Proverbs 3:6, In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Ways: manner of doing anything; method; means of doing; manner of thinking or behavior; manner of practice; method or plan of life and conduct; course; process of things.
Any Father loves to be consulted by his children.
God our Father also loves to be consulted by his children.
He loves to be acknowledged as the authority over us.
He loves to be acknowledged as the one who is concerned about our welfare.
He says to his sons and daughters, check with me about the ways of your life. I want to help you.
I want you to be successful in life. I know the way to go and if you consult me I will tell you the way.
If you don't consult me, if you don't acknowledge me, then I won't intrude and I will let you go the way that you wish.
It may not be the best way and it may be a way full of trouble and heartache but I will let you go your way.
But I desire that my children acknowledge me; that they recognize that I have rule over them.
He wants us to go to him habitually.
We are to go to him in the first place; not as a last resort; not only when we are in trouble.
He desires to be the first of our consultants.
He expects to come before self-will, self-pleasing, self-wisdom, friends, convenience, and expediency, bring us down a direction so far that our pride will not let us admit that we are in error.
He knows that we so easily get entangled in these things so that our pride keeps us from admitting our error and our lack in consulting God.
We are to form habits of acknowledgment of God early on in every way before we become so engrossed and enmeshed in our own directions.
When we do so our vision is clouded by our pride.
Consider no circumstance too clear to need his direction.
In all thy ways, small or great, personal, business, temporal or eternal, he says to acknowledge him.
What is the promise of this acknowledgement?
What will be the result of consulting the Father?
Some little benefit? Some worthless token?
No worthless benefit or worthless token by our Father!
Our Father gives no worthless gifts.
Our Father promises something right here in Proverbs 3:6, that is more valuable, has more benefit, and is of utmost importance to his children.
He gives us a guarantee. What is better than God's guarantee?
He guarantees that if you acknowledge him and look to him for guidance he will give it to you.
He guarantees that you do not have to be ignorant as you walk through life.
He will direct you. He will not let you down. Your way will be God directed.
God directs your paths as a conductor directs an orchestra, he tells your paths what direction to go, your paths are under his command and they go where he directs.
Light will be cast on your path.
You will know which way to go.
What does it take to access this great and mighty power?
It takes acknowledgement!
Acknowledge your maker and acknowledge your own weakness and inability to find the way.
In all thy ways. Check it out! Make a list of your ways and ask God about them, one by one.
(the way of personality,
thought life way,
prayer life way,
bible study ways,
giving way, work way,
wife or husband way,
even your decently way
and your orderliness way)
Proverbs 3:6, In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
We said last week that the word trust as used in Proverbs 3:5 is from a Hebrew word which means to flee for refuge or to flee for protection.
The trust of which this proverbs father tells his son is a trust which indicates movement to a place of safety from a place of danger.
Trust then indicates an urgency of action.
Something must be done and it must be done now.
It is not something to be put off, for time is wasting and danger is increasing as the time presses on. Action is required!
Isn't this ever true in life as time marches on and you are not saved?
Don't the ones who go through life without Jesus Christ continually head toward the abyss?
Didn't Jesus say that the danger from plucking your right eye out or cutting your right hand off was less danger then your whole body being cast into hell?
This father is serious about this instruction.
Trust in the Lord. Flee from danger to a place of safety and faith tells you where to find that refuge.
The father is as quick to instruct as he wants his son to be quick to trust.
There is no wondering here with a studying of various options.
No! The father tells his son there is only one place to find refuge and that place is in the Lord.
So this is where faith comes in.
Faith reveals from where that refuge and protection is to come.
By faith I am persuaded that the Lord is the place of refuge and protection.
My mind assents to this. Faith then is the engine that causes the movement of trust.
The Old Testament scriptures exhibit occasion after occasion of this kind of trust and it is always described as escape from places of danger to a place of refuge.
David spake of this trust in 2 Samuel 22:2,3, And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.
