I am reading two devotional books this year. One is Living Hope for the End of Days by John Samuel Barnett. One is My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.
Living Hope for the End of Days
I thought week one was great. I was a bit disappointed with week two. The theme was knowing Christ's presence today. Which sounds like a great theme. But the big climax was all leading toward getting readers to pray the Sinner's Prayer. I guess this one had a few elementary basics that might be brand new for some readers--though I'm not sure non-Christians are going to be seeking out a devotional oriented around the book of Revelation. But for me, it just felt odd.
My Utmost for His Highest
I really enjoyed all the readings this week.
January 6 -- This one is about spiritual service tied into worship. "God will never allow you to keep a spiritual blessing completely for yourself. It must be given back to Him so that He can make it a blessing to others." He defines worship as "giving God the best that He has given you." I'm not sure I've fully absorbed what he's getting at.
January 7 -- This one is about intimacy with Jesus Christ. "Once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely and we never lack for understanding and compassion." He hasn't yet explained the how, I believe another entry this week touches on this topic as well.
January 8 -- This one is about how God wants us to be LIVING sacrifices. He writes, "God never tells us to give up things just for the sake of giving them up, but He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having, namely, life with Himself." I think this is why Lent makes little sense to me--at least the way most people "do" Lent.
January 9 -- This one is about the importance of meditation and the cleansing presence or filling of the Holy Spirit. "The same Spirit that fed the life of Jesus Christ will feed the life of our spirit."
January 10 -- Chambers argues that there is a distinction between conversion and regeneration. A distinction I'm not sure that I agree with actually. This one has another deeply troubling statement: "Our job as workers for God is to open people's eyes so that they may turn themselves from darkness to light." The other statement was, "Conversion is not regeneration. This is a neglected fact in our preaching today."
I strongly disagree with the first statement. It is not our job to open people's eyes. It is our job to faithfully, steadfastly proclaim the TRUTH as revealed in the Word of God. Our job is to sow the word, to be faithful to the message and proclaim it in and out of season. No matter what people want to hear--it is our job to give them what they actually need to hear. God the Spirit opens eyes, ears, hearts, minds. We are not the spirit; we can be used by the Spirit. But there is a big distinction. Clever words, persuasive logic don't win souls.
Not only is it impossible for God's workers to open people's eyes....by their preaching...but it is impossible for the listeners, the people, to turn themselves from darkness to light... That's just NONSENSE.
Conversion or regeneration is a matter of RESURRECTION. Only God can bring the dead to life. Only God can put flesh on dry bones. Only God can breathe life where once there was death, decay, rot. Only God. God alone.
January 11 -- This entry quite honestly confused me. It's about how our obedience to God costs us nothing because of the joy it brings to us but it costs the ones we love dearly at times.
January 12 -- This entry was much better than the past two days. In fact, it might be my favorite of the week. "It is astounding how ignorant we are about ourselves! We have to get rid of the idea that we understand ourselves. That is always the last bit of pride to go. The only One who understands us is God. The greatest curse in our spiritual life is pride." It is only when we see ourselves as God sees us that we can be taught by God. Chambers calls this being alone with God.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible