Not for Ladies - Just for Men
He Shall Direct Thy Paths
by Pastor David Brown
David Brown is the pastor of Central Baptist Church in Decatur, Illinois.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
This is really a very simple message. It’s not designed to be complicated at all, and very practical. Something, though, that I think is very usable, designed for God’s people, whoever you are, whatever walk of life you are in, whatever age you are, whatever it is that is going on in your life right now. This is something that meets the needs and speaks to our heart in a practical way.
I want to say first that if you have never experienced what the Bible calls the new birth -- conversion, salvation, washing of your sin, new life given to your dead spirit -- which is literally what happens when you are born into God’s family -- then now is the time. God becomes your Father by new birth, Spiritual birth. He’s the Author of that birth and He becomes then your Father and you become His child. If that has never happened, my friend, I want the heavy understanding to settle upon your thinking that Hell is in your future, the lake of fire ultimately, and you will spend eternity separated from God. You have what the Bible calls ‘the second death’ awaiting you.
Without this salvation, there is no hope in the future. If you’ve never been born into God’s family, may the heaviness of that recognition and realization where you are headed, what is the end of your life be constantly on your mind until you come to Christ for salvation. Because you don’t know when life will suddenly come to a close for you personally. There needs to be a sense of urgency connected to this matter of being born into God’s family, to be ready to face eternity with my sins all forgiven, to be able to have God now in this life as your Father, and you His child. Without this salvation you have no hope. You have no way of making it to Heaven by your own merit, by your own goodness, by your own talent. You don’t have that ability. You will not have any kind of access by your own merit and by your own person.
The only hope you’ve got is in the One that has already paid the price of sin with His own blood on Calvary. That Saviour is Jesus Christ. The promise of His coming is from the very beginning of the Word of God, Genesis chapter three and all the way through the Bible. He is the focus. He is the spotlighted One. He is the One Mediator between God and man, and the only One that can get us through.
He is the door. If you’ve never been born into God’s family, may I say that today is the day that can happen. It is a matter of your will. It is a matter of your recognition that you are lost and that you are a guilty, guilty, guilty sinner. We don’t want to minimize our sin because we need to see it like God does. God sees it as so bad that Hell is the place assigned for the transgressor, and sin in the sight of God is so bad that man can never pay for it. That’s why that place is eternal. You never get finished paying and escape if you choose to pay for your own sin in Hell. But God the Son is capable of paying that debt in your place, and that’s what the cross was all about. How we praise the Lord that He met the need. Justice was served in my behalf in Him. He purchased a gift that is called the gift of eternal life at a great price. I could never pay the price. He came to pay the price for us all. That’s what you need today if you’ve never been saved, born into God’s family.
The passage we are going to look at is two verses that literally express our faith and our life in terms that speak of a total and 100% context. The phrases that we’ll see here speak that way. Notice the phrase that says, “...with all thine heart...” and then the phrase in the second verse is “In all thy ways...” It doesn’t leave anything out. It is all-inclusive. So with all thine heart and in all thy ways are the two phrases in these two verses that speak of a 100% context. Let’s look at these. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Life is a pretty big journey and we are going to journey here and there and we are going to be crossing this situation and that situation. Life has a lot of paths that we will trod down by and by. We need for the Lord to be the Director of the paths He would choose for our life.
I’d like to ask a series of questions here. “How involved does God want to be in our lives?” That is a good question. I think there are a lot of valid insights that could come our way if we just pause for a moment and answer it. How involved does God want to be in our lives?
The second question I’d like you to consider is: “How involved is God in our lives right now?” Probably you would be surprised to discover how much God is involved in your life, more than you ever realized.
The third question is: “How involved do I need God to be in my life?” I need Him to be involved a lot more than I realize.
Then “How involved do I need to be in God?” Those are very important questions, and I want to answer these four questions with a series of both questions and statements.
#1. Do sheep need a shepherd? Suppose you were a shepherd and understood the nature of sheep, and you knew they had no natural ability to defend themselves and you knew they really aren’t a particularly smart animal. God so designed the sheep that they’ve got to have a shepherd to survive. When we ask the question, “Do sheep need a shepherd?” we recognize that Jesus referred to Himself many times as the Chief Shepherd, the Good Shepherd, the Shepherd of Psalm 23, and we are called sheep. We need the Shepherding of our Saviour in our life. We are just sheep. Do sheep need a shepherd?
#2. Am I able to handle Satan alone? I’m telling you, folks, I can’t handle Satan alone. He is bigger than I. He is bigger than you. His wily ways, his subtle maneuvering, his background activity, his subtle effort to invade my life, his lies, his cunning ways of operation are beyond my ability to grasp and understand and even see. My Lord sees all of that and I need His help because I can’t handle Satan alone. You can’t either. God came looking for me eventually and because I needed what He had, He wanted to bring to me those needs. God came looking for me.
