Isaiah 55:8, 9 - God's Thoughts And Ways Are Higher Than Ours.
Isaiah 55:8, 9 - God's Thoughts And Ways Are Higher Than Ours.
Isaiah 55:8, 9 (NIV) "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are
higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my
thoughts than your thoughts."
INTRODUCTION & OVERVIEW
At the National Pastors Prayer Summit several years ago in
Washington, D.C., I had the privilege of hearing the late Richard Halverson,
former chaplain of the U.S. Senate, speak on the pivotal verse of his
life. He stated emphatically, "As I come to the end of my life, if I
could impart only one verse to you, it would be Isaiah 55:8!"
I was more than intrigued. In the days that followed, I
looked at that verse from every angle. Isaiah 55:8, and indeed the
whole chapter, became a consuming study. In the first half of the
chapter, the prophet challenges readers with a variety of action words.
Isaiah calls for the hungry and thirsty to come and drink, to listen to
the Lord, to see his power, to seek him, call on him, change our
ways, and turn to the Lord for mercy. If we do, God offers his life,
love, forgiveness, healing, glory, and mercy. And that's in just the
first seven verses!
How can you grasp the reality of God? Verses 8-9 explain that
God cannot be explained. His ways and thoughts cannot be compared to
ours. His knowledge and abilities are on an entirely different plane,
beyond anything we can imagine. Still, he allows us to connect with
that plane through prayer, reading the Scriptures, and following
Jesus. And no study of Isaiah 55 would be complete without describing
the harvest guaranteed from sowing God's Word (see vv. 10-13).
Earl Pickard is the national director of Prayerworks, a
ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International, and an executive
member of the National Prayer Committee. [The One Year Bible Life Verse
COMMENTARY RE PARADOXES
"I know you seek understanding, but your normal ways of
thinking won't work in My Presence and in My Kingdom. You have already
noticed many paradoxes - that the first will be last, that you must
serve in order to be great, that the humble will be exalted, that you
must give in order to receive, that you must die in order to live. My
people forget these often, even though they are specifically stated in
My Word. But there are many more that are forgotten, sometimes even
"One is that you must believe in order to see. Your world
tells you the opposite: that you must see in order to believe. But
that isn't faith. My ways always emphasize seeing the Kingdom with
spiritual eyes before you see it with physical eyes. Take care what you
believe; only then will you have the experience you seek.
"Another paradox is related. You expect to be delighted in Me
when your desires are fulfilled - when I answer your prayers and
satisfy your heart. But it works the other way around. Your desires will
be fulfilled when you delight in Me. In My Kingdom your internal
reality shapes your outward experience. The world teaches you to move in
the opposite direction, thinking that your outward experience shapes
your internal fulfillment. Don't fall for that lie. Be fulfilled - in
Me, in your delights, in your belief - and watch your outer life
change. Come to Me on these terms - always in ways that are higher than
Father, help me change the way I think. I know this is the
heart of repentance - a change of mind to be able to see with Your
eyes. Please help me delight in You and believe what I don't yet see.
[The One Year Experiencing God's Presence Devotional by Chris
COMMENTARY RE PROVIDENCE
Rarely does God do something exactly as we think He will. Our
problem is that we try to second guess God, saying, "Oh, now I know what
God is planning to do!" Moses experienced this as he learned how God
was going to deliver the Hebrews out of Egypt. God told him He would
harden Pharaoh's heart. Yet, the result was not what Moses anticipated.
Rather than allowing the Hebrews to leave, Pharaoh increased their
hardship. Rather than becoming a hero among the Hebrews, Moses was
despised by them for bringing greater suffering. Moses returned to the
Lord and asked, "Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people?
Why is it You have sent me?"(Ex 5:22). Much of the frustration we
experience as Christians has nothing to do with what God does or doesn't
do. It has everything to do, rather, with the false assumptions we
make about how we think God will and should act.
Have you ever done the will of God and then things seemed to
become worse? Moses completely misunderstood what the results of His
obedience to God would be. When things did not turn out as he anticipated,
Moses became discouraged. God had told Moses what to do, but He had
not told Moses what the consequences would be.
It is foolish to attempt to do God's work using your own
"common sense." God does not eliminate your common sense, He consecrates
it. He gives you His wisdom so you can understand His ways.
