Suppose that, after Jacob had worked 14 hard years for Rachel’s hand (Gen. 29), Rachel told him, “Okay, Jake, you get fifteen minutes of my attention each day, as long as you don’t wake me up too early.” Or suppose that, after Jesus died for us, we said, “Thanks, Lord. You can have Sunday mornings, plus the time it takes me to drink my latté on weekdays. Saturday’s all mine.”

That’s what comes to mind when I see titles like Five Minutes with God, or Busy Mommies’ Tiny Moments with Jesus. Last time I checked, ChristianBook.com actually had 27 books listed under the category ‘one minute devotions’!

While each daily reading is brief, Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest is not a fluffy one minute devotional. Read it slowly, meditatively, with a Bible open. Daily readings expand upon a short passage of Scripture, challenging believers to apply God’s words to our lives.

Chambers, a YMCA chaplain, died in 1917 while serving British soldiers in Egypt. His wife compiled My Utmost for His Highest from his many writings and messages. For good reason, it has become the best-selling devotional ever.

WARNING: If you prefer popularity to godliness, don’t read this book. And if knowing who won “American Idol” matters more than knowing God, leave 'Utmost' on the shelf.

On the other hand, if you want to know, obey, and enjoy God (or if you wish you wanted to), then Chambers is your man. He’ll challenge you to examine your motives, priorities, and behavior in the light of God’s Word. His readings may be short, but they dig deeply into these and other topics:

  • The role of our will (e.g. deliberate obedience) in cultivating a right relationship with God
  • The dangers of depending upon emotions more than upon God’s truth
  • Cost—what it did cost God to rescue us, and what it might cost us to serve Him
  • What it means to trust God in all things

Many American Christians believe this: God saved me for me. He spent His Son’s life primarily to make me happy -- ‘His Utmost for My Happiness.’ They forget that God rescues us from slavery to self and sin so that we will become like Jesus (Romans 8:29), who did not try to please Himself, but His Father (John 8:29).

The book’s title calls us to commit our utmost (our best time, attention, effort, etc.) to achieve God’s highest purpose. Jesus saves us for a purpose much higher than feeling happy. He wants God’s glory to be known and worshipped among all nations (Psalm 96:3), and His many blessings serve that purpose (Psalm 67).

In fact, we will actually be much happier if we quit trying to be happy (!) and start living to know God, please God, and accomplish His purposes. Oswald Chambers excels at calling Christians to exactly this kind of joy through selfless service.

Favorite Quotes:

“Beware of posing as a profound person; God became a baby!”

“Our salvation costs us so little precisely because it cost Him so much.”

(My Utmost For His Highest has been made available for check-out from the ABEFC library, along with other titles in The Bookshelf.)