Jesus? He knows all things, he knew I wouldn’t be there, couldn’t he have come two hours later when I was back?’ ‘I don’t understand, I’m hurting so I refuse to believe!’

Then when he finally sees Jesus, he worships him to which Jesus replies:
John 20:29 “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

We aren’t called to understand, we’re called to believe.

It’s difficult, I know, but when you’re in pain and confused, when you feel like everyone’s at the party except you, and it’s impossible to see how this loss could ever be worked for the good, stop and say to yourself, ‘hang on! This is an opportunity to believe without seeing!’ ‘I don’t understand, but this is an opportunity to be ‘really blessed!’

In this strange season we find ourselves in, remember: ‘he whose life has a ‘why’, can bear almost any ‘how’!’ Let’s always, no matter how things look, remember Jesus Christ is our why, and no one who puts their hope in him will be disappointed. We’ll never know all the answers, we just need to keep believing in the reason and put our hope in Him! 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th May 2020

It was a defining moment when Joshua said to Israel, ‘…choose for yourselves …as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24v15)

First, in our lives, defining moments usually come as a surprise and happen during a time of crisis. The crisis that we are facing right now is likely to be one of them. There will be other times too, like times of personal failure, taking an unpopular stand, suffering without complaining, being asked to forgive or making a hard choice. Sometimes, defining moments occur when we don’t see them for what they are. It’s only afterwards, as we look back, that we understand their importance. Either way, they define who we are.

Secondly, defining moments show others who we are. During these times we will let go of any pretence and let our guard down, revealing the real me. Our image means nothing, neither does our connections, or any type of spin that we put on something to make us appear better than we really are. Whatever is truly going on inside us is revealed to everyone. If you’re a leader, defining moments tell the people following you who you really are, what you stand for, and why you’re leading.

Thirdly, defining moments determine who we will become. You’ll never be the same person after a defining moment. That’s because defining moments aren’t normal or usual, and what is normal doesn’t work in these times. Defining moments are like a crossroads in our lives, they give us the opportunity to turn, change direction, and seek a new destination. They present options and opportunities. In these moments, we must choose. The choice we make will define us.

Be careful in these unusual and uncertain times that you make the right choices — they will define your life either for the better or for the worse.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th May 2020

God is for community, He is for being together. God never designed us to be alone. In the book of Genesis, right at the start of the Bible, He declares over Adam “it is not good for man to be alone” (Chapter 2 vs 18). He is a God who designed community. A Community of people who together, though we may be different, are all important to each other. 

Romans 12 vs 4 & 5 says “for just as each one of us has one body with many members, and these members don’t all have the same function, so in Christ, we, though we are many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

You see, I’m better with two feet and both of my ears and my arms and so in the same way, we as the body of Christ, you and I, are better together. 

Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking that you are better alone, you’re not. The Church is God’s idea, we are His bride, He is passionate about us. 

Why is it good to be in a great Church Community? Here’s a few reasons…

Galatians 6 vs 2 says “carry each other’s burdens and by doing so, you will FULFIL the law of Christ.” We need to be there for each other, in good times and bad. You may not have natural family relationships that are good or strong, or they may not be there at all, but when you have a Church family, they are your community who will love and care for you…we love and care for each other.

Psalm 133 v 1 says “How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity.” It’s GOOD to be together. It does something for you in your heart and spirit. It builds you up and helps you to become the person God created you to be. If that wasn’t so, it wouldn’t be so clear in the Word of God. 

Matthew 18 vs 2  says “For where two or three are gathered in MY name, there I AM in the midst “This is a clear indication, that when you are together, God is there! And where God’s presence is, then His power is there also…and then, take note…anything is possible!

So in this time of forced ‘isolation’, do everything YOU CAN to get into a online Church community – -a support network of God’s Church. 

Join in Life groups & prayer meetings and online Bible Studies & Sunday services …and soon we will be back together ‘in the flesh’ and the community of God’s Church will have been strengthened in the process and we will come out better for it. 


Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th May 2020

One lesson I believe we can all learn from this unprecedented time of ‘lock down’ is that we are (or at least should be) our ‘brothers keeper!’

We live in a very independent society that struggles to give up individual liberty for the sake of others. There is a very common secular train of thought that goes ‘you can do anything you want as long as you don’t harm others ’ but this current pandemic has, by enforcing social distancing, made all of us act on behalf of others, to take a certain responsibility for ‘your brother’, so to say. 
I am talking about the government’s message ‘stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives!’ but actually I want to encourage all of you who follow Jesus to continue in your hearts and attitudes to be your brother’s and sister‘a keepers! To stand in the gap, and be prepared to take responsibility for others not just for yourself.

In Genesis 4, God enquires of Cain ‘where is your brother Abel?’ Cain having recently killed his brother out of jealousy responds with the words ‘I don’t know! Am I my brother’s keeper?’ 

Cain’s words have come to symbolize people’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for the welfare of their fellow human beings. The story of the Gospel is that Jesus took responsibility for ‘his brothers’ shortcomings (that’s all of ours) so that we can live in the wide open spaces of God’s goodness. But this is on the condition that we too are prepared to extend that grace to our fellow brothers and sisters, that we would in some way take on responsibility for them.

One of the easiest ways to duck this responsibility and exclaim in a loud voice ‘’am I my brother’s keeper!?’ is criticism. We live in a very critical culture where rather than take any responsibility or ownership for issues, criticism places the responsibility for them firmly on the shoulders of anyone else. Criticism is the opposite of taking responsibility, the opposite of being your brother’s keeper!

This is why Jesus taught ‘behaviours of grace’ like, ‘turn the other cheek’ ‘Go the extra mile’ and ‘love your enemies.’ He taught these at length not for the sake of our enemies but to help us to break the learned pattern of behaviour of always looking out for our own personal justices and freedoms, but instead to allow God’s ultimate justice and freedom to reign and bring peace into our lives. 
I encourage you, take responsibility today, don’t judge, look for ways to love and look out for your fellow brothers and sisters! 

Galatians 5:13-14 | NIV You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th May 2020

Continuing with our verse-by-verse study of Psalm 23, today we reach the last verse of this chapter.

Quick recap; David expresses in verse 1 how he knows the Lord to be his personal shepherd and because of that he is looked after. He understood that the Lord would lead him to what he needed and provided ultimate peace for the soul (Verse 2 & 3).

In verse 4, David explains how through the mountain-tops and valleys, the shepherd (God) leads him through both. Because of this, he does not need to fear. There is covering and protection in staying close and following the lead of the shepherd. This includes correction.

Verse 5 – even in the midst of struggles, the goodness of God stands. Joy, refreshment, provision, and gladness is still available throughout trials and it is important to remember this as we walk through the dark times.

Let’s finish with verse 6 – ‘Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever’.

Mercy represents steadfast love. The goodness of God and His love follows us. We follow the shepherd, goodness and love follows us! Some of us are searching for goodness and love, and all we need to do is follow God, and those things will then follow us!

As long as we are seated at the table, our cups are always overflowing… God is always our provider…David had the expectation that this was for him ALL THE DAYS of his life. Not just in some seasons, But ALL the days of His life. God does not have a limit on His love and goodness.

‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever’ – house of the Lord, means ‘presence of the Lord’. As we LIVE and abide in the presence of our Lord, all the days of our life, blessing follows and it doesn’t end. It starts here and now on Earth and follows us into Heaven!

In reflecting on the beauty of this chapter, I hope that you can read it in a whole new light. There really is no other way to do life than walking with our shepherd, Jesus. Regardless of the highs and lows that we walk through, there is blessing, protecting, provision and covering in staying close to Him, and being seated at his table.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th May 2020

A group of businessmen went to a remote mountain retreat for a weekend of leadership training. Expecting graphs, statistics and pep talks, they were completely surprised when their boss, Mr Clarkson, asked them to trade their laptops for spades. “I want you to dig a ditch one meter wide and half a meter deep around the perimeter of my cabin”, he said. And with those words, he disappeared inside it.

At first, nobody said anything. But soon their silence turned into questioning. Then they started arguing about the exacting measurement which they felt didn’t really matter too much. They complained about having risen to the top of the corporate ladder, only to be forced to do manual labour.

Finally, John turned to the others in the group and said, “who cares why he told us to do it – let’s just do it and let’s do it with a good attitude. With those words, the cabin door flew open and the boss reappeared. “Gentlemen”, he said, as he grabbed John’s hand, “I’d like you to meet your new vice-president.”

There are three things that we can learn from this story today:

1-When God doesn’t explain something fully, it’s because you don’t need the details.

2-When God doesn’t speak, it’s because He’s watching, waiting and working things out.

3-When He tests you on one level, it’s because He’s getting ready to take you to the next.

So don’t question what He’s doing today…just obey Him!

Deuteronomy 8:2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th May 2020

Are you fearful? Anxious? Worried? It’s possible that during the past several weeks, these emotions have played a role in your life.
Maybe you’re worried about finance, anxious about your safety, fearful of what the future holds for you and your family.

Today I want to turn your attention to what I believe is an antidote to your anxiety, and that is, going for a walk. Now hear me out…this is far more than a ‘the fresh air will do you good’ kind of encouragement. I actually believe that peace and assurance can be found in you simply stepping outside and making the following observation.

When Jesus addressed the subject of worry, in the space of just ten Bible verses, He used the words ‘do not worry’ three times. (That’s a high level of emphasis!). But not only was that His instruction, He then gave us an exercise.
He said, “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.“ He then turns our attention to another part of nature. “See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon (the richest man to ever live) in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.”

Then He poses a rhetorical question, “Are you not much more valuable than they?” The answer to that is yes friend, you are far more valuable to God than the birds and the flowers.

So what is Jesus getting at? The next time you start to feel fearful, anxious or worried, or even before those emotions try to work their way in, go for a walk. And while you’re on that walk, observe the birds and the flowers. Notice how the birds’ every need (who doesn’t have a savings account) is met. Notice how the flowers, who’ve never passed exams or held down a job look so incredibly stunning. And then ask yourself this: ‘If that is how God looks after them, despite them not being as valuable to Him as I, how much more will He look after me, who is of far greater value to Him?’

Today, allow fear, worry and anxiety to lose their grip over your life as you understand that what God creates, He takes care of.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th May 2020

Over the past few weeks our dear friend, Thembinkosi has been in Intensive Care with Covid-19. Sadly, he passed away last night (9thMay). Over the time he was fighting the virus, we prayed relentlessly for him. We all had such faith that he would get up off that hospital bed and yet again share another testimony about the goodness of God. 

Thembinkosi was a husband. He was a father to two boys, Timothy (15), and Titus (12). And he was a friend to many. He was always full of hope, a joyful smile and a word of encouragement. He loved God with all his heart and soul. He was the kind of person that touched your heart and stirred your faith. 

When we got word that this mighty man of faith had passed away, we were all heartbroken. God was meant to heal this man of God. It’s a massive blow. 

Right now it is easy to think, ‘God failed us’, but I don’t think He has. Ultimately, death has not won. Death has been destroyed. This is why God sent His son. Thembinkosi is now healed and has now entered into eternal life. He is in heaven (soon to be joined by us). 

God hasn’t let us down. He made a way. Sometimes He makes a way in this life, on earth. Sometimes, He makes the way in Heaven. 

We prayed with everything we had and the healing didn’t happen. The testimony we imagined didn’t happen, and we don’t know why. But we cannot afford to question the goodness of God in this moment. The nature of God is not defined by our circumstance. Remember, if we understood God completely, we would be as big as God. We have to learn to live with the mystery and the “WHY?”. I believe that God will honour the faith we had for Thembinkosi’s healing. 

Yes, not having him hurts, but can you imagine how much he is loving Heaven right now? He would be in his element, fist pumping in praise! 

In the end, we did get a testimony from Thembinkosi. His life was the powerful testimony. He lived surrendered to God. He held a posture of humility and gratitude. He knew what this life was really all about – eternity. 

I’m reminded yet again of how fleeting and brief life is for us all, in comparison to the weight of eternity. REALITY CHECK: Life is not about life. It is about where we are heading. Life is just the practice, the dress rehearsal, the entrée. The real game, the real show, the main meal, is Heaven. 

Just like Thembinkosi, we must live this life with our whole hearts, with joy, with unbridled passion, with deep gratitude, honouring and encouraging others at any opportunity we get. Let’s live light, free from offence and pettiness, because eternity is what really counts. 

As Thembinkosi would have it, let’s process his death through the lenses of eternity, knowing full well he is home with Jesus and we will meet again. 

We’re in this grief together. That is the beauty of being in community. Let’s live in light of eternity, and do everything we can to support his wife, Queen and their boys in the meantime. 

‘A Go Fund Me’ page has been created in honour of Thembinkosi, and in support of his family. We would love them to be financially covered and blessed during this challenging time. Please find the link here

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th May 2020

God’s timing is perfect! He is never late, nor early. We operate in time, God doesn’t.  Whenever I have been impatient about something happening, I always look back after the event and think “wow, God was spot on!”  Of course He was, He’s God. 

In Mark chapter 5 we read about a man called Jairus who came to Jesus because his daughter was sick and I mean, very sick. He pleaded with Jesus to go with him… in verse 24 it says that Jesus did.
However, en route, Jesus is distracted by a desperate woman who has been ill for 12 years. Her situation was hopeless and she was helpless.  Let me stop right there and tell you that Jesus is attracted to helpless & hopeless situations! So He heals the woman…awesome.  But then is late for the little girl and when He gets there, she is already dead. Was Jesus late, or was He right on time?

In our thoughts and thinking, He was late but to God, absolutely not. 
You see, Jesus can do whatever He wants to do, whenever He wants to do it and with whoever He wants to do it with.  

So my friend, never question the timing of God. Just trust. 

It says that people were wailing and crying and telling Him He was too late (vs 40). It also says that “Jesus put them out!”   He wanted no unbelievers around when there was a miracle to do.  

Today, be a person of trust. Be a person of faith.   And when you are tempted to think God has got His timing wrong, be reminded of this account and listen to the words of Jesus (in verse 36) to those who were worried and afraid “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”

God has never got it wrong yet and He never will.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th May 2020

Today is the 75th anniversary of VE Day, a day where we celebrate Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender and the end of World War 2. It marks the end of a period of fear and hardship for many families who had been living under the constant threat of death, and a day of hope, that news of the illness or death of loved ones would finally cease.

