Delivered By
C. C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
September 25, 2016
Central Passage
Proverbs 3:5-6
Description

INDEPENDENCE DAY

          From the book of Nehemiah we can learn a lot about building walls…both physical and spiritual.  Nehemiah 4:10 is an especially telling verse that says, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”

          That’s how many people view America…and Christianity in America, which is why we need to look at Proverbs 3:5-6, which says: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

          People often say that they trust in the Lord…and in saying that they often lie to themselves and others.  If people truly trust in the Lord…they won’t allow the troubles of life to destroy them.  Nor will they be slaves to doubt and fear.  It is only when a person totally trusts the Lord with their life that they can declare their independence…their freedom.

          Jesus said that if or when we knew the truth it would set us free.  The truth is that nothing is as freeing as genuine faith in God.

          Proverbs 3:5-6 are two of the most well-known and deeply loved verses in the Scriptures.  In plain and simple language these verses tell us the essence of the Christian faith…which is to TRUST GOD.  We are to trust in God with all our heart…and with our mind.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”

          People are…for the most part…double-minded.  They claim to believe in…and serve…a supernatural God.  But when it pleases them…or when it’s convenient…they revert to the logic of mortal man.

          Each day we enter the unknown…facing events and situations that are shrouded in darkness and uncertainty.  Trials occur that defy explanation.  Burdens are heaped upon our backs.  Many things transpire that affect our future.  And people, finances and health rarely go the way we anticipate or hope.  Even Jesus said each day has enough troubles of its own.

  • Life can be overwhelming.
  • Worry can be overwhelming.
  • Stress can be overwhelming.
  • Hopelessness can be overwhelming.
  • Fear can be overwhelming.
  • Doubt can be overwhelming.

          But God doesn’t want you to experience any of these destructive traits.  As a matter of fact…He calls all of them sin.  They’re the antithesis of what He expects from His creatures.

          It’s natural for a human being to depend on something to get him or her through the difficulties of life.  It may be another person.  It may be materialism.  It may be love of money.  It may be an addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs…pornography or multiple types of sexual perversion.

          But none of these things bring relief from worry, stress, fear and hopelessness.  And God wants it that way…because these are man’s solutions to problems.  He wants us to realize the futility of a life absent from Him.  He wants us to forsake the idols of the world and look to Him in wholehearted trust.  He wants us to depend on Him so he can give us true peace and a life with purpose and direction.

          “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 your paths straight.”

          The first command is to trust God.  That trust is going to give you freedom…that trust is going to give you independence from the world and what it expects of you.  And when I speak of the world, I’m talking about the perverse culture in which we live.

          At the root of the Hebrew word "trust" is the idea of lying hopeless on the ground.  We’re to cast ourselves into the merciful arms of God.  We’re to submit to his leading.  We’re to realize our hopelessness apart from him.

          We’re to trust the Lord "with all (our) heart."  And, the word “heart” means much more than the internal muscle that keeps the blood flowing through your body.  It refers to your inner being…your intellect…your will and emotions.  That’s why the greatest command in the Bible is to love the Lord will all of your heart (Deuteronomy 6:5).

          So when God calls us to trust Him with all of our heart…He is calling for total trust with every fiber of our being…an unwavering obedience…absolute dependence on…and complete confidence in him.

          Job set a high standard for us.  His health, wealth and family were all swept away, but in the midst of these calamities he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”

          And here’s what the Bible says about King Asa of Judah: “He did good and right in the sight of the LORD his God” (2 Chronicles 14:2).  Asa had 600,000 fighting men at his disposal…but when he was being attacked by one million Ethiopians and all their chariots…he wasn’t busy drawing up battle plans.  He was on his face before the LORD in prayer.

          In Psalm 20:7 King David said, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”

          In this sin-cursed world many experience excruciating trials…health and personal issues of every description.  But, whether allergies…cancer…heart problems…an unfaithful spouse…a coworker who hates you…or loss of a job…the biblical response is clear.  TRUST GOD!

          Trusting God is one of the most basic and fundamental tenants of the Christian faith.  We are saved by trusting God…and we persevere and succeed in the faith by continued trust in him.

          But it often seems more difficult to trust God than to obey him.  The moral will of God told to us in the Bible is rational and reasonable.  However, the circumstances in which we must trust God often appear irrational and inexplicable.  After all, obeying God is worked out within well-defined boundaries of God’s revealed will.  But trusting God is worked out in an arena that has no boundaries…and we seem always to be coping with the unknown.

          God, however, gives us sufficient grace to trust him.  As a matter of fact, the longer we walk with God the more our trust in Him should grow.  And two reasons immediately come to mind.

          First of all, we learn throughout the years that God is faithful.  God can be trusted in the present because of his faithfulness in the past.  In hindsight we can recall situations when God either removed a trial or gave us sufficient grace to endure the trial.  We recall the good ways he has shepherded us along life’s journey.  He has never disappointed us.  Through experience we learn that God keeps his word and never fails on His promises.  He is good and He can be trusted.

