Girls Who Make Every Day Count

Introducing…
EDC

“Desire that your life count for something great! Long for your life to have eternal significance. Want this! Don’t coast through life without a passion.”
John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

At our first More Precious Team Meeting of 2016 back in early January, surrounded by pastries and that fresh New Year kind of feeling, the idea of doing a Lent series came up. This was a season that was approaching alarmingly fast (was anyone else surprised by early February?!) and frankly, one that I’ve always associated with being rather boring and severely lacking in chocolate.

So what could we do? Write posts about the things we were giving up? Not a bad idea. But actually, we believed there was also a chance here to use Lent as a positive time, as a time to channel the act of discipline outwardly, by making our lives less about our own desires and more about our Father’s will.

We believe that our God is present and involved in the details of our every day lives. How do we know this? Because at the end of Lent, begins the celebration of Easter: the time we remember the greatest truth the world could ever know – that Jesus came to earth to die for us and take away our sins forever!

Only because of Jesus do we have this access to God at all hours of the day. Only because of Jesus is God no longer distant, but close. No longer unapproachable, but completely accessible. We have a God who passionately pursued a relationship with us, all the way to death on a cross. Let that sink in!

Surely our only response has got to be one of wholehearted service?
For after all, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.
Every day counts!
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Where do we start?

We asked a whole host of girls to help us all out by sharing us a challenge, a resource, and a post about making every day count. And the ideas came flooding in! Coming up will be posts on joy, peace, and the ever-elusive contentment. Posts on using your words wisely even if you have a temper, and on speaking up for Jesus even when you don’t feel brave. Posts on falling back in love with the Bible, and inspiring those around you to do the same – and many more!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be reading this list and worrying that you won’t be able to manage these things even ONCE – let alone every day. And while it’s easy to be inspired by blog posts in the comfort of our homes, it’s heaps harder to muster up the courage to actually live this way day in, day out, when all we want to do is fit in. I know that.

But I also know that we have a God who empowers us, even at the times when we feel most scared, and even when we are completely apathetic and stuck in a rut. His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Wow! We have a King who loves using broken people like you and me to build His kingdom and bring Him glory.

Start saying Yes.

Personally, I’m excited for this series because far too often I say No to God and Yes to my own agenda. I’m more concerned about what people think of me than what God desires – and I want to change that.

I want to stop putting myself first because it feels a bit more comfortable, and I want to practice the discipline of saying YES to God, and giving Him rightful first place in my life. I want to walk with Him every single day: everywhere I go and in everything I do.

Will you say Yes to God this Lent, and beyond?

Join us as we begin this new series, and try to live every day for the glory of our God!

Remember, you have one life. That’s all.
You were made for God. Don’t waste it.

John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

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photo13 Lucy

Lucy Twitter-Bird@lucybeauchamp

Lucy founded More Precious in 2013 and has the absolute joy of overseeing it on a regular basis. Having graduated from Durham, she is spending a year working in Marketing for a Cambridge tech company, and is getting married in June!

Fruits of the Spirit: Self-Control

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Galatians 5:22-23.

For the ninth and final fruit of the spirit, let’s start with some myth-busting to clarify all the things that self-control isn’t. It’s not a form of restriction, demanding all the fun is sucked from life. Nor is it a form of indoctrination, turning all Christian girls into prim and proper, ‘seen and not heard’, shadows from the 1900s. I’ve found this fruit the most frustrating to deal with, as if all the others open up the wonders of life, but this aims to shut them down.

If this rings true with you, then there is a fault in our understanding of self-control. But it is in fact a promise of freedom, not restriction.

We are all trapped by addictions, be they physical or mental; addictions to social media, gossiping, smoking, eating or sinful thought processes. Addictions are accompanied by temptations, which fill our minds for much of our waking moments. Add to this, feelings of guilt, when we aren’t doing the things we feel like we should be doing. All these enchain us, and Paul perfectly captures the mess that we leave ourselves in: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7.15)

All these things have control over our lives, creeping in quietly before we notice the firm grip they have around our liberty. But the fruit of self-control promises freedom. To take control of these limitations releases us to become all that God intended us to be. To be aware of our short comings, resist control of outside influences and all that the evil one intends to bring us down with, to nurture a habit of self-control, this is what breaks the chains of addiction, temptation and guilt. See how the beauty of being in control of your influences then gives opportunity for seeking influence from something else.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Galatians 1.5

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”
Romans 6.18

But what does this mean for our daily walk? Like all the other fruit in Galatians 5, self-control is a consequence of the spirit’s work in our lives. This doesn’t mean we lose responsibility to discipline its growth, but we can only see its development by the spirit’s power. When we seek God’s heart we will discover freedom that is in His very nature. And as we learn to be ‘self-controlled’, we can chose to seek God’s guidance and leading with undistracted hearts.

Practical tips

1. Know your limitations. Identify the chains in your life, and the times when you feel most gripped by them.

2. Know your boundaries. Recognise the ‘pre-sin’ moments and seek to about-turn before you get to them. As it says in 1 Peter 5. 8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Don’t become complacent, for we are in the midst of spiritual warfare.

3. (Most importantly): Know your God. Both of the previous tips seem fairly depressing, but stand back and compare how massive and powerful our God is, and how small our problems are in comparison. Nothing is impossible to Him, and He gives the same power to work in us that raised Jesus from the dead. How awesome!

“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. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12.1-3

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Emma

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Emma

Emma

Emma is in her fourth year studying medicine in Sheffield, where she loves the steep hills and Yorkshire people. More often than not she can be found eating doughnuts, attempting DIY or embracing her obsession with all things Narnia.

Fruits of the Spirit: Gentleness

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Galatians 5:22-23.

Those of you who know me will know that ‘gentleness’ is not a word anyone would use to describe me. I have a naturally ‘outside voice’ and I prioritise good banter far above social polish. Whenever I hear the line “the meek will inherit the earth” somewhere in my head says “well good for them, what do the loud people get?”

Gentleness always seemed to me like a personality trait. You know the type: well-spoken, polite, probably shy at school and not the type you’d share a risqué joke with. But this is not the gentleness Jesus speaks of in Galatians 5. How do I know this?

Because God is also described as gentle – “You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great.” (2 Samuel 22:36) With God’s help, you and I can be gentle in everything we say and do without being a quiet pushover. We can be gentle…

1. In our conversations

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Ephesians 4:2) – If you’re like me, there’s always that banterful remark that I regret immediately when I realise I’ve gone too far. Or perhaps you’re the story-topper, getting lost in a conversational tennis match just firing ‘one-up’ anecdotes back and forth. Perhaps you need to be right or to have the last word. Whatever it is, let’s pray for 2016 that we would never have reason to look back on a conversation with shame.

