2021! Whew! 2020 was quite the ride… there is little doubt that we will ever forget the challenges 2020 took us through: Wildfires, George Floyd dying in police custody and the protests that followed, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, the election of the first woman as Vice President… oh, and there was that COVID 19 pandemic thing that flipped the globe on its head, people dying, stores, restaurants, nearly all businesses, and even churches closed. In a matter of moments, almost every pastor became a TV evangelist. Not to mention the toilet paper crisis – do you still have some rolls stashed in the closet???
Well, we’re finally at the start of a new year. While the “new year” is an arbitrary moment based on a calendar, it does feel like a new start. People start diets, make commitments to follow a budget that will lead to some financial goals, and usually, the gyms are full of people trying to start healthy new habits.
One thing I do every new year is to begin reading a devotional book that will challenge me in the coming 365 days. This year I have gone back to a book I have read at least 8 times in my adulthood. It was given to me at my High School graduation by my aunt and uncle and it has had a significant impact on my life. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. This book was put together from notes Chamber’s wife kept from his sermons – he died at the age of 43, but his words live far beyond.
“I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone.” Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest, Updated Edition.
Live entirely for Him, my utmost for His highest! How do I step into that?
“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky”. Philippians 2:13-15 NIV
To live into God’s highest we were and are continually given the Holy Spirit to make us blameless and pure in a guilty and stained world. It is not by our will power we become holy. Our willpower will run out like a diet or a new fitness plan if we attempt to be holy without the grace of the sanctifying Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us the “will to” and the “want to” live pure in our world. But not without our utmost – our full cooperation and obedience - Chambers even calls it unstoppable determination. We are called to live Holy, empowered by His Spirit and our obedience. Great place to start a new year.
BTW on a personal note, thanks for your prayers – Our oldest son Daniel has returned home from Okinawa after serving in the Marines for 12 years.