Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

His Ways

This has been a season of traveling for me and my family. We have enjoyed time with extended family and a week of serving kids with disabilities at a camp. I have enjoyed a break from daily routines, but it is good to be writing again.

A few weeks ago, I was reading in Isaiah and came across a few verses that are pertinent to the issue of discerning. In Isaiah 55, we find a powerful chapter of invitation. God is inviting everyone who is thirsty to come and experience the blessings he has to offer.

(Isaiah 55:1 NIV) “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

Isaiah speaks of the covenant God has made with David and ultimately points to the son of David, the Messiah (v. 4-5). He encourages the reader to seek God while he may be found (v. 6). This chapter is a dynamic proclamation of God’s provision. When we come to verse 8, we are reminded of a principle often neglected in the modern church. Look at what Isaiah says,

(Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV) “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.

Most would acknowledge the truth of these verses. No doubt, God is larger than our plans and ideas. But when it comes to putting this idea into practice, I am not sure we adhere. We often quote this verse when tragedy hits or something unexpected happens. But the truth of these verses extends beyond the unanticipated happenings of our world. To understand God’s way as dissimilar to our way or his thoughts as superior to our thoughts requires a shift in posture. We must come to our work in the world with open ears. Too often, we assume we have it figured out. We accept our preferences and approaches to ministry as the norm. How often do we stop and consider how God might be calling us to a new place?

The context of Isaiah’s writing had to do with the people of God turning from their sin. Isaiah was pleading with them to acknowledge God’s rule and reign in their lives. However, the broader application of this passage is that God knows what we do not know. Certainly these verses apply to unforeseen catastrophe, but they also apply to decision making in churches. May we lead churches that are constantly seeking God’s way. May we consider that God most likely has a plan that is not our plan. May we be intentional about exploring, listening and examining all that God is doing. May these verses be more than an afterthought when life throws us a curve ball. May they be a central part of our understanding of God’s very nature and character. And conclusively, may this change the way we lead in our churches.