Today again, in the middle of a different battle, we hope to hear news that a cure for the Coronavirus has been found, so our lives can go back to normal, as we’re tired of living under the fear of losing loved ones, and hardship for many families who have lost their livelihoods once again.

The fear of pain, or loss, or death is not something you can run away from, but rather something, with God’s help, you can overcome. Living a life afraid of what might happen is not living.

In the first ten verses of the book of Ruth in The Bible, we read a tragic story of a married couple and their two kids whose story starts in a famine. Faced with severe lack and hardship, they make the brave decision to relocate their family in order to find food and shelter somewhere else.
The man’s decision to move his family from everything and everyone they knew and loved was an attempt to run away from what he saw as certain death. An attempt to run away from everything that caused him sleepless nights and made him afraid of losing his livelihood and his family. Unfortunately, when they arrive at their destination, the man dies, and never gets to enjoy the good things he had anticipated.
His running away in fear, and arrival in a different place alone was not enough to sustain him. That’s not to say that if they had stayed, he would have survived, but he defined his life not by the abundance or lack he was experiencing, but by fear.

The body’s response to fear is to produce adrenaline, which helps you to react much quicker, to run faster, and to fight harder than you could have done. All of which are reactions to help us during this time in our lives.

In Matthew 19:26, Jesus reassured us that whatever may seem impossible with men is possible with God. Ask God to help you overcome and turn your fears to your advantage until you have your victory day.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th May 2020

‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.’

In continuing with our mini-study on Psalm 23, we are going to look at verse 5 today. 

When David speaks of a ‘table’, this represents food, feasting, blessing and provision. 

David, in the valley, envisioned that rich table before him. He knew God as his provider even in the darkest of valleys. 

It is so important for us as we walk through the valley, to have a vision, and rehearse the promises of God for our life. 

‘In the presence of my enemies’ – God isn’t there just when the enemies are gone, when the conflict is over, or when the virus is over. God is providing for you and wants you to enjoy His goodness IN THE MIDST of trouble, hardship, trials and ‘your enemies’. 

God’s goodness doesn’t mean the absence of enemies, in means IN the presence of enemies God’s blessings are manifest!

Are we able to enjoy the goodness of God NOW? Or are we waiting for everything to be perfect? 

‘You PREPARE a table’  – Preparation speaks of thought, effort, care, a going before us. God goes before us in provision and fulfilled promises, as we walk through the valley. 

‘You anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over’ – In the east, people frequently anointed their visitors with oil or perfume and gave them a cup of choice wine, which would constantly be filled ‘until it ran over’. The overfilled cup showed that as long as they would abide in the presence of their host, they had an abundance of everything. This beautifully links with Verse 1 of Psalm 23 where David says, ‘I lack nothing’. As long as we are in the presence of our shepherd, all our needs are met, plus more. 

The anointing of oil was to show love and respect, and was also used as refreshment. Oil is symbolic of gladness. Even in the valley, you are anointed with gladness, you are refreshed, and loved! 

Oil is also used to protect. I recently discovered that shepherds actually use oil on a sheep’s head to protect them from a certain type of fly that can go through the sheep’s eye and into their brain!

What a powerful picture of how the oil of God covers our minds from those thoughts that attempt to take ground!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th May 2020

Recently I have been taking you on a mini-study of Psalm 23. So far, we have done a verse-by-verse break down of the following:

‘The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…’

If you have missed any of the studies, please feel free to go back and read them!

Today we will be focusing on the second half of verse 4,

‘your rod and your staff, they comfort me’.

The rod and the staff were tools of a shepherd.

The rod was a tool for protection, to defend the sheep from potential predators.

The staff was a tool for correction, gently pulling any straying sheep back into line and into the right direction.

When we submit to the leading of the shepherd, we come under his rod and staff, which offer us protection from predators, and correction.

We should welcome the correction of God into our lives. His staff is what keeps us from wandering off into danger zones, and his rod protects us from predators. They lead us to the green pastures that we want.

So why does David talk about the correction of the shepherd here, in the valley? Well, perhaps it is because it is the in the dark times that we can be most open to compromising – it is when we start questioning our shepherd.

When you are a child, your parents correct you when you misbehave, or ‘behave out of line’. Parents do this because the child’s misbehaviour is not in line with the values of the parents or what the family represents. It is loving, protecting, and a source of security for the child to be disciplined.

For example, ‘We the Smith family do not throw tantrums at the table, so we are correcting you so you come into line with what we as a family are about!’

Likewise, when we step out of line as children of God, there is security in knowing that God, by His Holy Spirit, pulls us back saying, ‘hey, as children of God, we do not behave like that. I love you enough to correct you. My correction will get you to where you want to go.’

In the valleys of life, welcome the boundaries and corrective rod of God. They will protect you. When you feel the Holy Spirit say, ‘hmmm that’s not what my son/daughter does’, take that as a reminder of who you really are.

There is protection in the correction!

As David said, His correction actually COMFORTS you. It gives you security because you know He cares enough about you to correct you.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th May 2020

One of the great mysteries of the universe concerns the much loved, or hated Avocado. Yes, before you ask, it’s a fruit — or more technically a single seeded berry! The avocado contains more potassium than a banana and is one of very few fruits that contain totally digestible protein – 4 grams per avocado.

Need to ripen your avocado? Sit it in your fruit bowl with apples and bananas – hey presto.

Now for the mystery…how to keep it from turning black once it’s been cut?

There are so many theories out there, some of which work, but my only point today is to mention that the ‘stone’ or seed inside is what actually keeps it fresh.

At the very heart of this amazing fruit is a large throwaway, dull-looking seed that once removed will ensure that your avocado goes black within minutes.

This led me to think about what is going on inside of you today.

Jesus said that your heart is the determining factor for whether you live a good or bad life.

Luke 6:43-45 ‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn-bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.’

Keeping your heart pure and clean is one of the greatest ways of living a blessed and productive life.

If you store up bitterness and unforgiveness in your heart then it will eventually destroy your life.

If your daily focus is only on bad things then your life will suffer.

If you are consumed with watching pornography you will end up a very unhappy person with no ability to form proper healthy relationships, let alone be satisfied within marriage.

Your heart needs to be taken care of both physically and spiritually for you to remain in good health.

If you find yourself in outbursts of anger and fits of rage then it will be a sign that you need to deal with the issues deep inside your heart.

Today, don’t fool yourself in the same way that you try to fool others into thinking that you’re good when actually you know that you’re bad on the inside.

Confess your faults and turn from your sins.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to keep you pure and fresh, lest you become like the humble avocado that’s turning black because its heart has been removed.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th May 2020

How’s your fear factor today?

Do you find like myself, that if fear is going to attack, it will usually be in the middle of the night?

Fear is very crafty, in that it knocks on your door when you are most vulnerable. When all alone and in the dark is when it will normally raise its ugly head.

It is especially true right now that many are reporting that the fear of catching the coronavirus is terrifying them. Maybe that’s exactly what is happening with you. At times, fear is nothing to be afraid of as it masquerades in the form of a lie that something is terribly wrong, when in reality there is nothing wrong. However, there are times like now that fear is simply pointing to something that really does exist and really is of great concern to everyone all over the world, yet its strategy is to bring you down to your lowest level and bind you with sheer panic and terror.

Whatever guise your fear may come in today, be sure of this one rock solid thing — God has got you covered!

There is nothing quite like the power of speaking out and repeating the verses and chewing on the Bible — this helps to stay focused in faith and overcome the fear that we all may face right now.

Why not join me today in starting the day with some incredible yet simple confessions from the Bible that will change the fear factor? Be warned, nothing may change in the outside world, but what will change is what’s going on in your inside world. Remember, your biggest enemy is often your inner-me.

The Bible records the words ‘fear not’ 365 times —that’s one for every day of the year. Have you ever stopped to ask why God continually has to remind us to fear not? Is it not because we fear so much?

Whatever it may be, here are just a few verses that will encourage us all to stay strong today. Here we go…lets do this together:

Psalm 91:1-7 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

Psalm 118:6-7 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Deuteronomy 20:4 For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.’

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

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

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?

Hebrews 13:5-6 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’

2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.


Let’s each take these verses with us throughout the day.

We stand together — in Jesus’ name.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd May 2020

Easter wasn’t too long ago.  The two days that are most remembered are Good Friday, the day that Jesus died and Easter Sunday, the day that He rose. 
But what about the day in between?  What about the Saturday?

The Saturday would have been very quiet. People who knew and loved Jesus would have been mourning, maybe even fearful, wondering what on earth just happened? 

Before He died, He promised them that He would rise again on the third day. They had to cling to that promise, maybe some of them did, maybe some didn’t.  

Saturday is the day between the fear and the promise and that requires FAITH. 

I believe we are experiencing a ‘Saturday’ right now.  In between what has happened that has caused people to fear and what we are hoping and believing for.  

We can’t afford to keep looking back and around in fear, we have to believe the promises of God and be in a position of faith.  
If Good Friday had been a stand-alone day, it would have been the worst day in history… but it wasn’t, it was quickly followed by Sunday, which made those two days, the greatest days in history. 
If we only think Friday, fear, Friday, fear, we are missing out on living by faith which will lead to the promise. 

Yes, something may have happened that you’re not sure about, or you don’t understand and it may seem like “where has God gone?”

What do you think the disciples were thinking about on Good Friday? The one they knew and loved had gone!

Maybe some of you are in fear over health or finances or family. God wants you to be in a place of FAITH.  

Don’t let your home be a place of fear right now, instead be a cultivator of faith. 

Cling onto the promises of God that say 

“I will never leave you or forsake you”

“Even though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me”

“God works all things out together for good, to those He loves and are called according to His purpose”

My friend, it may be Saturday right now, but Sunday is coming!

“Saturday was silent, surely it was tough  

But since when has the impossible, ever stopped You?”

God wants you to know Sunday is coming. 

You’re in that waiting time for the miracle… 

They may not have been certain about the Resurrection, but Jesus promised them and He always keeps His promises.  

 If God has promised you something… it will surely come to pass. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st May 2020

More than ever today, prayer should be seen as huge privilege—a privilege God has freely given to us because He wants to spend time with us. Here is the truth about prayer…God wants to hear from you! 
Now of course, prayer by its very nature often carries with it a burden; if you are praying for someone that is fighting off the coronavirus, you will have a burden for them that is driving you to your knees. However, prayer should not be a burden but more so a privilege. 

Jesus died to destroy the barrier of sin that separates us from God, and when we surrender our lives to God we have a personal relationship with Him. In fact, we only have access to God through prayer because of what Jesus did for us in His death and resurrection. He opened the way for us once and for all to come freely to Him. 

Central to any relationship is communication. Whether it’s a father that never talks to his children, or a married couple that never speak to each other, it’s a recipe for a relationship breakdown. The reality is that a father will always be related to his son or daughter and vice versa, but the question is will you be in relationship with them and they with you?

At a far greater spiritual level, our relationship with God involves communication; not just a brief hello, but a much deeper level of sharing our cares, concerns and requests with Him. Prayer is a daily, ongoing, and developing walk with God. 
To put it simplistically, prayer is talking with and listening to God – it’s a two way street just like any other relationship. 

God could of course simply do everything on His own. He could make every problem go away, sort all your burdens out, and then just shower you with everything you need exactly at the time you need it…so why doesn’t He? Because that wouldn’t be a relationship; it would be a completely one-sided acquaintance. All that we would need to do is give Him a nod to acknowledge His existence each morning and then leave the rest to Him. 

God has given us the privilege of prayer so that we will have a moment by moment friendship and relationship with Him that is deeper than any human relationship we could ever have. When we understand that, every human relationship goes to a whole new level too. 

There are some things that my children have asked me for over the years that I haven’t been able to supply — I’m limited and flawed as a father. But then there are times when I’ve sorted things straight away, because it’s within my means and power to do so. Often my phone will ring and the voice on the other end is saying, “Dad…can you…?” The truth is that any Dad LOVES to be asked for things, or asked to do things by his children. It’s what makes the relationship work. Then there are times that I will ask things of my children (usually internet related) and they are happy to help. Once again it makes for great relationships. 

At other times, maybe I will need to talk to them about something or give them advice or encouragement —and so it is with God. He wants you to not only communicate with Him as a child to a father, but He also wants to communicate with you. 

Jesus demonstrated the importance of prayer by His own example…
Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 

Today, I encourage you to engage with God in the privilege of prayer. 

Did you charge your phone today? Of course you did! You remembered to do it because it was important and you needed it to get you through the day. 

Did you pray today? Are you praying throughout today? You have, and you will, when you come to the understanding that you need a spiritual re-charge not only at the start of my day but throughout everyday as day to day life drains me. 

Be a person of prayer. Be a person that’s plugged into the power of God. 

1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th April 2020

Do you ever find your mind drifting back to situations that have already happened? Mine does. I’ll be doing something mundane and find my mind replaying old memories. Sometimes, they’ll be situations that I wished had ended differently. Things that were difficult or that have made me sad.

When something like that happened to me this week, I found myself thinking of a person who was no longer in my world and asking God, ‘why?’ And as I carried on with my mundane task – my skincare routine, if you’re curious – I felt the Holy Spirit whisper something to me: “If I have removed something, I will bring restoration.”

I stopped in my tracks. I feel like although that thought is not particularly new, it was profound for that moment.

  2 Corinthians 10:5 says, ‘We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’

Thinking over negative situations over and over is actually called ‘ruminating’ and research shows that it can have a negative impact on us – which is no surprise. That is not God’s desire for us.

That verse in Corinthians teaches us how to break that cycle. God wants us to be free and when we release those struggles to Him and bring our thoughts in line with His word, not only do we experience the peace that God has for us but we learn more of His nature.

Philippians 4:8 says, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.’

We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to negativity at the moment. You can choose how much of it you consume. If you find yourself stuck in that cycle, I pray that as you capture your thoughts, you’ll experience breakthrough today.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th April 2020

I have been taking you through a study of Psalm 23. Last week we looked at verses one and two, yesterday verse 3. Today we are looking at the first part of verse 4. There is a lot in verse 4 so we will save the second half for next week. 

