Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 June 5, 2016
“In All Thy Ways, for All Thy Life”
Text: Proverbs 3:5-6
Today we celebrate a happy occasion: the recognition of the three 2016 winners of the Cornerstone/Patricia B. Scott Scholarship at Cornerstone EPC. Congratulations to you each on your well-deserved awards. This day, within this season, represents a watershed moment for you and for your families. During this season, you will pass from high school student to college student. During this season (hopefully) you will draw nearer the end of the change from adolescence to adulthood. This time is a time of rapid, momentous change both for you and your families.
How happy it is for us today, then, to hear from our changeless God in a rapidly changing season and world. We have a word from God’s Word that speaks to these winners and their families—and to the rest of us as well. Our text today is not relevant merely for commencement exercises, but—as many of us have found—this text remains relevant throughout all of life. Let us all hear it—and, in hearing it, let us hear Him Who is our matchless three-in-one God.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Solomon, led by the Holy Spirit, here addresses either his lineal son or a figurative son—a pupil—about 950 years before Christ’s birth. It is good wisdom indeed (as is Proverbs in toto) for successful living as a covenant member of God’s covenant family. The ultimate Author of this text, the Holy Spirit Himself, speaks to the blood-bought saints of Jesus Christ in this text—with a view to guiding them through their joint and several journeys through this world. Paul notes that writings such as these were written down as instruction for us, on whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:11). With the context now duly noted, let’s investigate more closely, then, what God says to us today.
The Lord calls us through Solomon to trust in Him. When the Lord calls us to trust in Him, He both calls us to rely upon Him and to entrust all—especially all that closely pertains to us—to Him. We trust in God’s Person; that is, we trust Who He is. He is holy and just, He is longsuffering and merciful, and He is love. We also trust in His providence; that is, we trust what He does. It is far easier to trust the Lord when His providences appears favorable—even favorable in the extreme—than when things appear otherwise, There are times that hurt, and there are times that perplex. We sometimes wonder in those times, “Where is God?” He is no less present to hear those cries than He is to hear those praises of Him in favorable times. He is still there, and He is still having His perfect way to glorify Himself and to bless us maximally.
We are to trust the Lord with all our heart. The Hebrew word that we translate with the word heart refers to most everything that constitutes our inner man—everything within me, to quote David in the Psalms (Psalm 103:1 ff.). This includes mind and will, to name but two. Everything that composes our inner lives, then, is to trust in the Lord.
In view of the foregoing, we are not to lean on our own understanding. Please do not misunderstand. We are not called to be unthinking robots. Nor are we to be simpletons incapable of thought, computation, and the like. On the contrary, we are called to use our mental faculties. We are called both to deduce and to induce, among other mental abilities and efforts. However, we are not called to rely on these mental cogitation—or even chiefly upon them. We are called to seek the mind and will of God at all times in all circumstances—as further noted in the second verse of our text.
In all our ways God calls us to acknowledge Him. By ways, we mean the paths that God, in His providence, has for us each and all to tread. We do not acknowledge God only when we find ourselves in trouble, nor do we seek Him only when puzzled—though these states indeed can sharpen and intensify our appeals to Him. We are to acknowledge Him, and our dependence on Him, at every point upon the providential path He calls us to walk with Him.
A wooden translation of acknowledge Him is know thou Him. When we acknowledge God, we do not do so as we acknowledge the driver coming toward us by lifting our finger. We do not acknowledge God like we acknowledge our classmates in the hallway as we pass to our respective classes. We acknowledge God most accurately when we enjoy a true, deep relationship with Him—both in matters great and perplexing, and in matters small and straightforward. After all, those matters apparently small and straightforward may no longer appear such when brought to the Light of the World (John 8:12), and those matters great and perplexing are no match for Him Who is infinite in His power and wisdom—and in His every other attribute.
The result of all the foregoing is that God shall make our paths straight. They shall be level and plan, and they shall be neither uneven nor crooked. To use an older phrase from Puritan times, God shall being our providential lot to happy issue (see especially Matthew Henry). Stated alternatively, God shall work all things out for His glory and our good (cf. Romans 8:28). This is true ultimately when we walk in heavenly raiment in His courts forevermore, but this is also true increasingly on this plane as we walk by faith in Jesus Christ by the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. This happy issue of things in God’s good providence gladdens our souls and bolsters our faith. May such be true for every one of us.
Graduates and scholarship winners, this is a good word today, but it will bear you in good stead long after today. This word applies in a host of other life settings: during college and other single years, at marriage, in child rearing, at empty nest time, at retirement, and nearing the finish line and departure for Heaven. This is a faith article for you now, but sooner than you imagine you will verify each of these in your experience. For us who do not graduate from school this season, this is a good word for us in our current circumstance. This portion of God’s Word also frames both our past (as we remember it) and our future (as we envision it). We can see God’s goodness even in the difficulties of our past, and we can confess with David that we believe that we shall see God’s goodness in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). Let us then trust in the Lord our God with all our hearts for all our lives. May He further bless you, scholarship winners, and your families—and may He bless all of us, as He by His Spirit impresses these words to our souls’ highest use.