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God's Conditional Promise for a Straight Journey

God's Conditional Promise for a Straight Journey

August 23, 2009 | Andrew Davis
Proverbs 3:5-6
Two Journeys

A Famous Proverb

Well, you don't have to know much about American history to know the significance of the date July 4th, 1776. That's when the Continental Congress gathered together and passed what John Adams called “the most important resolution ever taken in America.” It's what he said at the time. It was, of course, the Declaration of Independence. And the key statement in that document read as follows, quote, "Resolved that these United colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved."

So, it was the birth of a new independent nation, and that date has been marked ever since then as the birth of our country. We celebrate it every year by the more popular name, the Fourth of July, but its official name is Independence Day. Independence Day. Now, as we come to Proverbs 3:5 and 6, I want to go exactly the opposite direction from that because I believe that Proverbs 3:5-6 is a declaration of dependence for every Christian. And I think every day ought to be Dependence Day for us Christians.

Every day we ought to assent to and openly embrace the fact that apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Now, these are some of the most famous verses in the book of Proverbs. Many children learn them and memorize them at an early age. As we break them apart, Proverbs 3:5-6 lays out as three commands and therefore a conditional promise. Three commands and a conditional promise. Now, the context of this promise that's given is, I think, of a father's advice to his son. Much of the book of Proverbs is couched in that kind of language.

Look at verses 1 through 4, "My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you. Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, then you will win good favor and a good name in the sight of God and man." Now, this could be read perhaps as... You could think it was Solomon reflecting his father David sitting him down when he was a young boy and giving him some advice. Or perhaps, again, at the human level, King Solomon giving advice to his son, maybe Rehoboam, or something like that. Again, at the human level, it could be just generally advice that fathers can give to their sons. But, for me, I think because it was included in inspired Scripture - the Holy Spirit inspired this as the inerrant Word of God - I think it's best for us as Christians to take this as a word from our Heavenly Father to all of us as sons and daughters of the living God.

Now, you remember at that time, God promised Solomon a long life if he obeyed Him. There was a conditional promise. 1 Kings 3:14, "If you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands, as did David your father, then I will give you a long life." And so, there are conditional promises in the Christian life. In other words, “if you do these things, then I will bless you in this particular way.” And so, the wise and loving father, after having set the stage for the promise in verses 1 through 4 of Proverbs 3, gives a series of three commands coupled with a conditional promise. Command Number One: Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Command Number Two: Lean not on your own understanding. Command Number Three: in all your ways acknowledge Him. And here comes the promise: He will make your paths straight. He will make your paths straight.

The First Command: Trust in the Lord

The Fundamental Issue: Trust

So, let's look at it very carefully, and let's begin with the first command. And that is that you should have total trust in the Lord. “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart” (Proverbs 3:5). The fundamental issue of our lives is our relationship with Almighty God, our Creator. And the fundamental issue of that relationship is trust. Another word for trust would be faith - that we have faith in God.

Now, the root Hebrew word here means, in effect, to just throw yourself down in the abandonment of confidence and have a sense or a feeling of peace and security in that. That's really what it means. And there's just so many verses that testify to this. The same Hebrew word is used in a variety of ways, that gives this sense of just casting yourself on God and a resulting feeling or sense of security and peace and rest in him.

Leviticus 25:18-19, and it says, "Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land." That's the same Hebrew word. A sense of safety. You're going to be secure. "Then the land will yield its fruit and you will eat your fill and you will live there in safety." So, there's this picture of contentment and abundance and security. Again, Job 11:18, "And you will feel secure” - The same Hebrew word – “because there is hope. You will look around and you will take your rest in security."

Or again, Proverbs... Sorry. Psalm 4:8. The Psalmist there says, "I will lie down and sleep in peace for you alone O Lord, make me dwell in safety." There's that same Hebrew word. You can just go to sleep at night. Your heart is at rest and untroubled because you know that God is taking care of you... A sense of security. Or again, Isaiah 26:3-4, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord the Lord is the Rock eternal." And again, Ezekiel 28:26, "They will live there in safety” - the same Hebrew word - "And I will build houses and plant vineyards, and they will live in safety."