          The second reason we can trust God is because of His character.  The more we read the Bible…the more we will become familiar with the attributes of God.  We come to understand that He is all-loving, all-wise and all-sovereign.

          The God who created us…and who sustains us…is also the God who finds no detail of our lives too insignificant for His attention…and no circumstance too difficult for His control.  He brings light out of darkness.  He not only promises, but has the ability to cause “…all things to work together for good to those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

          In 1 Peter 5:7, we learn that we can “…cast all our anxiety on him, because He cares for you.”  TRUST GOD because he knows what promotes your best interests better than you do.  All the other counterfeit gods and idols of the world pale in comparison to Almighty Jehovah.

          Allah didn’t love me enough to send his only son to die for me.  Muhammad didn’t take up his cross and stamp pardon on my soul to save me from hell.  Buddha and Confucius didn’t write a divinely inspired and infallible, inerrant Bible.  It isn’t some TV preacher who gives me a peace that passes all understanding.  Wall Street doesn’t provide my every need.  Charlatan preachers and new age crystal doesn’t heal my diseases.  The stars don’t give direction and meaning to my life.  But the LORD who has done all of this has proven time and time again that He can be trusted.

          The second command in Proverbs 3:5 is to not lean on your own understanding.  Leaning on our own understanding is, obviously, the natural contrast to trusting in the Lord.

          The world has placed “self” foremost in our affections.  Modern catchwords such as “self-esteem” and “self-love” dominate our vocabulary.  We are taught by Satan and his minions to believe that the world revolves around “us.”

          But Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

          The world wants self-dependence and self-reliance…but Jesus wants self-denial.  The world wants us to trust ourselves…to “lean on our own understanding.”  Jesus wants us to trust Him…to lean on His understanding instead of our own.

          God wants us to come to grips with the fact that our thinking and reasoning is flawed.  He wants us to realize that our emotions and feelings are often contrary to His will.  He wants us to know that leaning on our own understanding causes us to neglect the faith and dependence on Him that blesses our lives.

          The “self-movement”…or “me-church movement”…has had greater impact on the church than the church has had on it.  When you combine over-indulgence with self…along with a preponderance of laziness about obeying the Great Commission…you have just the right combination for a church that has leaned on its own understanding…outsmarted itself…and that has failed to be led by God.

          You know you’re part of the “self-movement” when you start thinking:

  • “Why should I study the Scriptures for a solution when I can trust my own experiences?”
  • “Why should I depend on the Lord through prayer when I can act based upon my own dreams and visions?”
  • “Why should I seek counsel from godly individuals when I can be led by my feelings?”

          People rarely want to trust the Lord.  They prefer the quick fix that will be least detrimental to their autonomous life-style.  But God works in mysterious ways.  He often works in ways contrary to our own understanding.

          God speaks through Isaiah 55:8-9 and tells us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

          God is never accountable to us.  He doesn’t owe us an explanation for His actions.  We’re simply called to trust Him…to lean on Him…to live the life of faith…to not spend our lives questioning why He does what He does.

          The third command is “In all your ways acknowledge him.”  Trusting God doesn’t mean we’re no longer responsible for figuring out the best course of action.  It simply means we’re to put God at the center of our decision-making.  He’s not calling for an anti-intellectual or anti-emotional faith.  What he’s calling for is for our will to be submitted to His will.

          In all our planning…thinking…and dreaming…activities great and small…we’re to acknowledge God.  As Colossians 1:18 tells us, “…so that he will come to have first place in everything.”

          So it comes down to this question: “Are you willing to forsake yourself and stake your life on this command?”  Verse 6 concludes with a promise.  If you follow the previous three commands, “He will make your paths straight.”

          When you cast yourself into the loving arms of God…He directs you down the best road possible.  Even when the road is bumpy with unexpected turns you can, as 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “…walk by faith and not by sight”…knowing that God is in control…and that His plan for you is perfect.

          When we truly believe God will make our paths straight…despair gives way to joy…worry gives way to faith…anger gives way to love…gloom gives way to hope…and our temporal suffering on earth gives way to abundant life.

          Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible.  There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible.  Faith begins where man’s power ends.

          Can you say with the psalmist, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.  My soul will make its boast in the LORD; the humble will hear it and rejoice.  O magnify the Lord with me, and deliver me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:1-4).

          If you want freedom today…a freedom that no government or satanic power can take away…you must trust God.  God doesn’t make mistakes…and He has told you repeatedly that He loves you and wants you as His child.  The world may not give you much value…may not hold you in high esteem…but God does.

          Just remember that it takes a lot more faith to be an atheist than it does to be a Christian.  The evidence of God is pervasive…but there is no evidence that he doesn’t exist.  Use your heart and your mind and you will find the meaning to your life in the Lord Jesus Christ…in his sacrifice to save you from your sin.

          Take to heart the Scripture: “Lean not on your own understanding”…TRUST GOD.

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