Isaiah 55:8

Verse of the Day Devotion Isaiah 55:8 

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 55:8

Our focus verse addresses the idea that we as mankind are absolutely different from God.  This, along with verse nine show just how much we differ, in everything.  Let us go back one verse and take a look at our major difference. “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. Here we see the distinct difference between the two: man’s sinfulness and God’s compassion.

Just how different are God’s thoughts and ways from those of people on earth?  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9. Notice the link here.  His thoughts are above our thoughts, and His ways are above our ways.  And this contrast between God and mankind is compared to the distance between the heavens and the earth.  Just to give some context Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to our solar system is located 25 trillion miles away.  It takes light just over four years to reach earth.  Now this may seem like a large distance, however, the next closest sun-like star is actually three times farther then Alpha Centauri.  Thus, it would take twelve years to arrive.  And these are but two stars.  When we look into the sky at night, we see an incredible number of stars which are but a tiny percentage of all the stars in the heavens.  And many of the stars are so far away we will never see the light from them.

Now this is a huge distance between the heavens and the earth. Such a comparison might make one wonder if there is anything that is similar between the thoughts of God and the common man. Surely there are few similarities between God and the wicked, but there are some similarities between the righteous believer who reads or hears about God’s thoughts and ways and attempts to live a life consistent with God’s instructions. Nevertheless, even with these few similarities with the righteous, it is not hard to accept the idea that God’s plans and purposes are exceedingly higher than anything the smartest righteous person has ever thought or imagined. But is this text referring to all God’s thoughts and plans or to a specific topic? Since nothing specific is mentioned, one could suggest that this is a broad principle that applies to all areas of life and thinking. Yet the contextual reference to God’s compassion and forgiveness of sins as seen above in verses 6-7 indicates that the divine plan of redemption is the supreme example of God’s higher thoughts and ways. Some people have a hard time being compassionate toward good people, and most find it hard to be merciful to extremely wicked people. Most people have difficulty truly forgiving those who wrong them, but God is willing to love the most unlovely and ungodly, even forgive those who do unforgivable evil against others and blaspheme the name of God, if they come to Him and truly repent.

We who are followers of God must strive to live as He desires us to live.  We will never, in all ways, think like He thinks or make His ways our ways.  Yes, the point here is to assert that the ways of iniquity and wickedness are to be rejected precisely because they are not God’s ways does not rule out the recognition that forgiveness and pardon are not normally human thoughts and ways either.  “Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not right. Hear now, O house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies because of it, for his iniquity which he has committed he will die. Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. But the house of Israel says, The way of the Lord is not right. Are My ways not right, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not right?” Ezekiel 18:25-29. 

But we can, and must, make it our goal to move in that direction.  When we are truly saved it is important that we make His ways our ways.  “The one who says, I have come to know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:5-6. Let us all strive to walk as He walked, loving all people no matter how they treat us, and do all He has called us to do.  We may fail at times but knowing He will forgive us gives us the opportunity to grow in His ways and become more like Christ day by day.  

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Isaiah 55:7

Verse of the Day Devotion Isaiah 55:7  

“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

When we look at the verse just prior to our focus verse, we see Isaiah’s call to His people to become more diligent in their relationship with God.  “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6.  Isaiah tells us to seek God while God allows Himself to be found.  Back then at the time of the writing of the Book of Isaiah, as well as now, God can be found because He is near.  We can call out to Him and He will hear us and we can cry out to Him for mercy while repenting of our sins, and He will answer and forgive us.  For when the Messiah comes for His people, this time will be gone.

Now in our focus verse, the writer says that one of the things that a wicked person must do when drawing near to God is to forsake their evil ways, their evil thoughts, and their evil plans. The verb “forsake” is traditionally translated as a continuation of God’s invitation expressed in a mildly commanding wish or desire, in this case, let the wicked forsake his way. The act of forsaking past ways and thoughts involves the rejection of these behaviors and a decisive break from past beliefs, assumptions, priorities, and plans. Of course it is not always easy to separate instantly from past friends, past ways of doing things, or a past philosophy of life. The second verb encourages the audience to “turn” to God after they have turned away from their past wicked life. This requires a transformation of the mind and heart by the Spirit of God. The plans of God may require his people to give up their dreams, change jobs, and move to live in another place, but the person who truly turns to God wants to serve him and eagerly desires to follow his direction. This request to return to the Lord is a spiritual change of the will and a person’s thinking. This is a turning to follow God. 

And the results of this forsaking of an old evil way of thinking and accepting a new godly perspective is that God will have compassion and will freely pardon those who respond. Although it is clear that God will have mercy on those who repent, it would be wrong to draw the conclusion that repentance is required before God can show mercy on anyone. That would almost suggest that certain works of faith automatically produce or earn for the believer a gracious divine response. Yet, many passages speak of God’s love and compassion for sinful people, so it is clear that various aspects of God’s mercy happen both before and after repentance, though no human acts can earn God’s grace. As an example, “I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ To a nation which did not call on My name.  I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in the way, which is not good, following their own thoughts,” Isaiah 65:1-2.  

God is calling us to come to Him, seek Him while He may be found, and call upon Him while He is near.  We have time now, therefore we should go to Him in humility and ask forgiveness and turn from those ways that are against the calling of Christ in our lives.  We must go to Him and if there is anything we do or think that is not pleasing to God, we must forsake those ways and fall in line with what God desires of us.  And what is the outcome of truly doing this, returning to the Lord and His ways? He shall have abundant mercy on us and will pardon us.  God is ready with compassion and abundant pardon in His hands that a way has been found and that those who will turn around from their rebellion, confess their sin, and accept the sin offering of the Servant may have something infinitely better than restoration in Judah, which is restoration to God. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Psalm 94:19

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Psalm 94:19

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, your consolations delight my soul.” – Psalm 94:19

As the world moves forward, it is easy to see how people are getting nervous about where we are being taken.  And we see this especially true in the United States.  There is much we can talk about, however I want to focus on only a couple and hopefully bring some solace, for we have every reason to be at peace. 

The first is the pandemic.  We see all forms of fear being spread among people, such as if  we get near someone infected by Covid-19 we will become infected as well and may die.  It is important to remember that with God, all things are possible.  “And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26.  There is not one disease or illness that is beyond His ability to heal.  David said it like this.  “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;” Psalm 103:1-4.  God is fully capable of pardoning all our iniquities and to heal every one of our illnesses.  And this includes COVID-19. 

The other issue is the 2020 Presidential Election.  The fear that is being perpetuated upon us is unbelievable.  Yes, it does appear that the results of our election were manipulated to the benefit of the left.  However, this should not be a reason for fear, for God is in control.  Even though man believes he is, this is simply a delusion.  Things may not go the way we want it to, but all will go well.  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.  I know I use this verse a lot, but to me it is one of the most comforting and uplifting in all of scripture.  Not that some but ALL things work toward our good for those who love Him. 

There is no reason for us to be anxious about these things, or anything else as well.  As our focus verse says, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” Psalm 94:19. We must reach out to God regarding these issues, and all others, and He will bring consolation to our souls.  Let us look at some other verses that are comforting when understood and taken to heart.  “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.  During these difficult times, look to God and He will be there to strengthen and comfort you.  And God has plans for all of us.  “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.  Man’s plans may be self-centered and for the benefit of a few, however God says His plans for us are for our good, and to give us a glorious hope and future.  What is happening now is nothing compared to the glory we shall see in our future.  God has nothing but good planned for us.  “The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand,” Isaiah 14:24.  And nothing can thwart this.  “For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” Isaiah 14:27. 

One thing I have learned in my many years as a true and devoted Christian is that though things may not look all that good and positive, God can bring us through anything that the enemy has planned.  He knows the end from the beginning and He is completely in charge.  As David said of Him, “Blessed are You, O LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.” 1 Chronicles 29:10-11.  Let us always remember this and focus our thoughts on His greatness and not man’s foolishness.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Psalm 139:23

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 139:23 

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts.” – Psalm 139:23  

This is a prayer we should pray regularly, although I believe it is one that is hardly ever lifted to God.  David here is calling out to God to search him and know his heart.  This is interesting because in the first verse of this chapter he declares, “O LORD, You have searched me and known me.” Psalm 139:1  However, he is being more explicit in our focus verse and asking that He would show him his heart.  David is asking God to examine the innermost parts of him; that with great scrutiny and reveal this to him.  Why?  Because David does not want to be under any delusion regarding who He is in the deepest depths of his heart.  That he is true in everything he sees about himself, whether good or bad.  For how can we know we need to change if we are not honest about what is in our hearts.  God already knows him completely, therefore this request regards David’s desire to know the reality of himself.

David is asking God to lay bare the true state of his heart.  The idea is to not just know his outward conduct, but also what he thinks about, what are the thoughts and beliefs that move him to act as he does.  What is it that occupies his thoughts and imaginations.  What is it that he enjoys and what controls his will.  He has asked God to try him, so that the results of these tests will be revealed to him.  David knew there were things in his innermost being that needed to be changed and he was wanting God to reveal these things.  David wanted God to show him the real David, for in seeing this he could follow the path God wants him to take. “And see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:24.  David desired to live life as God wanted.  He wanted God, through showing him what was truly inside him, to guide him in the way that leads to everlasting life.

David was a very brave soul to ask this of God.  For we all have thoughts, beliefs and ungodly ways that affect us, even if we do not recognize them.  Many Christians believe they are good because their actions and deeds are good.  However, this Christian walk goes beyond doing and actually consists of who we are as well, which is found in our hearts and minds.  We can fool ourselves and others by our deeds, but when we look deep inside of us and allow God to show us the hidden things within us, these will show us reality, which can be scary, but should be looked at as a path to growth in our relationship with God and a deepening in our Christian walk.   

So, I encourage everyone who reads this to pray the same prayer David did, and understand God’s response may not be what we expect or want to hear, but it is necessary in order to be the Christian He desires of us, real in both deeds and intentions.  For as I alluded above, how can we correct something if we do not see anything that is wrong?  We all have areas that need improvement.  Let us call out to the Almighty God who loves us with an everlasting love, to show us what is in our hearts.  And when He does, He will also show us what we need to change.  Remember, David said, “And lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:24b.  If this is what we want, then we must go through the pain and anxiety of seeing who we truly are so we can become who we ought to be. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.