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Archive for the ‘2011-12 Proverbs 3:5-6’ Category

“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 paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV84)

A Little Horse Sense

What does God mean when He says, “lean not on your own understanding”?  Does this mean that our understanding is not important?  The Hebrew word for “lean” was used to describe a person putting his weight on a staff or spear.  How do we value our own understanding without putting all our weight on it?

When my father was a young man, he taught at a military academy.  On one occasion he was assigned to lead a group of twelve junior high boys on a horseback adventure into a mountain wilderness area.  The wranglers at the stable told him to just follow the signs, and the trail would bring them back in about two hours.  What they didn’t tell him was that there were many other trails that split off from the main loop.  Along the way they came to several well-weathered signs and had to decide which way to go.  After about three hours my father realized he was lost and had no idea how to get back.  It was already late and the sun was going down.  Without alarming the boys, my father quietly prayed for God’s help.  As he sat there trying to read one more illegible trail marker, and with the sunlight rapidly slipping away, a thought suddenly came to him.  He remembered that horses had a natural sense for how to get home, since that is where they always find food.  Loosening the reins, he let his horse take the lead.  Slowly, she began to turn until she made a complete U-turn and started going in the other direction.  As my father doubled-back past the boys, he waved his arm high in the air yelling, “Follow me men.”  One by one each horse turned to follow.  In the dwindling light, it soon became impossible to read the trail signs; but without hesitation, the lead horse chose her path and kept moving forward.  Each time they passed another sign, my father encouraged the boys by calling out to them, “Follow me men.”  Before long, the warm glow of the stable lights could be seen glimmering through the trees as the horses made their way home for dinner.

God has unlimited power to show us the right path.  Sometimes the answer is right in front of us and we just can’t see it.  He does want us to use our own understanding, just not to put all of our weight on it.  When we lean on Him, instead of ourselves, we gain the advantage of His Spirit, showing us solutions we have either ignored or forgotten.  Sometimes the smallest idea or memory is all that He uses to solve the biggest of problems.

What should you always do before taking on a difficult task (Proverbs 16:3)?  What does James say we should do when we know we lack wisdom (James 1:5)?  Does prayer change God, or does it change us (Philippians 4:6-7)?

For additional study materials on the Bonus Verse and a copy of the “Ten Step Bible Memory Method for Life” go to the ICS website at www.icsva.org. Click on the Annual Theme & Bonus Verse on the homepage.

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“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 paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV84)

Flying Blind

When the Wright brothers discovered how to fly in 1903 it was the fulfillment of one of man’s greatest dreams, to break free of the earth, defy gravity, and soar among the clouds. But whenever those early pilots flew into the clouds, something almost always went wrong. Flying blind, they usually became disoriented or confused and soon found themselves plummeting downward out of control, caught in the powerful grip of a tail spin. Unless they knew how to recover, they would crash into the earth below. It was not because of something dangerous inside the clouds, but rather because of something dangerous inside the pilot, a tiny organ inside the inner ear that gives us our sense of balance. Whenever a pilot loses sight of the horizon, that tiny organ can become disoriented and confused, deceiving him into thinking that he is level when he is not. Eventually, pilots learned to fly by electronic instruments that told them everything they needed to know to fly through the clouds safely. But whenever they were inside those clouds, pilots had to trust those instruments completely, even when their inner ear was telling them something else.

Just as there is a difference between flying by sight and flying by instrument, so there is a difference between walking by sight and walking by faith. Proverbs 3:5-­6 tells us that the path God has for us begins with trust and continues with trust every step of the way. But that trust is extreme, requiring “all” of our heart and “all” of our ways. Our tendency is to only trust God some of the time in some of our ways. And these are the areas that cause our greatest problems in life, like a pilot flying through the clouds, trusting only some of his instruments some of the time. There is something dangerous inside of us. It is our fallen nature, that old nature which deceives us and which never completely disappears in this life. When we trust in ourselves alone, we can easily become disoriented and confused. But God offers us the best possible resources for walking by faith. Through His Word and prayer, He brings us to a path that is straight, level and even. We do not find this path on our own, but He “makes” it for us. By His power we learn to walk that path daily, when we trust in Him completely with all our heart and all our ways.

What should we not trust in (Proverbs 28:26; Jeremiah 9:23–24)? What practical advice does David give us for trusting God (Psalm 37:7–9)?

For additional study materials on the Bonus Verse and a copy of the “Ten Step Bible Memory Method for Life” go to the ICS website at www.icsva.org. Click on the Annual Theme & Bonus Verse on the homepage.

