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Category Archives: My Utmost for His Highest Scripture of the Day

My Utmost for His Highest

Dear God, I was reading a friend’s blog this morning–it’s a weekly that I never miss. He talked about finding work that is within your gifting and how there is really nothing quite like it. I resonated with it. I’m in a job right now that I really do love, and my skillset seems to fit what’s required of me to be effective. It stretches me. It stretches my faith. I’m still wholly dependent upon you for the success of the organization, and I still do my best to give you the glory for the good that we do. But I feel really good about my career and am not seeking anything else.

As Fred’s blog progressed, however, he talked about Peter and how Jesus called him out of his natural proclivity for fishing and made him a “shepherd” instead. This wasn’t necessarily in Peter’s gifting, but he certainly had specific gifts of personality and ability that he brought to the job. One gift was his boldness. The church needed Peter in a way that it didn’t need John. For example, in Acts 3:1-10 Peter and John are walking to the Temple when a man “crippled from birth” calls to them for money. “Peter looked at him, as did John.” (verse 4) But it was Peter who spoke. It was Peter who called on Jesus’ power to heal the man. John was great, but he was often just a witness. The church wouldn’t have grown nearly as much if John had been the rock on which Jesus built his church. Being a “shepherd” might not have been in Peter’s wheelhouse, but it wasn’t “Peter’s Utmost for Peter’s Happiest.” It’s “Peter’s Utmost for Your Highest.” (For anyone reading this, this title and these quoted phrases are a reference to a daily devotion by Oswald Chambers called “My Utmost for His Highest.”)

This part of Fred’s blog got me to thinking about the things I’ve been called to do at which I didn’t turn out to be very good. One was parenting a teenager. Maybe there are a lot of people who would say that no one is good at parenting a teenager–and there might be some truth to that. For me, however, this is an area at which I feel like a complete failure. My children are older now and out of the house, but I still feel like I am an inadequate father for them. My prayer is that you are giving something that they specifically need through me of which I’m not aware. You made me their parent for a reason. I know I’ve prayed for them every day. I have faith that you have your hand directing their lives in ways that I cannot see. Part of that faith is believing that there is something I’m giving them as a father that I can’t see either.

Father, I give you my utmost for your highest in every aspect of my life. Of course, I will fail at this pledge, but I promise I’m not intentionally holding anything back. At this point, while my happiness is not irrelevant, it is certainly secondary (or even tertiary) to your will, your plan, and my duty to love you with all of my strength and love my neighbor as myself. You might now have happiness for me down this path, but I am assured by your word that you have peace for me there.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

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Blessings – Laura Story

Give your burdens to the Lord,
and he will take care of you.
He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

Psalm 55:22

Dear God, this was the verse from My Utmost for His Highest today, and Oswald Chambers’ take on it was really good. I even forwarded it to a friend this morning who has been going through some trials. Here are some excerpts that I liked:

 

“We must distinguish between the burden-bearing that is right and the burden-bearing that is wrong. We ought never to bear the burden of sin or of doubt, but there are burdens placed on us by God which He does not intend to lift off, He wants us to roll them back on Him.”

 

This is what caught my eye immediately. How often do we try to get rid of the burdens you want us to bear so that you can shape us into who you know we can be, but we will hold on to the burden of shame and secrecy that comes with sins we commit and maybe even the sins committed against us? There is a song called “Blessings” by Laura Story that perfectly describes how your burdens might be shaping us. I’ll paste the lyrics at the end of this prayer.

 

“Many workers have gone out with high courage and fine impulses, but with no intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ, and before long they are crushed.”

 

I am guilty, guilty, guilty of this. I am so guilty of this. I get an idea and then I trust in myself to try to pull it off. But the times in my life when I have seen the most success from my work are the times when I have earnestly prayed to you. Now there have been situations about which I have prayed and you didn’t answer quickly and they went a different direction than I hoped. I have been disappointed in you. There have been times I have yelled at you. But I truly know that whenever I go “out with high courage and fine impulses,” but I don’t lead with an earnest seeking of you then even if things turn out okay there is not nearly as much joy and victory in them.

 

“Commit to God whatever burden He has placed on you. Don’t just cast it aside, but put it over onto Him and place yourself there with it.”

 

I need to not only embrace my burden, but put myself there with it. I love that! I love the idea of not just throwing my burden to the cross, but also putting me there with the burden. After all, I am the one with whom the burden resides. I remember when my children were young and I was struggling to parent them, I asked a friend, “How do I turn my children over to God? I don’t know what that looks like because I am still responsible for them.” But reading this, I think the answer is that I put myself there with them, in your loving arms.

Father, help me to lead with you today. Please bless the fruit of my work. Whether it is with my wife, my children, my job, or my family and friends, bless my path. Be glorified in me and through me so that others might see you when they see me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

 

“Blessings” Laura Story

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

 

Matthew 5:8

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

Matthew 5:8

Dear God, this one verse was the focus for the My Utmost for His Highest devotion today so I thought I would just spend a little time with just these words.

So what does it mean to 1.) have a pure heart and 2.) see you? I think having a pure heart starts with, in my own eyes, me becoming less and less and you becoming more and more. The more I decrease and the more you increase in my own eyes the less I seek out worldly pleasures that will feed my ego, and look to worldly things to heal my emotional wounds. I love to get praise and attention. If I’m not getting what I want, I love to feel sorry for myself. All of that leads to an impure heart.

So what does seeing you mean? I assume it means seeing you in the afterlife, but I think it means something now too. I think it means that I get to lose myself in you and that enables me to both know you better and see the world and others the way you see it. In our church group last night, we talked about not judging others. I think that only truly happens when we have allowed ourselves to “decrease” to the point where we only see you and love others through your perspective on them.

