Kiffblog

February 18, 2016

Enjoy

Filed under: Uncategorized — andykiff @ 9:40 pm

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

The more I think on this verse, the more I want the first part rather than the second.  I want to truly take delight in You, and everything else that comes is just a by-product.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism opens with this answer to the question of life’s purpose: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”.  I’m too often bogged down in duty, obedience, guilt and repentance to lift up my head and simply enjoy.  Enjoy You.  I’m not even sure what that means in full but I think it comes from knowing You more, spending time with You, having an increasing awareness of You in every part of my life.

Lord, I want to enjoy You.  I’m grateful for everything You’ve given to me and will continue to be so, but let me enjoy just You.

February 16, 2016

Isolated

Filed under: Uncategorized — andykiff @ 7:49 pm

Mark 1:35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.

I’ve been reminded again this week of the need for time alone with You.  It’s clearly something I need to keep hearing until I really get down to doing it.  I don’t know why I think I can get through the day without stopping to talk to You properly, when Jesus made a point of doing it.  It wasn’t convenient for him – he had to wake up early enough that it was still dark.  I just checked and that meant that even in the darkness of winter, due to the location of Jerusalem, that wouldn’t have been any later than 06:40.  He also had to get up and walk to somewhere isolated, where he could be truly alone.  Sometimes I read that he had to go up a mountain to find that solitude.  Short version: this took effort.

For something requiring that much effort, where other people probably thought “how does he do that?”, it has to be:

  • Regular – the most arduous task becomes less so through repetition.  When it gets embedded into the daily routine it becomes less of a big deal.
  • Worth it – there have to be benefits that can be felt.  Effort with no reward leads to discouragement and failure.

I can easily draw a parallel to running, probably because that’s something I do before daybreak.  It was hard at first, it took a change in my daily habits, and I had to press through when it seemed like I wasn’t making progress at first.  Now it’s just part of every day and I’ve seen the improvements keep coming.

Lord, remind me of these principles when I want to give up.  Give me the steadfastness to stick with it and grow closer and closer to You.

February 10, 2016

Practical

Filed under: Uncategorized — andykiff @ 7:46 pm

Exodus 31:3 I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts.

It’s amazing how practical the Spirit is.  In 1 Corinthians I read how the gifts of the Spirit are given for the common good.  It can be tempting to go chasing experiences and personal fulfilment through the Spirit when I should be looking outwards.  The gifts of the Spirit, whatever form they take, are always practical.  They are to be used to help others.  They’re not always a spectacular miracle, more often they’re the abilities and skills that I’ve been given.

Whatever I’m ‘naturally’ good at, it’s not because of anything I’ve done (although I can work to improve it).  If I’m gifted at anything, it’s just that – a gift.  I’m supernaturally good at it through the Spirit.  It’s my responsibility to see my gifts, develop them and use them for the benefit of others to Your glory.

Lord thank You for every gift that You’ve given to me through Your Spirit.  Give me an awareness and a willingness to put them to Your use.

February 3, 2016

Simple

Filed under: Uncategorized — andykiff @ 7:58 pm

Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

So that’s it?  Just two things to do in life, and everything else is covered?  If it’s so simple, why don’t I just do it?

The problem is that simple doesn’t equal easy.  The only parts of these commandments that I struggle with is every part.  It’s easier to focus on following a long list of small and specific rules that are man-made (or most often self-made).  These two commandments are terrifying in their scope because everything else really does follow from them.  If I love You with everything then all my thoughts and actions are affected.  And I can’t keep it to myself, I have to change how I act towards other people too.

Lord I know how simple following You should be and how complicated I make it.  If I have one prayer today, it is, “help me to love You and love people”.

January 27, 2016

Uneven team

Filed under: Uncategorized — andykiff @ 7:17 pm

Exodus 4:2 Then the lord asked him, “What is that in your hand?”

You are God.  You can do anything by any means at any time without any assistance from anyone.  It’s amazing that you’d ever choose to involve humans in Your plans.  Speaking for myself, I’m not the best at anything and I could give You a long list of people You should use ahead of me in various areas.  Even Moses wasn’t immune from this feeling.  One of the greatest leaders in the Bible stood up to You – to insist that he wasn’t a good enough public speaker for You to use.

This though is a great example of how You choose to work with us.  You could have struck the Egyptians dead, or transported the Israelites straight to the promised land.  Instead, You worked with what Moses had in his hand.  It’s a team effort, albeit an uneven one.  Moses brought a stick, You brought divine power.  But still You asked Moses to use what he had.  Without Moses You could still have accomplished Your plans.  Without You Moses could have done nothing except stay hiding as a shepherd in the disaster.  But when he used what little he had in combination with You great things happened.