So, the word use is a feeling, a sense of peacefulness, of security, of ease, of comfort, sometimes even in dire circumstances. Psalm 27:3 says, "Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear. Though war break out against me, even then will I be confident." So, a sense of trust, of confidence, even if you have an army coming after you. Now, God has sought to build this trust in the hearts of His children from the beginning of redemptive history, right on through. So much of what God does in the Bible for His people - and then as we read about it, what He's doing for us - is to work in us this faith, this sense of trust in Him.

God’s Desire for His Children: Trust Me!

He taught it as God the Savior and also lessons taught by God the Provider. Lessons from God the Savior started when God moved Israel out of Egypt, out of bondage. And He used mighty power and miracles to work these ten plagues on the most powerful nation on earth. And God was teaching His great power for this result, that His people would trust in Him with all of their heart. That they would be confident in His power. He put His omnipotence on display with those ten plagues. And then even more, when the Israelite nation was trapped by the Red Sea and that powerful army, the Egyptian army, was pressing down on them with their chariots. And how God stood between Pharaoh and his army in a pillar of cloud and fire and wouldn't let them come near. And then He led them, that night, through the Red Sea. And there the water was walling up on the right and the left, and they passed through on dry ground, but then the water came crashing down on that wicked army. God was teaching the same lesson: trust in Me. I am powerful, I am mighty, I'm working a great salvation for you. Behold, My mighty hand and My outstretched arm. Trust in Me, again and again.

And so, it says in Exodus 14:31, "When the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they put their trust in him, and in Moses, his servant." So, because of this display, the people trusted in the Lord. Well, that's lessons of God the Savior, that is “trust in Me because I am a great Savior. I am a great protector.” But it's also lessons of God the Provider.

Soon after that... After they had crossed the Red Sea, they're on the other side and they were in the desert. And there were probably more than two million Israelites, and they're in the desert, and there's nothing to eat, and there's nothing to drink. And so, the lesson of the manna is the same lesson. Deuteronomy 8:3, "God humbled you," Moses said to his people. "God humbled you causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you know your fathers have known to teach you, that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." God was teaching them to live by His word, to trust in His Word and in His provision. So, day after day, they went out, and they collected that manna in baskets. It was a daily lesson of God's provision. God will meet all of your needs. God can take care of you. Don't be anxious. Rest in me. I will provide.

Constant Lessons for the Christian

Well, it's a constant lesson for us as Christians, isn't it? Oh, how we struggle with this, to trust in the Lord with all of our heart. To be confident. Every trial you go through is a new opportunity to learn this lesson, to trust in the Lord with all of your heart. That expression "with all of your heart" means fully and completely. No competing alternatives. Again, and again, the people of God have been tempted to kind of mix together a trust in the Lord plus something else. We're going trust in the Lord plus our bank account or our stocks or our portfolio. We're going to trust in the Lord plus our own achievements or our resume or something like that. We're going to trust in the Lord plus our own cleverness. There are all kinds of options. I'll talk more about them in a moment. But that's a temptation. No, this is trust in the Lord with all of your heart, fully, completely and confidently.

The Second Command: Reject Prideful Independence

The Enemy of Genuine Trust: Self-Reliance

The second command is this: that we should reject prideful independence. We should reject it. “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” The enemy of genuine trust - I think, the central enemy of genuine trust - is self-reliance. Oh, how much we embrace this idol of self. How much we trust in ourselves to do anything and everything in our lives. And again, this lesson came out with the Israelites.

Remember how, as they neared the Promised Land, Moses sent out those twelve spies? And they spied out the land to see what kind of land it was and what the people were like and all of that. And then the twelve spies came back with a report that it's a good land, but we're in trouble. It's a good land, but we're going to lose. Well, why are we going to lose? Because there are cities with walls up to the sky. And there are these warrior... This warrior race there, the Anakites and they're huge... Bulging muscles, and with military prowess, we can't touch them. “We look like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we seem the same to them” (Numbers 13:32-33). Israel should have been quiet and peaceful like a baby nursing in his mother's breast, like a young boy up in his father's shoulders, trusting confidently in power - the power of God. But instead, what do they do? They looked at those walled cities, they looked at those mighty warriors, and they looked within, and they said, "We can't do it."

They sought to trust in themselves, they didn't think they had enough power, and so they turned away from the Lord. And so, it says in Deuteronomy 1:32-33, 40 years later, as Moses analyzed what happened there... This is what Moses said, "In spite of all of this, in spite of all of what God had done for you already” - in spite of all of that – “you did not trust in the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.” You didn't trust in Him.