Psalm 9:9,10, The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
Psalm 57:1, Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
Psalm 62:7,8, In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Psalm 91:2, I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
My Bridge Story Ė In 1960, in my first engineering job out of college I was hired by Illinois Central Railroad in Chicago for the position of a railroad bridge designer.
I did not begin to design bridges the first day I arrived because I did not know how to design a railroad bridge.
You ask, What did you learn in college if you didnít know how to design a railroad bridge.
Well I learned the same things that all college students are to learn, simply the tools of the trade. Didn't know much!
After college is when you learn the application of the tools of the trade and most times you learn those on the job.
So those first few months I was assigned portions of designs so I could learn the components of bridge building and eventually by these experiences learn to design a complete bridge.
The time came when I was given a complete bridge design and I applied the things I learned in college and on the job.
My boss exercised little faith in me, knowing of course that experienced bridge designers would check my work.
I worked hard on that bridge knowing that I was being carefully watched and if I wanted to design greater bridges I must perform well in little bridges.
The bridge was eventually built somewhere in Louisiana.
And the highlight of my bridge design career was when the grizzled old bridge builder foreman called the office and complimented the design, telling my boss that all components had fit very well and he was proud of the finished product.
This was not a normal thing for a grizzled old bridge builder foreman to be passing out compliments especially to engineers.
But this was extremely good for me because I was now building a track record and my boss could count on me to do a good job for him.
This bridge foreman communicated his faith in the bridge he had built and I had designed.
He knew good bridges when he saw one and he said he saw one in this bridge.
But what would my boss have said if the grizzled old bridge builder had said this was a good bridge but he did not want to take a locomotive with all its heavy cars across this bridge?
Would his faith be accepted as faith? Of course not.
What shows that his faith in this bridge is true faith?
Why it is his willingness to cross the bridge with the heaviest load the railroad permitted and to know that that bridge would do its job.
That action shows true faith.
Having faith in the bridge designer, the bridge builders and the bridge materials will lead to faith in the bridge.
But unless that faith leads you to be on the first and heaviest train to cross that bridge that faith is not faith.
For true faith leads to trusting.
You may say that you have faith but if that faith does not lead to trusting you might as well throw out that kind of faith.
If the train never crosses the bridge you might as well dismantle the bridge and sell it for scrap!
The bridge is useless!
If your faith never leads you to that place of refuge that the Lord provides, that faith is vain.
So this Proverbs father wants his son to exhibit true faith that leads to trusting.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Notice what is taking place here.
God acknowledges that you are on a path.
Movement on that path is taking place here.
God wants you to know that trust is taking place here for it is natural to move to a place of safety and protection.
It is natural to trust.
But God is entering the picture.
He says that it is natural to trust in your own understanding as you seek a place of refuge.
But he cautions that your own understanding will not bring you to a safe place of refuge.
The bridges that you choose are faulty bridges, bridges without foundation.
You do not have a complete understanding nor will you ever have a complete understanding of the bridges of life.
So he invites you to join him on his bridge.
He invites you to exercise faith in him and that faith will move you to acknowledge him as the one whose path or bridge is truly a refuge and a place of protection.
But what is the danger that He is concerned about?
Why is it important to trust, to flee to a place of refuge?
Note verse 6: In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
What is the cause of God's concern?
Well, it is your ways that concern him.
Your ways must then be a place of danger, your ways must be a place that you must flee from.
What are ways anyway? The word ways in this proverb speak of a trodden down road, a well traveled path. Ways mean a course of life or mode of action, your manner of doing anything, your habits.
Your manner of thinking or behavior,
Your manner of practice,
Your plan of life and conduct,
Your course, your process of things.
It is that which you mean when you say, WELL THAT'S THE WAY I AM!
You mean that God infers that my ways are dangerous to me?
Yes, that is what he infers. Do not the habits or ways of the natural man lead to eternal damnation in hell?
By telling us to trust in the Lord he means to tell us that our ways are places of danger.
He desires for us to flee our ways and to find in him a place of refuge, a place of protection.
If you get stuck on the exclamation of "WELL THAT'S THE WAY I AM!" that will get you a one way ticket to hell.
