But God Are you looking for a way out of a situation? Whether you get out or not may very well depend on how you use once simple word; but. The word “but” is a conjunction that joins two independent parts of a sentence together. The way that you use the word “but” to connect two parts of a sentence can enhance your faith or it can enlarge your fears. It can give you a way to escape from the situation, or it can give you an excuse to stay in your situation. The choice is yours. For example I can say, “I know it’s raining, but I have an umbrella.” The way the word “but” was used indicates that it doesn’t matter what the problem is, I’m not letting it stop me. I will achieve my goal. I have faith that what comes after the “but” will give me a way to escape to where I need to be. Or I could say, “I wanted to go, but it’s raining.” The way the word “but” was used indicates that there is a problem and I’m going to let it stop me. I will not achieve my goal. I have fear of what comes after the “but” and therefore I have an excuse to stay in the situation that I’m in. “But” is a word of convenience that often tells what our real agenda is. It could be a tornado watch, but if I have a pocket full of money, I’m going shopping. It could be a thunderstorm watch, but if I don’t feel like getting up off the couch, I’m not going to Bible study. The issue is not the weather. When your mind is made up and your heart is set, when you have faith and you see that way of escape, you will do what you want to do and achieve your goals! So the problem is we haven’t aligned our goals with God’s and we often see God’s plans as conflicting with ours. Therefore we go to church, however, we use the word “but” the wrong way. Then we wonder why God isn’t working things out in our lives. God is not the problem. Our “but” is the problem! Childlike faith “buts” God into a situation. To walk victoriously as Christians we have to “but God” into our conversations and lives. The Bible speaks of having childlike faith and that’s exactly what it takes. For example, three children will be talking and one child will say, “I’m going to make a super-duper spring shoe so I can jump over buildings”. The second child will say, “Nobody can jump over buildings”. Then the third child will say, “But God can!” They all agree that there’s a problem. They all agree that man can’t solve it. They all agree that only God is able to do what they want to do. They have faith that what comes after the “but” is an all powerful force. Childlike faith “buts” God into a situation. How can a child, or anyone else for that matter, develop such strong faith? Romans 10:17 says faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Somebody told those children about God and they heard it enough to believe it! If you’re lacking faith to put your “but” in the right place then you’re not hearing enough of the word of God! Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. If you only read your Bible in church on Sunday morning and you have your “but” in the right place that’s great! But most of us need to hear it more often before it becomes real to us. There’s no way that we can “but” God into our lives if we’re not constantly in His word. Human reasoning “buts” God out of a situation. Remember, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The young child starts life only influenced by the voice of the parents. So if the parents teach that there is a God, a Santa Claus, or a boggy man the child believes it because they have heard it enough times. However, as children grow, they begin to hear more. They hear from television, radio, friends, they read books, papers, and magazines. Everything they hear does not line up with the word of God, yet they are hearing it. If they’re hearing 40 hours of secular education plus 20 or more hours of television and secular music each week vs only 3 hours of the Bible each week, what will they learn to have more faith in? The ways of the world! God’s ways will seem backwards and strange to them. People believe in heaven and hell BUT, they choose to live their lives based on what people around them are doing. This happens to children as well as adults. We want to serve God but we have excuses for not following His directions. I know I should go to church today but. I know I should go to Bible study but. I know I should go to prayer meeting but. I know I should tithe but. I know I should fast but. I know I should read my Bible and pray more but. In all those statements we fear what comes before the “but” because it will cause us to adjust. In all of those statements we identify with what comes after the “but” because that’s what we want to do or believe we have to do. If you’re satisfied with your life just the way it is keep, your “but” right where it is. If you want God to help you, however, you need to ask yourself, “Is my “but” blocking my blessing?” Look at Luke 16:15 to see how God views our “buts”. We have all of these reasons in our minds why we can’t follow God but God knows our hearts. In the world’s eyes, leisure is highly esteemed, watching TV is highly esteemed, spending more money than we have is highly esteemed, sports is highly esteemed, climbing the corporate ladder is highly esteemed. While all of those are not bad things, God says if you place them above honoring me, I can’t stand it! Three inches of snow may cause us to miss church on Sunday but it could be six inches on Monday and it’s off to work we go! That makes God scream! God wants to know how we justify that? Every “but” that we offer up to God, no matter how we try to justify it, is a way of saying I don’t trust you God. I don’t trust you with my time. I don’t trust you with my money. I don’t trust you with my eating habits. I don’t trust you with my career. I don’t trust you with my social life. I don’t trust you with my plans for finding a spouse. God, I’m trusting you will let me in heaven and I’m trusting that you will get me out of rough situations but please, let me run the rest of my life my way. What happens when I run my life? When I run my life I ruin my life. When I run, I ruin. As a Christian, God is in charge of managing my life so when I get mixed up in trying to run my life, I ruin it. When you put the letter “I” in the word run you get “ruin”. All of us, to some degree, have done some things trying to run our lives and ended up ruining it in some way. Sometimes the damage is so severe, we see no way of fixing it. But God can! It’s going to take each of us returning to a child-like faith, however, to trust that God will fix up what ever has been messed up. I know this is stepping on some toes. Mine hurt too! So let the healing begin. Let’s go to the word of God and find examples of how we can “but” God into our lives. Genesis 31:7. Jacob worked for his father-in-law Laban who was doing him wrong. Jacob told Rachel it doesn’t matter how my boss treats me, God is only going to let it go so far. Your employer may not be treating you right but God is a just God that oversees the overseer! God will take care of you if you put your “but” in the right place. When your “but” is in the right place your attitude is in the right place and God can go to work on your behalf. Psalms 75:6,7. Some of us are looking all around for that next promotion but we need to be looking up. We break our neck trying to please man but God is the judge that is going to set us up. Genesis 45:8. Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery and ended up being the ruler of the land that saved not only his family but the entire nation. Joseph was telling his brothers, I have every reason and every right to be mad at you because you tried to ruin my life BUT GOD had other plans. When you have faith in God, you know He has a plan and therefore you can forgive those who have done you wrong. You no longer say, “But God he did me wrong” you say, “But God is working this thing out!” In Genesis 50:19,20 Joseph had another opportunity to confront his brothers. He could have had them thrown in jail but he told them, “relax I’m not going to play God!” He then told them you did something evil to me BUT GOD meant it for good. Sometimes we can get so bent out of shape because of the evil that is directed at us BUT GOD is working something out for us if we don’t take matters into our own hands and start playing God. Joseph could have easily said, “Your behind is mine!” yet he kept his “but” in the right place. Genesis 20:2,3. Abraham thought he had to play by the world’s rules in order to keep his life, in order to progress in life. He felt hopeless and powerless against the powers at hand. BUT GOD came in and spoke the words to the king that Abraham didn’t feel that he could. In this world you may think you are a powerless peon BUT GOD thinks more of you than that. God will protect you and your interest when you are faithfully serving Him. Don’t walk around holding your head down. You may not be in the esteemed positions that others are in But God is above those positions! Exodus 13:17,18. When Pharoah let God’s people go and they were on their way to the promise land, going through Philistine was a short cut. The people however, would have had to fight and see a lot of fighting. That may have discouraged them and made them want to turn around. BUT GOD took them another route. You and I may have seen some terrible things in our lives BUT God has spared a lot of things from our eyesight that we don’t even realize. We get mad at God when He takes us the long way and the rough way but we have no idea of what God is shielding us from. God is shielding us from more heartache and pain. God doesn’t want us to get discouraged. We don’t realize what a blessing we are complaining about! Many of us are still in this Christian race and have not turned around because God has spared us from seeing and experiencing some ugly things. Psalms 73:26. Sometimes I get tired BUT God is my strength. I don’t always have to be strong. I don’t always have to be encouraged. It’s okay that we get tired. It’s common to be discouraged in heart but it’s not okay to use those as excuses for not pressing on! You have to stop looking at what you are doing that doesn’t seem to be working but seems to get you tired and discouraged. You have to start looking at what God can do. You have to stop working so hard to fix your life and turn it over to Jesus. I Corinthians 10:13. We need to understand that the temptations that come our way are common to man. In other words, you are not justified giving in to that temptation because of your individual circumstances. Other people are tempted just as severely as you are. No man can stand up under all the temptations of life and never fail BUT GOD is faithful. God is faithful to provide us with a way of escape so that we can handle being tempted. The problem is not that we can’t handle and escape temptation. The problem is we don’t understand the importance of fleeing the temptation and so we just stand there and look at it. We have come to enjoy the temptation. We don’t allow God to be faithful when we are enjoying the temptation! The house is on fire and God is in there with you saying, “Here’s a window right here come on!” We respond, “Wait a minute God, I want to see how hot it can get in here.” Before you know it, you got burnt, again! Often we don’t really want to escape. We just want God to change His mind and make an amendment to His word saying that this particular temptation is now ok. God is faithful to help, we just have to want to be helped. The Bible says that sin is pleasurable for a season. You and you alone have to mature in your faith and say this season is over! Don’t wait around for the sin to become unpleasureable. That usually doesn’t happen. In most cases the only way it becomes unpleasureable is when it burns you often enough and bad enough. Sometimes the pleasure of sin costs people their health, their finances, their family, their job, their homes, their life BUT GOD is faithful to help if and when you want to be helped. Ephesians 2:3-6. All of us were out there walking in lust and sin BUT GOD saved us. It wasn’t because we were perfect. It was because of His mercy. Each of us can witness to the fact that since we got saved we have gotten better at not sinning. We’re not perfect But God’s mercy has covered us. If it works for salvation then it can work for sanctification. The lusts and desires of the mind are not going to go away. BUT God can touch our hearts so we can change our minds. We were all sinners yet Romans 5:8 says, but God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. There was no if, ands or buts about it. Jesus died for us! He didn’t wait for us to become perfect. He just asked us to sit our “buts” down and ask Him into our life. These are just a few of many examples found in the Bible where people had their “but” in the right place. In each situation the people saw that the problem was big BUT God was bigger. This is a call for each of us to return to childlike faith and realize that nothing works better in our situation, nothing but God. Amen.