2, In our friendships

If our friend is caught in a snare of sin, we are commanded to “restore that person gently” (Galatians 6:1). That means, not acting self-righteous; not getting angry and telling them off; but gently pointing them back towards the only person who can help with anybody’s sin.

3. In our evangelism

I find it so difficult to stay calm and polite when someone is challenging my faith. So much so, that I tend to avoid evangelistic situations for fear of doing more harm than good. So one of my main targets for 2016 is 1 Peter 3:15 – “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Evangelism is not an argument we’re trying to win. Our words and behaviour is not appealing unless we are showing them Jesus. He draws people in, not us. So let’s model Jesus while we tell our friends about him!

This sounds like a lot, at least it does to me. But we have the greatest example possible to follow. Jesus Christ was the epitome of gentleness: “A bruised reed he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Isaiah 42:3)

When we are bruised from our suffering, Jesus will not hurt us further and he will not tell us to ‘man up’.  He is gentle and comforting to our very souls.  When your faith is waning and your flame is about to go out, Jesus will not let you go.

“The faintest spark of spiritual life will glow and grow
when it comes into contact with Jesus.”
(John Piper)

The Jesus of the bible we know and love, was a gentle man. But he was not quiet and he certainly was not a push over. Why not start 2016 by getting to know Jesus again, looking at the way he behaved and spoke to others and seeing for yourself the boldest example of gentleness.

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Abby

Abby

Abby is from Cambridge and is currently in her final year of Psychology at Sheffield University. She became a Christian at 19 and has loved growing more in her faith at uni. Abby would love to travel the world forever and somehow tie that into clinical psychology and biblical counselling!

God in the Disappointments

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I wanted to share another glimpse of God’s character that I have found a huge help in times where I feel disappointed or that God hasn’t ‘showed up’ or delivered. We’re back in Exodus, and Moses has been asked by God to go and ask Pharoah to ‘let God’s people go’.

If you don’t know the story – Moses is really not too keen on the idea of approaching Pharaoh – and he completely panics, asking God to send somebody else instead. But God asks Mose’s brother Aaron to go with him, and so they approach Pharaoh for the first time, asking him to let the Israelites go.

“Is that so?” retorted Pharaoh. “And who is the Lord? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go.”
(Exodus 5:2)

Not only does Pharaoh say no, but he actually increases the workload of the Israelites. Moses is absolutely humiliated in front of the Israelites, who are angry and upset with him for making their lives worse.

Moses has stepped out in huge faith here – following God’s command to approach Pharaoh, and putting himself at great risk. He is nervous, scared, tired, and no doubt emotionally drained. Despite having trusted God, it all seems to be hopeless – Pharaoh has outright refused to listen to Moses, and the Israelites are in a worse situation than ever before. Moses completely despairs….

Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”
(Exodus 5:22-23)

Have you ever felt like this? Maybe you have tried so hard to do the right thing, but still you’ve seen no results at all? Maybe you have been bold in saying something about your faith at school, but at the moment it just feels like you’ve damaged your popularity. It can feel like God hasn’t ‘shown up’.

Moses goes on to face a whole host of disappointments across Exodus – but he keeps trusting God, who promises to deliver at the right time. But in the end (see Exodus 6 below), it’s very clear that God really did ‘show up’, like He always said He would. Even though Moses despaired, he was right not to lose hope in God – an attitude I’m trying to model in my own life, even when I face disappointments.

We have a Father who remembers us, who keeps his promises, and who WILL provide for us at the right time – especially in the disappointments.

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Exodus 6:1-8

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”

God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself fully known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.

Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”

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photo13 Lucy

Lucy Twitter-Bird@lucybeauchamp

Lucy founded More Precious in 2013 and has the absolute joy of overseeing it on a regular basis. She is spending a year working in Marketing for a wonderful Cambridge tech company, and is getting married in June!

Fruits of the Spirit: Faithfulness

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Galatians 5:22-23

As with so many of the characteristics listed as fruit of the Spirit in Galatians, faithfulness is first and foremost a key characteristic of God, an idea which is repeated over and over again through the Bible.

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
Psalm 36:5

Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.
Isaiah 25:1

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

The Bible is full of praise to God for his great faithfulness, often closely coupled with his ‘steadfast love’. God’s faithfulness to us means that he is unchangeably committed to us. Because he is faithful, he is utterly trustworthy, completely dependable and we can lean on his faithfulness knowing that it will never let us down and he will never let us fall.

Faithfulness is an intrinsic part of God’s character: it is part of who is he. It is God’s faithfulness which means that his promises always stand and his word can be utterly relied on.

The way in which God demonstrated his faithfulness most powerfully was sending his Son to be born as a human baby, to suffer and die for us, and to rise again. God was faithful to his promises to save the world and to make the way possible for every one of us to live in harmony and love with him.

It’s not surprising then that when his Holy Spirit lives in us, he will produce the same characteristic in us: we are called to be faithful. Our first calling is to be faithful to God. Just as we have been blessed immeasurably by his faithfulness to us, our response should be a growing loyalty to him – and dependency on him.

To be faithful to God is to serve him first above other things, to put the values of his kingdom first in our lives, and to be whole-hearted in his service.

None of this is the result of our own efforts, but by meditating on God’s faithfulness to us and by walking day by day in step with the Spirit. When we do this, it turns out that we will also be more reliable for others – our friends, families and communities.

Reflecting the characteristic of our Father in heaven will mean that those around us know they can trust us – we mean what we say, we do what we say we’ll do, and we can be depended on to be consistent in the way we treat people, and in all that we say and do. Faithfulness turns out to have a lot to do with integrity, treating others with a consistency of love that reflects the constant love of our Father.

Step by step…

1. I’m going to try and meditate more on the wonder of God’s ‘great faithfulness’. I want to try and thank him for it every time I come to him in prayer, reminding myself that it is precisely because of his faithfulness that every time I come to him I know he will hear and answer my prayers.

2. I’m going to ask him to give me strength to be faithful to him, to follow him more closely, and live a life of more consistent commitment to him as my Lord and Saviour.

3. Finally, I’m going to pray for help to grow in this family characteristic. In practice my friends should find me more reliable: keeping my word, being on time, keeping in touch… I definitely need his help in this!

