“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
This is a sober passage of Scripture. It means that if you assume you understand the will of God, without studying Scripture, you are wrong. Our way of thinking, our way of planning, and figuring things out is not like the Lord’s way. We are wrong to assume that our way of living life is right or wise because we are all sinners and corrupt in our ways. God’s ways are not only different but higher – meaning better in every degree. The ways of the Lord are pure, just, gracious, merciful, and establish rather than tear down. My encouragement to you is to read and study the Bible – God’s revelation to us. Studying the Scriptures, chapter-by-chapter, and day-by-day will transform your pattern of thinking (Romans 12:2) to be like the higher ways of the Lord. When your thinking changes, your actions will follow.
I want to challenge you this Christmas to be more intentional about reading and studying the Bible in the new year. Consider some of these patterns in making your plan over the next few weeks:
- Always quiet your heart and pray before reading God’s word. Whether you’re in a coffee shop, the office on lunch break, at home with loud kids, or in a quiet place – always pray and ask the Holy Spirit to illumine (bring understanding to) the words of Scripture (John 14:15-31). Without the Spirit of God giving us understanding, we will not understand, believe, or be impacted to obey the Word of God.
- Strive after a pattern that may seem overwhelming – seek the Lord by reading Scripture morning and evening. You must make time somewhere in your day to meaningfully read the Scriptures, but I also encourage you to read a few verses at the opposing time of day. If you study the Scriptures in the morning, read a Psalm or Proverb before bed. If you study the Scriptures at night, read a Psalm or Proverb over breakfast. In this way, the Word of the Lord is always before you.
- Do not only study specific passages but take time to read full chapters and books of the Bible. It is vital to understand how God has been working in history over time, to rightly understand how He continues to work in our day. As a follower of Christ, it is sinful to have access to the Bible, but remain ignorant of its contents because you just don’t really care what is there. Set a new course! Pray for discipline, wisdom, and illumination. Read long passages of Scripture. Read continually. Soon you will make up for lost time and understanding, and find the joy of understanding the high and glorious knowledge of God.
- The journey of learning never ends, because the Lord is infinite and we can never master Him. Seeking the Lord is a relationship that will never grow old – but only sweeter and more rewarding (Colossians 2:3). There is always another facet to the beauty of the Lord – wisdom to which there is always another degree – truth to which there is always another precept.
- When possible, do not read the Bible on a digital device. I’m not anti-technology. I’m pro-concentration. Digital devices are full of non-stop distractions. When we take even ten minutes to read the Scriptures, it should be prayerfully and with minimized distraction.
In closing, I offer you a powerful word from German pastor and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
“The Lord stands above the new day, for God has made it. All the darkness and confusion of the night with its dreams gives way to the clear light of Jesus Christ and his awakening Word. All restlessness, all impurity, all worry and anxiety flee before him. Therefore, in the early morning hours of the day may our many thoughts and our many idle words be silent, and may the first thought and the first word belong to the one to whom our whole life belongs. “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:4)…There is such a thing as rising early for the love of God. That was the practice of the men of Holy Scripture.”
May Christ be praised this Christmas,