I need God in my life. I need for God to be active within me. The Bible says in Romans 11:36, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things:...” Again we have an expression of how involved and how important God is in the lives of people. For of him, we came from Him and by Him, He meets the needs. He satisfies those situations in many cases even though we didn’t know that He did. He raises the sun. He brings the rain. He cares for this and that. “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things:...”
I’m going back to God. Whether it is in judgment or whether it is in grace, we are all heading back to God. The Bible says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,...” We asked the question, “How involved is God and how much do I need God to be involved and how much do I need to be involved in God?” We begin to get a bit of a picture here by just these very simple insights.
In Acts 17:28 it says, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being;...” My life rests upon God keeping me here, giving life to me and keeping it active. He literally gives me the air that I breath, a heart that beats. God is that involved in our life. Do we need God for existence? I don’t think you made yourself. I don’t think you conceived or created yourself. We needed God for existence.
We need Him to get to Heaven. I don’t think any of us are so bold and brazen and so arrogant to think that we can make it in our own merit. We need God to get to Heaven. Do we need His involvement for this world’s future, to be able to come to a good conclusion? According to the prophesies of the Bible, God had great plans in the future and only God can make those plans come together.
I’m looking forward to these things. I realize that life is passing. Time is elapsing. The hour glass has the sand of the top streaming down to the bottom, for my personal life and yours also. Some day it will be snuffed out. We’re going to go on to God and the Bible says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27) I recognize that, way beyond that, God has plans. We need to recognize only God can make those plans happen. How involved do we need God? How involved do we need to be in God? How involved do we want God to be involved in our lives? Much more than what we’ve ever come to an assessment as we consider the topic.
Colossians 1:17 says, “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” The Bible says it is God with whom we have to do, both now and later. I want to be on the right side of God, my friend. I want to be on the right side of the tracks when it comes to light and darkness, when it comes to spirituality and ungodliness, I want to be on the right side where God is at.
That’s where wisdom will prevail upon my life to lead me over here and wisdom would say, “Make it Christianity, not church-ianity.” Wisdom would say, “Get connected with the Creator, who gave you life, who will sustain your life, and who knows how to get you out of this world into that eternal life.
Don’t think that you are an animal that is going to just die and that’s over. Don’t think that you are just a product of this evolving evolutionary non-guiding kind of methodology that they say brought the world into existence. Finally, we are the highest order of it all. How foolish it is! That is garbage, my friend. That is worse than garbage. That is spiritual pollution, emotional pollution, and every kind of pollution you can think of. That’s just so wrong and out of order. That is out of the pit of Hell. That is a dead end street. By the way, they don’t have a leg to stand on, but they act like they do. We are standing in the right place and we’ve got plenty of substantial backing, if you just take a look at it. We need God to be a part of life. We need to be part of God.
Our verse here says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) The word ‘acknowledge’ here has the idea of looking to Him as having the answer, instead of yourself or somebody else, looking to God as having the answer. This has the idea of honoring God to be able to give us insight and direction. It speaks of desiring His will. It speaks of letting Him direct, deferring to His will and His leadership. It is standing aside for Him to be able to call the shots in my life.
Whenever I acknowledge Him in all my ways, I say, “God, how do You want me to go here? Lord, how do You want me to do it over here? Lord, I need You to give me some light here. Lord, tell me what should I do at this crossroads of my life? Lord, help me to make it through this. Lord, I need to acknowledge You. I need You, Lord.” That’s what this says, to acknowledge Him in all our ways.
Let me illustrate this. Brother Sample, you are the handyman. Here is a saint of God. As suave as he is and as cool and calm and collected as we observe him to be this moment, he is still a bungling, incapable, lost, little sheep, who doesn’t know his way, and every once in a while has the bleating that he never lets us hear. Here is a fella who looks like he might have it together, but I don’t care whether you are the banker, the President, or the man who picks up the garbage, you need God.
I don’t care who you are. We cannot direct our own life successfully in the will of God, the way of God, so that God can put maximum blessings upon our life and keep us from the pitfalls of sin and Satan. We cannot do that, folks. Don’t ever think you can. You’ll make a mess of it and you’ll come back and say, “I wish I had listened to that preacher ten years ago.” You’ll say, “I just need God in my life.” Here we have a representative of all of us. He doesn’t really know what is going on and he can’t really see too far ahead. He is not equipped. He’s got a stick in one hand and he’s got a little children’s wrench in the other. If he thinks he is going to set out and make life work and be the mechanic of his own world, fix everything, and do everything and make it all work out, then he is just wasting his time.