A Key Issue in the Old Testament

Friends, this is a key issue throughout the history of the Old Testament. Again, and again, as you read the history of Samuel and Kings and Chronicles... Again, and again, the people of God were brought into dire circumstances. And their response was frequently represented by the king. The King of Israel, the King of Judah, how he would respond. What would he do? Would he send out for human allies? Would he go out for Assyria? Would he reach out for Egypt? Would he send money by envoys to try to get an ally when this army was invading? Or like Jehoshaphat, or Hezekiah, would he just simply kneel before God and say, "Save us, O Lord. We can do nothing against this great hoard." Again, and again, it was the same lesson: will you trust in Me? Or will you lean on your own resources?

Multiple False Trusts

Now, as I've said, there are many false trusts that we can have. Many false trusts. People can rely right here in this passage on their own understanding; I'll talk more about that in a moment. They can rely on their physical strength or their personal wisdom (Jeremiah 9:23). They can rely on their material wealth (Proverbs 18). They imagine it to be a fortified tower. Oh, they can rely on the fortifications of a well-built city wall (Deuteronomy 28:52). They can rely on horses and chariots, military technology. I wonder how many in our military establishment are relying on American military technology to protect our country. You can rely on that. You can rely on self-righteousness (Ezekiel 33:13). And the worst of all, you can rely on idols (Isaiah 42:17).

There is an account in Isaiah 36, in which through the mouth of a prideful Assyrian field commander, God really taught me what trust is all about. This field commander came to challenge Hezekiah. Hezekiah isn't surrendering. They're kind of surprised. All of Judah has been destroyed by the invading Assyrians. The Assyrians had never lost a battle. And I think they're just kind of mystified. And so, this field commander comes to talk to Hezekiah, and he says, "Tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the great king, the King of Assyria says, ‘On what are you basing this confidence of yours?’” (Isaiah 36:4). What is the base of your confidence? What is the ground base of your peace in the midst of this circumstance? I don't understand it.

So, he guessed at it. In Isaiah 36:6, he guessed at it. He said, "Look, now you're depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff which pierces a man's hand and wounds him if he leans on it, such is Pharaoh King of Egypt to all who depend on him." Well, that's a beautiful image, isn't it? It says, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding."

What are you leaning on during the time of trial? And if it's anything but the Lord, it will become like that splintered reed of a staff which splinters and pierces your hand as you put your weight on it. It will not be able to support your weight. Any idol will in the end fail you. But rather, you need to trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Your Own Understanding

What does that mean, "On your own understanding?" Well, the contrast here... This is the book of God's wisdom. God is giving us wisdom. And the temptation is to rely on - and I'm not meaning to be insulting to any of us - our thimbleful of insight, that tiny amount of intellectual prowess that we possess.

By His understanding, God stretched out the heavens and crafted the earth. By His mighty power and His understanding, He created the cosmos with all of the nebulae, the stars, the pulsars, the quasars, all of that stuff. God did that. “He names them all, and by His mighty power and His great understanding, not one of them is missing(Isaiah 40:26). That's an interesting expression in Isaiah. Missing from what? Well, just missing. “It needs to be there," says God. You wouldn't even know if it were missing. And God in this earth crafted these ecosystems in perfect harmony and balance with each other. And He has been spinning out a redemptive history with all of His plans coming to pass despite the sins of human beings. We can't even touch him concerning his understanding. We should lean not on our own understanding.

Central False Trust: Self

But us, in Job 8:9, it says, “we were born only yesterday and we know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.” Don't trust in your own take on the situation. Let me tell you something, the longer you go on in life, the more of a temptation this is. I've been there, done that. I've been through this... We've been through economic crises before; we know how to do that. We've been through illness before; we know how to do that. We've been through various challenges in our family life; we know how to do that. And you start to trust in your own experience what you've been through, and this is a false trust.

Something God may say from Scripture may not make sense to you. You'll read it, and you'll say, "I don't get it." And the root of unbelief starts to creep in when you say, "If I don't understand it, I'm not going to believe it." There's been some great atheists that really started there. They didn't trust in the Lord with all of their hearts, and they most certainly did rely on their own understanding.

Let's take Thomas Jefferson, for example. In a letter to Francis Adrian Vanderkemp dated July 30, 1816, he was talking about the doctrine of the Trinity. And this is what he said, "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them, and no man ever had a distinct idea of the Trinity. It is the mere abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus." So, he's leaning on his own understanding. When it came to the doctrine of the Trinity, he threw it out. He couldn't figure it out. He threw it out.

So, it is people do the same with predestination. They do the same with God's providential ruling over the world. They do it with prayer because they don't understand how God can be sovereign. And they do it with the problem of evil. Again, and again, people have made that mistake. They say, "God cannot be all powerful and good at the same time and see this kind of evil." They can't understand it, and so they throw out what the Bible clearly teaches.

Mark Twain put it this way - so in love with his own understanding - he said this about all religions, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so." Well, I don't think so, dear friends. I think instead, faith goes beyond what I can comprehend. It's not contrary to it. It doesn't contradict; it just goes beyond it. Twain also said, "The gods offer no rewards for intellect. There was never one yet that showed any interest in it." Well, you know he's a very funny man, but the root of that is rebellion. God created intellect. He's just saying, "There are going to be some things I will do that you will not understand. At that time and at all times, do not ultimately lean on your own understanding.” The Bible is full of appeals to human reasoning power. The book of Proverbs is a book about human understanding and how to live in a wise way in this world.

God created your intellect. But there may be some times in your life when you are going to have to rely on this verse and say, "I don't get it. I don't understand what God is doing. I don't know why we have to go through this. I'm hurting. I'm in pain. And God doesn't seem to answer. He doesn't seem to care." Oh, dear friend, trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Think of Romans 11, "Oh, the depth of the riches, the wisdom and the knowledge of God. How unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out." That means you can't figure out what He's doing. “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has ever been His counselor?” (Romans 11:34). You may not understand what God is doing in your life, and you may struggle, but that's a key time to trust in the Lord and not on your own understanding.

The Third Command: A Consistent Relationship

All Your Ways

Command number three: a consistent relationship with the Lord. “In all your ways, acknowledge Him.” Now, this language of all your ways speaks of a daily relationship with the Lord. In all your ways - it refers to how you walk daily, how you live your daily life. The word “way” or “road” is a Hebrew metaphor for just daily life, the paths you choose to take. How long you sleep. What clothes you wear. How you earn your money and what you do with it after you've earned it. How you eat and how much you eat. What you drink and how much of it you drink. How you speak. How you behave with your family and your friends, and your co-workers, your neighbors, total strangers. Those are your ways. It's how you live. It's your way of life. This is a comprehensive issue. “In all your ways,” it says. And not merely acknowledge Him. I know many - probably even most of the English translations - go with the word “acknowledge.”

Know Him; Don’t Merely Acknowledge

I'll start with this: I don't think there's anything wrong with embracing the concept of acknowledge in this sense, that you can, like Columbus did with the banner of the King of Spain when he came to Hispaniola. When he came to the New World. He stuck a flag in it and claimed it for the King of Spain. Alright, so in all your ways, stick a flag in it and claim it for Jesus, for King Jesus. That's fine; acknowledge He's king of everything. But I want to go a little further because the Hebrew word is simply “know.” It's literally in all your ways, know Him. Know Him. And this is a fundamental issue of our relationship with God. To know the Lord means to have a deep and growing covenant relationship with Him. It's to see His hand in all your ways. To see His kingly authority, yes. His throne ruling over everything. But go beyond that. I'd like you to see all of His attributes. Study Christ in all your ways. Get to know His power, get to know His compassion in all your ways. Get to know His infinite mercy, His unchanging nature. The fact that He's the same yesterday and today and forever. In all your ways, know Him. Study Him, yes, but know Him deeply and richly, as in a covenant relationship.

Jesus put it this way, "Now, this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Make this the centerpiece of your daily life, to know the Lord in all of your ways. Paul did it in Philippians 3, he said, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him” (Philippians 3:8).  That's what Paul wanted every day. If you really ask Him just, if God lets you live the whole day, you go to sleep tonight, what do you want today? The centerpiece, Paul would say is, I want to know Jesus. I want to know Him. I want to know Him in all of the things that I do. I want to know Him in suffering. I want to know Him in celebration. I want to know Him in triumph and in defeat. I want to know Him all the time. That's what I want.

The Promise

Alright, so there you have your three commands. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Have that feeling, that sense of confidence based on the power of God. Trust in Him with all of your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. Don't rely on yourself or on anything in yourself. Don't rely on any idol, don't rely on anything ultimately, but God. In all of your daily life, in all of your practical ins and outs of your daily life, seek to know God. Those are the three conditions. If you meet them, then He makes you this promise: He will direct your paths or, literally, make your paths straight.

What Does This Mean?

Again, the word “paths” implies your life course, the direction of your life. And I think that the Hebrew word – “He will make your paths straight” - implies a smoothing out of the road so it's clear of obstacles. It says in Isaiah 26:7, "The path of the righteous is level. O Upright One, you make the path of the righteous smooth." Or again in Isaiah 40:3-4, "A voice of one calling in the desert: Make straight the way of the Lord. Make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, and every mountain and hill made low. The rough ground shall become level, and the rugged places a plane." So, the implication is, if you meet these three conditions - you trust in the Lord, you don't lean on yourself, seek to know Him in everything you do - He is going to clear the road ahead of you.

Two Ways God Does This

Now, I think there are two ways that He does this. He does it in what to avoid, in helping you in the area of what to avoid. And secondly, in the area of what to do. He clears out obstacles first in this issue of what to avoid. And friend, it just has to do with sin. Can I tell you that sin just complicates life? Sin makes life really, really complex and difficult and twisted and strange. And gets you in over your head and gets you to a place where you don't know what to do. It makes things seem desperate. And so, God helps you by avoiding those twists and turns that would never have come on you if you hadn't sinned, the things to avoid.

Listen to these Proverbs: Proverbs 22:5, "Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked. Whoever guards his soul will keep far from them." So, those thorns and snares are what blocked the road of the way of the crooked. Again, Proverbs 15:19, "The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway." So, if you're given to chronic laziness, you're going to have a hard life. It's what it's saying. But the path of the upright is smooth by comparison. Proverbs 21:8, "The way of the guilty is devious." That is, tricky and twisted; it's hard to trace out. “But the conduct of the innocent is upright.” It's a simple life. Proverbs 2:14-15, it speaks of those “who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.”

So, God will direct your paths by helping you to avoid those snares and thorns and twists and turns that come on you because of sin. So, if you trust in the Lord with all your heart and you lean not on your own understanding, if you know the Lord in all your ways, God will keep you - your path - free from the difficulties that come on. Let's say, the chronic liar whose lies get ever more complex to cover up the initial lie. Oh, what a tangled web he has to weave when he decided first to deceive. Or like the adulterer whose deceptions reach to every area of his life. Lying to his wife, lying to his children, lying to his friends, lying to himself as he covers his tracks and tries to keep from getting caught in this adulterous relationship.

Or like the Wall Street financier and stock defrauder whose elaborate defenses against investigation come crashing down when the government starts to get after him and starts to do some research into his life. Or the tax evader who sweats out all the time whether he's going to get called for an audit by the IRS. Or the spouse abuser who's afraid that his wife's check-up is going to reveal some recent bruises that he left on her because he had a fit of anger against her. Or the procrastinator who keep putting off getting bills in the mail and then finds one that was due three weeks ago, if he finds it.

God has the power to keep you free from these snares and these twists and turns, so that you're not... Let's say the constantly angry person who has these blow-ups and then has to go and make it right. Apologize, go cap in hand again and again. Or the gossip who has to, under conviction of the Lord, go back and call up people and explain the gossip and try to patch things up after the words have gotten out of the lips. Sin complicates life. Sin twists life. Sin makes life difficult. And if you trust in the Lord with all your heart and you lean not on your own understanding and in all your ways you seek to know Him, He's going to keep you free from these kinds of snares.

What to Do with Your Life

Well, that's negatively what not to do, what to avoid. He also makes your path straight in terms of what to do with your life. How should we spend our time here on earth? What should we do with our time? God has an answer for that. In Christ, God has a beautiful, a marvelous answer for that. It says in Ephesians 2:10, "We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance that we should walk in them." And so, God has a big picture work, a life work for you to do.

So, He's going to direct your paths, not just in, let's say who to marry, or what job to take out of college, or should you refinance your home, or should you move and take a better situation and some of the... Those are all life decisions, and God gives wisdom for that. But this goes bigger than that. This has to do with what is your calling in life. When someone sums up your life in one sentence, as they may seek to do at your funeral. What was your life work? What did you do? God has an answer for that. He's got a plan for you, and then He's going to build it up with smaller good works that lead up to that one great calling that he has for you in your life.

Applications

The Unbeliever

Well, what applications can we take from this? Well, many. What I want to do over the next few minutes is just speak to different people in the congregation how you can use Proverbs 3:5 and 6 in your life. First of all, I want to speak to the unbeliever. I just want to speak to you. If you've come in here today and you've never trusted in Jesus, you're lost. You don't know that your sins are forgiven. You listened to Britney's testimony and maybe something stirred in your heart. You listening to me preaching, and maybe something is moving. The question is can you trust in the Lord Jesus Christ with your soul? Can you trust in him with all of your heart? Can you lean not on your own understanding of heaven and hell and judgement day and all of that? What are you relying on for judgment day? What are you basing your confidence on for judgment day?

If your own understanding is that there is no judgment day, God's word says there is. Lean not on your own understanding. We're all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, all of us. If your own understanding is that, if you're good deeds outweigh your bad, that God will forgive you. And on the basis of what a good person you've been, He will accept you into heaven. But the Scripture says “there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10). And it says anything that does not come from faith is sin. And so, all the good works that you thought you had are going to collapse as sins because you didn't do them for the glory of God. If your own understanding is that all religions are basically the same, but Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). It's only by the blood of Jesus that sins can be forgiven. If your own understanding is that there is no God and there is no judgment day, the Bible speaks very directly that there is a God, and He sees your heart right now.

If you abandon your own confidences that you've brought in here, perhaps when you walked in here, and you lean on the Lord Jesus Christ and you seek to acknowledge Him for the rest of your life, He will forgive you of all your sins. And He will take you by a straight and narrow path, Jesus calls it, to heavenly glory. So, trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. And in all your ways acknowledge Jesus Christ, and He will take you to heaven.

The Successful Christian

Secondly, I want to speak to the successful Christian. Things are going well for you right now; I'm happy for you. I'm happy for you. It's good when things are going well, aren't they? I wouldn't speak against it; I like it when things are going well in my life too. I think that's a delightful thing. But let me tell you something: trust in the Lord, even when things are going well. Don't trust in the sweetest frame of mind. Don't trust in recent successes in business or in ministry. Don't trust in how well things are going for you in your family life. Don't trust in these things. Trust in Jesus Christ. Trust in his blood shed for you, and keep trusting in that.

You may say, "Well, I'm done with that; I came to faith in Christ. I remember it distinctly, I was baptized, I don't need to trust in Jesus and His blood and His righteousness anymore." Oh, yes, you do. Even and when things are going well - I might say, especially when things are going well - trust in the Lord then with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Don't become arrogant as a growing Christian and think you don't need instruction anymore from the Bible. Don't become independent as a successful Christian and forget that every good and perfect gift comes from God. Don't be impressed with your growing knowledge of the Bible or of Christian doctrine, because Paul says in Corinthians, "If anyone thinks he knows anything, he doesn't know as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:2).

When you're asked to give counsel or advice to someone who's struggling, don't lean on your own understanding. Stop and pray. I do that every time. People come to me for advice. Before I say a word, I say, "Can we just pray and ask God for wisdom?" I don't lean on my own understanding at that time of counseling. I say, "God, speak through me and through one another so that we can come to the truth." And when figuring out what to do with all the money God is blessing you with as things are successful and going well, then lean not on your own understanding. Say to Him, "Lord, all this money is yours. How do you want me to invest it in your kingdom?" In all your ways, know him. At every moment, seek to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Bring Jesus into the secret chambers of your outwardly successful life and say, "Is it every bit as successful in here too, in my prayer closet? Is it every bit as successful in my putting sin to death by the power of the Spirit? Is it going well in that area? Or am I a white-washed tomb? Looking good on the outside, but inside there's decay.”

