Proverbs 3:5-6

Photograph by Trisha L. KnaulProverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make straight your paths.

What a comforting passage that is. But wait. Is it really all that comforting? Yes, it says he will make your paths straight, but think about it. Couldn’t a straight path go over a mountain? Doesn’t sound so easy now, does it?

Lets not forget the first part either. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” sounds easy enough, but there’s more: “And do not lean on your own understanding.” Wait! What do you mean? You mean my understanding might be wrong? You see where this is going, don’t you? This simple little verse, used to comfort people, scares me half to death!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

How many of us, when we say, “Lord, I will do whatever you say,” really mean, “Lord, I will follow you til the situation doesn’t fit what I think should be going on.” I don’t know about you, but I have been guilty of this more times then I care to admit.

For years my youth group went on missions trips, and each year I would decide I was going to go. Then each year I would back out–too afraid of what might happen. You see, my understanding was that if I went something bad would happen. For years I did this until at last during my senior year I went. That trip was one of the most amazing trips of my life! Still, I occasionally wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t let my understanding get in the way of trusting on God’s understanding. That mission trip my path felt straight. I knew what I was doing and what I had to do. Furthermore, I did it even when I was scared and didn’t want to. I was trusting on God.

Ladies, don’t rely on Your understanding. Your sight is limited to what You see. Trust in God’s understanding. He sees everything.

In all your ways acknowledge Him…
Proverbs 3:6a

So much of what I did as a kid was to impress my brothers, parents, and even my friends. I wanted to be praised. Not to lord is over anyone or prove I was better than them, but because I wanted to feel like I did something right, that for once in my life I wouldn’t feel left out or out of control.

I wonder how many of us are doing the same thing today–wanting to fit in so badly we conveniently forget to mention God because we fear being rejected. We forget the skills that put us where we are were given to us by God, not necessarily to “fit in” but to be used for him. This is a trap many of us fall into.

This doesn’t mean you should go quit your job and work for charity. This means that whenever you get credit you should in some way give credit back to Him. Whether it be praise or just acknowledging him, never forget to acknowledge what God has done.

During the 2016 Olympics, there was a synchronized diving team* that did very well. These two men had started as discipleship partners and discovered a similar passion for diving which eventually took them to the Olympics. I don’t remember where they placed or even their names. However, they stick out in my mind, not because of how good they were, but because every time they were interviewed they never failed to mention God and that He was the reason they were there at the Olympics. How easy would it have been for these divers to just forget God’s involvement and talk about their dive or how participating in the Olympics was amazing? However, they never failed to acknowledge what God had done for them.

That is the kind of thing I would love to be known for doing and one of the things I fail at the most. When I write something or sew a garment, it is so tempting to forget what God has done for me that allowed me to do those things in the first place. You don’t have to go yelling about God every time someone praises what you’ve done. This can drive people away. Don’t take it for granted either.

Acknowledging God’s hand in things is a very important part of evangelizing that can be overlooked. We can acknowledge God in such a way that it gives Him a outstanding verbal referral.

And He will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:6b

Now what about that last part? “And He will make straight your paths.” What does that mean? Well, whenever I have been following God closely, I have known to some extent what I needed to do, even if it was just that I needed to obey my parents. As comforting as this sounds, I have bad news. It’s not always all that easy.

A walking path can be straight and smooth–seen for miles on end. A straight path can also have bumps and cracks inviting us to step in and twist our ankle. Or maybe, just maybe, this straight path could go straight over a mountain, disappearing over the other side not to be seen till you reach the top. Because even though it says, He will make our paths straight, it says nothing about the paths being easy. In fact, John 16:13 says, “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart I have overcome the world.”

When I was little our family use to go on walks in the park. I enjoyed them for the most part, but I would get tired and want to stop. At that time one of my brothers or my dad would pick me up and carry me for a while. You see, they had overcome that path before and knew how to help me. In the same way, like an expert mountain climber, the Lord will help you up that mountain or encourage you to keep going because He knows you can make it.

So whatever the mountain is your climbing take heart and trust in His understanding for He has overcome the world.

Remember that our understanding is limited. God’s is not. Acknowledging God is not only a way to praise but to evangelize. Give the expert mountain climber the best referral ever, as he guides you along a straight path over the mountain.

I pray that you would lean on God’s understanding as He makes straight your paths.

 

 

*2016 Rio Olympic Games silver medalists in men’s synchronized 10 m platform diving, David Boudia and Steele Johnson

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2016. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

 

Don’t Tell God No

He did everything God told him to do. Followed all the rules. Then, God told him to follow Him in something he didn’t want to do. “No. Just NO, Lord. I am not going!” Can’t you just hear yourself, oops, I mean Jonah saying that?