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“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 paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV84)

Turning

There is a jogging path near my home that goes around a lake. If I stay on the path, I can walk the entire loop in just over an hour. But all along the way, there are side trails that wind and wander back through the woods. They lead to swampy marshlands, dark passages through heavy foliage, places overgrown with thorns and briars, sunken places full of mud and mire, and deep ravines with steep drop-offs. From the main loop, these side trails look exciting and full of adventure, but if you don’t know your way, it’s easy to get lost. This is the nature of side trails. They appeal to us for their excitement, but usually take us away from our main destination. Such trails in our physical life may be challenging and survivable, but in our spiritual life, those wandering trails are much more dangerous leading to great harm for us and those around us.

God has designed a straight path for us, and has given us powerful tools to help us avoid dangerous side trails. One of these is a soul fashioned after His likeness with a powerful attraction to its Maker (Gen.1:27; 2:7). The soul is the center of our longing after God (Psalm 42:1-2) and it is always looking for comfort and rest in this world. But God is the only one who can provide the comfort and rest we seek (Jer. 6:16, Ps. 119:82). Our soul can look for comfort in two ways. It can turn outward to our physical life, elevating our appetites, making them more important than they ought to be. Or, for those of us who know God, our soul can find comfort by turning inward to our spiritual life to the indwelling presence of the living God. And this becomes one of our most important tools for staying on the straight path. Every time our soul is drawn to find its comfort and rest in outward things, God gives us a moment to decide whether to accept or reject that path. It is in these moments of turning inward to the living God that one of the most powerful forces of the universe is released, the soul’s attraction to its Maker. It is in this turning from the crooked path back to the straight path, that we fulfill our greatest destiny. This is why He made us in His image, why He placed that forbidden tree in the Garden, and why He has left us here in this broken world, for one reason only, that we would choose Him over everything else. And this we must do continually, daily, hourly, even moment by moment. It is the slightest turning toward Him, the smallest prayer for help, that He waits for, to release His Spirit to us and come to our rescue as a loving parent to a child, bearing us up in His strength and power. Of course, all of this is possible only for those who know the presence of the indwelling God, Immanuel, who is never more than a prayer’s breath away.

Something I’ve noticed about the side trails along the path. They never completely disappear. Over time they may become overgrown or even lose their attraction, but they never go away completely. The turning must never stop. It becomes the constant habit of the one who walks upon the straight path and finds his comfort and rest in God.

Explore David’s journey to find his soul’s comfort and rest (Psalm 16:9-11; Psalm 51:6; Psalm 62:1&5; Psalm 119:76-77).

For additional study materials on the Bonus Verse and a copy of the “Ten Step Bible Memory Method for Life” go to the ICS website at www.icsva.org. Click on the Annual Theme & Bonus Verse on the homepage.

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“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 paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV84)

The Shortcut

Many years ago, I visited Rocky Mountain National Park with my high school youth group.  During one of our activities, we hiked to Emerald Lake, a beautiful, glacier-fed body of water surrounded by snow-capped peaks.  It was late in the afternoon when we started our two mile hike back to the bus.  Our group had been given clear instructions to stay together and stay on the trail.  But two boys decided to take a shortcut, or at least what they thought would be a shortcut.  Unfortunately, their path took an unexpected turn, and before long they were completely lost.  We had already experienced an amazing display of weather that day, including rain, sleet and hail.  Soon it began to get dark and the temperature grew colder by the hour.  When our group got to the bus, the two boys were not there and our leaders were very worried.  Park rangers were contacted and went out to search.  Getting lost in the wilderness is serious enough, but at night in the cold, it can quickly turn to disaster.  We waited for several hours in the dark, and finally the rangers returned with the two boys looking very cold and scared.

Why do people take shortcuts?  Isn’t it because they think it will get them to their destination faster?  Or maybe they think it will be less work.  But God’s Word and experience teach us that shortcuts are not always faster or easier; and sometimes actually lead us away from our destination.  When Solomon wrote about the “straight” path, he used a word that means “level, smooth, or even.”   In other words, he was speaking of a path with fewer obstacles to make us stumble or get lost.  We live in a world that bombards us with shortcuts; shortcuts to wealth, happiness and success.  But those are paths that promise what they can never deliver.  God says that trusting in Him rather than in ourselves is the only way to find the right path.  It may not be the shortest path, but it is the only one that will get us to our destination with less stumbling and without getting lost along the way.

See how Solomon contrasts the straight path and the crooked path (Proverbs 2:12-15 and 4:11&26).

 For additional study materials on the Bonus Verse and a copy of the “Ten Step Bible Memory Method for Life” go to the ICS website at www.icsva.org.  Click on the Annual_Theme_&_Bonus_Verse on the homepage.

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