Lord thank You that I have the great privilege of being involved in Your plans.  Help me to remember that I have my part to play, but it’s nothing without Your power.

January 23, 2016

Wrong rules

Filed under: Uncategorized — andykiff @ 7:11 pm

Matthew 15:2 “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.” 3 Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?

Jesus had such a great way with the Pharisees.  They would usually come at him with a trick question or an accusation and leave angry, embarrassed, maybe a bit humbler if their heart was open, but never victorious.  This particular case is a great example and a stern lesson.  The Pharisees came at Jesus to argue about tradition and left with a rebuke about their behaviour towards You.  They objected to the disciples not following their rules (note: their rules, not Yours), while systematically breaking Your commandments.

There are two challenges in this to me.  Firstly, I should check myself when I start to criticise someone else for not doing things the way I do them.  Much of the time it’s just a matter of my own traditions and preferences, not something I should force on others.  Secondly, I should always check those traditions and preferences against Your direct words, even if I think I’m doing them for You.  It’s easy to drift over time and end up somewhere I never intended.

Lord keep my eyes fixed on You first and my own life second.  Give me tolerance of others within the limits of Your law and help me to live as an example, not a critic.

January 20, 2016

Accessible

Filed under: Uncategorized — andykiff @ 7:25 pm

Matthew 13:34 Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables. 35 This fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet: “I will speak to you in parables. I will explain things hidden since the creation of the world”.

It’s never been about an intellectual exercise.  It’s not spending a lifetime researching in-depth and understanding every punctuation mark in the original Hebrew or Greek.  It’s not about carefully-constructed arguments with appendices of supporting evidence.  None of these things are bad in themselves but they can make it easy to miss the point.

When Jesus spoke, he spoke to everyone – and in ways that everyone could understand.  He told stories, he didn’t lecture from Leviticus as I’m sure the scribes and Pharisees would have done.  He got his message across clearly, simply and in a manner the people could relate to and remember.  He made the Kingdom accessible.  It doesn’t require an entrance exam, just faith and acceptance of Jesus as Lord.

Help me to remember this.  When I’m tempted to get sidetracked on detail, Lord remind me of the main thing – letting other people hear and understand Your good news.

January 18, 2016

At night

Filed under: Uncategorized — andykiff @ 10:22 pm

Psalm 16:7 I will bless the lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.

Even at night.  I don’t know if the writer was talking about conscious thoughts in the evening before settling down to sleep, or those moments lying awake in the middle of the night, or maybe even the subconscious processing of the day’s events while asleep.  Maybe all of the above.  What I hear from You during the day stays with me, and I can choose to focus on it at night.

That’s why writing these thoughts down before going to bed is good for my heart – I’m taking the instructions that I’ve read first thing in the morning and putting them fresh again in my mind before I go to sleep.  It’s a way of restoring the focus I may have lost during the day, when so much busyness crowds You out of my thoughts.

Lord, be the last thing I think about when I go to sleep and the first when I wake up.  Help me to keep you at the front of my mind throughout the day.  Renew my mind at night.

January 15, 2016

Fearsome

Filed under: Uncategorized — andykiff @ 10:23 pm

Genesis 31:42 In fact, if the God of my father had not been on my side—the God of Abraham and the fearsome God of Isaac—you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen your abuse and my hard work. That is why he appeared to you last night and rebuked you!”

Fearsome – it’s not a word I’ve really noticed before to describe You.  I’ve checked various translations and it’s either ‘fearsome God of Isaac’ or ‘the Fear of Isaac’.  In many ways it shouldn’t be an attractive word but I’m drawn to it.  It conjures up images of a lion, or a renowned warrior or great emperor of old: strong, mighty, majestic, glorious, victorious – and not to be messed with.  I’m reminded of C. S. Lewis’s great description of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:

“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Thank You Lord that You’re a gracious Father and also a fearsome God.  Help me to balance familiar love with proper respect.

January 13, 2016

It’s Not Finished

Filed under: Uncategorized — andykiff @ 6:42 pm

Genesis 28:15 What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”

There’s so much promise packed into this one verse.  The part that struck me today, like I’d never seen it before, was the last sentence.  “I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you”.  If things feel incomplete, if I feel like there’s more yet to come in life, it’s a sign that You’re still with me.  You are still at work, still giving me more until my time’s done.  As I’ve heard said, “If it ain’t good then God ain’t done”.  It’s a promise of Your continual presence, grace and blessing for the rest of my life.  And beyond.

Thank You Lord that You are at work in me and for me, but more than that.  You are with me.

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