Isaiah 55:8-9: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Over the years, we have come to experience the truth of this prophecy. Yes, God’s thoughts and ways are higher; they are higher than ours. When you are young and getting started you read Isaiah 55:8-9 and whole-heartedly agree; yet little do you understand. It takes years, and even a lifetime, to fully understand the truth of this prophecy. It certainly is true as we look back on almost 20 years of ministry in downtown LA. It has been a wonderful blessing, and trust it will continue, yet we would agree; it is true, without a doubt, God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours.
Isaiah 55:10-11: For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Over the years, we have come to know that God’s word is the constant; it sustains us personally and in ministry. Trials and triumphs come and go; emotions are up and down; yet the Word of God remains constant; strong, unwavering, and deeply nourishing to our souls. It is true, the Word of God is living and active.
The seeds of the Word were first sown at CC Echo Park in an office building, then a community center, a warehouse, an elementary school auditorium, and now via livestream from our tiny church office.
In every season of ministry and with the many people that have come and gone; God’s word remains. It has been almost 20 years since our beginning at CCEP. We’ve exposited the Bible verse by verse, chapter by chapter, and book by book in the first 10 years; we will soon complete a second. I’m kind of wondering what we’ll do after? Well, Lord willing, I think we’ll start a third time. I have to admit, I really don’t know what else to do. But we have found over the years that even in this, not being sure of a direction, we can surely know that going through the whole of God’s word is a good road to travel. His word will not return void. We’re kind of sold on expository preaching through the whole of Scripture. I’d rather God pick the topic than I.
I’ve always loved Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee; and I’ve always treasured Pastor Chuck’s multiple expository series through the Bible. These men remain my heroes. I find it interesting their subtle and sometimes not so subtle differences in interpretation; yet it is neat to see their many similarities. That’s what going through the Bible does; it unites. It takes the different parts of the Body and chisels them into one. It brings unity in diversity. I believe that going through the whole of the Book is the tool that does that. It brings conviction and humility.
So, I think after a second time we’ll do a third. Maybe we’ll mix it up a bit and do OT on Sunday mornings and NT on Wed evenings. We’ll see.
Isaiah 55:12-13: For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
Over the years we have come to realize; in this life of faith it is how you finish that makes all the difference. Yes, first impressions are noticed, yet it is the test of time that proves value. It is not how we start but how we finish.
The interesting thing about the life of faith is that it looks quite different at the start, and I’m sure it’ll look quite different at the end. Early on I thought we’d be overseas in the missions field [long term]. It kind of started that way but we’ve spent almost two decades now back in the place of my childhood. And while we've been so blessed to come alongside a couple small church plants in the Philippines, we've certainly spent the majority of our ministry here in downtown Los Angeles. Yes indeed, God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours; actually much higher. The Lord knows His future plans for us. We are completely satisfied to follow.
Going out with joy and being led out with peace is a prophecy we desire fulfilled in our lives. We have come to learn, over the years, that God’s word establishes us on this path. It is not so much the education of His word, which is a good thing, but more the revelation through the power of His Spirit. This, I believe, is the pivotal point, which we can sometimes miss. It’s the knowledge puffs up but love builds up principle.
As we tap into the revelation of Jesus we look forward to a strong finish and Isaiah 55:12-13 being fulfilled in our life and ministry.