Let’s take a look… 

‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.’

Here the psalm suddenly starts to get dark. It has been all green pastures and still waters up until now. This is a picture of the journey of life – it’s not always mountaintops, life includes dark valleys. The question is: are we following the shepherd (God) in both? 

Unlike green pastures, a valley is hedged in. You feel surrounded. How maybe some of you are feeling now. 

BUT…notice that David says, we WALK THROUGH the valley. We don’t camp in the valley. We walk through it and out of it with our eyes on our shepherd. 

‘Shadow of death’ – It isn’t necessarily death itself we are walking through; it is just the shadow of death. Death is now just a shadow, it lacks substance. It has lost its power through Jesus. A shadow of a dog cannot bite, a shadow of a sword cannot kill, and a shadow of death cannot destroy. 

‘I will fear no evil, for you are with me’ – as long as you are aware that your shepherd is with you, and you are walking in His presence, this knowledge should eliminate fear from your life. 

I recently went on a walk with a dog and its owner. I love dogs, so I was watching this dog’s behaviour very closely. As the master and the dog were walking, every five seconds or so the dog would glance up at the face of the master – checking for direction or instruction. He would look forward, then back up at the master’s face, over and over. The dog was in tune with itsowner. Ready and waiting to do whatever he said. 

What a picture of how we are to walk with our shepherd. Walking closely, watching closely, in tune to His instruction and direction. He leads, we follow, and together we walk through both the mountain tops and the valleys.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th April 2020

Last week, we unpacked verses 1 and 2 of Psalm 23. 

To briefly summarise, we learnt that God is metaphorically described as a shepherd many times in scripture. This is because he plays a similar role in our lives (if we allow Him to). He leads, guides, heals, tends and cares for us – His ‘sheep’. 

We learnt that when we understand the Lord as MY (personal) shepherd, we lack nothing because ALL our needs are met by Him. 

We read how it is the shepherd’s role to lead us to what we need and as we submit to this leadership, we find what we need and we find rest for our soul. 

Today we are focusing on verse 3: ‘He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness. For His name’s sake’.

Let’s focus on the word, ‘restores’. This word speaks of regaining something that was lost. 

It is in a place of rest (found by following the shepherd), that we regain what we lost. 

The shepherd leads in two ways – beside quiet waters, as we have read previously – so he leads me to rest, but he also leads me to ‘paths of righteousness’, which speaks of morals. The shepherd leads us to rest AND to right living! 

Many of us may feel exhausted, and depleted. Your soul drained. Perhaps it is worth considering if you have been leading yourself. Perhaps you have gone down a path that your shepherd isn’t leading you down. It is not a path of rest, because it is a path you have forged in your own self-effort. Perhaps it is time to submit to the leadership of a loving shepherd, so your soul can be restored, you can find rest, and be in right living! 

Remember, your shepherd knows what you need and where to get it! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th April 2020

Clark’s Botanicals is a high end skin care cream which features in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, and other publications. It has made its creator, Francesco Clark, an incredibly successful multi millionaire businessman! 

He started to create the skin care products after a crippling spinal cord injury from a swimming pool diving accident had left him a paraplegic. With his spinal cord severed not only was he unable to ever walk again, but unable to sweat, causing severe skin issues. After working with his father, a doctor, to create a naturally formulated cream that finally cleared up his complaint, his mother and sister soon started to use the cream and the idea to start selling it online began. 

Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand verses in the Bible such as James 1:2 ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds’, as they more than suggest some kind of benefit in trials and hardship.

The very meaning of life to most people is all about avoiding negative situations, while trying to steer towards positive ones. The problem with this is that Jesus didn’t come so we could have an easy life, but a full life! 

I truly believe we would actually appreciate the trials of this life a lot more if only we embraced difficult circumstances and looked for the opportunities that come by them, rather fighting against them all the time.

During this time of isolation, life for all has changed us all, to the point whereby in a recent poll only 9% of people want their lives to return to normal! That tells us one thing for sure — this current crisis has helped us to press reset and there’s no going back. 

Whatever your struggle may be today, just like Francesco Clark, there is an opportunity if we change the way we think about the situation to actually make the most out of it. 
I do believe that history will record that some of the greatest and most meaningful changes will come out of one of the greatest challenges of our time. 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ‘For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 

Fix your eyes on Him today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th April 2020

Have you ever thought about the word ‘reset’?
It applies to many different things in life and our homes even. For instance, if we have a power cut in our house, we have a digital clock on our oven that has to be reset. If some damaging spam virus thingy attaches itself to a computer or electronic device, it can affect that device negatively and often the way to deal with it, is to reset. Sometimes we are warned that our passwords on confidential documents or banking may get compromised and we have to reset. The most regular one and most annoying in our house is when the Wi-Fi connection drops and we have to reset things like the TV for instance.

Maybe, just maybe,  we are in a time right now where God wants to reset you? The word reset means to set again. It was once set, but due to something, it now needs to be re-set. 

Maybe, just maybe you’ve had a power cut, you’ve lost your connection with Almighty God, maybe you never had one in the first place. You need to take this time to be RE-SET.  

Maybe your life has gone a little bit crazy; maybe something that wasn’t good has attached itself to your life. Like bitterness or unforgiveness or sin? Maybe this time is a great time to RE-SET. 

Maybe, just maybe, you’ve lost strong connection with an Almighty God or maybe your signal is very low and unpredictable. Maybe it’s because the busyness of life crowded out your relationship, or ‘stuff’ took over and sucked the very life from your connection.
My friends, take this time to RE-SET your connection with God.

When we leave this current situation, (hopefully soon) we will have missed a fantastic opportunity if we come out of it the same way we went in. The best time to work on yourself is right now. The best time to RE-SET is right now. The best time to correct or improve or revive or develop your relationship with Almighty God is right now.
I hope that you are making every effort to come out of this time, renewed, strengthened and RE-SET ready for what the future holds. 

My clock may have been a few seconds or minutes out, it needed that power cut! My computer had become infected with all types of rubbish, it needed that wake up call! My wi-fi needed looking into, was it powerful enough to supply the demand we put on it? 

My friends, good things come out of difficult places. RE-SET!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th April 2020

A lock can be a very useful thing. We use them to protect what is precious to us, our homes and our possessions. It is designed to keep something in or keep something out, to prevent movement or access. However, a lock is not so good if you don’t have the key.

Fear is a lock, a very strong and powerful one.

Fear stops us in our tracks, we freeze. It prevents us from moving forward, it stops us from changing, keeps us in our comfort zone and sometimes keeps us where we do not want or need to be. Fear of the unknown or indeed fear of what we think we know. Fear of change; fear of sickness; fear of financial problems; fear of embarrassment or fear of rejection. 

Fear is a lock that holds us exactly where we are and that is not always where God wants us to be.

God knows how strong fear is in the human heart, that is why so many times in the Bible God says ‘Do not be afraid’.

Just one example is found in Luke’s Gospel.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God.’ (Luke 1: 28 – 29)

‘Do not be afraid’, and not just because an angel has just appeared in her room! As a teenage girl she is being asked by God to not only bear the Son of God but also to accept the bitterness, rejection, shame, social stigma and being a family outcast that being an unmarried mother at that time would have brought. God knew that fear would stop Mary in her tracks. She could not take this on with fear in her heart.

So what are you afraid of right now? Facing your boss; sickness; financial ruin; death? What is fear preventing you from doing? Asking forgiveness; stepping out into something that God has called you to do; fulfilling a promise; breaking an addiction; asking Jesus to be the Lord and leader of your life?

If fear is a lock, then Jesus is the key.

‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’ (John 14:27).

Unlock fear with the peace of Jesus and step out into what God has for you. Hear what God says to us today ‘do not be afraid’.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd April 2020

Yesterday I started a verse by verse break down of Psalm 23. Today we will unpack verse 2. 

V2: ‘He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters’. 

‘He makes’ – A sheep doesn’t know what it needs. A good shepherd recognises when the sheep need a rest and makes them rest. 

Equally, sometimes we don’t know what we need, and God provides for us what we most need, when we need it. 

‘To lie down in green pastures’ – A good shepherd knows the best places for his sheep to get rest. God faithfully takes us there. 

Interestingly, sheep do not lie/rest unless all conditions are in place. Because they are timid, they won’t rest if they are afraid. Because they are social, they won’t rest if there is friction in the flock. They won’t rest if there are flies/parasites. They won’t lie if they are anxious about food or hungry. 

Similarly, our soul does not rest if we are afraid. Our soul is restless if there is friction in an area of our life. We don’t rest if there is a virus. We don’t rest if we are worried about our next meal, or finances. 

BUT when we know God as ‘my shepherd’ (see yesterday’s Fresh Hope!), we know that He deals with the fear, friction, flies and famine! 

A lot of our fear and worry issues come down to the question of, ‘do I know God as MY shepherd?’ 

‘He leads me beside quiet waters’ – As a shepherd does, he LEADS. The thing with all leadership though, is that you have to submit to leadership to be covered by it. You don’t come under the covering if you aren’t following the leader. There is protection in following the lead of the shepherd – more on this in another Fresh Hope! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd April 2020

I want to write a series of Fresh Hopes, breaking down Psalm 23. 

Today we will start with verse 1. 

‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing’. 

‘The Lord is my shepherd’ – this is the declaration. 

‘I lack nothing’ – this is the result of the declaration.  

Let’s take a look at the word, SHEPHERD. 

God is metaphorically described many times in scripture as being a shepherd, and we the sheep. 


Well, In Israel, the job of a shepherd would have been one of the lowest jobs of the time. Consistent with Jesus being born in a manger, this is again a reminder to us, that while God is the almighty creator of the universe, He also stoops down low to care for us. 

A shepherd’s job included; feeding the flock, guiding them, governing them, defending them, handling them, healing them, tending to them and caring for them. David knew this because he himself was a shepherd! 

A shepherd actually lived WITH the sheep. 

Likewise, God isn’t far off. He is among us. He is up close and personal in our lives. God as our shepherd, provides for us, He governs and guides us, He defends us, He handles and heals us, He tends to us and cares for us. 

Notice the use of the word, ‘MY’ in verse 1. ‘MY SHEPHERD’ – David knew God in a personal sense. It was not, ‘The Lord is a shepherd, or ‘the shepherd’ or even ‘our shepherd’. It is ‘MY shepherd’. 

We too should understand God as our personal shepherd. 

Let’s look at us as the sheep. A sheep isn’t a wild animal. Sheep were purchased and owned. They were of great value and bought at a price. 

Likewise, we are like sheep, belonging to our shepherd, bought at a great price, valued, and dependant on our shepherd for survival. 

Finally, the second phrase of the first verse, ‘I lack nothing’ this implies that in light of God being my shepherd, I do not want. Every need is met. ALL my needs are supplied in God – my personal shepherd. 

Stay tuned for more unpacking of Psalm 23! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st April 2020

There’s a story that I love in Matthew’s gospel, found in the New Testament of The Bible, where Jesus describes two types of people – one wise and the other one foolish.

The wise man had built his house on a rock, the foolish man had built his house on sand. One day a storm arose and beat against both houses; you guessed it, causing the house with its foundation on the rock to withstand the storm, and causing the house with its foundation on the sand to come crashing down.

I want us to notice how both houses experienced a storm. Neither one was exempt. And although neither were exempt, both were exposed.
You see, none of us will go through life without facing ‘storms.’ In fact, we’re all in one right now, and the structures of our lives are being tested. What a storm will do to us all is reveal our foundations. It will expose what our lives are being built on.

By telling this story, I guess Jesus was wanting to pose a question to us: ‘What is your life being built on?’ Is it being built on temporary things, is it being built on unstable foundations, or is it being built on something sure and solid?

My friend, that sure and solid foundation being spoken of here is Jesus. He is the rock on which you can build your life. He loves you, He is for you, and He wants to make Himself available to you today.

He doesn’t promise you a problem-free life. A life without difficulty, challenges or storms, but rather His message to you is, ‘if you’ll build your life on me, we can withstand the storms of life together, and more than that, we can thrive in this life together.’

Do you feel as though your life is shaking? Have you been building a life for yourself only to realise the foundation is all wrong? Jesus Christ is the Rock and let me assure you, you can put your trust in Him.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th April 2020

As we come into week five of lockdown, and with the uncertainty looming as to what the future may look like, I encourage you today to stop looking in the same places for your supply.

Globally, we are all faced with the very same challenge, whilst at the same time we are all faced with very different challenges too. Each person, each household, each nation and each day can look very different to that of my neighbours. 

In the Old Testament (1 Kings 17) we have the story recorded of Elijah who was announcing to the nation that there would be a drought. A drought that no one knew when it would end. A drought that meant that the normal way of living would be very different in the weeks to come. It was a time of uncertainty for all. No one was exempt. It would take years to get back to normal.

For Elijah, as a believer in God, and an outstanding man of faith, he had to be determined to be flexible in his faith. In other words, he couldn’t just presume upon God to perform the same miracles of provision for him day after day. Each day and each season of his new normal would require him to be flexible. Not flexible in terms of wavering in his faith, but flexible in terms of understanding that God can provide in very different ways through very different means on any given day. 

How many of you are right now are worried because you only ever see your supply and your security coming from your employer, or from your same old customers, if you are in business?
When the famine kicked in, Elijah was led by God to go and drink from a brook. At that very same spot God would also deliver to him ‘meals on wings’ every night as ravens would drop by with fresh meat supplies! 

He may well have thought that this was the way it was going to be for the duration of the drought —not so. A short time later he was commanded to move on to an unfamiliar place from where he would get supplies from a poor widow – hardly encouraging when she had very little herself.

Are you doubting today that God can not only send you supply, but that He can also send you to where the supply is? Be careful that during this time that you are so rigid that you can’t see God doing anything different from what you’ve seen Him do before. Inflexibility in faith can break you. 

There is no normal with God. Everyday is a new normal. Don’t keep expecting God to turn up as He did last week or last year. He wants to open your eyes to see what He wants to do in and through today even though you’ve never seen it done this way before. 

