The Book of Proverbs

Lesson 9 - “Stifling Stress”

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

Proverbs 3:5-6, “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.”

We have been doing a study from the book of Proverbs. We’ve already looked at Solomon’s request for an understanding heart to rule God’s people, then we looked at “Help for Hotheads” the scriptural answer to anger management, we saw why we need to be “Mastering Our Mouths,” how to find fantastic friends, the worst of all sins-Pride, Leaving laziness, eliminating envy, and wisdom for better health. Today we are going to look at how to stifle stress.

Have you ever been "all stressed up and no place to go"? Are you stressed-out right now? If not, you will be soon because all of us get stressed-out from time to time. But there's help! Two of the most beloved verses in the Bible tell us how to stifle stress. The first verse reads: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding (Prov. 3:5). Then, verse six says, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Memorizing these two verses and applying them to our daily lives will have a profound effect on stifling our stress. These verses contain basic truths that will take the stress out of everyday life. But first, there are some initial observations we should make about these verses. The key to understanding Bible promises is to look at the verbs. That's where the action is. The four verbs found in Proverbs 3:5-6 are:

-Trust in the Lord.

-Lean not unto thine own understanding.

-Acknowledge Him.

-He shall direct our paths.

Three of these verbs are imperatives, or commands, and are directed to you and me. They describe what we must do. The last verb is a promise telling us what God will do if we do the first three: he shall direct our paths. Remember, every biblical promise has a premise. God can't do His part until we do our part. Let's look at the four verbs in this promise and find out how to stifle stress.

-First, we must trust in the Lord.

How do you trust in the Lord? If you have difficulty trusting in the Lord you don't know Him very well. Have you ever had a stranger ask, "Hey, will you do something for me?" The first question out of your mouth probably would be, "Well, first of all, who are you and what is it?"

However, suppose my wife comes to me and asks: "Frank, would you do something for me?" My response would be, "Sure, honey, what is it?" The reason is I know her very well and know she would never ask me to do anything that would harm or embarrass me. I trust her totally.

If you don't trust in the Lord, it's because you don't know Him. How do you get to know Him? The same way you get to know anyoneby spending time with Him. Spend time with Him in prayer, spend time with Him in His Word, and spend time with Him in Bible study and worship. When we trust in the Lord, we have a wonderful promise found in Psalms 125:1 which says, “They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever.”

Being all stressed-out is a sure sign we don't know the Lord well enough to trust Him. Stress is like the red warning lights on the dashboard of a vehicle. Why does one of those lights come on? Something is wrong! Stress is like that. When we get all stressed-out, something is wrong and it’s usually because we have stopped trusting in the Lord.

Stifling stress requires that we trust in the Lord.

-Second, we must lean not on our own understanding.

This means we are not to rely on our own mental abilities without including God. Proverbs 3:7 says, “Be not wise in thine own eyes.” This is a warning against pride. Basically, pride is leaving God out of our decisions and lives. Someone has said "ego" is an acronym for "edging God out." The Bible does not teach we shouldn't use our brains. Quite the contrary, Proverbs 18:15 says, “The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.” This means we should learn all we can and get all the facts before making a decision. But we must trust, or rely on, the Lord to help us understand and apply that knowledge.

Stifling stress requires we trust in the Lord, lean not on our own understanding, and...

-Third, we must acknowledge the Lord.

Verse six puts it like this, “In all thy ways acknowledge him. This means we recognize, or remember Him in all our ways—in our homes, businesses, schools, workplaces, hobbies, or whatever. It also means we acknowledge Him during times of discouragement, hurt, depression, failure, disappointment, stress, etc. Acknowledging the Lord means remembering we are not alone. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”

When we get all stressed-out, we must remember we are not alone. Just remembering the name of the Lord, and who He is, gives us a secure fortress. Stifling stress requires we do our part to trust, lean not, and acknowledge. If we do these three things, then God can do His part...

-Fourth, he shall direct our paths.

Look again with me at Proverbs 3:5-6, “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.”

If we do our part, we can take this promise to the bank. The term translated direct means to make smooth or right. The paths of life are sometimes rough and seem impassable. Life has its rocky roads, sharp turns and deep potholes. But when we rely on the Lord, He will direct us so we can avoid the obstacles and have a smooth road. But how does He direct our paths? There are at least five ways...

1.     Through His Word. This should be our primary resource when seeking direction from the Lord because God's will is revealed in His Word. As we obey the precepts and principles in the Bible, God directs us in the right paths. Lights will turn on in our brains about decisions we need to make. Psalm 119:105 tells us that, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Also, God's will for our lives never contradicts His Word. Therefore, the Bible is the starting place.

2.     Through His workers. I don't like to ask for advice. It's a pride thing for most men. That's why most men, even when lost, don't like to stop and ask for directions. Proverbs 19:20 says we are to, “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.” God guides us through mature, Christian counsel. It should come from believers who are neutral and have nothing to gain or lose from our decision.

3.     Through His wisdom. But how do we get God's wisdom? It's simple! If we lack wisdom, we should ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not (Jas. 1:5). Just praying to God will often plant an idea in our minds. There is an old saying, "Most problems are just the absence of ideas." However, according to James 4:2, “Ye have not, because ye ask not.”

4.     Through the witness of His Spirit. Jesus promised when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth (Jn 16:13a). God has placed in us, as believers, the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us.

5.     Through the wishes of our hearts. This may be surprising, but we must always remember that God is not a "cosmic killjoy." Finding and doing the will of God brings immense joy, satisfaction, and pleasure. However, as long as we live in this fallen world, our personal wishes and desires will sometimes conflict with the path God wants us to take. So, we must be very cautious because our hearts are deceitful (Jer. 17:9). Psalms 37:4 says, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” If you want to be successful in stifling stress, memorize and practice Proverbs 3:5-6, focusing on the verbs: 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.

Let’s pray.

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