Sound familiar? Sure sounds familiar to me. Over the years I have told God no many times. No, I won’t go over and talk to them. No, I am never getting braces. No, I don’t like working with kids. I would be so passionate that these things would never happen, but (sigh) God loves to make you do the things you don’t want to do or the things that scare you. Not because God is mean, but because He wants to see you rely on Him and not your own understanding.

Jonah tried so hard not to do what God was telling him to, but eventually he gave in. From the inside of the fish, Jonah decided His way of living wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

A couple years ago I got braces even though I didn’t want them because I thought God wanted me to. Last summer I felt lead to talk to a lady. When I did, I found out that she was a Christian and was struggling with some choices. She was very grateful when I prayed with her. Over the years I have gotten pulled into some of the children’s events at church because they were short on helpers, and I discovered I really enjoy working with grade school children.

“There I did it are you happy,” He thought, “Now, you’ll see how pointless that was”

Now there is one part of Jonah’s story I hope you don’t ever repeat.  After doing what God told him to do, he left and waited for his efforts to fail. Can you believe that? He was so convinced it wouldn’t work that he actually wanted his work to fail! Sometimes we can give in to what God is leading us to do because life is miserable where we are. We think Ok, God, I’ll do it. I will show you it won’t work. Doesn’t this remind you of a child being told to do math? “Aargh, yes, Mom,” with a little eye roll. Then they proceed to do math and to their chagrin get an A.

Through every one of the areas in my life where I have told God no, I have discovered those things really aren’t that scary, and in most cases I really enjoyed them.

Are there any areas in your life where you have told God no?

Why have you told God no? (fear, hatred, comfort)

How can you make your first step in the direction God is leading you?

(To learn more about Jonah, read the book of Jonah.)

This Time
I Will Praise the LORD

This time of year, our thoughts turn toward what the year may hold. We make plans and think about the previous years with all their disappointments and regrets.

Leah (Genesis 29:31-35) was doing this year after year. She thought children were the answer to not being loved. Having children was very important in biblical times, especially sons for they would carry on the family name. Leah believed that if she had sons her husband would be pleased, see her worth, and love her. The Lord gave her what she thought she wanted. Leah had three sons. Sadly, Isaac still didn’t love her.

Finally, Leah looked elsewhere and found love where it had always been waiting for her–in God’s arms. So when she had a fourth son, she praised God with that son’s very name, Judah which means praise. Pleasing her husband to make him love her was no longer the thing that defined Leah. Rather she decided to please God. After all, he had always loved her.

Have you ever done this? So caught up in what you think will make you happy, you miss how God can make you happy right where you are, nothing else needed.

Sometimes God gives us what we think we need to show us what we really need.

God is there for you whatever you feel you are missing in your life. God can satisfy it.

Is there anything in your life that you keep looking to for happiness other than to God?

Because of What You Say

“He told me everything I ever did.” That was it. Her testimony of Jesus. 7 words and yet that was all it took. (John 4:39)

An outcast so disgraced she didn’t even go to the well to get water till all the other woman were gone. Everyone knew her. She had sinned horribly, and no one wanted to hang around her. She probably tried to make as little a splash as possible wherever she went. Suddenly she started going through town telling about this man who knew everything  she had ever done. Wouldn’t you be amazed and perhaps curious about this man? (You can find the Samaritan Woman’s story in John 4:1-42.)

“So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his words.” (John 4:40) These people were amazed by her story. They wanted to see Jesus to try and find out for themselves if what she said was true. Because of this many believed.

Even if what you say isn’t making people believe, just making them curious can be enough to start them down the path to belief.

“They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the savior of the world.’” (John 4:42) The people believed at first because of her unbelievable actions and words. They had to go see this guy; then, they believed for themselves.

When I was younger I trusted my parents so I believed them when they told me about God. As I grew up and realized my parents were fallible, I not only started to doubt them but also God. You see, I believed through my parents’ faith, not my own faith. It took a lot to make me realize this. It took even longer to find my own faith in God. In other words I now believe because I have seen for myself and found that he is indeed the Savior of the world.

It is important that we tell our story but in a way that makes people want to believe for themselves not through us.

(As we explore how to Tell Your Story, each contributor will share a part of their God story with us. Leah’s Story is here.)

What do you think:

How can you interest people and point them toward God?

What is it about your story that would make people curious about Jesus?

Is there anyone in your life who is believing through you?

What can you do to encourage them to believe for themselves?

 

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Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™