Monday, March 3, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 14

 image is used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Wikipedia’s Wikimedia.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (KJV)  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  

We apply that in a lot of ways, some appropriate, others not so much.  More often than not, it's used out of context to highlight in some way how much we are influenced by our flesh. I can hear us now, like scolding a puppy for going in the wrong place, "Bad flesh!  Bad people!". But that's really not what this passage is all about.  It's actually the middle of a passage that shows God drawing people to Himself by giving us reasons why being one with Him is good. Take a look and see what we mean.


First of all, for those of you who looked at our illustration and said to yourselves, "That doesn't look like either coal or diamonds.", you're right.  That's Beryl and it's actually the cover illustration for our March 14 day devotional, "The Clarity of Beryl".  You can get that for your Kindle, here: http://amzn.to/N7a1t9 .  But I mention it because there's a reason I settled into 14 days per month that will fit in with this or one of the next several posts in this series.  But we'll get to that.

"My thoughts are not your thoughts," really sounds like a condemning talking point from God.  But look at the preceding two verses.  God says, in Isaiah 55:6-7 (KJV), "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.".  Draw near.  It's not what God says that's punishing and condemning, it's how our human nature tends to twist what He says.  God is telling us that He's near, wants us to be in unity with Him, He's not the one who condemns.  It's stated differently in Proverbs 21:

Proverbs 21:20-21 (KJV)  There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.  He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.

In other words, verses 8 and 9 of  Isaiah 55 are giving us a recognizable contrast between fleshly thought and God's thoughts.  Look at what the next several verses say:

Isaiah 55:10-11 (KJV)  For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

That's where God says that the Word He sends out doesn't return void!  There's certainly the effect of the written Word on people's spiritual life.  It creates conversion or growth and, in some, highlights unrepentant hearts.  But it doesn't return void.  So, follow my thinking and the thing that has me getting really excited.  John 1:1-4 points us to the reality of Jesus being the Living Word.  John 10:28-30 demonstrates that Jesus does the saving and, once one is saved, both the Father and the Son hold onto those saved.  And, just to cap that, Hebrews 13:5 tells us that He will never leave or forsake us.  Whether it's the written Word or the Living Word, it does not return to the Father void! That's exciting!

Isaiah 55:12-13 (KJV)  For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

That gives us the result of properly heeding the unvoided Word.  It almost seems to be saying we all go to heaven.  What about those whose heart is hardened against God?  The ones who are not only unrepentant, but make the spiritual walk of believers more difficult?  That's where one of Jesus' parables comes in.  There are the tares and the wheat, in Matthew 13:24-30.  Removing the tares from the wheat during the growing season has the potential of harming the wheat.  Even if the tares effect the wheat's growth, that's still less harmful than killing some of the wheat to get rid of the tares early.  Then comes the harvest and the tares are apparently different enough from the wheat that they can be easily harvested out, first.  Then there's the final harvest for the wheat, which gets put into the barns.  But the tares have already been harvested, bundled and burned.  The tares are prevented by the burning from getting stored in the farmer's barns.  The Word does not return void; tares aren't permanently mixed in.  In my own case,  there's another set of verses that highlights that:

Psalm 62:11-12 (KJV)  God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.  Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.

God spoke and I was twice given opportunities to hear.  That little nun who shared her love for Jesus. And Hank Jones not missing an opportunity to share God's love.  There were other times in my life, after that, that were momentous.  But these two were pivotal moments that God continually brings to my remembrance.  We'll get into that more, next time.  But that last set of verses also highlights a principle that keeps the tares from choking the wheat too badly.

When I was writing my first devotional, a deadline made keeping it to 14 days a necessity.  Trying to stay spiritual while forcing 31 separate entries just wasn't going to work.  So, I decided on 14, two weeks.  And it soon became evident that was God's intention.  When we  were in school, as we prepared for tests, it was repetition that glued the appropriate facts into our heads.  At least long enough to pass the test.  When I was in Bible college, it was drummed into my head that repetition was even more important to seal the heart of the Word in our own hearts.  So, in the devotionals I write, there are groups of days that cover an overall point, giving each segment a bit of repetition. And, by sticking with 14 days, each month's devotional can be read twice in the month.  "Twice have I heard this;".  God has a better chance to ingrain Truth in our hearts.  And, instead of  God saying, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways", we can more readily bring our thinking in line with God's heart.

What are we doing, today, to think with God?



2 comments:

  1. Well written Bill. I also believe that "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." is a reminder that God does not always act and respond the way we think He should. Too often we try to make God fit into our logical brain. Logic resonating is also what keeps many from seeing the Bible as the Word of God and not just made up thoughts of man.

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    1. I agree, Jon. Putting God in a box is one of the worst things we can do. We're going to be disappointingly shocked when He does things His way instead of the way we want Him to. God IS logical, but His logic far surpasses ours. So, just because something was appropriate for one situation doesn't mean that's the case for a similar case. There are things about every moment that only God knows.

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