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He Will Make Your Paths Straight
Ben Hill
Proverbs 3:5-6
July 15, 2017

Let’s go to the lord in prayer

Lord we just thank you for this wonderful worship. Ways we can worship your name. Thank you for your holy word, and as I try to explain and try to bring more understanding to it, I pray that you would help the words come out of my mouth that you would have in the meditations of my heart. As I studied your word to come out in the way that you would have them.

I pray these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Some great promises of God in the bible. He will make your path straight. Isn’t that a great promise? He will straighten out our crooked wandering ways and lead us towards a life filled with abundance, purpose, good, love. He will help you in hard times, encourage you in tough times. Picking you up when you fall, keeping you away from paths of sin and destruction. There are some great promises of God in the bible. He wants to make your path straight, a good path, full of life and goodness. Do you want that this morning?

I want that for myself, for my wife, for my family. It’s one of the prayers of my heart; that we would follow God in his paths in his ways. I have too many papers this morning, I’m gonna… there we go. Let’s turn in our bibles to Proverbs 3:5-6. To find out this straight path, the ways of God. That God can guide us in peace.

Proverbs 3:5-6 A very popular verse; “Trust in the lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.”

Such a great promise from God, but to get to that place of a straight path, there’s a few, uh, phrases above that, isn’t there?

Let’s look at the first one there: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” Trusting in God takes faith. Trusting in someone other than yourself takes faith right? We like to think we’ve got it in control, we know how to do things we understand, we can do this. But to trust in someone else with our life, and for leading us in a straight life, it takes faith. But God is faithful, so he is one that we can put our faith in. He is faithful. As we flip through the bible, you see very many things, God reveals himself through his word, his inspired word of God, the bible. He has proven himself to be the provider, the creator, all present, the sustainer of life, all powerful, all knowing, the conqueror. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as the son he was our savior, shepherd, the way. As the holy spirit, he is the comforter, the revealer, the convictor, the guider. So this triune God, 3 people in one, God revealed himself in Holy Scripture, he is trustworthy, we can put our trust in him.

To trust in God takes faith, believe that God is who he says he is in his word. And the belief in him to be your God. There’s a big difference there, just understanding who God is, maybe you actually believe the bible, believe that God is who he says he is in his word. Have you taken him as your savior? Have you believed in him as your God? A big step of faith there. So even when life happens, headaches, challenges, meltdowns, addictions, bad health, struggles, wrecks, depression, misunderstood, being misunderstood, hazards, fights, heartaches, and losses, all these things happen to us in life. Is God still on the throne? Yes he is. Is he all powerful? Is he all knowing? Is he all present? Yes he is. And he will direct our paths if we trust in him.

There was a lady, who runs a horse, um, saving, and people saving, she kinda combined helping horses that had been abused, and people that had been abused come together, and she was on, um, a program this week on the radio, and she had a great way of describing faith. And I just wanted, it’s 3 words, Pray, Hear, and Do.

Faith in God, you Pray ask him what he wants you to do, you Hear his response and his answer, a lot of time that is found in his word, so you need to be there for listening. And Do what he asks you to do. I thought that was a great way of explaining faith in a simple way that anyone can understand.

So as we look at this word, trusting in God. If we want to do that whole heartedly, we’ve got to give up something. We’ve got to give up our own understanding. So trust in the lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. If we just went by our own understanding, where would that lead us? I think we can see definite examples of it in our culture all these paths that people are going down, the paths that drive them further and further from God and holiness in their lives. These people are also described in Jude, Jude verse 10. This is where I preached out of last time, and it’s kind of where this whole message kind of originated, because, in Jude 10, it talks about some people who rely totally on their own understanding.

It says “Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand, and what things they do understand by instinct, like reasoning animals. These are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them, they have taken the way of Cain, they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error and they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.”

Wow those are pretty powerful words. We think it’s not that big of a deal to say ‘You know, God, I’ve got this I understand what’s going on here, I understand in my life how I need to live it. If we don’t come before our God trusting him, and not leaning on our own understanding, we may go down a few of these paths. And um, I wanted to briefly touch on these three paths in Jude.