The result of Elijah obeying God’s call to go to the widow for supplies, not only resulted in his provision, but in the never-ending provision for the widow and her son too. The little that she had never ran dry during the whole of the famine. 
Don’t keep trying to box God in today. He will break out and do something new today if you will simply listen to His voice and heed what He is telling you to do, after all, God specialises in things that are impossible. 
Trust Him today…He’ll not let you down. 

1 Kings 17:14-16 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.”’ She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th April 2020

The next few lines are an excerpt from a ‘fresh hope’ that I wrote in 2014. Yes 2014…

I drove to the office this morning, much of the route is narrow roads and streets where you need to give way to oncoming traffic. On three separate occasions today, I pulled in to the side to let the oncoming car pass and on three occasions, neither driver acknowledged the fact, waved, smiled or said “thank you” through the glass. What is it with some people and their manners? It’s almost like it’s their right to drive on and yours to stop. I find myself getting annoyed with such people.

 Unfortunately, a lot of society is not about putting others first, it’s just about ME ME ME. We seem to have lost the art of being thankful and courteous and mindful of others. I find it when I go into a store and speak to the person behind the counter and ask them how they are? Some people look at me strangely, and others will say “you’re the first customer today that has asked me how I am.” Come on friends, I know we’re all busy, but let’s not lose sight of being helpful and courteous to others. Let’s change the culture that society is putting onto us and let’s swing that pendulum back to one of being friendly and thankful.”

As I write today…April 17th 2020…I believe a shift is happening. Due to the current situation, we have been taking daily walks and everyone I meet I speak to and they speak back in a very friendly manner. Whilst queuing at the supermarket, we are having friendly words with complete strangers.
As we come outside to clap for the NHS on a Thursday evening, we are speaking to neighbours, who we have never ever spoken to before. I read about people taking care packages to others in the church who are in need, I read about people raising money to support each other and good causes, I see people taking time for OTHERS and I love it. I read an article today that said only 9% of the UK public want to go back to normal. God is causing a shift to happen and it’s great. 

Let’s start a new normal, a better normal, a kinder normal and let God be glorified through it all 
Romans 12 v 10 “Be kindly affectionate towards one another, in honour give preference to one another.”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th April 2020

In this unusual time of isolation, our routine can be lost and our minds can start to play tricks, paranoia can set in and we can start to wonder if anyone misses us. I’m sure we all agree, when you hear someone say ‘I don’t care what people think’ what they really are saying is, ‘I really care what people think but I wish I didn’t.’ 

In reality, what we think people think of us transforms how we feel about ourselves. What’s also true, and not helpful, is the saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. This often means the people closest to us, those who know us the best, the good and the bad, whose opinions we actually care most about, can make us feel less valued about ourselves. 

If your self worth is based on what people think of you, (even your most loved ones) you’re in trouble. But here’s some great news, God doesn’t judge, act or think like the world does, and God thinks incredibly highly of each one of us! 

Firstly, He gave his only son as a sacrifice to reconcile us back to him. Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, that means your actual worth is that of God himself! Think about it? You are truly priceless. Let your ego go through the roof.

Secondly, as it says in John 1:12 ‘to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’. He thinks of you as his child. This is true, familiarity breeds contempt, except when it comes to children. Marriage is very conditional. You make an effort to maintain and nurture it, you only have to forget an anniversary to realise how conditional marriage is. Children on the other hand, have our unconditional affections! There is no ‘familiarity breeding contempt’, only love upon love. And no matter what you have messed up, God sees you as His child with unconditional acceptance and love! 

Thirdly, however you may feel about how you look, you are created in the very image of God as it reads in Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness”. You are literally God’s gift to mankind. You may want to make changes to how you look, but God doesn’t, He created you and knitted you together in your mother’s womb, he’s intimate with our innermost being and thoughts. He desires to be in a relationship with you. 

However you are feeling about yourself today, in whatever kind of isolation you may be experiencing, know that God’s thoughts are always on you; He couldn’t value you more highly, you are the pinnacle of His creation and He desires to know you deeper. Seek Him today.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th April 2020

Proverbs‬ ‭3:5‬ (‭NIV‬‬) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;”
Easier said than done, you may think. And you’d be right. We’re in a time where people are faced with a lot of fear and confusion. It can be unsettling when even those who usually have ‘the answers’ seem unsure.

I want to remind you today that it’s okay to close your eyes and let go, even if only for a few moments. For many of us, we find ourselves with the luxury of time – something that many of us complained about not having enough of. So devote some of that time to being still.

Stillness and quiet can sometimes feel daunting – especially when there’s something that we want to distract ourselves from. But it’s often in those moments where God can reveal things to us.

When you begin to feel overwhelmed, remember that nothing that is happening around you is a surprise to God. Allow Him to do something in you.

Replace your struggle with renewed trust today.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th April 2020

This week I received some heartbreaking news. I found out that my Uncle, who has had cancer for a number of years, must now move to a hospice where he will spend the last of his days (however long that may be). Only in his 50s, and leaving behind my two young cousins who I’m very close with, this is a lot to come to terms with. It’s horrible and painful. 

I also had some good news. For years, we have been praying that he would come into a personal relationship with God. This week I received the news that he has accepted Jesus as His Lord and saviour! 

As grim as the reality of cancer is, I have never been more thankful for the HIGHER reality of the cross. Yes, the overwhelming practicalities and statistics of Corona, (and cancer), stare us in the face, but the greater reality is the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross has the final word. Death does not. Jesus paid the price… and He didn’t just pay the price and then stay on the cross, defeated by death. He then rose from the cross. He literally conquered the grave. Death is no longer final for us. 

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how people process death without the truth of the gospel to steady their hearts and ease their minds. Life is short. Life is fragile. I’m thankful that there is an assurance and hope that is far bigger us… it is bigger than our failures, it’s above our social constructs (that we assumed so secure), it is above our sickness, and even above our death. 

One thing is certain for all of us, at some point, we will face death. It is foolish to not consider where we will stand on the edge of eternity. It is foolish not to consider our standing with God. 

Thanks to the power of the cross, I will see my Uncle again. Thanks to the power of the cross, I will still believe in the healing hand of God to restore his body. Thanks to the power of the cross, I don’t fear death. Thanks to the power of the cross, I have a hope. I hope you do too.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th April 2020

Seeing is not believing. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel still saw radical signs and wonders from God, yet they still died in the wilderness of unbelief. Satan and his angels have seen God and yet they remain demons and devils and don’t trust Him. The Bible tells us that faith doesn’t come from seeing, it comes from believing. Hebrews says in 11:1, ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen’ (ESV). Jesus himself said, ‘blessed are those who believe without seeing me.’ 

We don’t live by what we see or feel, we live by what we have heard God say. If God says that He is trustworthy, that is what we believe, not our feelings. We shouldn’t need to see a miracle to have faith for who God is. We relentlessly believe what God has said – this is how faith works. 

This can be challenging for our minds to get around, as it is a foreign concept for one to believe something that they have not yet seen, or don’t feel. We live in a feelings led society, where ‘if I’m feeling it, it must be true’. This is not how God operates. God’s kingdom operates on the currency of faith – the ability to believe the word of God, despite what we see or feel. 

We are seeing a lot of negative news at the moment. We are feeling a lot of fear at the moment. But in the midst of it, can we be people of faith? People who believe in that which we cannot see. People who believe in the word of God, above all else.

Do not let the state of the world determine the degree of your faith. Let the word of God set the tone. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th April 2020

Dear Friends, 

Many people in Champions Church and thousands across the world send monthly support to help tens of orphaned children in Rwanda and across the world. All of this is done through COMPASSION UK.

For less than £30 per month, we are able to clothe, feed and educate each child, as well as placing each of them in a good family. The sponsored child also attends a local church each Sunday where they are cared for spiritually by the local congregation. 

Please watch the short video below to see the impact that children and families have in sending their love and prayers back to you at this time.

If you would like to consider supporting a child in this way then please contact us for more information by simply messaging us at the email address here:

Thank you,

Fresh Hope – 11th April 2020

In the book of Daniel chapter 3 , we read about three young guys, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego.  

They were thrown into a fiery furnace because they wouldn’t worship any other god but our God, the one true God. Notice it says in verse 19 that the King heated it seven times hotter than normal…imagine that!! AND they had their hands and feet tied.  There was no getting out of that.  But they did.   

You see, however hot the fire and however much your ‘hands are tied’, God is always with us. Maybe you feel right now that there is no way out and you feel helpless because your hands are tied.  Verse 24 says ‘Wasn’t there only 3 people that we tied and threw into the fire? So who is the fourth walking round? He looks like a son of the gods.’
Yes, it was Jesus in the fire with them.  

They not only came out alive, it says they weren’t burned, their hair wasn’t singed, their clothes weren’t scorched and they didn’t even smell like fire! That is a miracle my friends right there. You know you only have to cook a meal and you will smell like the dinner you just cooked!

Whatever fire you may be facing right now, remember you are not alone.  God promises to never leave us or forsake us.  
It goes on to say in verse 30 that they got promoted. When you go through a trial and you stay faithful, you’d better believe that you will get a promotion from God, because He blesses the faithful. When you stand up for God, when you remain true to His word, remember this…fire will not touch you and God Himself will bless you.  
So be reminded today that there is another in the fire and He’s standing with you right now… and you will come out of it UNHARMED.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th April 2020

I’ve heard a quote from the film ‘Ace in the Hole’ (disclaimer: I’ve never seen it): ‘Bad news sells best, because good news is no news.’

Now more than ever, this is all our news channels feature. Fear and anxiety are flooding people’s minds because they are constantly bombarded with bad news and uncertainty.

Perhaps it would be undignified for the news to report on people enjoying the sunshine or taking the time to connect with old friends, new friends or those somewhere in between. However it is our duty as Christians to share the hope of Jesus with everyone in our world.

We may be divided physically but we are unified in Jesus.
We stand steadfast on His Word.
We stand united in His promises.

Jesus carried the weight of sin, fear and darkness all the way to the cross. And there, he uttered the three words that shattered the world as it was.
‘It is finished.’

His work on Earth was done. The saviour of the world, successfully saved the world.

Whatever it is that you are facing today, it is finished.

He defeated the evil that was, that is and that is to come. Those three words put the devil in his place. Those three words broke through the darkness.

This is the good news of Easter. This is the time we celebrate the freedom we have (John 8:36), the unconditional love we experience (1 John 4:10) and the peace that only Jesus can bring (John 14:27).

Share the good news, because good news IS newsworthy.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th April 2020

Understandably most of our talk and attention is on the current crisis. Can we just fast-forward for a moment? This virus will pass, and when it does we will able to gather again for church services! Perhaps after experiencing church online, from the comfort of your sofa, new questions will arise, like, ‘why do we even need to physically gather for church meetings?’

I would like to point out a few reasons why physically meeting together is so important. (Please note, I am absolutely NOT suggesting we meet up before the government allows us to. Until we are told otherwise, let us honour each other, and the government by staying at home!). 

What is the value in meeting together?:

1. Some things aren’t just taught, they are caught. Online teaching is a wonderful tool, but there is nothing like being in the room. God is not bound by the walls of a building, but equally some things are imparted through the ‘laying on of hands’, or by being present in the atmosphere (Acts 8:14–19). 

2. Quite simply, God says so. And whenever God tells us to do something, it is for our goodand blessing follows! God tells us in His Word to “not give up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25). 

3. Corporate worship (worshiping together) is powerful. 

Jesus said, ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.’ (Matthew 18:20). There is a place for private worship, and there is a place for public worship. When we are all physically together, it reminds us that we are not alone, and that we stand as one part of many. An army. We build each other up in our togetherness. 

4. We grow more when we are around others. 

Being around people is good for our character. A rough rock only becomes smooth by rubbing up against other rocks. When we ‘rub up’ or get near other people it smoothes out our character. At present, we don’t exactly Facetime the people that irritate us. But this is exactly the problem. While we are comfortable we aren’t being sharpened. When we are around others, our rough edges are smoothed out. 

5. You cannot fully out work your calling. You are called to be the church (YOU are the church, not a building or meeting), and you are also called to serve the church (serve one another). You absolutely serve the church/one another outside of the four walls of a building or meeting, but gathering together also provides the opportunity to connect in person, build one another up, encourage one another in God and bring something to the table. Church meetings are like the family dinner where we feast, connect and get full before we go about our lives, operating as the church in the community. 

So please isolate in the meantime, but let’s anticipate the day when we can all get back together again, and see the value in it like never before!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th April 2020

It is in times like these where we should turn to the Bible to see how biblical characters handled similar circumstances. 

I recently listened to a podcast by Bill Johnson where he outlined different famines in scripture and the unique responses of people involved. 

Let’s start with Isaac. In Genesis 26 we see that famine hit the land. People were worried, scared, scrambling and holding onto whatever they could. Similar to what we see happening at Tesco at the moment! 

Yet scripture tells us that during this desperate time Isaac ‘sowed in the land’. This is the equivalent of opening up a new business venture while the whole country is losing their jobs during a health crisis! It seemed ridiculous and untimely. Well, welcome to the kingdom of God! 

You see, Isaac saw the famine with a different set of eyes. He was making some future investments for himself. 

As the narrative unfolds, we see that Isaac reaped greatly from his investment during the famine. 

Note, that this wasn’t about generosity (giving to others). This particular story is about investing in your personal self today, for the reaped reward tomorrow. Isaac’s strategy was actually a business and financial act of faith. 

Today, in the midst of a crisis, let’s take the Isaac approach. 

Use this season to invest when it seems like we should be grabbing and holding on to what we can. Sow as an act of faith! You will eat the seed you sow today, tomorrow. Invest in your business, invest in yourself… read a book to challenge you, take up an online course, create a fitness routine … do something for YOU in this time… sow some seeds, that you may reap the reward tomorrow! 

There are many more examples of how biblical characters handled crisis, but let me end with one more example. In Acts 11, famine again was faced in the land. When the church heard of this, the very first thing that they did was take up an offering. How counter cultural! Everyone else was grabbing and keeping, and the church’s response was an offering! 

Generosity towards others in times of personal need should be the mark of the church (the church is you and me by the way, not just a meeting on a Sunday). 