 

Practical tips

Where I live I often hear the chimes of a bell as it rings out the hours. This reminds me of the unceasing passage of time, the hours coming round predictably, reliably and always on cue. They also remind me of God’s love and faithfulness – every bit as dependable as the turning of the hours. I’m going to let those bells remind me of that every time I hear them, and praise God for his faithful love.

I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

Psalm 89:2

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Contributor

Margaret

Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.

Fruits of the Spirit: Goodness

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Galatians 5:22-23.

The term ‘good’ can be all encompassing. We say God is ‘good’ but when we break the word down, God’s goodness has so much more to it. He is Love, he is merciful he is forgiving.

We use ‘good’ as such a throw away term in today’s society; when I’m asked how I’m feeling or ‘how was it?’ without thought I just simply reply ‘yeah… it was good’. But what do I mean by that? What about when we compare our definition of ‘good’ to how the bible uses it? What does ‘good’ mean in the context or God and our faith? What does it mean to be good or to do goodness?

Often our interpretation of ‘goodness’ is on what makes us feel good. The world screams ‘if it feels good- do it’. We’re forgetting that goodness is a gift from God, and we see the product of it in our actions. Doing good is a result of a life characterized by actions that are motivated by the goodness and righteousness that God mercifully blesses us with. We should use goodness to be a blessing to those around us.

‘Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above.’
James 1:17

But this kind of goodness is not a quality we can manufacture on our own. As James 1 highlights, we are simply reflecting a goodness that comes from God. We need God’s help and to spend time knowing and appreciating His goodness in order to grow in the fruit of goodness and impact those around us.

The feeling of goodness we experience from doing ‘good’ comes from God because HE IS GOOD! In the same way that we are able to love because he first loved us, His goodness is a demonstration and example to us.

This can be seen in St Augustine’s prayer: ‘Lord … you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you’. God is the source of all good things and we cannot have true spiritual goodness unless we look to God for it. Isn’t it great to see that even back in the day an old fella like Augustine was praying the same prayer we pray today!

Being God’s children means that God knows what is best for us. He wants us to develop and demonstrate his goodness so we can be like him and reach out to those around us through His goodness. As shown in Hebrews 12:2 we should be looking to Jesus: ‘the pioneer and perfecter of our faith’. Jesus himself took human form to be the perfect example for us so that we could understand and learn what goodness looks like.

How might this look in our everyday lives?

Sometimes I find it useful to stop and ask myself questions before I act (this doesn’t always happen, but it’s a habit I wish to try harder with!):

  • Is the good that I do based on God’s standards in the bible or society’s standards?
  • What is the motive of my ‘goodness’? Is it a true goodness of the heart or is it motivated by appearing to be good to others?
  • Would God consider what I am about to watch, say, think or do ‘good’?

Through prayer I try to differentiate between the goodness that comes from God and other forms of so called ‘goodness’ around us. (Not always easy I will admit!)

I pray that over this series the promises that God promises all of us that of ‘fruitfulness’:
‘which yields its fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither, whatever he does prospers.’
Psalm 1:3

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Elphie

Elphie

I’m Elphie, and I have just graduated from studying Sports Sciences at Durham University. I have thoroughly enjoyed my three years at Durham getting involved in as many things as I can from sports teams to bar committee and helping out with Kings Church toddler group on a Wednesday morning. I will be extremely sad to leave this beautiful city but very excited for the plans, adventures and purposes God has lying in store for me.

God in the Details

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Meet Shiphrah and Puah.

Not the most famous characters in the Bible, I must admit. I had actually never heard of these two women until just a few days ago. Shiphrah and Puah are actually two Ancient Egyptian midwives (yes, really) who have a minor part in the book of Exodus. Though their story only takes up a few verses, it’s included in what is one of the biggest and most epic books of the Bible! Their boldness and faith is amazing and I think it’s a great glimpse of how our mighty God looks after the tiniest details, using everything for His glory.

Shiphrah and Puah’s storyline starts when Pharoah orders that every baby Hebrew boy born in the land should be killed. As midwives, these women are put right in the middle of the firing line. But look at their response in this crazy and scary situation:

But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them,
but let the male children live.
(Exodus 1:15) 

Wow! Isn’t that a great example of boldness in the face of fear? The midwives feared God above everything else, even when it put them at risk.
And look how God blesses these women in response to their faith:

So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong.
And because the midwives feared God, He gave them families.
(Exodus 1:21)

Because they feared God, He blesses them with families, makes them strong, and ‘deals well’ with them for the rest of their lives. Another translation says that God was ‘kind’ to them as a result of their faith. I love this! I love that our strong and mighty God, despite holding the whole world together, and being heavily involved in Project Let My People Go, loved these two women so much that he noticed their bold faith. I love that their faith pleased God so much that He blessed them greatly in return.

I found this passage challenging in two big ways:

1. Do I fear God enough?
Do I trust God above the advice of my friends? Do I try to always put God first, even when it’s tough and scary and puts me at a disadvantage?

2. Do I really believe that God cares about the details of my life?
Do I really believe that our God loves me enough to notice and care about every minor part of my daily life?

I thoroughly believe that God sees every decision we make. That He notices every action, every thought, every step. He rewards the difficult or ‘uncool’ choices that we make, or when we choose to live for God instead of choosing popularity at school. He rewards bold faith in those quiet and testing moments where you aren’t sure that anybody will notice your commitment at all.

He is God even in the details, and He blesses those who fear Him and trust His name.

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photo13 Lucy

Lucy Twitter-Bird@lucybeauchamp

Lucy founded More Precious in 2013 and has the absolute joy of overseeing it on a regular basis. She is spending a year working in Marketing for a wonderful Cambridge tech company, and is getting married in June!

Fruits of the Spirit: Kindness

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Galatians 5:22-23.

What is kindness? It’s difficult to define such a vague word. Is it going out of your way to help others? Is it showing gentleness and compassion towards everyone around you? Whatever it is, it’s shown out of a deep-rooted love. The kind of love a parent shows their child; unconditionally and eternally. Certainly it seems this is more than a simple smile or a generous act.

If we want to keep this kindness, we’ve got to hold on to being loyal and loving!

Proverbs 3:3 (NIV) says:
‘Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.’

The Message Version of Proverbs 3:3 says:
‘Don’t lose your grip on love and loyalty.
Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.’

There’s a crucial link here between the two versions; this idea of kindness being love and truth being loyalty. The ultimate act of kindness is Jesus on the cross, because it was done from a place of perfect love. If we want to stay in a loyal relationship with Him we must be honest with Him. Do it now. Truthfulness will only help us see his kindness more strongly.

