Man's Thoughts and God's Guidance

May 5, 2024
Missionary Izumi Kuriyama

We would like to thank you for your precious prayers and support for the victims of the Noto Peninsula earthquake. I cannot begin to tell you how much God has been good to us through your prayers. I am thankful that I can worship God with you today, and I am also thankful that I can testify of God's greatness with the Word of God in this way.

When I was praying this time, I was given the book of Proverbs (a practical book of instruction that leads to an abundant life) from chapter 16, verses 1, 3, and 9, titled "Man's Thoughts and God's Guidance.

Man's thoughts "Man has a plan in his heart" 16:1
Yield to the Lord "Yield to the Lord what you are about to do." 16:3
Divine guidance "It is the Lord who makes a man's steps sure," 16; 9

Proverbs 16:1 NIV  
To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue.

The original Hebrew of this verse uses the noun "ma'araf" (מַעֲרָךְ), found only here in the Old Testament. Its meaning is plan, arrangement, preparation. The noun turns into a verb when a person observes, thinks, compares, plans, and takes action. The Lord gives an answer to his tongue. It is said, "The Lord gives an answer to his tongue.” But when they are put into words on the tongue, the Lord God gives an answer. The colloquial translation says, "The measure of the heart belongs to man, but the answer of the tongue comes from the Lord." We, Christians, need to discern whether our thoughts are human thoughts or from the realm of the spirit of the new man by faith.

Testimony: Some of you may know that we had been planning and preparing to go to Japan last September, but due to various stops, our visit to Japan finally came in December. And even though we thought we were only going for a short follow-up visit, we were sent off by the pastors and board members of this church, who laid their hands on us and prayed for us. I was so honored and grateful, but I later learned the answer to the meaning of this. The Lord gave me the answer.
On January 1, 2024, at 4:10 p.m., I was in Wakayama when I experienced a big tremor. It was an earthquake of intensity 7 on the Noto Peninsula. After spending the New Year in Wakayama, we had our own plans: we had planned to visit three churches and victims in Hiroshima involved in the 2018 torrential rain disaster, but anyway, we prayed for the affected areas and asked for the Lord's will and guidance in this situation. We asked for God's guidance beyond human thoughts. Then, trusting in the Lord and not knowing anything about the future, I went out to Toyama and Ishikawa prefectures with members of the rain shelter group to deliver relief supplies, praying. Then, after informing the church in Hiroshima of the situation and cancelling our plans, we were led by the Lord to prepare for Noto Help to be launched and to work as a support team.

Yield to the Lord "Yield to the Lord what you are going to do." 16:3

The original word translated as "yield" (גָּלַל) is imperative and means "to roll.” It means that when you roll the stone, even if you are not sure where it will go, you should trust in the Lord God and leave it to Him, trusting that He will do what is best! It means, "Trust in the Lord God and let him do what is best for you. Then your plans will not be frustrated." The original word translated plan in verse 3 is the noun "mahshavah" (מַחֲשָׁבָה), which is a different original word than "ma'araf" (מַעֲרָךְ) in verse 1, but it has the same meaning. This same proto word used in verse 3 is used in Genesis 6:5 to remind us of what the thoughts in man's heart are like. The thoughts of man are directed toward either good or evil. That is why it is important to turn your heart to the Lord, who is good, and to trust and surrender. The word "koon" כּוּן is used and can be translated as "unwavering, standing firm, and will come to pass.
I thought to myself, I am in the boat with Jesus, so I should not worry about anything and just go with the flow and wait for the Holy Spirit to blow the wind and guide me. I should just do what I have to do. If I leave it to the Lord, He will carry me and make His will be done.
Testimony: I returned to Canada in April after serving at the office of Noto Help, a Christian disaster relief organization in Ishikawa Prefecture, since January. We could not take a step forward without praying, "Lord, help me, Lord, what should I do about this? Lord, what should I say? Lord, is this enough? Lord, I have so many needs; please help me. Lord, protect them.” They were struggling in their hearts, crying out, "Lord, Lord," and struggling, hitting walls and struggling. I began to think that everyone was praying for me, that we were not alone, that we were all in this together, and that I should leave my own affairs in God's hands and trust in the Lord to do the role He had firmly given me. What is going to happen, where are we going? I am confident that even though I don't know, the Lord knows. So, I cancelled my plan to return to Canada in February. Anyway, I decided to concentrate on serving Noto Help for now and left our own affairs to the Lord (we rolled over).

God's guidance, "A man contemplates his own way in his heart. But it is the Lord who makes his steps sure. The original word translated "contemplate" is the verb "harshav" (חָשָׁבָה) from the noun "mahashavah" (מַחֲשָׁבָה) which is translated plan in verse 3. And the original word translated "make his steps sure" uses the same "koon" כּוּן as in verse 3; to make sure, prepare, guide.

The original language used seems to convey the author's intent of this Proverb. He teaches us that mere thoughts, wishes, and plans are only noun forms that never move, but when we turn our hearts to the Lord in prayer, exercise faith, and surrender to Him, the noun becomes a verb and begins to move with power, and the Lord God will make a person's steps sure.

Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. “

God will cause you to do what He wills. That's a great thing to hear, isn't it? You don't have to work hard by yourself. We only need to leave our own things to the Lord God.

Testimony: It is not that we have been ignoring our own plans. We just decided to put it to the side for now and leave it to the Lord. I mentioned earlier that to entrust means to roll away a stone, but this Japanese word stone (ishi-stone) also reads the same as will (ishi-thought, intention). We rolled the human free will (ishi) given by God to the Lord. We entrusted it to Him. Then, what a surprise! People around us began to move on our behalf. Support and encouragement were delivered from unexpected sources, and we were filled in abundance. We began to receive support in the form of personnel and supplies from cooperating Christian organizations for our understaffed support team. The staffing shortage improved, and road repairs made it possible to reach the affected areas in three hours instead of the four hours it used to take one way. In addition, water outage areas have been improved, and the amount of water transported has been reduced somewhat. Relief supplies have also been provided in sufficient quantities. Volunteer cookouts have increased in frequency in cooperation with local churches, which has been appreciated. We have also been able to provide lodging for volunteers. We are grateful for everything. The work of Noto Help is a team effort. We were thinking that we could take over and go back to Canada in April when, to our surprise, we were even given money for our return flight home. I could not help but be thankful to the Lord for this! What the Lord does is always beautiful! In addition, I was able to see beautiful cherry blossoms. Truly, God is wonderful! 

In the Old Testament, when Proverbs was written, there was a curtain of separation between God and man, and sinners and Gentiles were not even allowed to approach. But 1 Timothy 2:4, "4 who(God) wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. " Therefore, Jesus, the God Son, came to earth to be the Savior. He made a way for anyone to believe in Jesus Christ with his heart, confess with his mouth, and be saved. The noun faith in the heart is changed into the verb believe by the work of the Holy Spirit, and salvation is given as the sure answer of confession in the tongue. The word is with God, and the special gift of being light and life-giving, of being made a child of God, is given. God loves you. Therefore, He knows your thoughts better than anyone else, and He wants to give you the highest, best, and most appropriate. For this reason, it is important and necessary to yield your plans and thoughts to Him.

Man's thoughts, "Man has a plan in his heart," 16:1.
Yield to the Lord, "Yield to the Lord what you are going to do." 16:3
Divine guidance: "It is the Lord who makes sure of his steps." 16:9

In the past, we lived selfishly in sin and were lost like sheep without an owner, but we met Jesus, the faithful shepherd, who led us to green pastures. We do not have to worry about starving or thirsting. Jesus Christ saved us by the grace of the cross and gently commanded us to surrender to His love. It is for the Holy Spirit to pour out His love from the Lord into our hearts and lead us to an abundant life. The Lord said, "In My sight, you are precious. I love you." He said, "I love you.” Therefore, God prepares and leads us to do good things for His beloved children. He sends the Holy Spirit to those who hear the gospel and believe in Jesus Christ, and He pours love into their hearts. It is like having a wellspring of love in one's heart. He will not be able to help but love. He or she will be transformed by the Spirit into the likeness of Christ, and the waters of love will well up. Then, the person will be transformed into a fountain of abundant love. Welcome the Lord to work with you!

Give Him what you will do, and in His love, do what He has entrusted to your hands. Give what you will do to Him and do what is entrusted to your hands in His love, for His love will never fail and will lead you to a place of unshakable certainty.
All glory be to the Lord, and may God be praised! 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may our daily walk be according to Your will, may we surrender our thoughts to You, and may we walk with You in this new week with thanksgiving and joy. Ephesians 3:19 says, “to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.