As the church in Acts silenced the voice of the famine, let us now silence the power of this virus and sow aggressively into people’s lives! In the midst of a crisis, let’s be found being radically obedient. The seeds of generosity you sow in these times are powerful. They are power-packed with harvest. The seeds you sow in this current climate are once in a lifetime kind of seeds. Don’t sow sparingly. Act in the opposite spirit, even if your feelings are saying something different.

‘Compassion for one another silenced the voice’ (Nehemiah 5).  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th April 2020

The first 11 verses of Matthew 21 describe Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey.  We now celebrate this occasion as Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Good Friday. A large crowd of people cheered Jesus as He made His way into the city, throwing palm branches and their coats in front of Him to create a makeshift red carpet.

In all the euphoria of the event, a lot of people would have joined in the carnival atmosphere just to say they were part of that extraordinary event, without knowing much of Jesus. 

Jesus was the centre of attention, but the centre of His attention was the task ahead of Him. He was completely aware of the crucifixion that was to come a few days later.

The days between the jubilation and the judgement must have been difficult for Him. He was surrounded by friends who were close to Him, but who didn’t understand why He had to go through the suffering. In the midst of the crowds, He must have felt so isolated and alone, culminating in His passionate cry on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” in Matthew 27v46.

A huge number of people around the world are in isolation in their homes at the moment, in a global attempt to save lives from a virus. Just as no-one was unaware of the events of that week in Jerusalem, no-one is unaware of the pandemic gripping the world.

Jesus went through isolation, pain and judgement so that we could find hope in times of trouble. 

He endured death so that by His resurrection, we can know that there is life. We have the assurance that although we may be bombarded by stories of death, He is alive. And through His victory, we are made free.

Easter is a time to celebrate what Jesus did on the cross. Take a moment to reassure someone and share joy this Easter.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th April 2020

You will likely have heard it said in one form or another that your input determines your output. In other words, what you put into your life will effect what comes out of your life.

Many of us right now have more time to fill than we’ve had in a long time, which means we have more opportunities to input into our own lives and the lives of those around us.

It is possibly more vital now than ever before that we ensure we are filling our lives with good things in order that good things flow out of us.

I heard this analogy recently; imagine you’re holding a bowl of water and someone walks by and knocks you, resulting in the water spilling out of the bowl. It would be understandable to blame the person who knocked you for the water being spilled, however the real reason that the water was spilled was because the water was in the bowl to begin with. What am I saying?

It’s easy to blame what is happening around us for the way you and I respond, but the truth is, whatever is spilling out of us had to be inside of us to begin with.
So what do we do? We must always, now especially so, be intentional about our input. Ask yourself, ‘what am I feeding my soul?’
Here are some things that I find helpful: reading my Bible and talking to God, exercising and reading books, FaceTiming with friends who are going to lift my spirits…you may be able to list other examples too.

The key is, that you and I are inputting the right things into our lives, so that when life knocks into us, which it will, the right things spill out.

Today I want to encourage you to check your input – you and those around you will be better for it!

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th April 2020

There is a very short verse in the Bible, short, but loaded with meaning found in Philippians 4:5 – ‘The Lord is at hand’.

I often whisper this verse to myself when I’m in an uncertain situation and I need reassurance of God’s presence.

Surely our greatest comfort on this side of eternity is the Lord’s constant presence with us. He is literally right there with us, all the time. Yet there are times, especially when things are difficult, that we struggle to feel, or connect with His presence. Life might not be going the way we want it, especially now when the world is so uncertain of what tomorrow will bring. So many are distressed and gripped with fear and anxiety, and people are battling for their lives or grieving for loved ones, some do not know how they will feed their families in the next few weeks. The world is desperate. When we find our prayers may not be answered the way we had hoped for, and we can start to feel as if God has abandoned us. But he is still right there, whether we feel it or not.

Five years ago, I went through the biggest challenge of my life when we sadly lost our first child Ethan after a 7-week battle in a neo-natal unit. Ethan was born preterm, and after he passed, my heart was torn to pieces. I could feel the pain in my heart as if it was being cut through with a saw. I felt so many emotions; grief, anger, disappointment, anxiety, fear and had so many questions that needed answers. I remember feeling like that was also the end of my life, I could not imagine myself smiling again or ever being happy again because the hurt I felt was so intense. I was desperate for the quiet times I spent alone, hoping to find God in those quiet moments, and for Him to bring some sort of answers and comfort, yet I struggled to find Him.

In those times when grief and loss overcome us, God can be so close, yet we struggle to see Him. We struggle and fail to hear His voice at that time. This can happen so easily in times of sickness or times of distress. But in the midst of our distress, in the midst of the storm, He is the still small voice. Our spiritual eyes need some time to get used to an unexpected set of circumstances. It may take time before we realise His closeness. But, take heart, the Lord is always at hand.

I encourage you friend to take this time to spend time in God’s presence. Just find a quiet space and read His word, put on some worship music, make yourself available to Him, get to know him more. His presence is uplifting, it brings perfect peace and gives a firm assurance that no matter what is going on, He is in control. And when God is in control we can rest.

I look back at how life has been restored in the past, how since then I have experienced my best days such as the birth of our son who is now five years old and await the precious gift that I carry. God has not only restored but replaced happiness with joy, pure joy that only He can give!

This too shall pass.

 Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd April 2020

I want you to think about how quickly God can turn a situation around. 

One day Joseph was in a pit, the next day he was running someone’s household. One day he was in a prison cell, the next day in charge of everything and living in a palace. 

Right now we are all part of a story. What does a story have? It has pages. God wants to turn the page of your life right now. The current page may have doubts on it or concerns or questions… But the page is about to turn and the future is bright with hope. 

It doesn’t matter what today looks like, tomorrow can be different. 
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. (Hebrews 12 vs 2) Yes, He’s your author and He only ever writes a GREAT story. 

God couldn’t make the switch with Joseph from slave to palace as long as he had a slave mentality. It says in Genesis 41 v 14 that he got ready to meet the king, so he had a shave, got out of his jail-cell clothes and put on palace clothes. You have to have a great expectation that tomorrow is going to be different. The only thing that Joseph had was faith in GOD that He wouldn’t let him down. He’d been in that cell for years. Imagine that, day in, day out.  

Yet his hope in God was alive and well. The only assurance that me and you have right now is faith.  
Faith that God won’t let us down.  

He had no idea why he was being sent for, after years of being in that cell…but his expectation urged him to PUT ON ‘palace’ clothes. He was about to meet the King. He was dressed for where he was going, not for where he was

So raise your expectation today…because God is about to turn your page. You had better be wearing the right clothes.  

Proverbs 23 v 18. Your future is bright and filled with a living hope that will never fade away.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd April 2020

Isolation is not a bad thing. Apart from the obvious fact that social distancing is preventing other people from getting ill, it has personal benefits too. 

Yes, the human spirit needs social interaction, and people, and community, but sometimes we also need to just get away and isolate. 

Jesus had to isolate many times in his ministry. He understood that it was in getting alone that He could be ‘re-filled’ to go out again, more powerful and more effective than if He hadn’t isolated. 

For the first time ever, the world has had to stop and has been forced to rest.  Yes, it isn’t under ideal circumstances, but let’s not waste this opportunity. Make the most of this once in a lifetime moment to process things that you have been sweeping under the rug. Deal with personal issues that the business of life has kept you from facing. Sit alone with God and ask him to speak. Spend the extra time exploring the scriptures at a deeper level. Have a phone conversation with someone you have been putting off talking to. Re-evaluate your priorities. Process your plans for the future. Give your soul the rest it needs. 

It is okay to be bored. In fact, creativity, brain repair, and healthy emotional processing actually stem from boredom and those ‘nothing’ moments! This crisis could actually be a catalyst for some healing in our lives! 

Hurried and clogged-up schedules had become the normal pace of life and it is time to stop and do some work on the more simple and meaningful parts of our lives and hearts. 

Like a caterpillar self-isolates in its cocoon before returning to the world as a beautiful butterfly, may we to emerge from this crisis, better than when we started!  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st April 2020

Let’s be real, at present, if we haven’t lost our job, we know someone who has. It is a scary time in regards to the future of our finances for many of us. But if we cannot stand on the truths of God during a crisis, when can we?

1. God is well aware of the importance of money in our lives. Jesus talked about money a lot. He is not embarrassed of it or ashamed of it. Money isn’t a bad thing. Money is actually good, but our attitude and approach toward it can be bad and dangerous. This is why Jesus wasn’t taboo in talking of the topic. In fact, money sits at third place in the lineup of topics that Jesus spoke most about! 11 of the 39 parables talk about money! Jesus was well aware that money had the potential to consume our lives. It has incredible influence over our day-to- day job, our thoughts, our worries, our fears, our freedom, and our big decisions and our small decisions.  Don’t think that Jesus is not aware or doesn’t care about your present financial situation. He does. He knows it is important and a big part of your life. 

2. Some of your deepest heart issues will be revealed in your attitude and approach toward money. If you have trust issues with God, this will manifest in how you handle your money. If you truly believe that He is true to His word, and He is looking after you, then you can rest assured that whatever tomorrow holds, God is your provider. 

Matthew 6:25-27, ‘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?’

For many of us in the first world, we never thought the words ‘do not worry about what you will eat’, would ever apply to us! But here we are today scrambling for food on the shop shelves! 

Now is the time to put into practise the essence of our faith. Do we really believe that God will give us what we need? 

3.   God is the master restorer. 

God specialises in restoration. He is able to bring back what has been taken from you and restore it ten fold. Zoom out and think big picture. Today may be challenging, but recall that God promises to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). So if things aren’t good yet, He is not done yet! 

All through scripture God has redeemed and restored that which has been taken from His people. ‘I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten’ (Joel 2:25).  

Many of the most successful people on the planet have soaring success post crisis. The answer is that they had an attitude where they learnt from their mistakes, and rebuilt from the ground up, with a resilient spirit – the spirit of an overcomer. As children of God, the nature of an overcomer is in our DNA. 

Romans 8:37, ‘In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us’.

1 John 5:4, ‘For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world’.

James 1:12. ‘Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life’. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st March 2020

Less than one hundred days into the year 2020, no-one would have imagined at the start of the year that in order to save and protect yourself and those around you, we’d all have to stay away from each other.

It may start to feel like the world is falling into an abyss with no end in sight, and the threat that’s greater than the Coronavirus to the wellbeing of thousands of families is the anxiety, stress and fear of losing their livelihoods, family members and friends.

The pandemic has the potential to kill you spiritually and mentally without even coming close to you physically. As we remain isolated in our homes, only allowed to travel to stock up on the essentials, there is one essential part of our lives that we shouldn’t neglect.

Isolation in our homes should not become isolation from God. Only by remaining connected to Him can we raise our faith as a shield around us.

His Word is as relevant, as alive, as powerful, and as unchanged today as it has been throughout the ages.

It is reassuring and comforting to know that God did not make a promise to a small group of people in the past, but to everyone who calls on the name of Jesus in times of trouble.

And when you call on Him, He promises to give you peace which can’t be understood in the midst of anxiety and distress.

To restore joy where there is sadness and weeping.

To restore a sense of security when the path ahead is dark because He is a lamp to guide our feet.

To reassure us in knowing that whatever was meant for evil, He will turn it for good.

Psalms 94:17-19 says

“If the Lord had not been my help, I would soon have dwelt in [the land of] silence. If I say, “My foot has slipped,” Your compassion and loving kindness, O Lord, will hold me up. When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your comforts delight me.”

Jesus knows what you need even before you ask Him, and He is always close enough to reach out for you when you feel like you’re sinking. 

Hope is still here.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th March 2020

It goes without saying that we are all living in a very different world right now. There is no one out there that can quote ‘…the last time we went through this.’

This is a first for everyone that’s alive right now. It’s unsettling for many and scary for most, but it is also a season of great opportunity.

Life may not go back to ‘normal’ for quite some time, so we have to be determined not to waste this season, but instead to make it count. Everyone of us is gifted with the opportunity of being able to read, learn, study, pray, love, clean, sort and not least of all, think and dream. When was the last time that you were gifted with the time to do all the things that you’ve been moaning about for years. Your theme song has been has forever been…‘I would do that, but I just don’t have time’ – well now you have!

Get up, get dressed and get ready to go to work without leaving the house!

Imagine a bank credits your account each morning with £86,400. It’s carries over no balance from day to day. At midnight, the account resets to another £86,400 and deletes whatever part of the previous day’s balance that you failed to use. There’s no guarantee you will ever be given another £86,400. If that were the case, what would you do? Draw out every last pound of course!

Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Each morning you are given a gift that is credited to your life of 86,400 seconds.

Every night, what you have failed to use is lost.

Time carries over no balance from day to day. Time allows no overdraft and you cannot hold on to what you did not use the day before.

If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.

I challenge you today to take a long hard look at your life in this unique season and ask yourself, what am I going to do with my time?

How and where do you spend it?

How much time am I wasting?

How much time am I spending just on me?

How much time am I investing in others?

How much time am I spending with God?

Everything in life has to to have a balance to it, but I’m sure that you will agree that it’s hardly a balanced life sitting in front of a TV every day.

Wake up; we only have one life to live!

Make an important decision today to not waste another minute.

There’s an old saying that says ‘time waits for no man’.

Write that book, dream that dream, make that call, clean out that junk, read those books, cook that recipe, love your children, learn something new, throw out that clutter, bag up those unwanted clothes, pray those prayers, listen to podcasts, study the Bible, love on others, send messages daily, believe in yourself and No.1 put Jesus first in all that you do.

Today has already been partly spent —what are you going to do today with the rest of your 86,400 seconds?

Make your life count.

Don’t delay.

Make a decision to come out of this crisis different than how you entered it.

This will soon be over.

Take courage my friend.

Be a world changer, but if not, be a home changer.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th March 2020

What happens when you feel like giving up? When you feel like you’ve tried and tried and prayed and prayed, but you can’t see much happening or you can’t see anything happening. 

Here’s something to help. In Matthew 7 vs 7-12,  Jesus teaches about prayer.  

Why? Not only to help us, but to teach us that there are different levels to praying .

It tells us to ask and it will be given, seek and you will find and knock and the door will be opened to us. 

I can ask you for something and hopefully you’ll give it to me (if I ask nicely and say please).  That’s like prayer sometimes, we can just ask and we immediately receive.  I love those sorts of prayers!