This verse is clear – wear it. Make it your first impression, your biggest feature – the love of Jesus shining brighter than anything else.

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice,
and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8 (ESV)

So how do we show kindness?

  • Literally wear it
  • Thank God for the love and loyalty He’s shown us
  • Remember to use our kindness humbly

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Rosie 

Rosie is in her first year of Hills Road in Cambridge. She loves malt loaf, laughing, God’s grace, new socks and is nearly always found dancing. She can’t wait for all God has to show her this year!

Fruits of the Spirit: Patience

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Often, I don’t feel like a very patient person. I get fidgety if my train is late, I can be quick to criticise people who disappoint me, and I’m pretty sure my lack of motivation to bake more intricate cakes than banana muffins stems from the fact that I’d rather eat something ‘now’ than faff with things like delicate icing and that sugar-work stuff you see on Bake Off. In lots of different ways, I’m impatient – with situations, with people, with life.

But as a contrast to my natural tendencies, God’s word tells me that he values patience: “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly” (Proverbs 14:29).

God values patience in his people, and like the other fruits of the spirit that we’ve looked at so far, we can see that God himself displays this attribute as part of his character.

I love how the whole of the Old Testament tells the story of a God who is patient with his people, when time and time again they wander from him. He loves them, he forgives them, and he bears with them. In the same way, the New Testament tells us to ‘bear with’ each other as Christian brothers and sisters:

“Bear with one another and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.” Colossians 3:13

This is hard! So often we’re selfish, and being gracious seems like far too much of an effort. In these moments we need to remember that we’re not left to do this in our own strength, because we’d fail. For sure.

We have the Holy Spirit living in us, and helping us day-by-day to become more like our Saviour, and that is a glorious and liberating truth. But God doesn’t just call us to show patience to other people around us, but also to be patient in the situations we find ourselves in. In the Bible, this is often also described as ‘waiting on the Lord’.

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”
Psalm 37:7

As Christians, we can live life in the full security of the knowledge that God has a plan that is for our good and his glory. We don’t need to worry when things don’t seem to go the way we had planned and ‘wicked’ people look like they’re winning, because we know that we can trust our Father in heaven. Placing ourselves into the hands of God’s sovereignty and waiting for him to bring about his purposes is what patience really is.

In real life, this trusting our Father business is about more than just giving the schedule of our life over to him. It’s not saying ‘I know you’ll give me a boyfriend Lord, help me to be patient until the time is right’. It’s not just dictating the ‘whats’ of our timetables to God, and leaving the ‘whens’ blank, but it’s trusting him with the methods as well as the timings. After all, he is our Father who has our best interests at heart.

In a way, ‘waiting on the Lord’ is both the easiest and hardest thing to do. Easiest, because it requires us to do nothing but give ourselves and our lives into the loving hands God, and hardest because we get impatient waiting and love to try to fix things on our own. This means it’s an active waiting, one where we need to constantly come back to God from our distractions, and refocus on him and his promises.

And ultimately, what is it that we are we being patient for? Heaven! Let’s look forward to our eternal future with gladness in our hearts, and wait well for the day when we will be truly satisfied.

“Be patient then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming…
Be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

James 5:7-8

Practical tips

1. When others frustrate you, and you feel the urge to snap, take a moment to remember the immense patience in which God deals with us in our lives. If you want a reminder of his patient character, have a read through the book of Exodus. You’re sure to be bowled over as you see the similarities between the Israelites and our own hearts, and the frequent ways that God lovingly ‘bears with them’ despite their constant failures.

2. Meditate on heaven! In a world that tells us that all we need to be happy is the latest edition, the most glamorous relationship and shiniest career, let’s engage with this world that we find ourselves in, but do so whilst patiently pursuing the true fulfilment of all our longings. The day when we see our Saviour face-to-face.

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Emily

Emily

Emily is originally from the sunny south, but has made the trek up to Sheffield where she is now in her third year of studying Medicine, which she loves. She also loves tea, mountains, singing, and those autumn days when it’s really cold but the sky is super blue and the leaves are crispy :-)

Grace for New Year failings

What happens when we hit mid-January, we’re already exhausted, busy, and feeling very far away from the person we aimed to be at the start of the New Year? Lucy points us back to our Father God, who calls us to rest on Him in every circumstance. It’s all about grace!

The New Year. This is always such a time of change and excitement – a time to resolve to eat better, get fitter and work harder: to change bad habits and create new, better ones. It feels like the perfect time to ‘start afresh’, yet it can also leave us feeling slightly demoralized. Because we know that even if we get up for a run on January 1st, or start creating beautifully highlighted flashcards at the end of each day, for most of us it won’t last.

And if we treat the New Year as an opportunity to kick start our bible reading and prayer life again, or try to break a pattern of sin, for most of us, it won’t last. It can leave us feeling inadequate and unworthy – how on earth can God love someone who can’t even read their bible each day at the beginning of January?

This is where 2 Corinthians 12:9 can really help us. Paul writes:

‘But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, 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.’

No matter how well you know this verse, do take some time to look at it afresh this morning.

God says his grace is sufficient, that it is enough for us.

All the more, he says that His power is made perfect in weakness. That is, in our weakness.

He knows only too well that we are weak, and that in our own strength we can’t transform our own lives – for the New Year, or at any other point. But His grace is sufficient for us. We need not get demoralized, or frustrated – instead we can praise God, whose grace is enough. We are told that we should go further – to “boast” about our weaknesses, so that “Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I don’t think this means that we should give up on reading the bible altogether, just because we know that we’ll miss days – or give in to temptations because we are weak. Instead, we should be trying to live for Jesus each day, and work to become more like Him by finding out more about His character and plan.

Yet at the same time, when we do mess up, as we most certainly will, we don’t have to despair or give up. We can instead praise God, knowing that He knows us, and can use our weaknesses to move us to lean more on Him, and stop trying to do things in our own strength.

So by all means use this January to try and create better habits, and to start reading your bible and to find ways to learn more about God and His plan for our lives. But when we mess up and fall short of the standards we have set for ourselves, we can remember this – we are weak, and by ourselves can do nothing.  Yet God’s grace is sufficient for each and every one of us, no matter what we have done or will do.

So lean on Him, knowing that He is powerful, and He is good.

_______________________________________________Luc

LNLucy 

Lucy

Lucy is at Sixth Form in Cambridge. She is a fan of books, chocolate brownies and trashy TV. She is part of Christ Church Cambridge, where she loves being able to meet with others to learn more about Jesus.