Add to it the dimension that life is so complicated that we just sometimes think we are spinning and we just don’t know where in the world we are. If we were to ask this fella to take off and make his way through life, he is not even sure where he is at. What step to take? If I go this way, I’m going to fall. If I go this way, I’m going to bump into something. If I go over here, there is this hole over here. He doesn’t really know what is going on here. Sometimes it gets down to where it is the blind leading the blind. We get down to where we don’t know what to do. It is no wonder the Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” We try to figure life out. We try to come up with solutions and answers. They are just going to fail you because they are not going to be accurate.
Do you know how much peace that comes when you trust the Lord? How much solace God can give to His children, how much confidence can be derived by trusting the Lord with all your heart and leaning not unto your own understanding about what’s going on. Sometimes we say, “If I don’t have an answer, Lord, I think we are just going to stop right here.” Don’t be too shocked, but you are not going to get all the answers in life, not very much of the time anyway. You are just going to have to trust the Lord. If you’ve got to have answers to everything that happens to you of the negative nature, you are going to be very disappointed. We’ve just got to trust the Lord.
Then the Bible says, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” He says, “I sure would like to negotiate these steps and get back to my chair, but I’m afraid if I don’t have someone to lead me, my stick is not going to get the job done. My wrench is not going to get the job done and I can’t see so well, Lord. Give me some light. Give me some help. I want to acknowledge You, God, as the One I need to lead me, to help me, to see me through. Strengthen me. Lord, I just can’t do without You.” As humorous as this may appear, this is somewhat of a facsimile of all of us. We are not equipped except by His equipment and by His help. He will take and do what we can’t do.
The devil loves to blind us with sin, blind us with all these things that go on. Sometimes our foresight is almost zero and we just live in the clouds and fog. We feel the wind and we feel the rain and we feel the paralyzation that fear sometimes brings to our system and only God can help us. Instead of a stick, he needs the Word of God. Instead of a wrench, he needs the Holy Spirit’s leading. Instead of darkness, he needs the light of God. Now he is going to be able to maneuver back to his chair.
Quite frankly, that’s where most of us are. When Satan comes tempting you, you’d better acknowledge the way of God over the way that you are being tempted. When you are faced with marital problems, you’d better seek the Lord. You’d better let Him help you with it. Whenever you don’t have a direction to go, you’d better acknowledge God in that way and let Him be a part in what is going on and the decision you make. If you want a happy full life, it’s going to have to be with God a part of it. If you want to achieve the purpose God designed for your life, you are going to have to acknowledge Him in all your ways and trust in the Lord. If you want to come out of the mess that sometimes our lives get into, you are going to need the help of the Almighty to maneuver you out of all of that.
When you are left hurting and quivering and troubled and empty, you’d better acknowledge God in your life right then and there, and say, “God, it’s time I stop and invite You into the scope of my world. I’m going to have to have Your help because I don’t want to continue the same old same old, the way I’m feeling.” In boy and girl involvements with each other, you’d better acknowledge God in all those ways. A young teenager says, “I need to figure out what it is I’m going to do in life.” No, you need to ask God what He wants you to do in life. Let God lead you. Acknowledge Him, as well. Young parents trying to raise their kids, you’d better stop and say, “I’d better trust the Lord to help me,” and acknowledge the way of God as my way in this endeavor to raise my kids.
If you’ve got burdens too heavy for you to carry. By the way, folks, there are some burdens out there too heavy for you to carry. They become crushing. They become something that robs you of your energy and of your joy, something that literally pins you to the ground. You get up with them. You go to bed with them. That is a misery in your life. You’d better learn how to trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding and acknowledge God in this situation. Allow Him to be your burden bearer. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7)
Here is Enoch in the Bible, an Old Testament pre-flood character and the Bible says Enoch walked with God. He had a testimony, according to Hebrews chapter 11, that pleased God so much because he acknowledged God in his life in a pre-flood world that was going so far wrong, but not Enoch. He was acknowledging God in all his ways.
Here is a Joseph, on the other side of the flood now. Joseph is sold by his brothers, carried down to Egypt. First, he is sold to a master, who is someone of importance in Egypt. Joseph becomes so blessed of God that God elevates him and he becomes his most important servant. Potiphar puts everything under his care in his household, but Potiphar’s wife had immoral intentions for Joseph, and day by day she enticed him with her desires and Joseph said, “I cannot do this. How can I sin against God?” What he did was he acknowledged God in all his ways. We know the story how he was lied about and unjustly put in prison. He kept acknowledging God in all his ways and eventually God did incredible things in his life and elevated him to the second in command of the country of Egypt under Pharoah himself.
Here is Daniel, the same thing. Daniel acknowledged God in all of his ways and trusted in the Lord for what was going to happen, and God blessed and exalted a Daniel, putting him right in the throne room under several heathen kings.
When Solomon stopped trusting the Lord and acknowledging God in his ways, Israel became an adulterous idol worshiping nation. It is incomprehensible how something like that can happen and how low somebody can go. Solomon stopped acknowledging God and that’s where it went.