As you look back on God's activity in your life, you will
recognize the supreme wisdom in how He has led you. As you look forward to
what God may do, be careful you do not try to predict what He will do
next. You may find yourself completely off the mark. [Experiencing God
Day by Day by Henry and Richard Blackaby]
I hugged my daughter, Natalie, and kissed my three-month-old
Natalie asked, "When can you come back to Chicago?"
"Not for a while. I have to save for the flight."
"We already miss you."
My husband, John, hugged everyone good-bye, and we left for
O'Hare International Airport. Dark clouds overhead mirrored the
somberness I felt as we drove through pools of water. Upon check-in we were
told the storm would delay our flight one hour. At nine thirty that
night, a small break in the weather allowed us to board. It was a full
flight, and I had not arranged for advanced seat assignments, which
forced us to sit five rows apart.
The plane backed from the gate and stood in line for takeoff.
Lightning flashed. I clutched the armrest and wished my husband were near
me. Anxious and frightened, I prayed, Lord, please don't let the
plane get struck by lightning. Instantly, a bolt flashed so bright
that it illuminated the plane.
Then the captain spoke. "Folks, our tail wing's been hit by
lightning. As a precaution, the fire trucks are arriving to spray the
I heard sirens and chuckled at the irony of my anxious prayer
and God's answer.
My seatmate asked, "You find this funny?"
I smiled. "I just prayed and asked God not to let the plane
He laughed. "I bet God had a reason."
When we disembarked, we were told the next flight to Denver
was two days away. We opted to fly to Colorado Springs, drive to
Denver's airport, find our luggage, drop off the rental, and drive home.
For our inconvenience the airline awarded us two free
tickets. I didn't need to save after all! And I offered a thankful prayer
as I booked our next trip. Genevra Bonati
Lord, help us to remember that your plan is always better
than anything we can conceive of. Amen. [The One Year Devotional of
Joy and Laughter by Mary Hollingsworth]
I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might humbly learn to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I asked for vision that I might control my future.
I was given awareness that I be grateful for the now.
I got nothing I asked for - but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all people most richly blessed. --Anonymous
Prayer: So often, God, I don't understand why your ways are not
my ways. But I wouldn't want it any other way. [Life Recovery
It had been too long since Horace Walpole had smiled. Too
long. Life for him had become as drab as the dreary weather in
England. Then, on a grim winter day in 1754, while he was reading a
Persian folktale, his smile returned. He wrote his longtime friend Sir
Horace Mann, an envoy of King George II, telling him of the "thrilling
approach to life" he had discovered from the folktale - how it had freed
him from his dark prison of gloom.
The ancient tale told of three princes from the island of
Ceylon who set out in pursuit of great treasures. They never found what
they were seeking, but en route they were repeatedly surprised by
delights they had never anticipated. While looking for one thing, they
The original name of Ceylon was Serendip, which explains the
title of the story: "The Three Princes of Serendip." From that,
Walpole coined the wonderful word serendipity. And from then on, his
most significant and valued experiences were those that happened to
him when he was least expecting them.
That "thrilling approach to life" is still a good one. People
go searching for things they think are important - wealth,
happiness, power. But sometimes as they search, they stumble into other
things much more vital to them - God, faith, family, friends, love,
peace, contentment, and joy.
At the end of life, they realize they didn't get what they
wanted, but they had, indeed, ended up with what they needed.
What are you pursuing in your life? When the time comes to
look back over your life, will it be what you thought you wanted, or
will it be what you really needed?
Father God, thank you for guiding us to the heavenly things
we truly need rather than to the earthly things we think we want.
You are merciful to us, Lord. Amen. [The One Year Devotional of Joy
and Laughter by Mary Hollingsworth re Mat. 6:19-20]
COMMENTARY RE PLANS
The natural inclination in Christian living is to act on the
impulse of a good idea. Not every good idea is from God. Sometimes good
ideas get in the way of God ideas.
Where does your inspiration come from? The vision of the
transfigured Christ inspired Peter: "O Lord, it is good for us to be here. If
you wish, I will put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses
and one for Elijah" (Matthew 17:4). Our natural impulse is to do
something good for God and suggest it to Him.
