Sunday, April 26, 2009

Staying on the road

Proverbs 3:5 – 6

“Staying on the Road”


Finding the road and staying on the road are sometimes two very different things.  We start well, have every good intention, but then lose momentum. 


When something crosses our path and we are tripped up, it’s difficult to remain focused.  Something comes along to distract us and we find ourselves wandering off the path.


How are we to travel and finish strong?  These verses help us understand the basic strategies…  Nobody can claim to have God without God affecting everything in life.

The key concept is “trust.”



I.          Trust controls behavior.


            A.        The levels of “trust.”


(Hebrew: “to cling”)


                        1.         There is trust in the sense of “knowing.”


a.         Knowing something and acting on it are two different things.


b.         Knowing is the basis of trust.  You have to know what/who you trust.


                        2.         There is trust in the sense of “believing.”


a.         Believing is a sense of conviction that moves us to action.


                                    b.         Believing, move us beyond curiosity or desire into motion.


(Ill. of the pendulum.)


                        3.         There is trust in the sense of “habit.”


a.         Some things we do not have to think about anymore because we have tested it to the point of trusting without question.


b.         We’ve moved past the point of uncertainty to habit.


(Ill. Of starting a car with your keys)


            B.        What hinders our development of trust?


                        1.         We can become un-teachable when we are “self-willed.”


                                    a.         Trust is something we learn… we have to be taught.


b.         Teaching/learning requires precedence, experience, and repetition.


                        2.         We cling to our choices and plans.


                                    a.         “There is a way that seems right to a man,

                                                but in the end it leads to death.” [Proverbs 14:12, 16:25] 


                                    b.         About perspective:  The more information and experience you have, the better the choices.  Our information is limited.  Our experiences are interpreted.


***** Ultimately our minds are called: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” [Isaiah 26:3 – 4]


II.        Trust clarifies perceptions.


            A.        Lack of trust leads to fear.


                        1.         Fear is a problem with relationships.


a.         It is why women “nag” their men.  (They don’t trust them to get something done…)


b.         It is why pastors and churches abuse one another. (They read some undercurrent evil into every word or action.)


2.         There is healthy fear (for a good reason… such as electricity) and there is unhealthy fear (imagination).


                                    a.         One is respect the other paralyzes.


b.         This is the two ways to see God: healthy respect or paralyzing fear.  The difference is relationship.


            B.        Lack of relationship creates misunderstanding.


1.         If you don’t know God, you will not understand God… except by what grace God allows as you are “awakened.”

a.         Problem is most people know about some version or form of “god” that comes from people around them that claim to know that “god.”


                                    b.         Most of what people call “god” isn’t.


                        2.         If you have the wrong teacher, you come to the wrong conclusions.


                                    a.         We are naturally drawn to charisma over content.


                                    b.         We are fueled by emotions over essence.


***** When we lean on our own understanding… we are presumptuous.  The problem with being presumptuous (willful) is those things rule over us.


“Keep your servant also from (presumptuous) willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.” [Psalm 19:13]


III.      Trust develops praxis.  (“Practice, as distinguished from theory; application or use, as of knowledge or skills.”


            A.        The idea is to develop an “active faith.”


                        1.         “All your ways.”


a.         Problem: we compartmentalize…. It’s like we have different boxes we put things in… one of them is marked “religion.”


                                    b.         The challenge is to address the whole person.


                        2.         “Acknowledge” means that we will submit to God.


                                    a.         We will actively seek what God wants.


                                    b.         It covers everything: talk, action, money, sex… etc…


            B.        God intends to help.


1.         The Holy Spirit: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it.” [Isaiah 30:21]


a.         Jesus taught us: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” [John 14:26]


b.         Jesus promised: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” [Acts 1:8]


***** Ultimately our wills are called to substitute appearances with substance.


IV.       Trust brings blessings.


            A.        God promises to direct (make straight, remove obstacles) in your path.


                        1.         The Christian life is not an obstacle course.


a.         There is nothing about “easy” but when we do things God’s way, complications are minimized.


b.         God also shows up, every day.  Try this: before you go to bed answer this question… where did I see God today?


                        2.         The Christian life is not confusing.


                                    a.         We can lived “scatter brained” or focused.


b.         We can live with purpose and significance or we can live meaninglessly.


c.         We can join God in something bigger than ourselves or we can be stuck in grinding out life.


            B.        Have you ever needed a map, a guide, a helper?


1.         In a world where practiced sincerity usually means exploitation; we are at a loss to find teachers.


“The days are coming," declares the Sovereign LORD, "when I will send a famine through the land--not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.”  [Amos 8:11]


                        2.         However, there is a point where God will be faithful:


“Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.” [Isaiah 30:20]


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