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Sermon – 8/5/01 – Isaiah 55:8 – My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts

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My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8)

What do you do when the "circumstances" just don’t seem right? Some years ago, I was tested along with others for a temporary job that would last a long time and pay quite well. I was runner-up for the position, after which I sighed, shrugged, and took another temporary job that paid less. The hours for the job I took were odd –  from three in the afternoon to 11 PM, with no guarantees of weekends off for Sunday evening services. I also attended meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings at the time, and all of those meetings would now be gone.

Then suddenly, the first job opened up again, but I had already taken the second one! The circumstances didn’t seem "right" (because I didn’t get what I wanted). The place where I DIDN’T get to work was much closer, the hours were better and so was the pay! But the outcome of this one was to be – interesting.

This was in 1995, and the situation drew me into looking for Scriptures that would be, I guess - comforting. The way it looked to me at the time was that the Lord had closed the door to a great job, and after I could no longer take the job, it opened up! And it remained unavailable to me! I felt discouraged but then began to find help in Isaiah Chapter 55.

It’s a WONDERFUL Chapter, full of clues to many of life’s concerns. The very simple "why didn’t the good job work out for ME?" was the concern of the moment. So I went to work, missed the meetings, found I LOVED being away from work in the mornings, and had other benefits – like, I wrote a book! There were long stretches of time during the evening shift when we had absolutely NOTHING to do! All of us did "busy" things during those times, and so I gradually, over the next few months, wrote a book. A paragraph here, a sentence there (between calls) and it was done. It isn’t published yet but I enjoyed doing it, and never could have done it on the other job.

The other thing is that I was promoted. First they put me in charge of second shift (3-11 PM), and then they made me the manager of all the shifts, at almost twice the pay I would have made on the job I didn't get. I was doing WELL, in precisely the job I had not wanted and had felt discouraged about.

Isaiah 55 is addressed to the "thirsty" ("every one that thirsts" – verse 1), and encourages us "you who have no money", to "come buy and eat." This is precisely addressed to you and to me. What is your "thirst" in life? – God will meet your need. Not just "spiritual" needs, though our spiritual needs are amply MET in Jesus Christ. But if you also have an "outward" need – ASK HIM, and He WILL see you through!

He continues, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He WILL have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:7). There are unresolved needs within us that are MET in Him – we have a full PARDON in the Cross of Jesus Christ. It’s time for us to repent (change our ways) and trust in Him.

People really don’t forgive very well, though we often give lip service to the idea. In truth it is Christ in us who forgives, for "His ways" (verse 8) are simply different than any we could imagine. We are so LIMITED in forgiving others but He is – INFINITE in forgiveness, and therefore, He can forgive you and me, even when we have NOTHING to offer in return. In Him we find we can 1) forgive others, and 2) forgive ourselves.

I continue to be fascinated by the story of Dennis Stinson. He was making money; he had a home, a marriage, a family, cars – and suddenly he was paralyzed, and ALL that he valued was gone. Yet in losing everything, He embraced Christ! You can almost hear the sigh of God, who does not want any one of us to suffer, and yet it seems there was almost no other way for this man.

The Lord (through Isaiah the prophet) goes on, "So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). He has a purpose for your life, just as He has for Dennis Stinson, and for each one. He will reveal to you the REASON you were created.

One more thing about the job I didn’t get – it would have involved training; unpaid training. I wouldn’t have been able to pay my bills like I did by taking the "wrong" job. And you could say that Dennis is in the "wrong" place in life, because he is paralyzed, and yet, he has FAITH, saving faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which he might not have if he was not in that chair.

The "ways" and the "thoughts" of God are higher than yours and mine. Does this suggest we should live in some kind of fear, because God might squash us like a bug at any minute? Absolutely not, and that is precisely the point – God LOVES you and me.

"For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace" (Isaiah 55:12). I’ve heard it said that people typically "live lives of quiet desperation" (though some just aren’t all that quiet about it). Angry people – the world is full of them – and there is ultimately no happiness, no joy, no SATISFACTION for angry people, except in the Lord Jesus Christ.

God has in mind that the events of your life, no matter how "difficult" they may seem at the moment, will lead you to "JOY" and to lasting "PEACE." You will find all this in Him, and in no other way.

There is an old gospel song that went, "I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore, very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more; but the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry; from the waters lifted me, now safe am I." And then the refrain, "Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help, love lifted me."

And that is precisely what we see in Isaiah 55 – His thoughts are higher than ours, and He LOVES you and me. Father, we’ve struggled long enough. At last we say, I trust you now, Lord Jesus. I WANT Your joy and I WANT your peace – I want YOU. I receive You, Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
www.fridaystudy.org
ron@fridaystudy.org

 

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