Fruits of the Spirit: Peace

At the start of a new year and in the midst of working on our resolutions, revising for mocks and sticking up our new wall chart to plan 2016, peace may feel like a million miles away. With so much on our to do lists and with so many exciting opportunities to pursue, what does a life shaped by peace even look like?

Psalm 29:11 says ‘The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.’ In this verse, peace is described as a blessing – a gift – and also, God promises that He will bless His people with peace.

Peace-Banner

Peace is defined as ‘freedom from disturbance’.

All of us have disturbances in our lives: situations that we want to change, worries that go round and round in our mind, or hurdles that seem impossible to overcome. What is it that creates disturbance in your life?  What is it that gets in the way of peace?  Perhaps we are worried about work, exams and coursework not going as well as we hope.  Or we feel that we’re not good enough, funny enough, confident enough or pretty enough.  Or maybe we fear the future: the things that might go wrong, the illness that may come our way, the relationship that may not be all that we hope it will be.

When peace feels far away from me, I know that there’s only one place where I can find true freedom.  Jesus says: ‘Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’.  Jesus promises that we can find true peace in Him.  In Him, we can find breakthrough from fear.  We can find true peace.

Ultimately true freedom and real peace can only be found in Jesus Christ.
Nothing else will truly free us from the disturbances of our lives.

So when we feel that our lives aren’t shaped by peace,
how do we re-focus and find rest in Him?

Practical tips

I have a little routine that I go through that helps me re-focus and take a deep breath.  I like to take a piece of paper and draw a cross in the middle.  I then write down all of my worries and fears at the foot of the cross, being very specific because it’s easy to let little worries snowball into overwhelming worries in our minds.  Being specific really helps us to keep our worries in check:   what is really worrying me about my work – which part of it, what is the underlying issue, what could really go wrong?

I then pray that I would leave these anxieties at the foot of the cross, and leave them with God. I give them to Him. I pray that He would remind me that He is bigger than any of the things I worry about. I pray I’d know true peace that only comes through knowing Him. I pray that I’d leave my worries right there – at the foot of the cross.

We need to cast our burdens onto Jesus.  To engage with the creator God, who delights us in, who loves to hear us pray to Him, and who can overcome any fear, anxiety and situation we may face. Nothing is too much for Him to handle.

I also know that when I’ve left these things with God, I need to keep interrupting my anxieties by focusing on gratitude, also known as a ‘Praise Break’ (a very cheesy but appropriate name).  I take a fresh piece of paper and write a list of the blessings that God has lavished on my life.  All of the things that I can thank Him for.  All of the gifts he’s given me.  All of the specific people that he has put around me who love, support and encourage me.  All of the amazing opportunities he’s given me to do the things I love.  The love that He lavished on us on the cross.  The forgiveness for everything I’ve ever done and will ever do wrong.  I usually find that I run out of paper and could keep going for hours.

What is it that’s stealing your peace today? What worries are crowding your thoughts?  Are we willing to give these things over to God and interrupt anxiety with gratitude?  In Jesus, we can and will find peace and true freedom.

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Emma

Emma

Emma graduated from Cambridge 4 years ago, and now works in Finance. She said ‘I Do’ to the wonderful Luke last April and loves being part of Team Pendlebury!  Emma’s other passions include leading music at church, doing Pilates & eating salted caramel ice cream! She is so loving seeing God use More Precious to grow his kingdom.

Fruits of the Spirit: Joy

Joy-Banner

When I picture joy, I picture someone jumping and dancing, unable to contain themselves with happiness –totally exuberant and delighted. Although I do have these moments, I’m afraid I can’t say that this is how I live my life. All too often, stresses of exams, coursework, friendships or even just the day-to-day busyness that life often is, can leave me joyless. I don’t mean unhappy or miserable, but simply not massively excited, enthused or ecstatic. So – what is meant by the fruit of ‘joy’, and how can we get a hold of this?

The Bible often speaks of joy – a joy that comes from knowing and loving Jesus. 1 Peter 1:8 speaks of this when Peter writes:

“Though you have not seen him, you love him;
even though you do not see him now, you believe in him
and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”

Our joy comes from Jesus – we can be filled with an amazing joy when we grasp just what he has done for us. When we truly understand our sin and how awful it is, and truly understand our Saviour and how incredible he is, then there is nothing for us to do but be filled with thankfulness and joy at what is in store for us. In knowing Jesus, we can experience this joy in every situation:

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10

“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 sheepfold 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

“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.”

James 1:2-3

In each of these circumstances, the natural reaction is not joy. When things go wrong, and when we face ‘trials’, we so often become weary and despondent – perhaps getting angry, or giving up on God altogether. But Nehemiah shows us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. This means that whether our circumstances are amazing or awful; whatever we’re going through, we can be strong, because of the joy that we have in Jesus. This joy comes from the knowledge that Jesus is our king – that he died and rose again for us, and that he has adopted us as his children, so that no matter what life might feel like, we trust in God’s plan, and in God’s great love for us.

We must remember that the fruit of the Spirit is exactly that: of the Spirit! And so we don’t need to try and muster up this joy on our own, or pretend that we’re happy when we feel anything but. This life can often be really hard, and the bible doesn’t shy away from that. So not feeling joy doesn’t mean that you don’t love Jesus, or know what he has done for you. But it might mean that our priorities aren’t right.

Are you putting too much stress on those grades, that university offer, that job or that relationship? If we do this, then our joy will fluctuate on how well we’re maintaining those things. Instead, we need to turn to God: put him as the King of our lives, and ask him to move us to joy for all that he has done.

Practical Tips

Pray! Turn to God in all things, and turn back to him constantly. Make him king of your life, and surrender your own desires for his plans.

It can be helpful to tie a ribbon on to your toothbrush or bike handle as ‘prayer reminders’, or set reminders on your phone to prompt you into action!

Try to find a Christian friend to help one another in this. Ask them to point out when you are joyless instead of joyful, so that you can see which areas of your life you are most worried about. Then try to give these up to God, again and again, asking him to give you his joy in all circumstances, joy which isn’t dependent on any earthly thing.

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Luc

LNLucy 

Lucy

Lucy is at Sixth Form in Cambridge. She is a fan of books, chocolate brownies and trashy TV. She is part of Christ Church Cambridge, where she loves being able to meet with others to learn more about Jesus.

Fruits of the Spirit: Love

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23

The ‘fruits of the spirit’ can feel old-fashioned, a bit irrelevant, or simply unrealistic – the list is a long one and can feel daunting! But we are praying that this series across January would encourage you to consider the fruits of the spirit in a new way, and that you would realise the Spirit’s place in your everyday life. The more time we spend time with God through prayer and the Bible, the more we will experience the tangible work of the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives. And that’s exciting!

Today, we’re kicking off with what some might say is the greatest fruit of them all: love. God’s love is immeasurable, never-ending, perfect, and unconditional. God IS love. He is the creator of love: all love comes from Him. And He wants us to learn to love like He does.

Let’s go!

Love--Banner

 The Bible is packed full of reminders about how much God values love, and how important and fundamental it is to us as children of Love himself. Here are just a few glimpses:

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13)

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8)

If I have faith enough even to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
(1 Corinthians 13:2)

God is clearly serious about wanting us to acknowledge His great love, to experience it, develop it, and share it with others. In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked which the greatest commandment is. He replies: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.’

The good news is that we are not left on our own to try and develop these attributes. This is the work of the Spirit – not results we are expected to achieve on our own. We won’t manage to become more loving left to our own devices (see yesterday’s post for more on this) – the good news is that the Spirit will work in us, step by step, to soften our hearts and help us love in a way that delights God.

I think Jesus’s commandments in Matthew gives us a framework for thinking about how to grow in the fruit of love. You will find all 3 areas interlinked in more wonderful and complex ways than I could ever understand (or write in a miniblog), but I think they are good starting points:

1. Love God more.
What do you know about God? Do you know what He is like? Search for aspects of God’s character in the Bible: try to spot His justice, grace, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and most importantly – His LOVE. I guarantee you will be blown away!

2. Know God’s love for us more.
1 John 4:10 sums this up: ‘This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.’ We will only understand the extent of God’s love for us if we look at Jesus, who died for us. This is the Greatest Love Story Ever Told! Loving God, and knowing how much you’re loved by Him will help you to…

3. Love others more.
Knowing God’s vast love for us, we are children of the KING. We don’t have to aim for worldly success anymore. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us let go of insecurities and bitterness, and empower us to love others generously and extravagantly.

 

Practical tips

Sometimes I feel totally out of energy to love other people (especially not in the way God loves me). At times like this, I find it helpful to spend a few moments breathing in and out, thinking about every inward breath as a symbol of God’s love for me. Remembering that I am literally filled with God’s love, I feel empowered and free to love others (symbolised with an outward breath) in the choices I make and the things I will do that day.

Another tip that I have found helpful, is to think about God’s love every time you take your daily shower. As you feel the weight of the water cascading down, think about the weight of God’s love for you – and particularly, the enormous power of the Holy Spirit! It sounds funny, but this massively encourages me and helps me to feel fully equipped to start the day in the power of the Spirit.

Why not take some time today or this week to pray about the three things listed further back in the post: a greater love for God, a greater understanding of God’s love for you, and a greater love for others. Ask the Spirit to work powerfully in you, and pray that your capacity to love those around you would increase!

 

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:14

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photo13 Lucy

Lucy Twitter-Bird@lucybeauchamp

Lucy founded More Precious in 2013 and has the absolute joy of overseeing it on a regular basis. She is spending a year working in Marketing for a wonderful Cambridge tech company, and is getting married in June!

The new way to serve

Have you ever been confused as to what it means to live ‘through’ the Spirit? Or what it means to ‘serve’? This is a great little glimpse of what it means to live freely with the Spirit helping you, every single day of your life. The ‘New Way’ to serve…

Identity Pt 1 Devotionals

Romans 7:6
…we serve in the new way of the Spirit…

The gospel means ‘good news’, and the gospel is good news at every point:

  • God loves us: his immeasurably great love is new every day
  • God has saved us through the work of his Son Jesus: we can enjoy a relationship of love with him
  • God is at work in us: he is helping us become people who live lives of love

There is nothing that we can do to deserve or earn God’s love. All along the initiative has lain with him: he made us and he loves us; he loves us and he saves us; he saves us and he changes us. Our love is a response to God’s love for us, as John writes ‘we love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4: 19).

Living life hand in hand with God, is not about following laws and being saved by our own efforts. Through the Old Testament law, God had made known his holy standards to his people. They tried hard to keep to the letter of the law in order to satisfy God’s demands, but found it was impossible. Only Jesus was able to live a perfect life. And for those who put their trust in him, Paul is now pleased to announce an entirely new way of living.

Rather than serving the law, he says, ‘we serve in the new way of the Spirit’. We have a part to play, but this is not so that we can try to secure God’s approval or make ourselves good enough for him. Rather, having accepted what Jesus has done and made possible for us, we now serve in a new way, the way of the Spirit.

God calls each one of us to live a life of love, to live out his kingdom values, to be his hands bringing compassion and comfort to a hurting and troubled world. And the wonderful truth is that we are not called to do this in our own strength, but in the power of God’s Holy Spirit who lives in us and is at work in us.

Day by day we are called to ‘keep in step with the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:25), to discern his voice leading and directing us, to be sensitive to his whispers of encouragement or correction, and to act on his words of insight. This is the new way of the Sprit; a life of love, made possible entirely through the death and resurrection of Jesus – not through anything that I could do at all.

Such a life is filled with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  It is a life of loving and joyful service, not drudgery. It is a life of peace and patience, not one motivated by guilt or anxiety.

Such a life was lived to perfection by Jesus, our model and example, and it is his Spirit at work who brings about this wonderful change in us. This is certainly not what I am like in my own strength, but hour by hour, day after day, week in week out, God is at work in me through his Spirit to make me more like Jesus: more loving, and joyful, more peaceful and patient, kinder, better, gentler, more faithful and more self-controlled.

This is the best possible way to live! In relationship with God, his Spirit at work in me enables me to serve him and the community in which I find myself. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, this new way of life is one of joyful service of God, whom to serve is perfect freedom.

This is the new way that I want to serve this year!

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Contributor

Margaret

Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.

A new commandment: Love

Another New Year miniblog for you – today is the ‘new commandment’ that Jesus gives to us, to love one another. Let’s pray that this year, we might be able to love others like Jesus does. Lx

Devotionals White Flowers

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:
just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

John 13:34

These words of Jesus are so simple; there is no mistaking their meaning. We are called to love one another, and this is described as a commandment that Jesus is giving us. In other words, it is not something that is optional, if we are living as Jesus’ disciples, but is a characteristic of life in him.

We see the immensity of God’s love and faithfulness most visibly demonstrated in the person of Jesus, God’s son. First he left all the glory of heaven and came to earth as a human baby. Living amongst everyday people, he endured hardship, misunderstanding and suffering: ‘and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.’ 

