Utmost Notes – Jan. 7

January 7thThe whole experience of life is designed to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ. – Oswald Chambers

Often I treat Jesus like a fond acquaintance rather than an intimate friend.  I spent so many years training my mind and tongue to approach Jesus as My Lord and Savior, that I have struggled at times (like Phillip in John 14:9) to approach Jesus as a friend. But how else can I learn to trust him?

Decades of church attendance didn’t do it. Small group leadership didn’t do it. Leading bible studies didn’t do it, and neither  did church staff membership. All those things were important and valuable, but only intimate friendship with Jesus has brought about lasting, internal transformation. When I lay my ambitions at the foot of the cross, along with my fears, my doubts and my schedule – when I spend time in prayer, asking and confessing and thanking – I begin to trust. He builds the faith I need. He builds it from within me.

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I’m spending this week sharing notes from my daily time in My Utmost for His Highest. If this is a benefit to you, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

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My Utmost Notes – Jan. 6

January 6“Worship is giving God the best that He has given you. Be careful what you do with the best you have.” – Oswald Chambers

How precious are my morning hours? How jealously do I guard the quiet moments in my house before my children wake up?

I LOVE sleep, and for me it is often elusive. So it is truly a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1) when I spend that time in prayer or studying God’s word or sitting and listening for the Lord. Furthermore, it starts my day with the right perspective. When I sacrifice to Him, I am stirring up the memory of my allegiance to Him, and of His love for me. In this light, I am both humble and fearless before men.

I am like a well-trained soldier ready for battle, but instead of being ready for war, I am ready for love. And when I stay in contact with the Holy Spirit throughout my day, the wounded, tired, lonely people that cross my path will be refreshed and comforted by my presence.

This is a picture of the earthly ministry of Jesus, but it is also within my grasp. Not perfectly, not without my own wounds and fears blinding me from time to time, but blessedly imperfectly. Jesus has made provision for my imperfection. One way to thank him might be scheduling another early morning meeting.

 “You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God.” – Exodus 34:26

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My Utmost Notes – Jan. 5

January-5The first time Peter followed Jesus, he did not have the Holy Spirit. He followed because Jesus asked, and he was awesome, and Peter’s human instincts kicked in. I know how that feels. Greatness is attractive.

After Peter denied Jesus, he was humbled by the limits of his human willpower. Only after receiving the Holy Spirit and relying on the Spirit’s power could Peter become a true disciple, and live out his highest calling.

There are many human-powered ways to move through life.  And I love to “have a plan and work the plan.” But without the Lord directing my steps through daily attention to the Holy Spirit, I can never be a true disciple. I can’t love the people around me well, and I’ll never find peace in the midst of my striving.

I can’t even rely on the changes Jesus has already made in my heart and character. I can only rely on him. And he is faithful.

A man’s heart plans his way: but the LORD directs his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

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Over the last 15+ years, I’ve opened My Utmost for His Highest more than I’ve opened my own Bible. It has always provided rich, daily refreshment and conviction, full of grace and yet full of holy fear of the Lord.  And best of all, it always points to Scripture, so even if I didn’t start with the Word, I often end there.

I started fresh again on January 1.  Though the words are familiar after all these years, still the Holy Spirit never ceases to use the thoughts of Oswald Chambers to point me to Himself. I decided to take distilled notes this week and share them on the blog as a part of my daily ritual. I hope it is of some benefit to others, because I already know it will benefit me.

That said, if you’re interested in hearing more, post a comment and let me know!