So, to the successful Christian, I say trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways know Him, and He will direct your paths. Ecclesiastes 7:14 says this: "When times are good, be happy. But when times are bad, consider God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future." Do you understand, successful, happy Christian, how quickly it can turn? Let's talk to our brother Job when we get to heaven and say, "Job, what was it like when while this first servant was speaking, the next one came?" That was a very, very tough day. And I would say none of us have ever had that kind of a day. But you know what I mean when I say that it can turn quickly. So, if things are going well, be happy, rejoice, give thanks to God, but don't trust in any of that. Trust in the Lord; He will see you through whatever's around the corner, even if it's greater success and happiness.

The Unemployed

Thirdly, to the unemployed, I want to say a word. “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways know Him, and He will direct your paths.” You're going through a huge trial, struggling with fears about the future with questions of self-worth. You look around you, and you see 10% unemployment. Some places, we heard earlier in Bible for Life, maybe as high as 20% unemployment in some parts of our state. And it could be that the overwhelming issue of your life will be this one thing, "How can I get a job?" But the deeper questions there, "Am I a good or capable person? Am I worth anything?" It's easy to let anxiety overwhelm you and for doubts to dominate in your mind. Trust in the Lord now more than ever before. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Don't become immersed and forget the Lord's mighty power. He can move his little finger and get you a job.

Don't focus on your own strengths and weaknesses. Yes, you need to get a resume together. So, write your resume, but don't trust in it. Yes, you need to make some phone calls and set up some interviews. Make the phone calls, set up the interviews, but don't trust in that. Trust in the Lord. Yes, you've got to get active, you’ve got to get busy, you've got to move out, and do things to provide for your own needs or those also of your family. But trust in the Lord; let Him direct your paths. Seek to know Him and all of the pain and the suffering. When you plant some seeds and you have good hopes, and then it doesn't turn out, they go a different direction. They don't call you, and you're very disappointed. Know Jesus during that time. Seek to bring Him into that tough trial and get to know Him in that suffering. In all of your ways, seek to know Him and let Him direct your paths.

The Single Adult

To the single adults, I speak now to somebody who has never been married or yearns, who yearns for a spouse. Looking for a godly husband. Looking for a godly wife. This could be one of the most trying trials in life. I remember it distinctly. It seems like it will take a miracle of epic proportions to find the perfect person to meet up with you… also the perfect person. Both of you, the perfect person. We'll talk about that another time. That's after marriage, and trust in the Lord with all your heart. We could go on and on with this. Okay?

You the perfect person, waiting for the perfect person. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Don't let the devil lie to you. Don't forget that you are already as a Christian, as loved as you need to be. You are precious to Jesus. You are His prized possession. He shed His blood for you. You will not be - you cannot be - any more loved than you already are. Trust in Him and lean not on your own understanding. Don't resort to techniques; don't lower your standards to try to catch someone by unworthy means. Don't think it's all up to you to get the right spouse. Don't lean on yourself; don't rely on yourself. And in all your ways, know the Lord. Seek to make the most of your time as a single person. Seek to learn how to follow Jesus now, to look at some of those advantages that Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 7, that you're free from some earthly entanglements so that you can serve the Lord. And let the Lord bring that individual to you. Let the Lord bring him. He will direct your paths. He will protect you from a bad marriage, so that you're not married to somebody who pretended to be a believer, but really wasn't. He'll guide you to the right person. Remember the words, what Jesus said, "What God has joined together" (Matthew 19:6). He'll direct your paths. He'll bring you to that right person.

The New Parent, the College Student, and the Elderly

Oh, I could keep going. I could speak to the new parents. “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” You know very little about parenting, it's true. You know very little. You'll learn more. I'm still learning. Still learning, 18 years and still on the job learning. But trust in the Lord. And when those doubts come in, and when those fears come in, lean on the Lord and seek to know Jesus in all of that journey.

College students, make this the greatest year of your life. Do it simply this way: trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways know Jesus and let him direct your paths. I could speak to the lonely elderly. I did a funeral yesterday. I'm thinking about widows, widowers. You're missing your spouse. Trust in the Lord; let Him minister to you. Let Him comfort you. Let Him console you. And, if per chance, you have a chronic illness, perhaps even a terminal illness, and you're facing your own mortality, “trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Close with me in prayer.

Other Sermons in This Series

Proverbs on Money

September 06, 2009

Proverbs on Money

Proverbs 1:1-31:31

Andrew Davis

Money and Possessions