There was no limit to the love of Jesus or any end to his mercies as he gave up his life for us, bearing the awful punishment that should have been ours for all the wrong-doing we have done, in order that we might know the forgiveness of God, his love in our lives now and a life of perfect love and joy with him in eternity.

If we are born into God’s family through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are now also to share in demonstrating the family likeness: love. The new commandment that he gives us is to characterise our lives: ‘By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’, Jesus went on to say.

The new way we are to live is the way of love. Paul explains in very practical and easily understood ways what it means to live a life of love:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-5

Love is about an attitude towards others, based not on how we might feel instinctively, but on how we choose to see ourselves, and them, in the light of God’s love – each and every one of us, loved by God and precious in his sight.

Father, thank you for the new life that we have in Jesus.
Thank you that the commandment he gives us is so good – to love one another. Please help me today to remember that I am loved by you, and that you love those around me. Help me to love them too. Amen.

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Contributor

Margaret

Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.

Mercies new every morning

Welcome to the first day of 2016! We have some sparkling new miniblogs for this New Year, and today we are looking at the amazing truth that God’s mercies are new every day for us. What could be more encouraging?! Enjoy the song, and the post! x

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

What great verses these are to start off the new year! Whatever the past year brought us, and whatever comes in 2016, these four promises of God stand firm, reliable and secure. I want these to be my points of reference for the year ahead, the context and framework in which I live each day of my life.

1. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

In other words, his love is unconditional and unstoppable, a continual outpouring like a mighty incessant waterfall. In this context that word ‘never’ is truly amazing: there are no ifs, buts or maybes about God’s love. His steadfast love stands firm no matter what happens and no matter what I do; it is a mighty stronghold which always protects, provides and gives me strength.

2. The Lord’s mercies never come to an end.

These mercies include his gentleness, loving-kindness, forgiveness and patience. I find it so humbling and heartening to know that there is no end to these attributes of God. His mercies are literally limitless, and what is more, they are new every morning. Each day he tenderly and gently leads me by the hand, providing me with all that I need and helping me in all that I do. Each day he forgives my failings and patiently works in me and with me to transform me into the person he wants me to be – someone who demonstrates his love to those around me.

And however much I may have messed up yesterday, his mercies are as new as the dawn when I awake, shining down onto my life, poured down onto me by my loving Father in heaven.

3. God’s faithfulness is great.

It is wonderful to try and grasp that God is so loyal, faithful and dependable that in his covenant love he has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

We were all reminded in the season of Christmas how after the birth of Jesus and the visit of the shepherds, Mary ‘treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart’. (Luke 2:19) I want to try and spend more time in 2016 treasuring the words and works of God and pondering them in my heart – meditating on them, dwelling on them and letting them soak into me and change me. I know that means a bit of slowing down, not always doing things in such a hurry, but allowing myself time to ponder and wonder.

One of the ways I am trying to do that is by focussing on God when I first wake up, and making the first thing in my day be a prayer of praise to God. Starting the day off in the right direction may give me a better chance of keeping on track during the day. These verses from Lamentations really help me to do this, reminding me that every single day, first thing in a new morning, I can thank God for his renewed faithfulness and love.

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Father God, thank you for this new year, and thank you for this new day.
I praise you that your love is steadfast and never ceases. I praise you that you are love and that your nature is always to have mercy. Thank you that your mercies have no limit and no end, and thank you that they reach right down to me where I am today.
Thank you that your mercies are new every morning and that your faithfulness is great.
Amen

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Contributor

Margaret

Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.

More Precious 2015

2015 has been a year of many firsts for More Precious! We are beyond grateful to God for the amazing opportunities we have had: a great number of events, our first exhibitions, inspiring and thoughtful blog posts, and fantastic new initiatives headed up by the inspiring girls on team. We couldn’t possibly sum up all that has happened, or thank everybody enough for their hard work and efforts, but here are a few highlights from the year…

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We are delighted to have launched many things in 2015: our immensely popular Faith Played Out and What To Expect series; the first More Precious Christmas carol series, and of course, Taylor Swift’s first appearance on the blog…

Also new this year are the MP t-shirts, sweatshirts, postcards and greetings cards, which we are hoping to be selling on the site soon! We have enjoyed exhibiting at a number of conferences, events, markets and festivals, meeting lots of existing readers and making new friends and connections.

We have also had amazing experiences hosting and speaking at events in Sheffield, Cambridge, London, Durham, Buckinghamshire, and a week at Soul Survivor in the summer. What a year!

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We give all glory to God and are beyond excited for what He might have in store for More Precious across 2016. We are thrilled that God is using More Precious for His purposes, and that it appears to be achieving what we set it up for (through no efforts of our own) – encouraging girls to live freely and wholeheartedly for Jesus Christ.

We continue to be extremely passionate about the More Precious mission, and feel blessed to have an incredible team ready to get going in 2016! Love from Lucy and all the MP team x

All glory is God’s.

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More Precious will be undergoing a number of redevelopments in early 2016, to make the site easier to navigate, and more useful for girls to use on an everyday basis. If you are interested in donating to the costs of this redevelopment, please do get in touch with lucy@moreprecious.co.uk.

Jesus: ‘Prince of Peace’

We finish this mini-series with a reflection upon Jesus, our Prince of Peace. We’ve seen that He is wise and a counsellor, He is almighty and powerful, He’s everlasting and timeless; He’s also the bringer of peace. He’s the hope for true joy and contentment. Have a wonderful Christmas, enjoy the presents and celebrating His birth! Nadia x

MP - Prince of Peace Graphic

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

Isaiah 9:6

Imagine the stillness of white Christmas morning; crisp, fresh, yet warm by a blazing fire. Consider for a moment, something else that makes you feel totally peaceful. We know that we aren’t living in a world where it’s easy to feel peaceful; life going at one hundred miles an hour, news bulletins flooding our social media, it’s hard to find something that puts us at rest.

Maybe you did find something, but it was momentary and didn’t last too long.

What if peace might be a person, as well as a feeling? What if this ‘peace-person’ came to show us that there is greater love that casts out all fear, there is a hope for humanity, there is a possibility for us to know true joy and contentment.

This Christmas we’re celebrating the Prince of Peace. This is one of the many unique truths about the identity of Jesus. They’re not just parts of Him, or carried around by Him like a bag, or coat, or His shoes. Peace, alongside joy, might, power, strength, goodness – THIS is Jesus. THIS is exactly who he is. This is the person of peace; but not as we know it.

‘The peace I leave you; MY peace I give you,
I do not give to you as the world gives.’

