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Pastor Zach Terry is driven by a desire help people achieve their maximum life through Jesus Christ. He is known for his ability to teach complex ideas in simple terms with practical implications for daily life.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary selected him as the recipient of the Westminster John Knox Press Award for excellence in preaching and teaching the Christian scriptures. In 2016 he was honored as one of the Connect Faith’s, “Agents of Change“.


May 21, 2018

Pro. 3:4-5


INTRODUCTION: In our home we purpose to eat at least one meal together everyday. When the conversation draws to a lull, it’s not unusual for one of our kids to start reading stuff on the products on the table. 


So it might be the ingredients in cereal. It might be the instructions on pancakes, but the absolute best is when someone starts reading the warnings. Here are a few:


  • Nabisco Easy Cheese - For best results, remove cap. 
  • On a Bottle of 7UP - Contents under pressure. Cap my blow off causing serious injury. Point away from face and people, especially during opening. 
  • On a Blockbuster DVD rental - Be kind rewind. (There’s a reason they couldn’t stay in business)
  • Christmas Lights - For indoor or outdoor use only. 
  • Little ones baby lotions - keep away from children.
  • On a Batman Halloween Costume - Does not enable user to fly... of course not, I mean it’s batman. 


Well there are some verses that also so obvious, so simple that we read over them without really allowing them to impact us. 


Proverbs 3:5-6 is such a passage. It’s the most well known passage in Proverbs. Many of you have this verse displayed in your home somewhere. 


TEXT: Proverbs 3:5–6 (ESV)

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.


You know how the Bible compares some truth to milk, some to meat... well Proverbs is sort of like the “Hard Candy” of the word. You can’t swallow it whole, you have to let it melt in your mouth. 


The Promise - The promise is that God will make your path straight. He will make His will for you crystal clear. You will know who to date, who to marry, what to major in, what classes to take. 


When John the Baptist came as the forerunner to Jesus, his commission was to make straight the way of the Lord. That doesn’t mean that the way was easy for Jesus. It does mean that the ground work was laid for Jesus to come on the scene.


John went before Jesus the way a tiller goes before the seed. 


Now Proverbs 3:5-6 says God will do for you what John did for Jesus. 


As you prepare to go to the next phase of your journey.




The shortest distance between two points is what? Straight line. God will help you to reach the goals He has for you in the shortest amount of time, with the fewest number of detours.


This verse tells us God is willing to do that - however this is a conditional promise. 


There are some promises in God’s Word that are Unconditional - God says, “I’m going to do this regardless of what you think, believe or do”. Pro. 3:5-6 is a conditional promise. God will make your path straight...IF you do 3 things... Now if I were you, I would really want to know those 3 things. 


What are they? 

  1. 1.Trust in the Lord with all your heart


ILLUSTRATION: John G. Patton was a British missionary to the New He-bri-des Islands of the South Pacific. One of the challenges he faced sharing the Gospel in their language was finding a way to communicate the concept of faith, because there was no word for “faith” in their native tongue. So he began to pray and ask God to give him a word that communicated the concept of faith. Then one day he was in his hut working when a native walked in and jumped into a hammock and said in his native tongue, “it feels so good to stretch out and rest my whole body on this hammock”. Patton said, “there’s my word”. Faith, or Trust is to stretch out your whole soul on the word of another. 


Just as you lie down on your bed at night, and trust it, you don’t examine it, you don’t check the manufactures... you are never more at home and relaxed than when you are on your bed... in the same way... let your heart relax and stretch out on the Word and Character of God.  


Trust mean that you give your “yes” to God based on HIS character before you fully know what the questions are. 


Then there’s that word, “ALL” trust the Lord with ALL your heart. The Hebrew word for all has two senses. It means All in the sense of the WHOLE, but also ALL in the sense of the individual parts. I’ve met people who can easy, quickly, flippantly say, “I trust God with my whole life”… but then when I examine them the quickly fade. 


  • Money - My two oldest kids recently got jobs and are getting regular pay checks. Before that first check was deposited we sat down and talked about the concept of tithing. I explained how mom and dad believe that if we give the first 10% to the Lord, the 90% remaining is more blessed. I told them that I’d rather have the 90% blessed than the 100% unblessed. Then I told them you are going to have to make a budget and you decided how much you give… do you trust Him with that All? 


  • Dating - What about your dating relationships? God says, “do not be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever”. Statistically, you will find that your standards for dating will fall in direct proportion to your choice of a marriage partner. If you wouldn’t marry an unbeliever why would you date one? Do you trust the Lord with that ALL?
  • Authority - The Bible says, “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right”. Did you trust the Lord with that part of ALL? The government made Vaping illegal for minors and the Bible says submit yourself to the governing authorities for the Lord’s sake, Do you trust the Lord with that part of ALL? You with be tempted to drink, abuse drugs… you just have to ask yourself here and now - do you trust God’s word on those issues? 


ILLUSTRATION: I will never forget as a new believer in college… the most difficult area to trust God in was my dating life. I’ll never when I made the decision not to date anyone I wouldn’t see as a potential marriage partner, it seemed as though EVERYONE had a date but me. I can show you the place on O’neal bridge in Florence, AL that God spoke to my heart a verse that I had never remembered hearing in my life - God said, “whosoever believes in me will never be ashamed”. Later I found that verse was in the OT and the NT. I’m sure I had read it and the Holy Spirit was bringing it to my mind and applying it to that situation. God was saying, “trust me and you won’t regret it!” May I say that after 18 years of marriage as I look at my wife and consider the women some of those compromisers ended up with… I am not ashamed. 


Trust the Lord with all your heart…then he says it negatively…

  1. 2. and do not lean on your own understanding

The word there for "lean" is the Hebrew "shan-ann", which literally means "to support yourself by leaning on something or someone else."  


So we are putting our confidence in God’s word rather than our unenlightened wisdom. 


  • It doesn't mean you are to put your mind in neutral.  
  • It doesn't mean that you don't use sanctified common sense.


It does mean that you aren’t relying simply on your intellect, knowledge, understanding as the sole guiding compass for life. 


Many times trusting Him will not make sense based on your own unenlightened understanding. 


  • Can you imagine how Moses felt when God said, “Tell Pharaoh that I said let my people goI And use that stick in your hand to do it!”? Did that make any sense at all?
  • When God told Abraham he was going to be a dad and he was going to use his 90 year old wife to do it. She Laughed out Loud. 


Isaiah 55:8–9 (NASB95)

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.


There are a few times in your life when God will call you to do something that makes no sense from your perspective. 


Proverbs 28:26 (NASB95)

26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, ...


The defining difference between people who regularly see God at work in their lives and those who do not - is highly effect christians are DEEPLY CERTAIN that the Bible is God’s inerrant, infallible, inspired Word. They know it, they believe it, they regularly trust it. And they LEAN on it. 


Are you LEANING on the word today? 


Proverbs 14:12 (NASB95)

12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.


QUESTION: Are you leaning on HIM or are you leaning on YOU? Because if you are leaning on YOU no wonder you are so anxious, stressed out… 


Trust in the Lord with all your heart...

Lean not on your own understanding...

  1. 3. In all your ways acknowledge him,


The word Acknowledge there is from the Hebrew word that literally means, “to know” both mentally and experientially. So in other words in ALL the ALLs of life - you bring God’s persons into the scenario. You invite God into the situation. 


  • Before you choose your classes, before you select a major… make sure you invited God in. 
  • Before you say, “yes” to a date, make sure you invite God in. 
  • Before you commit to an organization or visit a church… make sure you invite God in.


ILLUSTRATION: I remember having a friend named Shane in middle school that I really liked hanging out with. He and I were two of the founding members of the Moulton Middle School Chapter of the G.I. Joe fan club. We got along great, we had a lot of fun. But in 7th Grade I joined the basketball team. I wasn’t super athletic, but my friend Shane was the definition of Non-Athletic. He was short, very thin, red headed, and nerdy. I remember never really wanting for my basketball friends to meet my G.I. Joe fan club friend. 


Now let’s be honest there are times we treat Jesus like our nerdy friend that we don’t want anyone else to know about. So we hang out with him on Sunday’s, we sing about him, we study him, we talk about him, we pray to him. 


  • But when we walk into the locker room on Monday we say, “Jesus, why don’t you wait in the hall”.
  • Lord, some of these guys here at work don’t even believe you exist, so I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but if you don’t mind, just sit quietly. 
  • Lord, I’m about to go hang out with some cool, popular people in the Fraternity or Sorority, you probably wouldn’t like them anyway. Lord, let’s hook Sunday. 


NO! FRIEND- you can’t put off the King of Glory like a nerdy friend, you are ashamed of. 


Mark 8:38 (NASB95)

38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”


NOW - I take this very literally and seriously. I want to acknowledge him in EVERY area of my life. 


  • When I eat a meal I pray, not because I think God will supernaturally reduce my caloric intake.... I’m acknowledging Him. That’s why I don’t pray a long time... I’m not getting caught up on my quite time... I’m acknowledging Him. 
    • So if I sit down at Cracker Barrel.. I and my family will bow our head and pray. 
    • Or if I’m at a fancy Italian place in NYC with mover and shakers around us, we bow our head and pray. 
  • If I have an presence online on Facebook, twitter, Instagram - I make it very clear I’m a  follower of Christ, do I think people are going to get saved because of that, who knows? But I am going to acknowledge Him.  


LISTEN: Don’t serve, Don’t give, Don’t worship, Don’t Study - a God you have to leave out in the hall!!!!


The key to developing your walk with God is creating avenues of communication where God can speak into situations. 


Then, and only then... He Promises you - HE WILL make your paths straight. It doesn’t say, “He might!” Thank. God for that.


ILLUSTRATION: It’s just as John the Baptist went before Jesus, and make his way clear, credible and plowed the heart of the hearers... God will send His Spirit before you - and your life will be revolutionized. 


Don’t be consumed with KNOWING God’s will… Be consumed with KNOWING GOD and HE WILL make your path clear…



The word, "make your path straight" is a word that literally means "to cut a highway" or "to clear a path." Would it improve your life today if Almighty God, just cut a path for you? If he leveled some Mountains? Filled in some valleys? 


Pastor James Merritt tells us that, In WWII many fighter pilots were required to land their planes on the deck of aircraft carriers. The aircraft carrier is a tiny landing strip that is not only sailing away from him, but might also be bobbing 6 - 15 feet up and down, as well as rolling side to side.  Landing on the deck was just part of it, cables were strung across the carrier decks, the landing plane had to drop its tail-hook and snag a cable to arrest its forward progress.  As one World War II pilot put it, "You crash-land on the deck and hope you catch a wire."  In fact, they have put heart monitors on pilots and found that their heart rate is faster landing on a carrier than when they are in combat.


The key to landing a plane successfully on an aircraft carrier was the pilot's confidence in the landing officer known as the LSO - The LANDING SIGNAL OFFICER.  The LSO was an experienced pilot who directed pilots coming in for a landing by signaling with his paddles.  These signaling paddles were like cut-off tennis rackets with strips of colored fabric stretched across the face.  The strips allowed the LSO to wave the paddles one way or the other and not worry about catching the strong winds that blew across the deck of the aircraft carrier.   Every pilot knew you had to depend totally on the LSO.  If you are too high or too slow,  he signals you.  It is the landing signal officer who gives you the "cut-signal" to land.  You have to place yourself totally in his hands.


Charlie Brown, a navy pilot in War World II, put it this way, "The LSO gives you a cut sign or a wave off.  The cut signs means you can land.  The wave-off means you give it full-throttle and circle around to try again.  Once he gives you the cut sign, you don't touch that throttle again or you automatically get court-martialed." 


God doesn’t promise to eliminate all your problems, or destroy every threat. He didn’t do that for Jesus and he will not for you. However, God does say that if you will Trust Him with all your heart, lean not on your own understand, acknowledge him in every area of your life... then and only then... will he give you the proper signal at the proper time... he will make sure that you land every plane safely.