That way is not acceptable to God! God desires that you flee your ways and consult the Lord about your ways.
He wants you to not lean to your ways as truth but to know that your ways will lead you to evil and sin.
Proverbs 3:6, In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Our proverbs father continues to instruct his son about the absolute necessity to trust the Lord.
As we said last week trust means to flee for refuge from a place of danger to a place of safety.
In the context of these verses this father tells his son that that place of danger is the son's ways.
The word ways in this proverb speak of a trodden down road, a well traveled path.
It is that which occurs along the broad way that Jesus mentioned in:
Matthew 7:13, Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Many there be which go in thereat.
It is a crowded road son, a road not for the righteous!
Ways mean a course of life or mode of action, your manner of thinking or behavior, your plan of life and conduct, your course, your process of things.
This father knows that his son is a sinner.
And as a sinner his ways tend toward sin.
Sinners do not operate according to light.
Therefore he instructs his son that his ways are places of danger and he must flee to one who can provide refuge.
He knows that his ways are well formed and he does not tell him to stop his ways but he tells him to do something while he is in his ways.
He says while you are in your ways acknowledge the Lord.
I do not expect you to turn over a new leaf and change your ways.
I do not expect you to improve yourself and change yourself from anything but a sinner.
This father knows that self improvement will only result in self esteem.
He knows that only the Lord can do anything about the ways of man and man must come to the Lord just as he is.
Just as I am without one plea,
Just as I am, and waiting not,
Just as I am though tossed about
Just as I am, poor wretched, blind,
Just as I am thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
So he instructs his son to acknowledge the Lord in all his ways.
What does it mean to acknowledge the Lord?
It does not simply mean that you know there is a God and you ask God for guidance by some mystical means and wait for some heavenly answer, some vision or dream.
It does not mean that you use God as one of your sources of help rejecting or accepting his guidance as you see fit.
No! It means you are to KNOW him. Acknowledge means to know.
And the way to know the Lord is to know the one who reveals the Lord.
And the one who reveals the Lord is the word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
You cannot know the Lord unless you know the word of God.
There is to be nothing magical or mystical about this process.
Acknowledge him does not mean praying to God, for millions pray without knowing God.
Acknowledge him does not means some emotional outpouring to God, some sacrifice of the body to God.
Acknowledge him means to know him, to know his word.
It is to know his mind about things.
Paul said this this way in Romans:
Romans 12:1,2, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
He said in again in Philippians 2:5, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Permit the mind of Christ to be in you is what Paul is saying.
He says it again in: 1 Corinthians 2:16, For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
So this father is telling his son the same thing when he tells him to acknowledge him in all his ways.
Compare your ways to the mind of God by knowing the mind of God.
Compare your ways to the word of God by knowing the word of God.
How are your paths then to be directed?
Can you expect an audible voice or some sign or dream or some feeling or circumstance to direct your path?
No, that is simply superstition or wishful thinking.
You may think it works that way but it will not work that way!
You are to know God, and knowing God is knowing his word and by knowing his word your paths will be directed.
It is studying God's word to show thyself approved of God.
Son, only by knowing God's word will God direct your paths.
This is the same way it is to operate in the home.
The son is to acknowledge his father.
This means he is to know his father, he is to know his father's commandments and his precepts.
The son is to know his father's word and by knowing his father's word his paths are predestinated.
Obedience to this godly father's word confines the son to the right paths, paths that please the father.
This son, by knowing the father's word, does not have to ask the father what path to take.
Knowing the father's word dictates what path to take and the obedient son cannot do otherwise for the obedient son wishes to please the father.
So this father instructs his son that his ways are places of danger.
He instructs him to flee to the Lord who is the place of safety and protection and to do it with all his heart.
He tells him that leaning to understanding based upon his knowledge of himself is faulty and will lead to faulty results.
He tells him that the only way his ways will be changed is by knowing God.
By knowing God his paths will be right paths, paths that please God.
He continues to warn his son of the danger of trusting in himself and in what the son considers his strengths.