Cover of My Utmost for His Highest
Happy New Year! I hope you had your fill of Christmas celebrations, picked over veggie trays, and white elephant parties.
In all seriousness, our family had a really great Christmas/ New Year’s break. I hope yours was just as enjoyable.
New Years Resolutions….Daily Devotions
At my current workplace, conversations of new diets and more exercise could be overheard at every turn. Hearing folks discuss their resolutions reminded me of the frenzy of daily devotionals that would fly off the shelf after New Years, at our local Christian book store.
There was an amazing array of devotional books designed to jump-start this spiritual discipline. For the light-weights and newbies, there were devotionals like “My First Thirty Quiet Times” and the ever popular booklets “The One-Minute Devotional” series. If the original “One Minute Devotional” didn’t suit you, than you could always purchase the One Minute Devotional for Men, Women, Children Grandparents Business people etc….forever and ever Amen.
For the more experienced devotional reader, Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning & Evening” proved popular. Popular authors such as Charles Swindol and Charles Stanley also penned popular devotionals. (What is it about being named Charles and writing devotionals?).
Lastly, for the expert devotional reader who had exhausted Spurgeon and the like, there was the One Year Bible. It was a Bible formatted into daily readings from the Old Testament, Psalms/Proverbs, and the New Testament. My guess is, that the editors knew that anyone attempting to read straight through the Bible in a daily format would lose interest once they hit Numbers and Leviticus. Hence the reason for splicing it into daily doses from both Testaments and the wisdom books.
The Mother Of all Devotionals-My Utmost For His Highest
In my opinion, the book that started it all was Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost For His Highest”. My Utmost was published after Chambers death, serving as a YMCA chaplain to British troops in World War I.
As a book, it was a one page per day devotional, that usually derived its teaching from a small phrase of Scripture. And this is one of the reasons why I dreaded this book.
First off, often times the simple phrase chosen by Chambers would be ripped out of its Scriptural context to make its point. Even if what the devotional taught was consistent with other parts of the Bible, why tear another phrase out of its context to make your point? I simply hated this approach to the Bible. It seemed like cherry picking at its worst.
The other thing I disliked about Chambers style, was a subtle tone of legalism. I can’t exactly place why I felt this way, but I can honestly say that I never could get through the thing without feeling worse about myself. A more appropriate title may have been “My Lamest for His Overbearingness”, or something along those lines.
The Oddity Of It All
In hindsight, I now view daily devotionals as odd. They promise to help bring the Christian closer to God and help them in their obedience and love to God. But if God is ever-present, then why would you need a human compilation of writings to usher you into his presence.
Secondly, if the Bible is truly God’s word and is sufficient to lead into all knowledge and wisdom, than why would you even need or want another book to read? It’s like saying you need a supplement to help your diet of the Bible to be digested properly. How come the Holy Spirit can’t help you understand all that is needed to be known? It just seems silly to me now. How could a human author supplement the infallible word of God?
What I think now, is that the Bible is hard to read and hard to understand. Devotionals actually replace Bible reading because reading the Bible usually leads to questions, frustrations, and contradictions that are not easily reconciled.
The Powerlessness of Prayer