Monday, December 16, 2013

How to get on the right path

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Proverbs 3:1-22

TO CHEW ON: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

Most of us have probably memorized this reassuring passage. These verses tell us how to find the right way, path, or road in life. They imply that there may be several to choose from and we're not sure which one to take. The instructions consist of two things to do, one not to do, and a promise.

Two things to do:

1. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart."
Trust (batach - #982) means to have confidence in, be bold, secure, feel safe in, be free of care (careless) in.
  • Psalm 37:3-5 enlarges on this trust, describing it as: "Trust...dwell...feed on His faithfulness...delight yourself in the Lord...commit your way to Him."
  • Proverbs 22:17-19 speaks of how the "words of the wise"—for us Bible words—grow our trust in God. We are to listen to them, keep them within us (memorize them), and fix them on our lips (recite them) so our trust will be in the Lord—nothing else.

2. "In all your ways acknowledge Him."
Acknowledge (yada #3045) means to know by observation, investigation and firsthand experience. A sidebar article in my Bible explains: "But the highest level of yada is in 'direct, intimate contact.' This refers to life-giving intimacy as in marriage. Applied to a spiritual context, it suggests an intimacy with God in prayer that conceives and births blessings and victories" - Dick Eastman, "Intimacy and Spiritual Breakthrough," New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 807. It is bringing God into every detail of life.
  • 1 Chronicles 28:9 gives David's instructions to Solomon in this regard. He tells his son how to acknowledge of God in his life: "know the God of your father...serve Him with a loyal heart and willing mind." God, David promises, will then reveal Himself to Solomon.
  • Proverbs 16:3 tells us: "Commit your works to the Lord ("roll your works upon the Lord" - Amp; "put God in charge of your work" - Message) and your thoughts will be established."
  • Philippians 4:6 says to replace anxiety with constant communication with God in prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, as you present our every request to Him.

One thing not to do:

"And lean not on your own understanding"
Lean (sha 'an #8172) means to trust in, support oneself on, lean upon.
Understanding (biynah #998) means discernment.

We're not to put our confidence in our own human-centered discernment, insights, wits, common sense, or evaluation of the situation. Why? Because they don't factor God, with His overarching plans and often supernatural ways, into the equation.
  • Jeremiah 9:23-24: God's message to the Israelites through Jeremiah in this regard was don't boast, praise, or put your glory in your own wisdom, might or wealth. Rather, boast that you know God.

The promise:

"He shall direct your paths."
Direct (yashar #3474) means to make straight, right, level, smooth, straightforward. That's what God will do with our path -- make it straight, right, level, smooth, obvious...

Need more reassurance? Psalm 32:8; Psalm 139:9-10; Isaiah 30:21; Isaiah 42:16 are four of a multitude of verses that reiterate God's promise to put us on, direct, straighten, clarify and smooth the road in front of us.

What a wonderful reminder of how to live this Monday in the middle of one of the busiest seasons of the year. Let's put these verses into action this week. Let's really trust and acknowledge God for, and in, the big and little issues of life, and watch Him simplify and clarify the path.

PRAYER: Dear God, these instructions are so straightforward. They sound so easy. Please remind me of them this week when I will, I'm sure, be tempted to lean on my own understanding. Amen.

MORE: When your guide is your Lord

In the book Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby says this about confusing circumstances:

"When you face confusing circumstances, don't blame God. Don't give up following Him. Go to God. Ask Him to reveal the truth of your circumstances. Ask Him to show you His perspective. Then wait on the Lord.

Radically reorient your life to God. The most difficult thing you will ever have to do is deny self, take up God's will, and follow Him. The most challenging part of your relationship with God is being God-centered. If you recorded a day in your life, you might find that your prayers, your attitudes, your thoughts, and your actions are intensely self-centered. You may not see things from God's perspective; rather you may try to explain to God what your perspective is.

When He becomes the Lord of your life, He alone has the right to be: the Focus of your life, the Initiator in your life, the Director of your life. That is what it means for him to be Lord." - Experiencing God Workbook page 121 (emphases mine).

Bible Drive-Thru

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