But God

Sometimes the smallest words are the most powerful. Take the little word “if” for instance. When this two-letter word is ignored in Bible passages, it can result in a total misunderstanding of those passages. The three-letter word “but” is equally powerful, both in every-day use and in the Bible.

When we want to be tactful with other people we preface our statements with an encouraging statement. For example we would say “I love you”. And then we say “but” “I don’t like your attitude”. Thus the word “but” cancels out anything that was said before. In other words: “I love you but loving you does not count because I have a problem with your attitude”. If we change the sentence around, we get a totally different message: “Your attitude stinks but I love you”. Now we are saying that it does not matter about the attitude, it only matters that we love them. So, what comes before the “but” is cancelled and what comes after it is what really matters.

The New King James Version uses the word “but” over 4,000 times! The first time it is used is in Genesis 2:6 where it says that it did not rain BUT a mist came up from the earth to water the ground. In other words the fact that it did not rain does not matter – it is superseded by the fact that a mist came up to water the earth.

As powerful as this little word is, it becomes infinitely more powerful when connected to another three-letter word: “God”. These two words “but God” appear together 45 times. Some of these verses contain mighty statements and promises about God’s intervention in the affairs of men.

In Genesis 31:7 Jacob says to his wife “your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me”. Isn’t that wonderful? No matter how much Laban schemed against Jacob – it made no difference when God came into the picture. In Genesis 50 Joseph says something similar, but even more wonderful: “as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good”. It does not matter what men scheme or do against those who are in His will, when God becomes part of the equation, it all works out very well! Maybe you could speak about all the trials and opposition you experience, and that can be very negative, but if you conclude by saying “BUT GOD…” what could be a hopeless situation becomes a very blessed and fruitful one.

Sometimes the “but God” could appear to be negative like the time David planned to build a house for God “But God said to me, `You shall not build a house for My name’” 2Chronicles 28:3.  Or when Peter spoke of his Jewish tradition that required that he not mix with Gentiles “But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean” Acts 10:28. This teaches us that no matter what plans or preconceptions we may have, when God becomes part of the picture, everything changes because His ways are so much higher than our ways. Would that we would listen when God throws a “but” into our ideas, plans, traditions and habits! Sadly, man’s history is often marked by the “BUT GOD” followed by “BUT MAN”. Let’s allow God the last say, especially when He says ”BUT” to our ideas.

In Acts 13:29 Paul says: “they took Him (Jesus) down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead”. Hallelujah! Men crucified and buried him and thought they had finally put an end to Jesus. BUT GOD is not bound by death or the grave – He raised Jesus from the dead. If there was no BUT GOD, our faith would be futile and we would still be in our sins (1Corinthians 15:17).

Romans 5:7 says that someone may, possibly, die for a good man and it infers that no one would bother dying for a bad man or a sinner. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8. Thank God that He is not like us and that He was willing to die for us, when no one would have given two hoots about us.

In Ephesians 2, Paul paints a graphic picture of our state before we were saved. He says we were dead in our trespasses and sins, we were under the power and control of the devil and we had no hope whatsoever. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” Ephesians 2:4.

It does not matter how bad you are, or how much you have sinned. It does not matter if people have given up on you. It does not matter how many times you have failed. None of that matters in the light of God’s rich mercy. He is able to bring life out of death and He is able to change your life. He can bring light into the darkness, hope into the despair, love into the loneliness and order into the chaos of our lives. So, no matter how you sum up your life and past, if you add BUT GOD at the end of the story, everything can be different.

He died on the cross to change your past, present and future. And here is where that other little word comes in: “IF” you will put your trust in Him. Yes, He has done it all. He paid the price for your sins, He has the power to change your life around. But He needs you to agree and to be willing to go along with His plan. So, there is a condition – that’s the “IF” word. He will forgive you IF you turn to Him. He will change your life IF you put your trust in Him. He will shower His love on you IF you draw near to Him.

The “BUT GOD” part takes care of everything and turns everything around as long as we just do the simple “IF” part. The BUT GOD is not automatic – that does not change anything, IF we do not want what He offers. He is not going to force all His goodness, grace, forgiveness and power on you. It is all available to you IF you will just accept it. “I am the door. IF anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9).