Then there’s the word ‘seek’. It’s like playing the game hide and seek. You won’t find the person straight away (unless you cheat), you have to put a little effort in to find them. 

That’s like prayer sometimes, you don’t always see the answer straight away. You have to seek a little.  Put some time and energy in. 

Then there’s ‘knock’, which speaks about persistence.  

There’s a story in Luke 18 about a lady who was persistent with a judge because she wanted mercy. It says she went to his house and kept knocking and knocking till she got her answer.  It tells us that he didn’t answer her because he liked her, no in fact it tells us he didn’t fear God or people, but he eventually answered her request because she was annoying and persisting and she wouldn’t go away. 

Notice what it says in verse 1 “Jesus told them this story so that they could see it was important to pray and not give up.” So Jesus told them this story to teach them about how important it is to persist in prayer!


before you feel like giving up, have you tried all three?


Because if something is worth anything, then it’s worth praying for, waiting for and fighting for. 

I like to think like this…


Pray Until Something Happens

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

Fresh Hope – 27th March 2020

In four days, a quarter of the year will have passed. I wonder how this 2020 is shaping up for you? You could be celebrating or you could be struggling, in this current season. It very much depends on your circumstances.

Last month, I received some bad news. It was completely unexpected. You could say I was momentarily blindsided by the news affecting a loved one. Of all the things anticipated for 2020, this had not been on my radar.

One morning I woke up with a real heaviness in my heart. I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt like this and can only describe a pain that gripped me like ‘grief’. As I sat in my usual spot praying that morning I simply said ‘Lord, I feel so sad…’
As I prayed, I was reminded of Psalm 42:11‘Why my soul are you downcast – why so disturbed within me?’
Reading on, I found treasure and light for my soul – ‘Put your Hope in God’

I had read those words so many times before but right there, that morning, those words flooded my heart and lifted the heaviness that I had been carrying.

I had a decision to make there and then, just as the word instructed me to. At that point I didn’t understand the situation and I still had no answers for the future, other than one; to shift my eyes from the problem and to fix my eyes onto Jesus –  He could and would fill my heart with hope.

Today, if your heart is weighed down with exhaustion, worries, the problems of this season, I urge you to do one thing. Change your position, shift your gaze and choose today to put your hope in Jesus. You can move from a place of being downcast and hopeless, to a place of being hope- filled.
Hope is Here. Hope is found in Jesus. 

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th March 2020

Yesterday, I shared a few ideas around arising to the occasion during this current crisis and shining our light as the church. The top tips continue below.  Let’s see this season out, carrying strength, peace, power, sensibility, and love in the process! 

5. Look for opportunity. 

Leaders see problems as opportunities. There is a once in a lifetime opportunity here for us right now. There is an appetite now for answers, and spirituality. People don’t need hype, they need hope. 

This is a moment, a window, where we can build trust with people. How we hold ourselves and carry ourselves during this will determine our relationship with them in the future…people are watching. You can build credibility with people by how you manage yourself through it. This will pass.

6. Be ready

Be ready to answer tough questions, be sharp and discerning – look for opportunities to love and serve others, guard your mind, be watchful, be vigilant, be realistic, don’t just be positive, be hope driven (hope means you know there IS a God looking after you, not you wish/fingers crossed there is a God looking after you). 

7. As you isolate  

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of negative things we could focus on right now, but for the sake of our mental health, we must focus on the once in a lifetime opportunities this situation also brings with it. As you physically isolate don’t just sit around watching screens for hours a day. Take the isolation as an opportunity to rest well, reflect, think deeply, process, having meaningful phone conversations with people, be creative, pray, do those things you never thought you would get the time to do, send a care package to someone. Use this time as well as you can. Take the unique opportunities that this crisis brings. 


Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th March 2020

Every social construct that we have built has come to a halt. The entire world has essentially shut down. 

As people who know God and trust God, it is possible for us to not only be fearless, but also rise to the occasion. 

This is our time as the Church to show some leadership in this crisis.  

The church was born for this hour. YOU were born for this hour. We can pray for God to intervene, but equally we are the hands and feet of God, and WE are the light.  We as the Church have a special grace and calling at this moment to step up and SHINE. This is an opportunity that we may never get again. 

People are literally being brought to their knees. People by the mass are losing everything they ever trusted. People are literally desperate for peace, protection and hope – now is our time to strike! Do not let this opportunity go. 

Matthew 5:14-16, ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’. 

This scripture is proof that WE are actually the light. We are the light TO POINT to GOD. That means that there is a mandate on us as the church in this hour to lead well. 

So what does shining actually mean? . . . 

1. Lead not react

The thing with leadership is that you feel everything everyone else does, but our response must be different. Reaction is to stockpile, to self-preserve and think only of self. 

Leadership is not reacting, it is responding. It is leading people to light in the midst of panic. It is putting others first in crisis. 

Our job as leaders in society is not to panic, it is to respond. 

2. Embrace sacrifice, not selfishness

The best leaders show sacrifice in times of crisis, not selfishness. 

Crisis will reveal what people are really made of. Crisis will either show the worst of people or the best of people. 

As the church, let it show the best of us. Let us show people what we are really made of – love, hope, sacrifice and generosity. 

3. Get wise counsel. 

Watch what is giving you your information. 

Some media is unhelpful at the moment. 

Watch your headspace. For your mental health, the worst possible combination is being in isolation and reading some of the things on social media. Be careful and smart. 

More than anything at this time we should be plugging into the word of God. We need the word of God at the forefront of our mind. 

4. Get your spiritual lenses on. 

Our battle isn’t against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness (Eph 6:12)… what if this whole thing isn’t actually just about a virus? What if this whole thing is about a Spirit of Fear getting a hold of people? 

Consider what is going on spiritually at the moment. Discern the times we are in from a spiritual perspective. Ask yourself: what is God doing in the midst of all this? I don’t believe sickness is from God, but He will use it to get people on their knees. Is it time for humanity to consider their lives and priorities?

To be continued on tomorrow’s Fresh Hope! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th March 2020

The job of the News reader is to read news. The job of the media is to report on the news. The job of the politician is to lead the country as best as they can in the light of the news. You will more than likely know all that there is to know about the coronavirus through these various means. We all know how bad it is out there right now. Our hearts truly go out to those that have lost loved ones or those that are suffering.

My job is not to do their Job. My job is to be ahope dealer

In doing my job, I want you to put on your God glasses today. Get God’s perspective. The glasses you wear have the ability to change what you see. Change what you see today by looking through the lens of God’s word -The Bible. 

Question: How many of you for years have been saying to yourself, “If only I could press pause on my life, If only I could get out of the rat race, if only I could spend more time at home looking after the kids?” Well here is your wish come true!
With the measures that have been put in place and with a lockdown this week, the reality is that the whole world has been gifted with a huge pause button that’s been pressed for us. Hidden in this crisis is a gift. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to re-set your life right now. Here is a gift to help you re-discover who you are and what’s important in your life. It’s an opportunity to sit down and think. Think about your priorities and where your life is going. 
You are gifted right now with a once in a life time opportunity to do meaningful things with your children and family. You now have the chance to ask yourself ‘what do I really believe?’ ‘Where is my faith in all of this right now?’

You are being gifted with the opportunity and the desire to read the Bible and to pray like never before. This is truly a gift to discover, rediscover and draw close to Jesus.
Friends, this pause button will soon disappear, and it won’t just be PLAY that will be pressed, but it will be FAST FORWARD. Make sure that you never go back to how you once were before. Get your life back on track in this season. 
I’m asking you to make Psalm 91 your lens through which you see the world right now. Pick up your Bible and turn to it.
V3 says ‘…that surely he will save me from the deadly pestilence( a fatal epidemic disease’) – This is no surprise to God. 
V5 ‘..You will not fear the terror of night, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, or the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you’. 
Get God’s perspective today and put on those faith glasses. 

If you need a Bible then simply reach out and request one by going to

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd March 2020

Matthew 14:22-33 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Whatever you feed, will ultimately grow. Feed your children and they will grow. Feed a plant and it will grow. Feed your dog and yes, it will grow. In fact, the more you feed something, the more it grows.

Get this — Feed your fear and it will grow!

Right now there is very little else to fill your mind with other than the fear that is being dished up daily. Hour after hour, you are being served such massive portions of fear that it’s spreading into everything you do and everything you say.

The word Corona means ‘crown’ and it’s definitely doing its job in more ways than one, as it seeks to be King over your life.

When Peter asked Jesus if he could walk on water, he was simply told “COME”. But then he was distracted by what he saw and what he felt going on around him. It caused him to lose his balance, his footing and his faith. The moment that he allowed fear to feed him, it grew to the point of overwhelming his faith.

Friend, right now don’t let fear cause you to lose the faith or the footing that you started with. You were so full of faith…and then you allowed outward circumstances to become king. Dethrone your fear right now by staying focused on walking forward on God’s word.

Instead of feeding every hour on the latest news, start to worship, get into God’s word. Stand on it. Believe it. Respond by trusting it. Ask yourself right now: what am I feeding myself with today?

Fear makes you sink.

Faith makes you rise.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st March 2020

Dear friends at Champions,

Since our government has enforced a ban on the majority of public gatherings in social settings, we are honouring their decision by closing our Church building on Sunday.

Our service will be available online via our App, Website and YouTube channel ‪from 10:30am on Sunday‬, so let’s utilise this opportunity to enjoy Church in our homes.

For the foreseeable future, all of our services will be online. As it has already been said, our church buildings may temporarily close, but the Church will never close.

All 4 Nights of Hope will be live streamed from

Keep on checking the app, to receive regular updates at this time.

We love you, are praying for you and look forward to seeing you soon.

Hope is still here!

Take care,
Pastors Mark and Gillian Burchell

Fresh Hope – 20th March 2020

Remember playing hide and seek? Hide your eyes and count to ten while everyone rushes off to hide. ‘Coming, ready or not’. Hiding in a cupboard or under the bed, so still, frightened to breathe, hoping not to be discovered. 

I for one have spent a great deal of time in my life playing hide and seek with God. Holding my breath and hoping he won’t spot me in the cupboard under the stairs. 

The first question that God asks humanity is ‘Where are you?’. In Genesis 3:9 we see that Adam and Eve have eaten from the fruit that God commanded them not to eat. They are afraid and ashamed because they are naked, they hide themselves from God. He is walking in the garden and can’t find them, He calls out ‘where are you?’. God has been asking that same question since that moment – where are you?

I am pretty certain that every one of us has been naked at some point. However, Adam and Eve’s nakedness was about more than the lack of clothes. Adam and Eve were suddenly aware that they were vulnerable and weak; that they were less than perfect; ashamed of themselves and what they had done; afraid of God’s reaction and hiding themselves away. I am also pretty certain that most, if not all of us have felt like that at some point.

There are times in all our lives when we feel naked, less than perfect; afraid, vulnerable and ashamed. 

Even then God still calls out to us ‘where are you?’. Just like Adam and Eve we try to hide from God. Perhaps unintentionally in the busyness of our lives. Or maybe intentionally, because we don’t want to do what He is asking of us.

The whole story of the Bible from that point on is about God’s incredible love for us and his search to find us. If in Genesis we see the first three words that God spoke to humanity at the other end of the story there are three more words that God speaks in form of Jesus ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30).

What was ‘finished’? His search for us was over. He came down to earth so that we can know him and he paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be reunited with God. Nothing we have done or can ever do will separate us from the love of God again.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th March 2020

Sharing the gospel with the unsaved starts long before we talk to them about God. It starts long before we have an invitation to church. Sharing the gospel starts in ourselves. 

The world are watching YOU. Your community is desperate for ‘another way’ and some answers. 

Here are some real practical ways you can demonstrate the kingdom of God in small ways, that speak loudly: 

– Watch your attitude toward money. Why? Because money has a hold on people. When you manage your money differently, it is obvious, because it tells them, ‘money doesn’t have a hold on me, I have found something of greater value. My security is in something more secure’. Do not get a reputation for being stingy! 

– Be yourself. Don’t put on a Christian front. Be fully yourself, alive in God.

– Be ready. We don’t have all the answers, but be as prepared as you can be. I recently asked some non-Christian friends for their honest thoughts and questions around Christianity. Their responses were: 

‘If God exists, why do people suffer?’ 

‘Why in church do they pass the collection plate around for money?’

‘If God is an all forgiving God, then why doesn’t He just forgive us at the judgement gate when we see that He is real and we ask for forgiveness?’ 

Why does God allow some people to have children, who are horrible parents, and then people who would be wonderful parents can’t get pregnant? 

Why does God allow awful deaths? 

These are the real questions that people have around our faith. We need to be prepared with a response. 1 Peter 3:15 says, ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you for give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’  

A few others… 

– Be grateful 

– Honour and acknowledge people from bottom to the top of the work place.  

– Don’t gossip. 

– Have a Spirit of excellence in what you do. 

– Operate with integrity in all areas. 

– Be solution based, not problem focused. 

Operating in these ways is totally counter-culture. They are very practical, and sometimes difficult, but send a strong message about the heart of God to a community looking for answers. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th March 2020

Many of us desire to change the culture that we are in for the better. We want to leave our mark, make our lives count, and point people to Jesus. As right and noble as this desire is, it is often achieved by very practical, understated means. 

If we are going to be a people who bring heaven to earth, shift a culture, and change the world, then here are seven very practical things that we need to be equipped with: 

1. Have a fresh word in your spirit. You cannot expect to stand, let alone come against an ungodly culture, without a fresh word from God burning in you. Your head and heart need to be strong, and DAILY aligned with truth. Practically and personallyspeaking, I recently joined an online theology course that has enabled me to go to new depths in my understanding of scripture. I also keep my Bible in my car and every morning before I walk into the workplace, I read one scripture that I can meditate on throughout the day. You do not have to do these things. My point is there must be practical effort and intention as to how we keep a fresh word in us in order to come against cultures that aren’t from God and usher in kingdom culture. 