Whenever Achan did not acknowledge God, refused to, he had great problems and his family suffered with him.
Whenever Israel walked away from acknowledging God in their life, they eventually went into total dispersion. Only in our century have we seen God beginning to bring this nation back to their God-given homeland. Prophetically He promised He would and we see it happening because we believe we are at the end of the church age and soon upon the end of everything that has to do with human government before Jesus comes back and sets up divine government and rules from Jerusalem according to Biblical promise.
The truth is very simple. The Bible says that I just need to learn to trust in my Creator with all my heart. God is honored. God sees that. God is not blind to the fact that you chose to trust Him and you don’t lean upon your own intellect and your own skill and your own will and wants. We acknowledge God in all our ways. We say, “God, I’m going to let Your Word be the authority. I’m going to let Your Word be the instructor. I’m going to let Your Word be the truth that I embrace, the principles I follow, the Ruler of how I’m supposed to behave and live, I’m going to let Your Word tell it to me. I’m going to acknowledge You, God, by acknowledging Your Word. I’m going to let You direct my life.”
God will direct our paths, if we’ll let Him. The path that God has for our life has strewed upon it great blessings along the route. In time, God brings me this. In time, God does this. In time, God lets me enjoy this. In time, God gives this. As long as we keep trusting Him and deferring to His authority, acknowledging Him, the end result is we keep on that path and we keep enjoying the blessings of God. We thank God for that. We praise Him for it, how that works out for our life.
Folks, the truth is the world is getting more wicked and more complicated. Life is not quite as simple as it was whenever we were younger. Whenever some of these issues that come up that you hear these Presidential hopefuls have to answer, it is a little disgusting to see how far our nation has plunged. “Do you believe marriage is between a man and a woman? Do you hold to the legality of homosexual marriages? Do you believe that abortion is murder of an unborn child?” On and on, stuff like that. The world is waxing worse and getting more complicated. If you hear some of the economists talk, there is no hope for America financially. They just literally pulverize you. You almost want to run to the next wilderness and start a new nation, but there are no more wildernesses. You just say, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”
Just recently I said, “Why didn’t you tell me that before my sermon?” I was talking about godliness and holiness on Sunday, and about the women’s dress and how godly she needs to be in her dress. This lady came up to me and said, “Why don’t preachers ever talk about guys having godliness in their dress?” She then explained to me what she meant about these guys that pull their pants down below their little cheeks and they show these multi-colored under garments. They have to hold onto the front. I saw one guy yesterday going into the gas station and literally, if he hadn’t had a good grip, they would have fell to his knees. I said to myself, “That is the dumbest thing that you ever heard of.” Only the devil could come up with that. I don’t even think man is dumb enough to come up with that. Little bit at a time, just displaying more and more of the body. It just doesn’t make sense. By the way, it is grossly disgusting and out of order. It is wrong.
The world is just getting more worldly. Christian people are following the way of the world and so they are starting to look like them. All the hardware, all the tattooing. I think God made us pretty and perfect the first go round. I don’t mind a little makeup on a lady that is becoming. I don’t mind her going to the hair salon. I’m saying God made us perfect, as perfect as we can be in this imperfect world, the first go round. Let’s just acknowledge God in all our ways. What’s wrong with saying, “God, You’re the Creator. Let’s just do things Your way.”
I believe this Book. So if I believe the Book, there is a devil. If I believe the Book, then we are sinners. If I believe the Book, then we don’t know our way. If I believe the Book, we’ll get ourselves into a mess doing things on our own. If I believe the Book, Jesus is the Good Shepherd Who already laid His life down for me and had the power to take it up again. Lord, You gave to me new life. I’m Heaven bound. Now, dear God, I need You from here to there in this life. I need You in between too. I just want to acknowledge You in all my ways. There is nothing wrong with that.
God wants us to come to Him at an altar, anywhere, in your car, at your home, here at church and say, “God, it’s about time I decide, in total, I’m going to trust You with all my heart. Teach me how to do it, but Lord, that is my intent. I want to acknowledge You in all my ways. Lord, that is my intent. Teach me how to do it.” That’s my desire. That’s my heart.
The blessed end result is that He will direct my paths. There are going to be, according to Psalm 23, paths of righteousness, paths of enrichment, paths of abundance, paths of His will, paths of fruitfulness. The devil’s effort to deter me and derail me will not happen because I’m going to acknowledge Him. When the devil comes, I’ll acknowledge God. Whenever all this in the world is going on, I say, “That’s worldly. That’s not in the Bible. That’s not where I need to be. I’m going to acknowledge God.” That’s what’s going to keep me extricated from the devil’s traps and the damage they can end up bringing to my life.
Let’s make it 100%. With all my heart. In all my ways. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”