The first one that it talks about is the path of Cain. You remember Cain from the bible Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. They both bring an offering to God in Genesis 4. God accepts Cains, wait, he accepts Abel’s offering because it was a blood sacrifice, he had brought a lamb and sacrificed it to God. And Cain brings what he has, the fruit of the ground. And in Hebrews, you see that Cain’s offering was unacceptable to God because it did not involve blood. Blood is the only way that sinners can be brought in the presence of God. And so, Cain, his offering was rejected, because it did not involve the shed blood. He substituted his own works, what he was doing, he said ‘Well, I saw that when Adam and Eve sinned, my parents sinned, there had to be a lamb that was slain for them to talk to God again. But I saw that, I’m still just gonna give God whatever I grow in the ground.’ In some way he was saying that, um, his salvation, his way of getting to God, was through his works. The things that he did. He just did the things and gave the things that he had worked for. So he was substituting his own works for the provided way of salvation that God had set forth. And he was rejected for that. This lead him to murder his brother and have a mark put on him for the rest of his life. So there is a path of Cain, our own works vs. what God wants from us. He rejected the authority in regards to salvation of how salvation comes about.

The path of Balaam was the second path, and that was a path, that for profit, Balaam was a prophet of God in the Old Testament, and he would sell himself out for money to prophecy, and Balek was a king in that time, and he wanted him to prophesy against Israel which were God’s chosen people, and so Balaam was like “hey I want this money, and so maybe I could like prophesy against the people one time, yeah no big deal. But anyway he was riding his donkey, and an angel had stopped him and the donkey swerved away 3 times, you know the story of Balaam and the donkey. The donkey ended up finally talking to Balaam and saying “can’t you see the angel of God preventing me from going, taking you to prophesy against his people. And so Balaam rejected God’s authority to be set apart for God’s work. So he was supposed to be a prophet for God, but he sold himself out. And uh and he wanted to prophesy against Israel for money.

And then another path, the path of Korah. You remember in Star Wars, there’s a big scene. Jabba the Hutt is in this big thing, and they were rolling around, they were gonna send people into the big pit, the ground that swallowed up all the people that were bad. So I think Luke Skywalker was probably the one they were going to throw into the pit.

And uh, anyway that’s not an original idea. In the Old Testament, there was a person who actually got swallowed up in the ground. His name was Korah, and there was a few of his followers. They rebelled against Moses and God’s authority of Moses. God’s Authority that he put Moses in. In Numbers 16: 3, we see that this Korah along with 250 levites and some of his friends came and said this to moses, I wanted to read it because it is 16 verse 3. “They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron, they said to them ‘you have gone too far, the whole community is holy, every one of them, and the lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?’” Those are some pretty strong words to say against Moses, they’re kind of, Korah was saying that everyone was holy, the priesthood of all believers, right? That is true in an essence, but sometimes God puts people in authority even in our lives today, that there’s a warning there not to be too high minded, and to let them um, come against them in their authority that God has set them in. So Korah as he rebels against moses and rebels against God’s authority in his life, they come the next morning, Moses says “ok lets see who God chooses, come tomorrow morning and we’ll, you know, do our incense thing and all this stuff,” and so Korah comes with his friends and God just wants to destroy the whole people of Israel. Moses says ‘um hold on, let’s just deal with the people that are actually ya’know, trying for got not to totally just wipe out his people. And so he warns everybody, get away from Korah, get away from all these people because, ya’know, I think God has definitely chosen me to be an authority, and this guy has definitely come against this authority. So the story progresses, and then the ground swallows up Korah and all these people who are against God, and then later on those 250 levites who are against God, they end up causing problems again and they get destroyed by fire.

And so it’s a very strong warning for us, as we look at these things; the path of Cain, the path of Balaam, the path of Korah, in rejecting God’s authority in different ways in our lives. If you rely on your own understanding you will head down these or other paths, that will lead to sin, ultimately death and destruction. So there’s a warning there, if we only rely on our own understanding. But if we rely on understanding that comes from God’s word, and his revealed word. If we surrender to God’s understanding, it is a good understanding.

Let’s go back to Proverbs 3:5-6. We’re actually gonna look at the whole context there, starting in Proverbs 3:1, It says “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 tablets of your heart. Then you will find good favor in the sight of God and Man.”

Many translations translate that word, find favor, or win favor, as good understanding. Many translations have it that way, the kings james, new king james, and some of those other ones, So it was kind of interesting to see that. There’s good understanding, and lean not on your own understanding, and lean not on your own understanding there in a couple verses in proverbs. But what does that entail? God is the creator of all we know, the creator of our minds, our bodies, he knows what is going on in our hearts, because he created us, this gives him a level of understanding we would never have. And so it gives him authority in our lives that we need to follow.

So we have looked at the first couple phrases of this Proverbs 3:5-6 trust in the lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, and we come to the phrase “acknowledge God in all your ways” in every aspect of our lives, in every action, in every thought, in every word. You need to acknowledge God. The word acknowledge seems like a kind of, in our language it seems like a head nod, yeah, acknowledge you, ya’know, I acknowledge you’re there. In the bible it’s a different kind of word, and I was kinda surprised by this. The word is also used in 1 Chronicles 28:9 it’s a really neat passage, where David, always wanted to build a temple God said, ‘No you’re a man of war, I want someone who is a man of peace to build my temple.’ So David has to hand over the plans that he has made, all to Solomon his son, a very important time and this word acknowledge shows up. In verse 28, that’s the one that fell out, Chronicles, let’s see, first king, second kings, first Chronicles, there we go.

So let’s turn to 1 Chronicles 28:9, the bible says it a lot better than I would. Let’s see, so that’s the background, David is going to be handing over the plans to the temple to Solomon, and he says this. ‘And you my son, Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion, and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart, and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now for the Lord has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary be strong, and do the work.’

So that word acknowledge is not just like a head nod, or say Solomon, would you like to acknowledge God while you’re doing this temple or anything. It’s kind of like, there’s a God, the God of your fathers, please please take him as your own. And serve him wholeheartedly in this project, and the rest of your life, so that word acknowledge surprised me what it meant. Because we don’t really see that in our culture and in our language. So Solomon is given a chance to know and accept God, serving him with his knowledge and devotion. And we are called to acknowledge God in all our ways in this passage in Proverbs 3:5-6, we can acknowledge God by knowing that God is at work every day around us. He is, isn’t he? If we ask him in the morning, please help me to do the things that you have called me to do, he will show you and when he does things unexpected as a blessing, we can thank him we can praise him, that’s acknowledging his name.

One acknowledgement, and I think it comes out of this whole passage, acknowledge that God is God and I am not. You’ve probably heard that before. I am not God. We need him moment by moment, you need him to place what is too big for you in his hands. There is a prayer that you have probably heard this too, but I think it fits in here good. It’s called the serenity prayer, and I’m not exactly sure where it comes from. I have heard it maybe comes from the 12 step program, or something, but it says “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. “ That kind of sums up a lot of our worries, our stress. The things that we hold onto, that we’re trying to control, we’re trying to do these things, but God hasn’t called us to do those things. So God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things, I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

So getting back to Proverbs, I think we’ve made it almost through this. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.” There’s four phrases there, but they have deep meaning, and I hope I was able to communicate that this morning.

My thoughts on application for this passage, let God work, he is God, he created everything, let him work, let him work in your life, and let him be God. Follow his guidance, if he asks you to do something, take that step of faith and do it. And then cast your cares upon him, for he cares for you. Cast your cares, the things that are too big for you to handle, God is there saying ‘give them to me.’ Instead of a benediction, I want to warn Dan, I’ll be singing a song and it might change the sound or something like that. As we reflect on the passage, there’s a song as I was studying I would wake up almost singing this song, so I wanted to sing it this morning. As you guys think through these verses, and how it applies to you, and what God might be wanting you to do, I just wanted to sing this song. I don’t do A Capella often, so we’ll see how it goes. The name of the song is “Cast my Cares”

When fear feels bigger than my faith,
And struggles steal my breath away,
When my back’s pressed up against the wall,
with the weight of my worries stacked up tall,
You’re strong enough to hold it all

I will cast my cares on you,
You’re the anchor of my hope,
The only one that’s in control,
I will cast my cares on you,
I’ll trade the troubles of this world,
For your peace inside my soul.

This war’s not what I would have chosen
But you see the future no one knows yet,
And you’re still good when I can’t
See the working of your hands,
You’re holding it all

I will cast my cares on you
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control,
I will cast my cares on you,
I’ll trade the troubles of this world,
For your peace inside my soul.

I’m finding there’s freedom,
When I lay it all on your shoulders,

Cast my cares, I will,
Cast my cares, I will,
Cast my cares on you

Cast my cares, I will,
Cast my cares, I will,
Cast my cares on you.

Amen.

And now may the Lord bless and keep you, May he shine his face upon you, and give you peace.