Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) was a Scottish minister who traveled to England, Ireland, the United States, and Japan to spread the Good News of the Gospel. He also served as principal of the Bible Training College in London, and as a chaplain to British troops in Egypt during World War I. He was the husband of Gertrude (Biddy) Hobbs Chambers, a former court stenographer.
Though he wrote nine books during his lifetime, he didn’t exactly pen My Utmost for His Highest. He knew his Bible so completely that he often gave sermons and lectures off-the-cuff. His wife Biddy would sit in the pews and write down his words in shorthand. Ten years after his death, she published My Utmost for His Highest, a collection of 366 meditations made up of the highlights of the many words she had recorded.
In 1995 Discovery House released an updated edition of the daily devotional, edited by James Reimann. At the same time, a group of contemporary Christian artists recorded an album of new songs inspired by the devotional. I entered a drawing at a local Christian book store for a copy of the book, the CD, and tickets to a live concert featuring the artists on the album, and was amazed when I won! I took my daughter with me to the concert and played the CD over and over again. Those songs are among my all-time favorites. The book I put on my bookshelf until I got around to reading it.
I’m sorry to say it wasn’t until 2018 that I took My Utmost for His Highest down and worked my way through it. This is not a simple book. Chambers was a theological genius, much more spiritually advanced in his 43 years than I in my seniority. I reread many passages in this book, and I do not understand all of it. However, it was well worth my time to read it, and I will reread it again every few years, and hopefully grow in my understanding.
Three of the devotionals touched me profoundly and warranted folding over the corners, the offerings for May 22, October 13, and November 2. If you have a chance, read those, and see if they don’t spur you on to read more.
I’d like to share one passage from each month, sentences I underlined because they were meaningful to me:
- When we are born again, if we are spiritual at all, we have visions of what Jesus wants us to be. It is important that I learn not to be “disobedient to the heavenly vision”—not to doubt that it can be attained (January 24).
- If our devotion is to the cause of humanity, we will be quickly defeated and broken-hearted, since we will often be confronted with a great deal of ingratitude from other people. But if we are motivated by our love of God, no amount of ingratitude will hinder us from serving one another (February 23).
- A person who is a beautiful saint can be a hindrance in leading people to the Lord by presenting only what Christ has done for him, instead of presenting Jesus Christ Himself (March 25).
- . . . once our concentration is on God, all the limits of our life are free and under the control and mastery of God alone. There is no longer any responsibility on you for the work. The only responsibility you have is to stay in living constant touch with God, and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with Him (April 23).
- The moment we recognize our complete weakness and our dependence upon Him will be the very moment that the Spirit of God will exhibit His power (May 5).
- If you will give God the right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you—and his experiments always succeed. The one true mark of a saint of God is the inner creativity that flows from being totally surrendered to Jesus Christ. In the life of a saint there is this amazing Well, which is a continual Source of original life. The Spirit of God is a Well of water springing up perpetually fresh. A saint realizes that it is God who engineers his circumstances; consequently there are no complaints, only unrestrained surrender to Jesus (June 13).
- God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision (July 6).
- As Christians we are not here for our own purpose at all—we are here for the purpose of God, and the two are not the same (August 4).
- Satan does not tempt us just to make us do wrong things—he tempts us to make us lose what God has put into us through regeneration, namely, the possibility of being of value to God. He does not come to us on the premise of tempting us to sin, but on the premise of shifting our point of view, and only the Spirit of God can detect this as a temptation of the devil (September 18).
- We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life—those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength (October 1).
- My personal life may be crowded with small, petty happenings, altogether insignificant. But if I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God (November 2).
- As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, forgetful delight, or with the quickness of impulsive thoughtlessness. But let us go out with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us (December 31).
For more information about Oswald Chambers and My Utmost for His Highest, go to the Utmost website.
Now it’s your turn. Are you planning to utilize a daily devotional this year? Which one? Have you ever worked through My Utmost to His Highest? What was your experience with it, or with another devotional you found worthwhile? Share in the comments below.
My prayer for you in 2019 is that it will be a year of health, blessing, and growth. Amen.