Just after Christmas 2016, my father encouraged me to read the Oswald Chambers daily devotional called "My Utmost for His Highest". In the January 1 reading it says "Shut out every other thought and keep yourself before God in this one thing only— my utmost for His highest. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone.".
In the introduction to Oswald's revised edition of this book, it is said that Oswald, responding to questions about why he was wasting his time constructing rock-lined walkways and a myriad of flowers in the desert camp (where he and his wife were stationed during World War 1) he said "A grave defect in much work of today is that men do not follow Solomon's admonition, 'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.' The tendancy is to argue, 'It's only for so short a time, why trouble?' If it's only for five minutes, let it be well done."
Earlier in the morning I was reading Malachi 1 where Malachi was reprimanding the people of the day for offering God polluted offerings and for just going through the motions of making the ritual sacrifices to God. But the motives of the people, and even the priests, was contemptable in God's eyes because it was being done completely with carelessness and without a true heart of respect and reverence. In Malachi 1:6 it says "A son honors his father, a servant honors his master. I am your Father and Master, yet you don’t honor me...". In verse 8 it goes on to say "You [the priests] tell the people, ‘Lame animals are all right to offer on the altar of the Lord—yes, even the sick and the blind ones.’ And you claim this isn’t evil? Try it on your governor sometime—give him gifts like that—and see how pleased he is!"
We know we need to make time for God, to spend time with Him, to pray on a regular basis. But are we doing these things with our utmost? Are we giving God worship and praise and seeking Him just when we have a few spare minutes and at a time that is convenient to us? When we're communicating with Him and seeking to hear His voice, are we doing this with our full attention to Him or is it half-hearted because our mind is thinking about what we've got to do next, or worse yet, we're just going through the motions like the people and priests were doing that Malachi was admonishing?
As employers and employees we know when we're not focusing on what we're supposed to be doing, as parents we know when our children are not paying attention, not listening or doing something begrudgingly or out of duty rather than out of love and obedience. With God, who sees into our very hearts and minds and souls, how much more does He know if our devotion and actions are truly being done with respect, honor and love that He deserves and demands of us?
We have absolutely no excuse that we have no time or that we cannot spare the time. Look at Daniel, the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon (Daniel 2:48) yet Daniel always found time to regularly pray and worship God - even when it meant certain death. And King David, ruler of an entire Kingdom, leader of a vast army, regularly being plotted against by his enemies and even close friends, yet look how many Psalms he wrote. Look at his unswerving devotion to spend time with God and excalting Him even when his enemies had him hiding in a cave (Psalm 142). If great leaders like this can find time to worship and pray to God, what excuse can we possibly have?
Our life and service we do for God, the work we do for our employees, how we care for our families, spouses and children all must measure up to this standard - whatever we do, to do it with all of our might and to do it absolutely and entirey for Him and Him alone!
Paul Hughes - 1 January 2017
I have always enjoyed writing but for so many years now it seems to always have been reports or other documents for work or a client. Starting now in 2017, I want to write some of my observations and insights - especially of my spiritual awakening with God and my journey here in Cambodia.