Father, I will continue on this journey. I am not there yet. I still have so much desire for personal acclamation. I’m sorry for that. But, with your help, I will get better today. I worship you as my Lord and my God.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

Purifying Hope

“Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered. Our greatest fear is not that we will be damned, but that somehow Jesus Christ will be defeated. Also, our fear is that the very things our Lord stood for— love, justice, forgiveness, and kindness among men— will not win out in the end and will represent an unattainable goal for us. . .If our hopes seem to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified.”

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, February 22

Dear God, this was an interesting read this morning. I was uninspired by the “verse of the day” from Bible Gateway, so I went to my back-up source for daily inspirationMy Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I normally just read the verse he has for today and go from there, but today I was moved by his own words. That’s what I’ve quoted above.

I don’t think I had thought before about the idea of being afraid of Jesus losing. The idea that, in the end, good loses to evil. Not on an earthly level. Good loses to evil all of the time in my daily life. No, I’m talking about the heavenly realm where one day there will be no more tears. Where God is in His Heaven and all is right with the world. Where there is a joyful peace that is indescribable. That’s what I’ve really put my hope in. And not only for me. I’ve put my hope in that for all of the victims of evil in this world. “Hold on, sex trafficking victim. I’ll do what I can now, but your day will come.” “Hold on, victim of genocide in Syria. Your day will come.”

There are really two things that are happening in Mr. Chambers’ words above. First, there is the part about Jesus and “good” losing, but then there is the second part about our hopes being purified. In this case, I think purified means “made realistic” or “made true.” Especially as Americans, we are often taught that we can hope for anything material—career, money, power, fame, etc. And while that is true, it is foolishness to hope for those things and combine it with the hope that we have for joy and peace. “If our hopes seems to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified.” That disappointment is the process of you separating our hope for the material from our hope for peaceful joy. Ultimately, our hope for peaceful joy will not be in the ego of watching who our children become or what we accomplish here on earth. Our hope for peaceful joy will be solely focused around how tied in we are to you and our expectation that, in the very end, Jesus wins, God is in His Heaven, and all is right with the world.

Father, thank you for purifying my heart. Thank you for guiding me through pain and being patient with me while I go through the agonizing death of my ego as it relates to my material accomplishments. My hope isn’t in my marriage, my kids, my job, my church, or my friends. My hope is simply in the fact that, in the end, you win. Help me to be faithful to that hope and whatever you want me to do as a part of your Kingdom.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

Acts 26:17b-18

Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’

Acts 26:17b-18

Dear God, what is it about our souls that needs to be forgiven by you? Yes, I know that this passage is about being forgiven so I can be set apart for you as well, but it’s undeniable that there is something in my souls that needs forgiveness from you for the things I’ve done.

I think there are very few truly evil people in the world. I think most that do bad things and even appear evil from the outside are acting out of their own damage, but if you reveal their sin to them then forgiveness will free them. I wonder if the difference with a truly evil person is that they have somehow internally died to the need for your forgiveness and they lack the ability to feel remorse for anything. That is the person about whom I need to be concerned and fearful.

Father, thank you for the freedom you give me through the forgiveness available to me through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thank you for giving me access to a relationship with you and a pathway to peace and wholeness. And thank you for welcoming me into to your Kingdom, both here on Earth and in Heaven.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

Isaiah 52:11-12

Get out! Get out and leave your captivity, where everything you touch is unclean. Get out of there and purify yourselves, you who carry home the sacred objects of the Lord. You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the Lord will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.

Isaiah 52:11-12

Dear God, I’ve always struggled with getting anything out of the passages from the prophets. It has always felt like if I take a couple of verses like this out of context and try to apply them to my current reality then I am being foolish. But both of my sources for daily scripture (Bible Gateway and “My Utmost for His Highest”) had passages from Isaiah today so I thought I would just talk to you about this concept.

I suppose just about anything I read in the Bible is is set in someone else’s context and not my own, but at least those contexts are usually presented in a smaller package so I can see what similarities there might be between my life and the situation about which I’m reading. But the prophets are usually a little more vague, and include prophecy that you’d have to be a biblical scholar to link to reality. So, whether it’s right or wrong, I’ve usually ignored the prophets to some extent.

I guess I will add that a couple of years ago I heard some good teaching out of Habakkuk at a retreat that, when a scholar opened up the context for me, really had a lot to teach me about a error in my own thinking. Maybe that will be my journal for tomorrow.

Father, help me to be who and what you need me to be today. Love through me. Please take care of my wife and me during our long drive. Ordain my steps and help me to turn loose of my own self-perceived wisdom and submit to your glory and grace.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

Galatians 4:22-23

The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise.

Galatians 4:22-23

Dear God, there are a lot of examples in the Bible of people taking your promise and applying their own plan to its execution. That’s what Abraham did with Ishmael and Isaac. I still think it’s what the apostles did when they cast lots to replace Judas. You knew you had Paul, but they were compelled to not wait on your timing.

I have certainly been guilty of this. My best examples relate to my career and trying to force what I believed was your call. But there are other examples too. In fact, I have a situation that has really been concerning me within my family. I’ve lost some sleep over it, I’m just sure you want my wife and me to help in some way, and I have even mapped out my own plan to solve the situation. But so far that plan has been rejected. And maybe that rejection is of you, and then again maybe it’s not. I know I can’t force my will upon another adult, but I confess that that is the mistake I lean towards when I see someone struggling and I feel like I can do something about it.

Father, make my path straight, and make it straight for those I love. I know my wife and I are both frustrated with several things happening in lives around us. Help us to seek your desires for us and the role you have for us to play. Help our loved ones to truly sit before you and ask for your guidance. If they feel like we might be helpful, help them to reach out. And in the end, make all of this for your glory and not ours.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen