MAKING LIFE’S PATH’S STRAIGHT
Choosing a straight course through life is not always easy. God, in this familiar and beloved passage, has given us a simple formula that enables us to walk in paths that He has made straight.
Best known chapt. of Bible: Psa 23. Best known vs: b/t Jn 3.16 & Pr 3.5-6 Two imperatives: “trust” and “acknowledge”. “Trust” – every person is a trusting creature, always leaning on something.
1. PLACE CONFIDENCE IN GOD COMPLETELY. “trust”
all fr. root to complete. This is not the unmeaning expression from the lips of the ignorant and ungodly. Nor is it the cold assent of the enlightened` judgment. It is the trust of the heart, of all the heart. A child-like, unwavering confidence in our Father’s well-proven wisdom, faithfulness, and love. Is a choice bt being God-trusting or self-trusting. e.g. children of Israel. Psa 78.18-22. e.g. “bc he’s my dad.”
“the LORD” – the All-Merciful, the All-wise, the All-powerful, the unchanging amidst all changes, the All-loving amidst hostilities, the All-enduring amidst all dissolutions, the On and only One, not it or them , but HIM. 1 Ti 1.17 only wise God
1.1 Place confidence in God entirely. “with all thine heart.”
Must be entire. Unquestioned, undivided confidence. Must be trusted lovingly, not as a matter of expediency or dry duty, but as a matter of supreme affection
1.2 Place confidence in God exclusively. “lean not ...understanding.”
“lean” – Niphil Imperfect - pass. of Qal; imperf. a process. lit. to not be supported by yourself. Lean your weight upon God. Song: Leaning to lean learning to lean I’m learning to lean on Jesus Finding more power than I’ve ever dreamed I’m learning to lean on Jesus..
e.g. Judge Roy Moore - Chief Justice Alabama State Supreme Court. Q - Will you continue to acknowledge God? A - Yes I will. Q - I mean, when you return to the bench, you will continue to acknowledge God? A - Yes I will b/c the constitution of the state of Alabama demands it. In his mind, a case of ought to obey God rather than man.
e.g. A little boy was walking down the beach and he approached a lady that was seated on the beach reading a book, and he stopped and he looked at her for a moment, and then he asked her, “Lady, do you believe in God?” She was a little startled by such a question but she answered him, “Why, yes I do!” And he said, “Good” and he just stood there and she went back to reading her book. She was kind of hoping that he would just go away, but he didn’t. A few seconds later he said, “Lady, do you go to church?” She stopped her reading and said, “Well, yes I do.” “Good” he said. Again he just stood there and she went back to reading. A few seconds later he said, “Lady, do you read your Bible and pray?” “Yes, I do!” she replied with a hint of sternness in her voice. He said, “Good, would you watch my quarter while I go for a swim?”
While we are told to submit to authority, we are not commanded to trust those in authority over us. Rather we are to submit to them trusting in God. e.g. a wife cf 1 Pet 3.5
Once man’s understanding gave clear unclouded light since man was created “in the image of God.” (Gen 1.26; Col 3.10) But now it has been degraded by the fall. This trusting instinct corrupted by the curse of sin, hence our tendency to lean on the wrong thing, go in the wrong direction. “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:” (Eph 4:18 AV)
Is a false guide, will not support us. Man naturally leans to himself, to his own notions and fancies. Human power is his idol. His understanding is his god. “ Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.” (Jeremiah 17:5 AV)
This is the history of the fall; the history of man from the fall; the dominant sin of every unhumbled heart, the lamented and resisted sin of every child of God.
Self-conceit is self-ignorance. Self-conceit obstructs mental improvement. Self-deceit destroys social influence.
No wonder Prov. also says, “Seest thou a man who is wise in his own conceit? [there] is more hope of a fool than of him.” Pro 26.12
e.g. Gehazi, servant of Elisha, leaned on his own understanding when going after Naaman to request payment when Elisha had declined it.
e.g. And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. Yea, thgey spake against God, they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Psa 78.18-19.
Self-dependence is folly. “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool; but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” (Pro 28.26
Self-dependence is rebellion. “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jer 2.13).
Self-dependence is ruin. “For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness; thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee, and thou hast said in thine heart, I am and none else beside me.” Isa 47.10
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man . It is better to trust in the Lord than to put cponfidence in princes. (Psa 118.8-9).
“For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken. (Pro 3.26). In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and His childcren shall have a place of refuge.” (Pro 14.26)
Phil 3.3 We ... have no confidence in the flesh.
“They whose wit values itself so highly, that to that All matters else seem weak, can hardly love, Or take a shape or feelingt of affection Being so self-endear’d.” (Shakespeare)
“own understanding” – Do not allow our own understanding to be our support, yet we must use it in trusting God. Our understanding of God should be our support. “Yet though we refuse to lean on it, to follow it may be implicit trust in the Lord, b/c it is a trust in His divine power, enlightening it, as His lamp for our direction. The Christian on his knees, as if he cast his understanding away, confesses himself utterly unable to guide his path. But see him in his action life. He carefully improves his mind. He conscientiously follows its dictates. Thus practical faith strengthens, not destroys, its power invigorates, not supercedes, exertion.” Bridges
These is a right self-reliance. “Heaven has endowed us all with facilities by which to help ourselves, if they are rightly worked. The man who is not self-reliant in this sense sinks his manhood in the parasite.” (Thomas)
2. PLAN TO CONSULT WITH GOD CONTINUALLY
acknowledge – word associated w knowledge; consider what God says thinks about ...
2.1 Consult with God about everything.
“all thy ways” – e.g. me working on carburetor. “Wiebe, you messed it up again, didn’t you.” We do the same with life by attempting our way b/f inquiring of God about His way. (look for ill. about following directions)
“It is nothing less than self-idolatry to conceive that we can carry on even the ordinary matters of the day without His counsel. Be in the habit of going to Him in the first place – before self-will, self-pleasing, self-wisdom, human friends, convenience, expediency. ... Consider no circumstances so clear as to not need His direction.” Bridges
Acknowledge Him in choices. e.g. Abraham in finding a wife for his son. No mention of riches, honor, beauty, only of what concerned the name and honor of his God. Gen 24.1-8. Also his servant. Gen 24. 12-27.
e.g. David inquiring of the Lord. 1 Sam 23.9-11
e.g. David’s response aftger the Amalekites had invaded Ziklag and taken his famnily captive. No knee jerk reaction to a family crisis. 1 Sam 30.4-6. When the crisis comes, always ask the Lord BEFORE reacting. Something certainly needs to be done about that crisis, but it needs to be the RIGHT thing if we are to have a successful outcome.
e.g. contrast w David’s response 1 Sam 27 – lack of faith. Went to Achish, king of the Philistines bc of fear of Saul. Did not enquire of the Lord. Achish gave him Ziklag to live in. Note David’s duplicity with Achish – 27.8,10-11. Moved his family without enquiring of the Lord – note disastrous result.
2.2 Consult with God for execution. “direct thy paths – lit. make your paths straight.
e.g. A man was watching the news one night when it was reported that a car was going the wrong direction on the freeway. The man knew his wife was on that freeway and became very concerned so called her on her cell phone. She answered and he said, "Dear, there’s one car going in the wrong direction on the freeway." She exclaimed, "One car! There’s hundreds of them!"
e.g. Nehemiah seeking guidance going into the king’s presence, using his understanding committed to God.
“Let the will be kept in a quiet, subdued, cheerful readiness, to move, stay, retreat, turn to the right hand or to the left, as the Lord’s bidding, always remembering that is best which is least our own doing, and that a pliable spirit ever secures the needful guidance.” Bridges
Making many decisions: education - not dollars, distance, dicsipline – is Dedication to God’s direction! Make marriage, vocational decisions – Dedication to God’s Direction!
Man has many ways. Different men have different ways, determined by organization, idiosyncracies, etc. A man’s ways change throughout his life b/c of age, convictions, experiences. In whatever way he walks, he must acknowledge God. Acknowledge not merely His existence, personality, power, but His absolute authority.
God has provided a way for us to reap and enjoy the benefits of walking with Him in His path. The simple (although admittedly not always easy) prerequisites are that we have complete confidence in Him and continually consult with Him.