2. Prayer. Prayer can do far more than you can. Prayer is partnering with God on cultural issues. Prayer cuts through the physical limitations and deals with things on a spiritual level. Prayer can do far more in a heart of a person or work place environment than we can image. Prayer shifts things around us and in us. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our battle isn’t always against the issues we are facing on the surface; our battle is often a spiritual issue. Dealing with a snake by setting a mouse trip is ineffective and exhausting. Recognise what the real issue is and deal with it using the correct weapon – Prayer! 

3. Don’t be afraid of standing out from the crowd. If you are going to change a culture, you need to care less about what they think. You can’t use their definition of normal to define your standard of normal and acceptable. If you carry the same spirit, you cannot bring a new spirit. Having fresh eyes, carrying a pioneering spirit, seeing something that others don’t see will feel lonely at times, but that is the price you pay for being the person to bring in what is needed or missing in an environment. You will feel like the only one at times, but look at the most innovative, progressive people in history. What allowed them to change the world was the fact that they were the only ones, they weren’t afraid to buck the norm, be different, and go against the crowd. Keep your eyes on Jesus, not on the crowd. 

4.  Razor sharp vision. Have specific and intentional vision for why you are where you are. Understand your overarching purpose and call for being there. Every day remind yourself what your greater purpose is in your job or community. Don’t waste a day. Use it well. Be strict – cut out anything that doesn’t fall in line with the purpose and reason for why God has you in a particular culture. Keep your mandate and mission at the forefront of your head, heart and day. 

5. Have healthy, regular input. As you give everything you have to serving the culture you are in, which can be exhausting especially if you are going against the grain. You need input from people who can fill your tank and fuel your fire. Find mentors, leaders, friends, and a community who ‘get you’. People who understand your mission, recognise what is on your life, and encourage you in your weak times. Have people remind you what you are about. Find people who are one step ahead of you and glean all you can. 

6. Walk in humility and love. People are not experiments. We don’t use the unsaved as a personal project for ourselves. We serve people because we love them because God does, and we want them to know that. You cannot love people if you are too busy judging them. You cannot serve people well if you are so busy thinking you are better than them. You cannot change a culture if you are too good to get down on your knees and serve them. Your degree of influence in someone’s life is directly related to the level at which you honour and love them. After being a teacher for nearly 10 years, and probably having had a few thousand students sit in my classroom by now, I can tell you one thing for sure, people do not care what you have to say, unless they know you care. If you are going to change the world, it starts with a posture of humility and love. 

Tomorrow, I will share some very practical tools on demonstrating the kingdom of God in the workplace!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th March 2020

On the inside of every person is a God-given gift that the world needs. Maybe that gift will serve millions, maybe it will serve a handful, but either way, you have something to contribute.

Don’t believe the lie that nobody wants to hear what you have to say, and certainly don’t believe the lie that the world would be a better place without you. Friend, you are of great value and can add value to whatever environment you find yourself in!

Whether it’s the classroom, the workplace, the home, these are all places that can be made better because of you.

Now, of course, we shouldn’t assert ourselves in a brash sort-of-way, but should approach every opportunity with humility.

I’m sure like me, you’ve encountered people who light up a room when they step into it. They don’t take from the atmosphere, they add to it. Particularly in the unique times we currently find ourselves in, our world needs people like this. People who add value, people who add perspective. Those who contribute joy and hope to any given scenario.

Today, don’t shy away, but be confident that you have something to contribute, and that your contribution can have a positive impact on the lives of those around you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th March 2020

Sometimes the most helpful advice when starting out in a fast is of a very basic and practical nature.

For most people, fasting is foreign and therefore we don’t know what to expect in terms of physical occurrences. Many turn back after the first day, simply because they don’t think they are cut out for this type of thing.

One of the most basic needs of the human body is of course for food – take that away and the body goes into meltdown.

The first thing that was said of Jesus after he had been on a prolonged fast was …he was hungry!

Matthew 4:2 After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Yes…the first thing that you will feel is ravenous. Even a piece of dry bread will be to die for. It’s normal.

Here are just a few simple guidelines on fasting that will help you on your journey, be it the first fast or hundredth you’ve been on:

– Fasting without being combined with prayer is little more than dieting. Set aside a few moments each day in prayer when you would normally be eating. Find a quiet room at home or go for a walk in your lunch break at work in order to pray.

– There will be days when your energy is sapped and you can’t focus on prayer. Don’t condemn yourself- Jesus sees your sacrifice.

– Fasting is like spring cleaning for the body – drink as much water as possible each day. I normally get a headache on the first 1-2 days of fasting; If you do it’s usually a sign that you needed to fast! Headaches come from burning off the toxins that have been stored up in your body. It’s also your body craving the caffeine that you normally give it daily. After three days, the headaches will usually disappear.

– Whenever you fast for at least three days, your digestive system shuts down and takes a well-earned rest. Some feel sluggish and can’t sleep and yes you’ll feel hungry, but after those initial days, if you’ll keep drinking plenty of water and juices, you’ll come out the other side into an amazing ‘sweet place’. You’ll begin to find a deeper relationship with God than you’ve ever known before and the thoughts of food and eating will take a back seat.

-Remember: if you’re already feeling like giving up, you’re not alone in this. There are lots of people right now joining together in this spiritual fast.

Whatever you’ve decided to fast during this next few days, push through and you’ll see a breakthrough.

Ezra 8:23 …So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

Why not join us over the next 10 days in praying and fasting for four Nights of Hope – Thursday 26th- Sunday 29th March?

For more info go to

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th March 2020

At one of the entrances to our local mall there are five doors, one is an automatic door that is on a sensor, so it just opens and the other four, you have to physically open. This week when I visited, I was shocked to see people queueing to get through the door that was already open, no one was attempting to try the other doors, so I made a quick decision to bypass the queue and go right to another door and open it. It’s not rocket science!
‘How funny’, I thought, ‘that people would rather queue and wait for the door that’s open, than apply a little bit of effort and open one themselves!’
You see, not every door that you encounter will be open; sometimes you have to apply a little bit of effort to walk through.

The four guys who wanted to get their paralysed friend to see Jesus, had to get into the house with a lot of effort, because when they arrived, the place was full, it was heaving and they couldn’t even get through the door.. so did they give up? NO. Did they wait and queue? NO. They made a plan, climbed up to the roof, took off some tiles, lowered their friend through the roof (just imagine!) and got the miracle from Jesus. What a load of effort they put in, instead of a load of excuses. 

Why is it that we want doors to open all by themselves? Wouldn’t that be lovely, if that happened all of the time? No my friend, you have to apply a little bit of effort, a little bit of pressure, a little bit of time spent in prayer, maybe fasting, to get that door open. So don’t give up when it’s closed. Just because it’s closed, doesn’t mean to say it was locked. Why would you queue with a lot of other people, who are going to hold you up, when you can just walk right through? Today let’s not be lazy, but let’s continue to try a few doors. Let’s see them open in prayer.

As we approach this season of prayer and fasting as a church, let’s see that same resilience that those four men had to get their friend to Jesus. Today my friend, that door that you thought was locked, is probably not. It may just be shut…and you can see it open by prayer. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th March 2020

With all that’s going on around us at the moment, it’s easy to be feeling unsettled and overwhelmed.

Here are three verses of scripture that I hope will inspire you as you draw closer to God and experience His peace.

Isaiah 26:3 | “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
God promises us peace in exchange for our trust. Steadfast means to be ‘firm’ and ‘unwavering’. So cut out distractions. Make a decision to take God at His word and stay focused on His promises.

1 Peter 5:7| “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

To ‘cast’ means to ‘throw’. So name your troubles and give them to the one who can really change them. If you throw a ball, it’s out of your hands. So when you let go of your anxieties, don’t go and pick them up again.

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.”

These are such powerful verses because it shows how practical we can be in experiencing God’s peace. When we do pray, give thanks and bring our requests to God, an exchange takes place.

Be encouraged today. We don’t have to beg for God’s peace, it’s already there for the taking. Whether we declare and walk in it is our choice.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.


Fresh Hope – 12th March 2020

To set a precedent, is to set to a new standard. It is to put forth something that has never been put forth before.

You as a human being alive and breathing today are called to set a precedent on this planet. There is no one else on earth like you right now. There is no one else on earth that can do what you can do. 

Let’s start at the most basic level – your DNA. No one else in the world, even family, will have the same combination of chromosomes as you. No one on earth has or ever will have the same fingerprint as you. The shape of your ear is totally unique to you. Out of 7.53 billion people on the planet, the pattern of your iris is unique to you, as is your tongue and your walk! 

Now let’s look at your personality. No one else has had the exact same experiences that you have had. No one else therefore has the exact same collection of knowledge as you. 

Every individual is unique in the existence of the world. 

I believe our physical uniqueness is a sign and expression of our spiritual uniqueness and significance. Just as we have a unique fingerprint, we are called to leave a spiritual fingerprint on this world, that only we can offer. 

I’m not sure why then we watch and copy others so closely. I’m not sure why we imitate the behaviour of those around us. I’m not sure why we are copying the ideas, strategies and the creativity of what has already been done. Surely, in ourselves we have something to bring that only we can bring? Surely, if we are going to set a precedent that will leave a legacy, then we need to be fully ourselves?!

Coupled with this, let me also mention that you have the Holy Spirit in you. The Holy Spirit is essentially the mind and heart of God. He is operating in you 24/7, giving you wisdom, inspiration, solving problems, and guiding you into success! Can you see how powerful you are as a unique individual, carrying something that only you can bring to the table, and then injected with the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit? Your full expression is limited only by your mind. 

We should be confident in our individuality. We should be confident in our uniqueness. We should be confident in our ideas. We do not need to imitate, we only need to emanate! 

There is a quote, ‘the glory of God, is man fully alive’. In other words, God is most glorified in you when you are most yourself. You operating in the fullness of your unique personality, gifting, passion, and calling, is you fully alive and God fully glorified! Imitation dilutes the gift that you are.  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th March 2020

The outbreak of COVID-19 (Corona virus) has sent the world into an embarrassing panic. I sympathise with the fact that lives have been lost, and vulnerable people (babies, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems), are susceptible to contracting the virus, IF they came in contact with it. 

However, more than the virus, the most frightening situation is the physiological state of the world. Something is wrong when shop shelves are stripped bare of one of humanity’s most mundane items – toilet paper! Yes, the stuff that wipes our bottoms! People are fighting over the white rolls, even pulling knives on one another for it, and at the very least, stockpiling it in their homes. All in case they are unable to leave their house due to Coronavirus! This is what fear does… It sends people to do crazy, irrational things! 

I believe, at its core, the reaction from the world is actually an issue of identity. When I say, ‘identity issue’, I mean that people have forgotten (or don’t know) to whom they belong. Fear is a lack of knowing God or trusting in God.

When you forget who your Dad is…when you forget who your God is… When you forget who is looking after you, it is easy for fear to take governance over your life. Here is what happens when fear takes over: 

You become irrational. Your sense of rational perspective is the first to go. 

Put aside the fear mongering headlines of the media. Let’s get some perspective: 

IF you do contact the virus, only 5% of the cases are critical. 

On the same day that 108 people in China died of Coronavirus, 26,283 people died of cancer, 24,641 people died of heart issues, 4,300 people died of diabetes, and suicide took 28 times more lives than the virus did! 

Christian or not, let’s use our brains and not take what the media says as gospel. The Bible is the higher reality and the higher truth in our lives. We stand on the word of God, not the word of the world. 

I will tell you what IS scary, that people live just one media report away from chaos, panic, and self-preservation. 

Crowds or headlines cannot pull our lives. Our minds and headspace must be rooted in the truth of God. 

Romans 2:12, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’.  

You isolateFear will cause you to disconnect from others. It will cause you to lock yourself up from the world. It cripples your lifestyle and ability to have influence and make an impact. Rather than going out to change the world (as you have been called), fear shrinks your world down to the four walls of your home.  God has called us to walk in boldness and confidence, exercising authority over sickness. 

You fight for the crumbs … or in this case, toilet paper. As your world has become smaller, and self-preservation becomes your priority, you take whatever you can get. You will fight fiercely for whatever, fearful that you will go without…even toilet paper! You become desperate for paper that wipes poo! Now I can see why the prodigal son became desperate for a job cleaning up pig poo (Luke 15). He had forgotten about his Dad. He had forgotten who was looking after him! 

God has called us to live BIG lives, strong in faith, and generous in heart. Jesus set the standard of generosity when He gave His life for us. Meanwhile, we have people so afraid of lack that with a trolley full of toilet paper, they still cannot spare one pack for someone in need! 

It is time to show the world how it is to live fearlessly! We must trust that God, as our loving father, and as He says in Psalm 91, ‘will cover us and save us from the deadly pestilence’. His promise to us is that He is a refuge of safety.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th March 2020

No matter how good we are, no matter how hard we try, and now matter how right we do things, be sure of this one thing…you will get offended! 
It’s never a case of if, but when, and before long (if it’s not already happened) you will also cause an offence.

I can’t think of one time in my life when I have woken up and thought, today is the day when I’m going to offend someone. I’ve never gone out of my way to offend, but I do know that I have offended quite a lot of people along the way. 
How do you offend people when you don’t set out to do so? My answer is simple—you can’t be alive and not offend anyone!  It’s inevitable. It happens to everyone and it happens as part of life. 

If you’ve been offended recently then take courage from the Bible…
Luke 17:1 Jesus said to his disciples: it is impossible that things that cause people to be offended won’t come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 

Now that we know that we can’t protect ourselves from being offended, we have to prepare ourselves for when we are offended. 

Here are my thoughts…
-Chose not to carry the offence.
-Let go of the offence by quickly forgiving. 
-Don’t go around telling other people that you are offended, otherwise they too will become part of the offence. 

The golden rule is this: always be big enough to overlook an offence, but if you can’t deal with it successfully internally, then deal with it externally by privately addressing the offence with the person directly in a gracious and loving manner in order to resolve it.

Most of the time, offences come through simple misunderstandings, or by being misquoted or intentions being misconstrued.

None of these things are intentional, just inevitable. However, take special note of anyone that sets out to intentionally cause offence, be sure to stay well away from such a person. 

Don’t be an offence maker – just improve yourself in being an offence taker

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th March 2020

How you treat people can have a great impact on the degree of blessings and favour from God that you will experience.

You may have people in your life who have done you great wrong. You may feel as though your whole life has been stolen away by someone else; but if you choose to forgive them, you can overcome that pain and difficulty with love.

