The Lord Determines Our Path | Wk 4

Getting lost is a thing of the past. Do you realize that? It’s nearly impossible to “get lost.” I mean sure – there are times where you can’t find the exact building you’re looking for…and typically you’re standing right in front of it…or is that just me? It’s usually not because you were lost…more like you can’t see. At this day in age you really have to work hard to NOT know where you are or where.
It was funny…last night on the way to the soccer game our coach sent turn by turn directions…not an address. And I found myself being a little nervous…did I miss the turn…is it still ahead. I know I have to be close. It was odd.
I mean I remember the days where that’s all we had. An address and a map…then we got Mapquest…but don’t run out of printer paper ‘cause then you have to transcribe the route…and finally the GPS. Not only does it know where you are, not only does it know where you’re going, but it’s also constantly calculating and recalculating the best route to get you there.
This way has traffic, that way has an accident…and you missed this turn – and even though that would have been the best route for you we’ll still get you there. You can’t get lost – that excuse is gone.
And you know – that’s what we learn in Proverbs too. You can plan your route, you can choose your starting time and even decide which car you want to take… BUT…God gives the final path.
Proverbs chapter 16 is all about direction. It starts with the identification…
Proverbs 16:1 (NLT) We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.
And ends with the reminder… Proverbs 16:33 We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.
It’s our effort but God’s blessing…it’s our initiative but God’s intervention. As we read these verses, they teach us a great truth, we can’t do it right. When we try on our own we just won’t succeed. God determines it all…but we knew that.
What’s interesting is that when we look at the original Hebrew word used in this passage we read the word…lashown (law-shone’) which doesn’t really translate “RIGHT ANSWER”. This is the word for tongue (used 117 times in the Old Testament)…and this form of the word more literally means “of the tongue” – another translation speaks that same passage this way.
Proverbs 16:1 (ESV) The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
So it’s not just about doing the right thing…it’s also about speaking what God would have you speak. Not only can’t we do the right thing without His help…we can’t say the right thing without Him either.
Moses knew that when he said… Exodus 4:10 But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”
“I can’t talk real good”…I need help because I can’t do it on my own… Aka – …for I am slow of [lawshone] tongue.”
The psalmist also wrote about our inability to speak well… Psalm 120:3 O deceptive tongue, what will God do to you? How will he increase your punishment?
Not only is our tongue slow…but it’s deceptive too. We aren’t able to go the right direction OR speak anything good on our own. The only thing good in me is God…the only thing that I can do is get out of the way…God is the MAP and the MOUTH.
From the beginning of creation God gave us “the ability”…the physical capability…to think and to dream. As humans we can devise a plan…but the right answer is God’s answer. Both speaking and doing it too…
And Solomon continues… Proverbs 16:2 2 People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.
This just reinforces verse 1…right? We typically think we do well…we speak well…we act well…BUT the problem is we’re flawed. The sin in our world and more specifically the sin in our lives taints our view. And when we look at our own actions – we THINK we look pretty good. But we’re not looking at the same thing God is…
…the Lord examines their motives. The word we read as motives is the Hebrew word ruach. Sometimes it’s translated as motive, or heart but sometimes it’s actually as wind or spirit…
Proverbs 16:2 2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.
This is weird…the same word that we read as motives is actually the same word used in Genesis when Noah was on his boat…
Genesis 8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede.
The motives that are in us…the ones that God is examining here in verse 2 are the RUACH – the same as the heavenly WIND from God in Genesis. God is examining the wind that’s blowing you. God’s looking at what you’re being moved by.
Do you see where this is going? God is NOT judging us. God is NOT weighing whether or not we do the right thing…it’s not about our actions AT ALL. God is looking at “the spirit” in us.
God is judging whether or not we’re filled with His spirit…or are we filled up with some other spirit. Are we being blown and moved by God’s wind from heaven…or are we being pushed by the winds of this world, the wind of relationship, the wind of approval, the wind of wealth. What wind is driving you forward? What fills your sails? Where’s your direction coming from?
SO – because you know you can’t do anything right on your own (v1)…and because you know your view is flawed and God’s judging your spirit (v2)…therefore…
Proverbs 16:3 3 Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.
We can’t do it on our own so in order to succeed we have to be on the same page as God. And I go back to the first verse… We can make our own plans…God has given us minds, and hearts to be able to make our own plans. He wants us to do that. BUT he wants us to do it WITH him…with his spirit/wind guiding us. And so when we do make plans we need to hand them over to God.
But this verse gives us a great picture too…that word “commit” comes from the Hebrew word “galal” (gaw-lal’) which actually means “to roll”.
We’re told to “ROLL our actions to the Lord”…it’s funny to hear that – but it makes sense. What is it that we roll? What are somethings that we as humans ROLL? We roll a wheel barrow, we roll a car, we roll a suitcase, we roll “over” in bed. When we can’t lift it…we roll it…right? When we are not capable of lifting something because of the size or the weight we put it on wheels and roll it.
And in this passage Solomon says that we need to ROLL our actions to the Lord. And these actions must be so big we can’t lift them on our own. These actions that we are “committing to the Lord” require the help of a “simple machine” because they’re huge…or at least they should be.
CLOSING… We can and should create plans – in our human minds with the help of the Spirit, God’s wind. And when we take these EPIC actions to God – they will succeed.
It’s like the passage we all know…from verse 9…
Proverbs 16:9 9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
…we have to rely, depend, trust in the Lord; (like Shane talked about last week) we have to be blown (directed) by His Spirit…we have to roll (commit) our plans to God. BUT I’ll tell you right now…none of this is easy…
“I know I can’t do it on my own”…”I know I won’t do the right thing on my own”. I know I need the wind of the Spirit to guide me. I know I need to make BIG plans for God. So how do I do it?
1. STOP Depending on You Most of us have faced disappointments, which have taught us that we can only depend upon ourselves. But living the life God has called us to means unlearning that lesson. Instead, we’re meant to rest in God’s understanding. But sometimes trusting Him completely like that can be tough. So, each day we must consciously lay aside our own plans and expectations—and surrender to His plans.
What if we don’t feel like we can trust Him like that? That’s where step 2 comes in… 2. Cry out to God (Prayer)
Surrendering to God begins with our lips and our thoughts. We need more than a commitment to depend on Him; we need to cry out to Him to show that dependence. When we pray, we admit His ways are higher than ours. We show that we’re leaving our troubles and burdens and dreams in His capable hands. We hand the keys of our lives to Him, and we know that He’s able to lead us. But in order for that to work, we have to…
3. Run from Evil So much in this world can clutter up our relationship with God. In other words, our blessings can easily become our stumbling blocks when we think of them as what we deserve or what we need to be happy. Instead, life works best when we remember the true source of our blessings—God—and focus on the things that please Him. Running from evil and pursuing God doesn’t come naturally to most of us. Instead, it means we have to make a serious change:
4. Put God First in Your Life It’s easiest to put ourselves first. When something good happens, we want to congratulate ourselves with a reward. When something bad happens, we want to console ourselves or find someone to blame. In other words, we often have a “me-centric” starting place.
And when it comes to money, the struggle is even harder. But Solomon, who had quite a bit of wealth himself, knew that his money didn’t belong to him:
Proverbs 3:9–10 9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. 10 Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.
If we can trust God with the first of our wealth, we’re truly showing how much we depend on Him. Handing over the first part of our paycheck takes a huge amount of faith, after all. But doing so means being God-centric. To get there, though, make sure you…
5. Check Yourself by God’s Word If we’re ever going to truly trust in God and flee evil, we have to know exactly where we stand. We’re good at comparing ourselves to each other…but that’s not a great metric to be measured to. We have to find an objective measure that tells us the truth. And that truth comes from God and His Word. When we have Scripture planted firmly in our hearts, God will often use that to deal with us.
6. Listen to the Holy Spirit When Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to the church, He told His disciples that this Counselor would be their spiritual compass or GPS. As we go through our day, this same Holy Spirit guides us, too. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth and protects us. After all, the gift of the Holy Spirit to us believers reminds us that we can truly…
7. Rest in God’s Love Even in the midst of turmoil, God sticks with us and uses those challenges to shape us. When we understand that, our perspective completely flips. No longer do we see our setbacks as failures; we see them as moments when God, as our loving Father, works on us.
And that’s exactly why we can trust in the Lord with all our hearts. He cares for us each and every day. He gives us what we need to thrive. He pours blessing after blessing upon us. Of course, following each of these daily steps isn’t easy. Trusting God takes a whole-hearted commitment from dawn till dusk.
APPLICATION… Unless we begin to be in constant communication with Jehovah (OUR GOD) than we will never be able to understand the steps he has for us…
Proverbs 16:9 9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
Will you live by this plan this week? Will you commit to learning and growing in each one of the these new actions each day this week? We have 7 actions for the next 7 days…
Today I want to invite you to…
1. STOP Depending on You
And the on Monday continue NOT depending on you but also…
MON – 2. Cry out to God TUE – 3. Run from Evil WED – 4. Put God First in Your Life THUR – 5. Check Yourself by God’s Word FRI – 6. Listen to the Holy Spirit SAT – 7. Rest in God’s Love

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