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A Daily Guide for My Utmost for His Highest (Part I)

guideMy Utmost for His Highest has long been a challenge for some readers to understand, and for that reason Discovery House published a contemporary guide in fall 2014.

Painstakingly written by Dr. Jed Macosko and Dr. Cecilie Macosko, A Daily Companion to My Utmost for His Highest  is the result of years of reading and studying Oswald Chamber’s devotional first published in 1927.

I interviewed the husband and wife Macosko writing team about A Daily Companion (today’s post, Part I), as well as their experience researching Oswald and Biddy’s Chambers to write the book (next post, Part II).

Jed and Cecilie have read My Utmost for His Highest  “off and on since 1992.” In 2008, Jed tried to read it daily for an entire year. He found it a challenge:

“It it was hard for me to take in the meaning of each reading, particularly when I was still trying to process the reading from the day before.

“In order to get a better handle on the main points from each day, I decided to sum up each day’s reading in a bite-sized sentence or two. I also wrote down a few questions that would challenge me to apply the main points, and I wrote out the beginning “seeds” of a prayer that would point my heart in the right direction as I talked to God about that day’s reading.”

Personal work

When he and Cecilie contracted to write A Daily Companion in 2012, his personal work became the basis for the project.

“The bite-sized sentences became the summaries that are found at the top of each page in A Daily Companion, while the questions and prayer-seeds became the Companion’s application questions and the “finish this prayer” sections. These three components were finished in December, 2008, and became a useful tool for both of us in our reading of Utmost.”

As the publisher explains,

“While the purpose of  My Utmost for His Highest is to give you spiritual energy to be your best for God. This companion book is designed to help you better digest Chambers’ teaching on the Scriptures as the Holy Spirit uses these devotions and Bible passages to make radical changes in your life.

“Each page in A Daily Companion examines the corresponding reading in Chambers’ devotional and includes a short summary of the day’s topic, the Scripture context of the quoted text, and suggestions to help you apply Chambers’ teaching to your life.”

Format

The one page companion for each day is divided into five parts. Using the title assigned to each date by the original devotional, A Daily Companion provides several starting questions related to the post. It includes several paragraphs of biographical background.

The Macoskas wrote about the scriptural context (each devotion in My Utmost for His Highest is grounded in a Bible verse). They provide several paragraphs devoted to What’s the Devotional Saying? and finish with several application questions.

Guiide My Utmost for His Highest

Sample page Companion

The actual My Utmost for His Highest devotional is not included in the book–you read the two books together or, like me, on a mobile device. (A Daily Companion is available as an ebook and the devotional can be read at www.utmost.org).

While the Mocoskos had hoped to include both Chambers’ devotional in the same book with their companion, copright restrictions presented problems. (Not to mention the size of the book. My copy is 380 large pages long).

Classic or Updated?

The Macokos, like me, found  My Utmost for His Highest hard to understand for many current readers, whether read in the “classic” or “updated” edition. (Tabs on the utmost.org website allow you to choose which version you prefer). They suspect new generations will have an increasingly difficult time with the devotional.

“Our aim with A Daily Companion was to make Utmost, which is an already superb devotional, easier to pick up and start reading each day. Our experience reading F. LaGard Smith’s Daily Bible gave us hope that we could accomplish this aim.

“Smith had compiled a chronological Bible that we had enjoyed reading daily for several years. Later, we found out that Smith had written an accompanying devotional. When we started using his devotional, the already-superb Daily Bible became even more fun to read! We hoped to provide a similar enhanced experience for Utmost.”

They had two type of readers in mind while writing the book: readers meeting My Utmost for His Highest for the first time, as well as those who have read it many times.

They wanted to give first-time readers encouragement not to give up because of potential difficulties in understanding the devotional. For people like me, they wanted to provide new insights.

New insight

I gained new insight and I’m very familiar with both My Utmost for His Highest and Oswald and Biddy Chambers.

The Macoskos wrote the book as much for themselves as for others.

“Even after writing those three components in 2008, we continued to struggle with understanding and applying the truths in Utmost. We struggled with abandoning ourselves to God.  Being asked to turn those three components into a full-length book was a great opportunity for us to go deeper into Utmost.

“We agreed to write A Daily Companion because we hoped that writing it would help us get a handle on the meaning of each day’s reading, at the deeper level we felt we were still severely lacking.”

They also saw a need for the truths Oswald Chambers wrote and Biddy Chambers put together, for the good of the greater body of Christ.

 “We struggle with how we should live out our Christianity and how we see it lived out in the United States. We wrote this book to challenge ourselves and our fellow American Christians to try a different approach to walking with Jesus—a “throw the towel in” kind of approach that surrenders everything to God.

“This challenge (we think!) is the same challenge Oswald and Biddy were proclaiming to their friends at the Bible Training College and in Egypt. It’s the challenge we all need to hear but are often reluctant to heed.”

I think they’ve done a great job, on all accounts.

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5 Comments

  1. Thanks, Michelle, for keeping us current on the writings of Oswald Chambers. The depth of his spiritual walk and his ministry of words must not be lost.

    Reply
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