Many years ago, I had to go through the most severe trial of my life. For many months the pain of a broken relationship filled my every waking thought. People took sides, and decided that I was at fault, leaving them no option but to walk away.

I made a decision to not fight back, retaliate or to justify myself in front of others, even though that would have made me come out on top, as people would see that I was not to blame.

Instead, I decided to let God stand for me as I made a choice to forgive those involved; I also made a choice to ask for forgiveness from those that assumed that I had done wrong, as I wanted to have a clear conscience before them and God.

To be honest, it took months for me to get over the pain. I didn’t ‘feel’ like forgiving, but made a choice every morning to pray for each person involved to be blessed.

The more I prayed for them, the more I got released from the pain.

Today I am free, even though I walk with a ‘limp’ because of the experience. This non-physical limp helps me to appreciate that life and relationships are often fragile and need to be handled with prayer. As someone once said…’never trust a leader without a limp’. It simply means that they have had to battle through some stuff.

Romans 12:17-18 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th March 2020

How many of you are people who are always looking back?  Looking back to the good old days or even the bad old days. 

There’s something very important about not looking back. In Genesis 19, Lot and his family were instructed not to look back. Because of all the wickedness, God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. God promised to save Lot and his family as long as they didn’t look back.  Vs 17 “As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

The problem was that Lot’s wife couldn’t resist looking back at what she had left behind and she turned into a pillar of salt. It killed her. Maybe she cared more about the past and what she was leaving behind, than about the future and all God had in store for her.  What a shame.  She missed it!

In Luke 17 vs 31-33, Jesus tells them to not look back either and He refers to Lot’s wife On that day, let no one on the housetop come down to retrieve his possessions. Likewise, let no one in the field return for anything he has left behind.   Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.…”
There’s a big importance here in keeping your eyes forward!

You can’t do anything about the past, you only have the present and hopefully the future. The only thing that is promised is the NOW. 
You can lose your future by looking back.  Lot’s wife did. Stop it!

If your memories are bigger than your dreams you have a problem. If your old life is more important than your new one, then there’s something you haven’t grasped. If your old thoughts are more powerful than your new thoughts, then you need to change your thinking.  “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” – Romans 12 vs 2. 

Yes, by all means use the past as a learning curve for the future, but don’t keep going back to it.  
Frank Lloyd Wright the famous architect who designed the Guggenheim Museum was asked, when he was over 80 years old, which was his favourite creation?  “The next one” he said. 

Three things to remember:
-Don’t be someone who trades in their future and lives only with regrets.

-It takes strength and determination to let go of the past. 

– If we keep looking back at yesterday, maybe it’s time we started doing something significant today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.  

Fresh Hope – 6th March 2020

In an episode of the Simpsons (the animated sitcom about an American working class family) Homer Simpson, the father, is mixing in equal parts vodka and mayonnaise, preparing it to gulp down. His wife Marge suggests it’s not a good idea because of the consequences, to which Homer replies, “That’s a problem for future Homer!” Then after drinking the concoction says “Man, I don’t envy that guy!”

It’s funny because to us it’s a ridiculous notion that Homer is so ignorant that not for one minute does he think that he will end up becoming future Homer and have to deal with the consequence of his actions.  

Who of us would ever act so foolishly to gratify the flesh in the moment, completely ignorant of the future fall out? In reality, many of our daily decisions can have negative future fallout, it’s just that we tend not to verbalise sympathy for that future person who has to pick up the pieces. Whether it’s poor diet, addictions or some area of sin, we choose to satisfy the now at the expense of future self.

On the other hand, successful people all have one thing in common, the ability to delay gratification in exchange for future profit. They do the exact opposite of Homer by forgoing the now to bless the future. It’s actually called sacrifice, and if you read the Bible, it’s the theme throughout, from the story of Cain and Abel to Jesus being the ultimate sacrifice. 

Sacrifice means to trade with your future self, to forgo something today to increase the likelihood of some kind of gain in the future. Like a farmer sowing seed or a student working hard to get a favourable exam result. Sacrifice is a step of faith based on the belief in attaining something you can’t yet see.

I encourage you today to analyse every area of your life, from your diet, your use of finances to what you give your time and passions to. Firstly assess where do you gratify cravings without any thought of consequence, what bad habits (no matter how small) do you have that create or are adding to future problems? And secondly,  where are you trading with the future, stepping out in faith to create a larger life? What areas could you consciously make braver decisions to be a blessing to future Homer and not a curse? What are you sowing in order to reap? What are you speculating in order to accumulate? 

When you start to live a life of sacrifice as opposed to consumption, you’ll be amazed how quickly you start to enjoy the abundance those choices yield!

Proverbs 11:24 The world of the generous gets larger and larger

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th March 2020

Last year in a Moscow airport there was a tragic accident when an Aeroflot Russian plane made an emergency landing having just taken off. Before all passengers could be evacuated, the jet burst into flames killing 41 of 78 passengers on board.

One survivor, Mikhail Savchenko said he didn’t know what to make of his fellow passengers actions when it was found that some of the 37 survivors had held up the evacuation of the plane by first getting their luggage from overhead storage. 

He said “I do not know what to say about people who ran out with bags, God is their judge. But I really want to ask them not to persecute them, I am sure that it is very hard for them now.”

“I do not think that at least one person in this burning hell coolly and deliberately dragged suitcases.

“I do not know how the psyche works in such situations, [that is] a question for the experts.”

It’s uncomfortable reading, how is it possible that we as humans could choose to grab luggage, keep hold of personal possession at the expense of another’s life? Who could possibly do that and how could you live with yourself after? I feel this is a real challenge to all of us who are followers of Jesus but aren’t prepared to submit every area of life to him.

The reality is, we live out our lives as if on an aeroplane that will eventually be evacuated. And it’s vital that during the flight the passengers come to know the reason for the flight, to put their HOPE in Jesus Christ! But the challenge to us is this…is our personal possession (our luggage, the baggage we carry on a daily basis) the number one thing in our lives or is it getting people off the plane safely?

Are we carrying things around in our lives today we really should get rid of; maybe areas of sin we are struggling in, maybe hurt you just can’t forgive or maybe you’re just not prepared to trust God with your finances and refuse to trust Him in your giving? 

I plead with you today, let go of your luggage, write it off, forgive, repent! Our destination has everything we could hope for already prepared, there is no need for us to take anything other than as many passengers as possible! 

At Champions Church, on the 26th – 29th March there will be four amazing nights of hope, where people will get to hear about the life changing HOPE that is a relationship with Jesus! I encourage you today, pray for the passengers in your life and invite them to join you in March for a life changing night!

Hebrews 12:1-2 | NIV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th March 2020

Why is it important to God that we give? Surely as the creator of the universe, who can speak anything into being in an instant, He really doesn’t need us to be giving? Is He greedy? Does He want us to suffer? 

Of course not. 

There is one thing that God cannot make happen. He cannot make us love Him. He by choice has given us a gift called “free-will”… this means we have a choice as to if we love Him. If someone can’t freely choose to love someone, it’s not really love. It’s not love if God has to force us to love Him. 

Giving is a form of loving. It’s a free choice. We have the choice to give. When we give it’s an expression of our love for God. So really, when God asks us to give, it’s not our money He is after, He is after our heart. 

The seed you sowed yesterday is the harvest you are reaping today. The majority of Jesus’ parables were told using nature as a metaphor for kingdom principals. We get that a farmer has to invest seeds into the ground, in order to reap a crop in due season. Our money is the same, and anything else for that matter. Where we invest, is where we reap (2 Corinthians 9:6). 

The degree of seed we sow, is the degree of the harvest we reap. This means that even in times of struggle and challenge, we need to sow in order to secure our future. Giving when you are in need, when you don’t feel like it, when it’s inconvenient, is necessary in order to change the economic level of your life. Your short-term sacrifice, promises to reap reward. You can convince yourself otherwise, but it’s kingdom reality. Your circumstance can persuade you otherwise, but the word of God stands. 

Wealth is not determined by what you have, it’s about how you give. Can you love God in every season? 

Loving God freely is giving in all seasons. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd March 2020

Being wealthy isn’t about the accumulation of money. Wealth is more than riches. Wealth is more about a mindset. Wealth is about understanding who God is and who you are in relation to Him. 

I recently read these definitions of wealth in Kris Vallotton’s book, ‘Poverty, Riches, and Wealth’ – a book on moving from a life of lack into true kingdom abundance. I think they are fantastic descriptions of wealth: 

• Wealth is the ability (resources, strength, wisdom) to create positive outcomes in the midst of lack, poverty and/or emptiness.

• Wealth is light in the darkness, healing in sickness, prosperity in poverty, wholeness in brokenness, favour in obscurity, love for the unlovely, beauty for ashes, and victors among victims.

 • Wealth is a “can-do” attitude, a “more than enough” mindset and a “nothing is impossible” belief system. 

• Wealth is radical generosity, extraordinary compassion, sacrificial giving and profound humility. 

• Wealth is always thankful and never jealous. 

It’s very difficult to operate in these above points (in wealth), if you don’t understand your God. When you have a revelation that your God is creator of all things, supplier of all things, a God of not “just enough”, but more than enough, a miraculous provider, and loving and generous beyond our comprehension, then you start to live differently. 

You suddenly see poverty and lack as an opportunity for God to break through and display His true nature. 

You become aware of things that aren’t God’s design for mankind and you command order – pray for healing, desire beauty for ashes, victory for victims. 

Instead of feeling like a situation is impossible and nothing can be done, you have faith that God “can do”. 

You don’t worry about running out. You are able to live open handed and give big because you’re a direct heir to God’s unlimited resources (this includes, but is not limited to money – it’s also access to unlimited wisdom, gifts, peace etc). 

You are able to celebrate others wholeheartedly because you understand that God has more than enough for you too. 

You don’t need to boast or draw attention to what you have because you have nothing to prove to people. You are very sure of who you already are in God. 

If you’ve grown up around lack and poverty, it requires a fresh revelation of God’s nature to really shift your mindset around wealth. It’s very difficult to live in an ‘abundance mindset’ if most of your life was surrounded by “not enough”, stress about money, grabbing what you could, fear of tomorrow, parents with negative attitudes towards people with wealth, or perhaps a religious mindset that poverty somehow made you more holy. These experiences can breed deeply ingrained mentalities. It creates people who are afraid to receive good things, people who live for money, people who are afraid of being too generous, or people who give “just enough”, people who are comfortable living in lack, looking for what they can grab, not what they can give. 

If you want to stay there, you can, but God has so much for you! A wealth mindset will change your life and generations to follow. Don’t live like a pauper when you’re actually a prince. Understand the wealth you have access to as a child of God. It’s time to live in abundance and it starts with the knowledge of who God really is! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd March 2020

Faith is like a muscle —the more you use it the stronger it becomes. 

The opposite is also true — the less you use it the weaker it becomes, or shall we say the weaker you become in faith. 

Faith is also like a bridge—its the very thing that enables me to get from where I am to where I want to go. Now, if you don’t want to go anywhere or make anything of your life then you don’t need faith; you can do that all by yourself! 

Faith is for those that understand that they need to completely rely on God, and with such faith want to push through and make a difference.
Faith is the very substance of things that you want to see changed in your life time. 

Hebrews 11:1 ‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see’.
Ask yourself…do I have faith?

Here are some signs that will help you to know whether you have faith in God or not:
1) Whenever you face your daily problems and the only person to trust in is yourself —it’s a sign. 

2) Whenever you face obstacles, crisis, drama and dilemmas, and your confidence is only in the people around you to sort it — it’s a sign.

3) Whenever you are faced with a financial crisis and you only ever reach for your credit card—it’s a sign. 

4) Whenever you are sick and the first thought is the Doctor —it’s a sign.

5) Whenever you don’t know what to do and the first thing you do is to pick up the phone and ask six people for advice —it’s a sign.

Jesus never told people to have just plain faith in someone – but faith in God

Matthew 9:27-31 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’ When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you’; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, ‘See that no one knows about this.’ But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region. 

Today, I encourage you to build your faith muscle by stepping out in total trust that God will come through for you – do it right now by simply praying this prayer…
‘Lord Jesus, I bring my need to you right now. I ask you to help me by providing a miracle for me. I can’t sort this on my own, so I turn to you with complete confidence that you can hear me and that you can answer my prayer.  In Jesus name. Amen.’

And remember: all things are possible, only believe

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God has given you everything you need to succeed.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th February 2020

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

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

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

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

– Proverbs 15:23

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

– Proverbs 25:11

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

– Isaiah 50:4

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

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

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

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The caretaker – I hope nothing unusual happens today. 

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 5:17,

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.  

Fresh Hope – 18th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make your stumbling stones your stepping stones today.

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th February 2020

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

The first is Phileo.

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

Secondly is Eros.

This describes romantic love (this needs no explanation).

Thirdly, there is Agape.

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

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

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

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

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

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th February 2020

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

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

So how can we deal with disappointment? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th February 2020

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

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

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

  1. Don’t fear the encounter.

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

2. The promises He gives us are true 

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

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

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

Natalie Bloxwich

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Not ideal for Paul during his message.

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

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

Paul had something important to say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th February 2020

Afford yourself the luxury of having time to think.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without thinking time, you lose your way in life.

Without thinking time, things get out of proportion.

Without thinking time, you lose perspective.

Without thinking time, you lose sight of God.

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

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

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th February 2020

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

Actions literally speak louder than words. 

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

Our actions are constantly communicating something. 

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd February 2020

Pearls of wisdom for a Monday morning …

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st February 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christine Mudenha 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th January 2020

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

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

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

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

Moving house has been overwhelming. 

On a daily basis we are all going through changes…

Relationships change.

Locations change.

Jobs change.

Our bodies change.

We change.

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

“For I, the Lord, do not change”

Malachi 3:6

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 46:1

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

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

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

Gabby Clarke

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lesson #15Ask lots of questions. 

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

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

Lesson #18Worry will rob you. 

Lesson #19Thankfulness will protect you. 

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

Lesson #21God will use everything. 

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

Lesson #23Sometimes God has something else planned. 

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

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

Lesson #26: Love people through their flaws. 

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

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

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

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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