Daily encouragement

Video by

Katie Fox

ACF Devo Team

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Isaiah 55:8-11

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (NIV)

Behind the Scenes

A few weeks ago, my fourth-grader needed to write a book report for school. It was a tri-fold piece of paper with different components needed on each flap. He was really having trouble getting started, so I suggested a rough draft, to place all the pieces on another paper to check spacing and get the layout correct. I got a resounding, “No, mom, that’s doing double the work.” I laid out so many logical reasons why it was a good idea; I cited my experience as someone who has already passed the fourth grade and happens to have a Master’s degree. In his 10-year-old brain he just couldn’t see how my way could possibly be the best way to get the desired result.

My son didn’t have the life experience or the adult perspective to see why a rough draft would likely save him time and produce a better product. He was prioritizing different things, like getting the assignment done as quickly as he could to move on to other fun things. In our passage from Isaiah, the writer is recounting a conversation where our Loving Parent (God) is telling us about his credentials, his purpose and plans, and why we should put our faith in the One who made the heavens and the Earth.

Make it Real

How challenging it is to trust God’s character when things are going sideways, and there is confusion and suffering. In our passage today, God’s prophet Isaiah is trying to help the Israelites to understand the nature of God. Scholars believe this particular section was written during the time of exile, when God’s chosen people were forced from their homeland by their enemies in surrounding nations. They were likely asking, “God what are you thinking to allow us to be exiled? Is this really the best way to accomplish your purposes for your chosen people? Why are we suffering like this when you are the one true God?”

But we know that God is omniscient, knowing everything there is to know in the universe. God’s thoughts are not contaminated by evil like our thoughts; they are pure and holy. God’s ways are also pure and holy, consistent with his character, as this passage reminds us. We like to think our ways, the things we do, are pure, as well, but really, everything is tainted by sin. Neither our thoughts nor our ways are like God’s, at least not without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Based on the fact that God’s thoughts and ways are far beyond our own, God’s plans and purposes are also beyond our comprehension. All throughout the Bible, we see God’s sovereignty over nature, like parting the Red Sea or sending a fish to rescue Jonah. God created the water cycle to work perfectly to bring rain and snow from the atmosphere to the earth, causing plants to grow. One commentator said that these verses remind us that bread gives life this year and seed holds the promise of life next year. God is both providing for our needs today and in the future. What is more, we know that God’s plan is that of a loving parent, wishing to rescue us and restore us to himself. “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son that he who believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Where are the places in your life where you are telling God that you know better? That your idea of how to solve the problem is far superior? Just like my child trying to tell me that I didn’t know an effective way to complete a book report, we tell God our way is better. We want the quickest way out, wanting to move on to other things, when maybe he has us where we are for our benefit and our growth. How can you trust today that God’s word will not return empty, that he is doing something you can’t see or understand?

End in Prayer

Creator of Heaven and Earth, we are in awe of all that you have made, the seen and the unseen. How awesome are your works, too intricate and grand for our human minds to comprehend! You created all of nature to work together in perfect harmony, by your holy and loving design. So too are your plans God. They are not without purpose, and they always come to fruition. So today, Master Planner, may we yield to your ways and purposes as we trust in your sovereign goodness over everything. Help us not to think our thoughts are somehow better than your thoughts, but to trust that your word does not return void. In your Son’s mighty name we pray, amen.

Written by

Katie Townley

ACF Devo Team