John 14:27

It is not the peace of a finished essay, going to bed knowing you don’t’ have to be up early, or a near-miss that leaves you feel relieved. No: this peace is both tranquillising and disruptive at the same time. This peace shatters the foundation of hatred and war and offers us the promise of hope. This peace rivals and conquers everything else that claims to be a peacemaker. There’s a reason he’s called Jesus, Prince of Peace!

His peace is brought by His life, and finalised at the Cross.

His crucifixion turned all hatred, war, brokenness, bitterness, and despair into peaceful ashes when he rose again; trusting in Jesus means living with a peace beyond understanding, and a hope for restoration of the Kingdom.

So, my Christmas wish is for us to celebrate, and enjoy this joy-giving peace. Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus, the birth of the end to suffering, and the birth of our ever-lasting and eternal peace.

‘His ruling authority will grow, and there will
be no limits to the peace he brings.’

Isaiah 9:7

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Nadia

Hailing from London, Nadia is studying Theology in Durham at St Chad’s College, where she met Lucy as a fresher. Nadia plays for Durham University Hockey Club, and is also involved with Christian Union and Bethshan Church, Durham. She loves friends, food, and travelling the world.

Jesus: ‘Everlasting Father’

In today’s mini-series, Emma unpacks Jesus as the ‘Everlasting Father.’ It is incredible to reflect upon God’s love as eternal, everlasting, and reflective of the Father.

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

Isaiah 9:6

Here, Isaiah is telling us that Jesus, the Son of God, is everlasting and loves us with the love of a perfect father. Jesus’ love for the children of God is perfect: it has never wavered and will never waver. He will never forget us or abandon us, ever.

As someone who struggles to remember where I’ve left my phone (recently this had disastrous consequences involving a washing machine – yes, really…), let alone other far more important things, this truth is mind blowing! Across all of history and all the people who have ever lived and will ever live, Jesus promises that he will love each and every one of his children with the love of a perfect father, forever. He declares that we are daughters of the King, truly loved, cherished and found in Him.

No matter how you feel 2015 has gone for you – whether it’s been one of the best years so far, a painful struggle or a mix of the two with highs and lows along the way – Jesus wants to lavish His love on you this Christmas time.

Regardless of what we have or haven’t done this year, Jesus’ arms are open wide ready for us to run into them, receive the forgiveness that He offers and step into our true identity as His child.

No situation is too messy for Him. Nothing is too big for him to handle. 1 Peter 2:9 gives me goosebumps. It says:

‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’

We are God’s SPECIAL POSSESSION! Nothing I have ever done, or will ever do, will make me worthy of being God’s special possession. However, because of His grace through Jesus, that is what we are: we are special, and we are His! God has given us SO much.

The more we begin to understand how amazing this is, we can’t help but declare His praise because He has taken us from darkness into His wonderful light.

This truth is something that never ceases to amaze me: because of the perfect, eternal love Jesus has for us, sin no longer separate us from Him, and neither does doubt, guilt or fear.

Jesus has overcome all these things, and because of Him, we are truly found and blessed with the greatest ever gift.

He has redeemed us, called us by name and set us apart.
His love will endure forever, and is TRULY perfect.

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Emma

Emma

Emma graduated from Cambridge 4 years ago, and now works in Finance. She said ‘I Do’ to the wonderful Luke last April and loves being part of Team Pendlebury!  Emma’s other passions include leading music at church, doing Pilates & eating salted caramel ice cream! She is so loving seeing God use More Precious to grow his kingdom.

Jesus: ‘Almighty God’

How, you might be wondering, can a timid and meek baby be so strong? Yesterday we saw that Jesus is our wonderful counsellor, not only that, He’s also strong and mighty. Today we’re looking at Emma’s post on Jesus as ‘Almighty God’, and how this might and power is accessible for all.

MP - Almighty God Graphic

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

Isaiah 9:6

In Isaiah 9, Israel is in turmoil. Men are at war, each vying to be king. And through Isaiah, God promises a great saviour for his people – the true King, who will free his people and will reign over his kingdom with justice and righteousness, for ever and ever! And this king will be… a baby?

It’s Christmas, the time when we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus tender and mild, sweetly sleeping in a manger filled with hay. Does baby Jesus cry? Of course not. Jesus is perfect, he doesn’t cry! It is quite hard to reconcile that image of the tiny new born baby as being ‘Mighty God.’ But this is the poetic brilliance of the Christmas story – that tiny, helpless baby would be known as ‘Mighty God.’

So what does it mean to be mighty? The way we usually understand this word is to associate it with power and strength. However, (I’m pretty sure) Jesus wasn’t an unusually beefy guy, so when we’re talking about Jesus being mighty, we’re not talking about his physical strength.

The Hebrew word ‘El’ is the name for God and actually carries the meaning ‘strength, might, or power’. This means that every time we call God by his name, it is a given that he is strong and powerful. But does that mean then that by calling Jesus ‘Mighty God’, we’re saying he is the ‘mightiest of mighties’??

Well, actually, yes.

When we say that something is mighty, we tend to mean that is has power, strength or is very large in size or importance. Jesus has more strength and more power than anyone or anything we could imagine.

Jesus is the most important person in history.

He is the ultimate superhero, the warrior of warriors and the champion of champions. We’ve seen that as a ‘wonderful counsellor’ and now as a ‘mighty God’ Jesus has the fundamental virtues of a ruler, wisdom and strength, but he has them in superhuman quantities. He turned water into wine, He made the blind see, He raised people from the dead!

But who could forget the ultimate act of strength and power? Who else could possibly be strong enough to take the weight of the sin of mankind and obliterate it? Only the mightiest of mighties – God in human form, sent to save mankind.

What is most encouraging to me is that this power is actually power that we can access. In Jesus dying for us, he made it possible for us to become like him. John 14:12 says ‘whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.’

If there is one verse you take into 2016, take this one:

‘I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.’
Philippians 4:13

So this Christmas, when the cherub-cheeked soloist is singing about ‘the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay’, remember the strength and authority that weak baby carried. It seemed so unlikely that the saviour of the world, the one who was going to rule over all would be a tiny baby, and yet it was.

Remember that through Christ, you can share in this strength,
and that through him, all things are possible.

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Emma

Emma lives and works in the fabulous city of Leeds with her husband, Tim. She has a passion for encouraging those who are low in spirit and loves to hear stories of God’s perfect timing. Her favourite things include a good latte, travelling, eating dessert for breakfast, dim sum and making people happy with food.

Click here to read the rest of Emma’s posts.

 

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