The tendency of the well-meaning person is to prepare a plan
to do some good idea, and then pray, "Jesus, this is my plan. It is
a good plan. It hurts no one, and I want it to please You. Lord,
please bless my plan." It is plan, then pray.
So many of our ideas are impetuous. They are not what the
Lord wants to do. They do not resemble in any way the things which
concern Him. We have good ideas, but they are not God ideas. His agenda
and our agenda conflict. We want to build Him a shelter but that is
not what He wants.... When Peter, James, and John heard the voice of
the Lord . . . they abandoned their inventive-but-self-made idea.
The presence of the Lord magnified, and His holiness brought them to
their senses. Jesus gained their attention, not by subduing them with
a stem scolding, but by magnifying His presence until all the
genius of their human ideas was bleached out by His refulgent face.
When they abandoned their good idea and fell facedown before
the Lord, He could work with them again....
When you and I abandon our good idea and fall to our face
before me Lord, then He will come and touch us, too. When we pursue our
own plan He cannot use us. We must abandon our good idea and fall
facedown before Him. Then He will be able to use us again. Then He will
reveal what He is doing - a God idea.... It is pray, then plan. Through
prayer, Jesus instructs of His plan, a God idea.
Prayer removes the impulse of the good idea, the good idea
born of human ingenuity but not of God. Pray, then plan. It is the
habit of the surrendered saint. (From Walking with Christ in the
Details of Life by Patrick M. Morley) [Inspirational SB re Mat. 13:12]
I was running errands with our three-year-old son, who was
happily chattering away in the backseat. Suddenly he announced, "I have
a great plan, Mama!"
Driving along, I humored him. "Okay, honey. What's your
"When we get home, you can give me some cookies," he said.
"And you'll say I can have them and not 'Wait till after dinner' -
but you be nice to me and let me eat them, okay?"
Trying not to laugh, I said, "Honey, I am being nice when I
say wait till after dinner, because if you eat cookies now, you'll
get a tummy ache and won't be hungry for your good food."
"But, Mom!" he wailed. "Don't say no! No is not my favorite!"
"I know you want some cookies," I assured him. "But trust me.
It's better to wait till after dinner."
More often than I would like to admit, God uses my kids'
antics to spotlight how I have been relating to him.
All too often in my prayers, I approach God with, "I have a
great plan!" Then I casually suggest to the sovereign God of the
universe how he could accomplish my plan. And say (or at least think),
"You be nice and don't say no, God. Because no is not my favorite."
But God, like a good parent, knows what is best for me.
Sometimes he says no to my plans, not because he is "not nice" but because
he has in mind something infinitely better for me. And his plans
are not just great - they're perfect. Jennifer Stair
God, help me to wait and seek what you have in store for me.
Instead of telling you my great plan, teach me to trust in your perfect
plan. Amen. [The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter by Mary
SOME CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
The people of Israel were foolish to act as if they knew what
God was thinking and planning. His knowledge and wisdom are far
greater than man's. We are foolish to try to fit God into our mold--to
make his plans and purposes conform to ours. Instead, we must strive
to fit into his plans. [Life Application SB]
"The dealings of God with His people often appear mysterious.
His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. Many times
His way of dealing is so contrary to our plans and expectations that
we are amazed and confounded. We do not understand our perverse
natures; and often when we are gratifying self, following our own
inclinations, we flatter ourselves that we are carrying out the mind of God.
And so we need to search the Scriptures, and be much in prayer,
that, according to His promise, the Lord may give us wisdom. TM503
Let men pray that they may be divested of self, and may be in
harmony with heaven. Let them pray, "Not my will, but thine, O God, be
done." Let men bear in mind that God's ways are not their ways, nor His
thoughts their thoughts; for He says, "As the heavens are higher than the
earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your
Even when we do not understand what God is up to in our lives -
which may happen frequently - He asks us to trust Him. He knows what
He is doing, even if we cannot comprehend His methods or timing.
For to obey God is to bless ourselves; to disobey Him is to curse
ourselves. "I have come," Jesus said, "that they may have life, and that
they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). [Life Principles SB
By Charles Stanley]
LINKS FOR FURTHER STUDY:
EXCELLENT VIDEO SERIES ON EXPERIENCING GOD:
EXCELLENT BIBLE PROPHECY SERIES BY DR RON CLOUZET:
Prophecies Decoded Sermon Series: