But God | God’s Word Today

But God - Word Today

“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” – Psalm 73:26, KJV

A Guidelines’ listener who was in a doctoral program at New York University wrote telling about a teacher whose memory will never escape him.  The teacher who so impressed him was an instructor at New York City’s prestigious Peter Stuyvesant High School.  In his classroom hung a 3 x 5 foot flag.  On the flag were three black letters against a brilliant background of red, and what was the message?  The three letters spelled B-U-T, the adversative conjunction.  That’s it. When lecturing, this teacher would reach a point where everything that followed hung on one word.  That’s when he would point to his flag and go on.

Interestingly enough, life often hangs on that one word and that which follows.  When Paul wrote to his friends at Philippi, he told about Epaphroditus, who became ill, so ill that it seemed he would die.  “Indeed he was ill, and almost died,” wrote Paul, adding, “But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow” (Philippians 2:27).  With those words, “but God,” despair gives way to hope, and literally, death to life.

Over 40 times in the Bible you have those words, “but God,” and almost every time you find them, like the flag which hopefully caused students to think, they bring an element of hope to a desperate situation.

Take, for example, the moral lives of the men and women who eventually became members of the church at Ephesus. They were morally bankrupt, depraved, and debauched.  The largest single building in the city of Ephesus where Paul ministered, was a brothel adjacent to city hall.  Families were not just hurting, they were fractured and divided.  Men practiced fulfilling the lusts of the flesh; then, says Paul, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)” (Ephesians 2:,4-5, KJV).

Every person who finds himself in desperate straits needs to visualize another sign. Reverse the color combination. Put red letters of hope against a black background of dark circumstances, and let the message read, “But God…”   The darker the circumstances, the brighter the message of hope. Hang the sign in every doctor’s office, in the conference room of every marriage counselor. Put it in every pastor’s office, and on the wall of every church. Write it in your mind, and refuse to accept defeat.

If you really believe that God exists, and that He can turn around any given set of circumstances, there is hope for your marriage, for your son, for the person who is so difficult, for the health situation which has caused you to wonder if you will ever get better.

The message, “but God” isn’t one of a false hope. To the contrary, it is the fulcrum that documents the turning about-face of every person who has been converted, just as it was for the debauched men and women whom Paul later addressed as “saints” in the church.

Conversion means that you were headed down the wrong road in life, but God turned your life around and you walked in newness of life, a changed man or woman.

If, of course, there were no God, then there would be no hope that life could be different.

Long ago, the Psalmist wrote these words, “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever” (Psalm 73:26, KJV).   Ah yes, again, those words, “but God.”  Add them to the despair of your life, and hope is born anew.

Resource reading: Ephesians 2

This devotional © by Harold J. Sala.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission from Guidelines International Ministries. Not for sale or profit.

Dr. Harold J. Sala

Dr. Harold J. Sala

Speaker, author and Bible teacher, Dr. Harold Sala founded Guidelines in 1963.Pioneering the five-minute commentary in Christian radio, Dr. Sala’s daily “Guidelines-A Five Minute Commentary on Living” is heard the world over in a variety of languages. Sala, who holds a Ph.D. in biblical text, has authored over 55 books published in 19 languages.He speaks and teaches frequently at conferences, seminars, and churches worldwide. Residing in Mission Viejo, California, Harold and his wife, Darlene, have three adult children (daughter Bonnie is now Guidelines president) and eight well-loved grandchildren.
Dr. Harold J. Sala

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