Today’s Scripture:  “5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.6 In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

Introduction:

I don’t think it’s possible to have a series on Living the Surrendered Life without talking about these two verses right here:  Proverbs 3:5-6.  One could probably preach this entire series on these two verses alone, and never really exhaust what we could preach or teach just from these two verses.  Most Christians who know their Bibles know Proverbs 3:5-6, and even if they cannot quote it verbatim…they can almost always paraphrase it pretty well.

So, I’m excited about todays’ message to see what the Lord would have to say to us today through them about Living the Surrendered Life.

Today’s Message:

A lot of times things just don’t go our way. The natural response to an undesired event in our life is disappointment. When you apply for that dream job and don’t land it. When you think a relationship has potential and it suddenly ends. When you study for hours for an exam only to find you have to re-take it. When you take your 13th pregnancy test and still don’t see that second line. When you submit your writings for publication and they aren’t accepted. When you pray for that person to change and you don’t see anything different.

This sounds a lot like what we might find over in Paul’s writings to the church at Corinth.  “We walk by faith, and not by sight.”.  If you want to know where that verse is…get out your Bibles and look it up.  Even though we’ve finished the “Why Read The Bible?” series that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to continue to encourage you to not just let me do the work, but to seek out certain scriptures on your own.

But, in the Christian life in a large part we are always going to come across times where we don’t necessarily feel like God is either there or doing anything in our lives.  However, as Christians we aren’t to live by what we feel, but what we believe.

Listen, can I be real with you?  I don’t always feel like I’m saved, sanctified and washed in the blood of Jesus, but the Word of God tells me that once I’ve called upon the name of the Lord to be saved…whether I feel like I am or not…I am saved, sanctified, and washed in the blood of Jesus.

When I’m going through things like described up above…I may not feel like God is in control, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt…He’s not only in control…but intimately aware of everything that’s going on in my life.  He’s aware of my struggles, shortcomings, and situations.

See, I touched on this a bit yesterday, and I’m back to it today.  I’m pretty sure I’m not even close to being on topic today, but I sense the Holy Spirit drawing me in this direction, and hopefully in the end this will all make sense…but what I touched on yesterday and sense I’m being led back to is this…

It is easy to surrender our lives to God in the good times, and it’s easy to trust in the Lord and acknowledge Him in all our ways in the good times.  He is also the very first person we either think of or blame or both when things don’t necessarily go the way we think they ought to.  Isn’t that the truth?  Maybe I’m just being honest here, and I’m the only one whose ever done things this way…but none the less…the Holy Ghost knows that there’s more of you like me…and that’s why we’re taking this short side journey.

You know, when things are going well it’s really easy to take God for granted isn’t it?  We just kind of cruise through life without thought or care until we come up against a little adversity…and then we’re crying foul…shouting at God…and then we get super spiritual and begin crying out to God because things aren’t as kosher as there were.

Am I hitting anyone other than myself with this message…or am I the only one who has ever done something like that?  Life’s rolling along.  Jobs good, family life is good, and all of a sudden the rug gets shaken a bit…the dust is flying around…and then all of a sudden…we’re ready to acknowledge God.  But while we were on a roll…and life was smooth…we didn’t much have a need to acknowledge God…did we?

Ahh. I know I’m hitting some of you.  The Holy Ghost just let me know that some of you are chuckling a little bit, and some of you may be just a little offended because I’m hitting you right at home.  Don’t feel bad…I’ve been there and done the same thing.  I’ve been cruising through life barely acknowledging God at all, and then something happens that knocks life out of whack a little bit…and suddenly I’m seeking God a little more strongly.

The thing is.  We are to trust in the Lord and acknowledge Him in ALL of our ways…not just the bad times…not just the good ones…but ALL of our ways.  That even means the time of indifference where it seems like nothing is happening at all.

“In all thy ways acknowledge Him.”  That doesn’t say only when the crap hits the fan acknowledge Him.  It also doesn’t say when life is grand acknowledge Him.  It says in ALL our ways.  I surely hope I don’t have to take a side journey to explain what “ALL” means.  It means all of our ways, every single one of our ways, the good ways, the bad ways, and the indifferent ways.  Listen, if there is a way in which you’re not acknowledging God…then you’re not acknowledging Him in all of your ways.

Listen, I’m preaching this message to myself as well.  You know what you can insert into these verse here?  If we’re not surrendered to God in all of our ways…then we’re not fully surrendered to His Lordship in our lives.

I heard a great message preached by the Alternatives Dr. Tony Evans one day as he was teaching a series on the names of God.  I liked what he said, and I’m going to do my best to get it correct (I’m probably paraphrasing here), but this is what he said…and I want you to think about this not in just the context of today’s message, but this entire series.

What Dr. Tony Evans said went something like this:  “Everyone wants God to be their Jehovah….the God who provides.  However, not many want God to be their Adonai.”

What’s so special about God being your Adonai you ask?  I’m glad you did because if you look up Adonai what it means is “lordship” or “ownership”.  I cannot tell you what an awesome word that was to chew on for a while, but since the Holy Spirit brought that to my remembrance…it fits right into what we’re talking about as far as Proverbs 3:5-6 is concerned…and also the surrendered life.

See, when we call upon the name of the Lord…we are calling upon Him to not just be our Savior, but our Lord.  What we are acknowledging is that not only do we need Him to save us from our sin, and thus our eternal destination because of that sin.  We are also admitting to God that we’ve tried living life on our own terms, and we’re acknowledging that our way hasn’t worked out the way we thought it would.  So…we call upon Him to not just be saved…but to be our Lord.

In other words, at the moment of salvation we cease to lean unto our own understanding, and we confess that we need a Lord and a Savior to help us to live life from that point forward.  However, somewhere along the way we lose the understanding of what it truly means to allow God to be Lord of our lives…and to be honest with you…He is the owner of our lives.  He paid the penalty for our sins with His Son’s shed blood on Calvary.  We’ve been bought and paid for with a price…so at the moment of conversion we acknowledge that our lives are not our own…and when we were living like our lives were our own…we were doing a horrible job.

So…we need God’s Lordship over our lives if we’re ever to see Him operate as Jehovah anything…we need to submit to Him and surrender to Him as our Adoni…Amen?

If we say that we don’t ever feel disappointment over things like this, we are probably trying to be too spiritual. Feeling disappointment is understandable and even accepted. But, it should be a stepping-stone on our path with Jesus…not the anchor that drowns us.

You know.  All of us to some extent come to the Lord thinking that our lives are no longer going to be filled with disappointment.  Anyone else do that, or am I still a lone wolf here?  However, most of us who have walked with the Lord for any length of time have come to understand that whether we live for the Lord or not…life is still going to hand us disappointments.  The difference, hopefully, is how we handle these disappointments in life.  Romans 8:28 says that God will cause all things to work together FOR good…He never says that all things will BE good.

God can turn our mess into a message, our trials into triumphs, our tests into testimonies, and us from being victims to being victors…but that’s only when we are fully yielded and surrendered and acknowledging Him in ALL of our ways.

We all have dreams that we want to see transpire in our lives. But if they are our dreams and we have not consulted our Heavenly Father, then they often lack vision and purpose toward a higher goal. Our plans, even on our very best day, are nothing compared to the amazing plans God has for us.

Here in lies the reason why it’s hard to acknowledge Him in all of our ways…and that’s pride.  There’s a reason Paul was content whether He was abound or abased…whether he was in abundance or lack.  Why?  He didn’t want any reason or cause to get into pride.

See.  I can tell you from my life what it’s like to get into pride.  It always happens when life is going well…when you’re on that roll like I was talking about earlier.  You get to realize that for some time in life you’ve really been on a roll, and without giving thanks to God for helping you to get on that roll…you accept credit for it.  The longer it goes on that you’re on a roll, and the less you acknowledge that God’s the reason your life is on the roll it’s on…the more pride comes…and the more you feel like you’re really accomplishing something…apart from God.  When the truth is the only reason you are accomplishing anything is because of God.  That…friends is true humility.  Knowing that when you’re on top of the world and on a roll in life…that it’s God that’s running the show…and causing good fortune to come into your life…NOT YOU.  (That was for someone right there.)

So…all of a sudden something like a job lay off comes along to knock life out of whack, and suddenly you’re not quite on the roll you were.  Bills start to pile up, your ineligible to collect unemployment, and it’s been weeks that you’ve been applying for jobs…but no doors seem to be opening.

What happens next?  Well…since I’m the only one who’s ever been in this position.  I’ll tell you.  “Lord, I sure could use some help.”.  Suddenly, that pride you’d built up is sucked right out of you, and you find yourself on your knees begging for God to intervene.  Acknowledge Him in ALL thy ways…right?

See, these days I’ve honestly learned that no matter what state my life is in I have to acknowledge God.  When life is good and I’m on a roll…it’s God that’s doing it.  When life isn’t so great, and adversity comes it’s only God who can lead me through it.  When life is dull and dry and it seems like nothing is going wrong, things are okay, but I just don’t feel like God’s doing anything…He is.  He is always doing something in our lives…but it’s up to us to acknowledge that.

It’s a very rare occurrence where God taps me on the shoulder and let’s me know He’s doing something when it seems like nothing is happening at all.  In fact, I can honestly tell you that I don’t believe God’s even tapped me on the shoulder during those times to say:  “He I know you don’t feel like anything is happening now, but I’m working.”  Some times he may use my pastor to say something like:  “I don’t know who this is for, but you may feel like God’s not doing anything…but He is.”  However, there is one place that God’s spoken that…it’s in His Word.  (Again if you want to know where take some time, do some studying, and try to find it.  It’s in there I promise you.)  No…friends…it’s up to us to acknowledge Him in ALL of our ways…not just the good times or the bad times…but all times, all ways, and all situations.

We have to rest in the sovereignty of God and the fact that he will always keep His Word to us. The last time I checked, our Creator is never late in His promises to us.

He will and does always keep His Word.  That means that if we trust in the Lord with all our hearts, lean not unto our own understanding, and acknowledge Him in all of our ways…He will direct our paths.  However, as you may have noticed there are three conditions to having God direct our paths.

  1. Trust in the Lord with all our hearts.
  2. Lean not unto our own understanding.
  3. Acknowledge Him in ALL of our ways.

The results:  He will direct our paths.  He will also always cause all things to work together for good for those of who love God and are called according to His purposes.  God is faithful…not because He says He is or we need Him to be…but because He IS faithfulness.

Our part is to surrender…His part is to direct our paths.  It really is that simple.  The more we do those three things…the more He will direct our paths.  That’s not to say that everything we come up against is going to be good.  We’ll still…even as we’re directed by the Lord…have to go through some afflictions, trials, tests, persecutions, and disappointments…those things are just a part of life whether we’re saved or not.

But we have a couple of promises from God that correspond to our part, and I’ll close this message with these.

  1. He will direct our paths.
  2. He will cause all things to work together for good.
  3. He will be with us each and every step of the way.

Points for Pondering:

  • In what area(s) of your life do you find yourself continually disappointed?
  • Could it be that you are chasing after a mediocre future when God wants to give you the extravagant?
  • Spend some time in prayer and ask God to reveal to you His dreams for your life. Then, you can follow His lead.

Conclusion & Prayer:

It’s good to be getting back into the flow of the Holy Ghost, and for those of you who graciously liked my message yesterday…thank you.  I certainly didn’t feel like it came out very good, but the important thing is that it’s equipping you to do the work of the ministry.

Friends, we certainly cannot serve a God that we’re not surrendered to because the truth is what I wrote earlier in this message.  If we’re not surrendered to God in all of our ways…then we’re not fully surrendered to His Lordship in our lives.

I know that I am still learning what the surrendered life looks like, and I know that I want to get to a place where I really am acknowledging God and surrendered to Him in all of my ways…How about you?

Lord God, we thank You for Your Word today, and for speaking to us through this message.  We ask You…Lord God…with humble hearts to teach and show us how to acknowledge and surrender to You in all of our ways.  Help us, Holy Spirit, to see areas that we need to acknowledge and surrender…and then to give those areas over to You.  In Jesus’ name we pray…Amen & Amen.