We are currently doing a series on Ephesians chapter 2 at our church and last week we focused on two short simple words on which the entire gospel message hangs. All too often I am guilty of reading through the scripture too quickly and I wind up missing some of the most powerful promises and reminders God has given to us. Ephesians 2:4 is one of those verses that if read too haphazardly the powerful grace of God could be overlooked…..simply because we didn’t reat in the power of these two little words: but God.
I don’t know about you but I spend way more of my life focusing on the “but I” moments.
I need to go to the gym…..but I am too tired.
I should work on that relationship…..but I am too angry.
I want to help others…..but I am too broken.
I should have more patience with my kids…..but I don’t.
I need to talk to my neighbor about this issue….but I am not confrontational.
Lysa Terkeurst nailed it when she wrote, “a big defeater in our lives is following up statements about what we want or need with the words ‘but I.’” She is right when she reminds us that “but I” makes our problems seem so much bigger when all we really have to do is change the “I” to “God” and the “but” becomes so much smaller.
The scripture is replete with examples of what happens when our “but I” moments are changed with “but God” moments. Here are a few examples:
- But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. (Genesis 8:1)
- If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.” (Genesis 31:42)
- You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)
- David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph.Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands. (I Samuel 23:14)
- But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself. (Psalm 49:15)
- My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)
- But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. (Acts 2:24)
- You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. (Acts 3:15)
- Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8)
- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
- for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! (2 Timothy 2:9)
I have no idea what you are currently facing but what I do know is the words “but I” trigger anxiety and sense of impending defeat. However, I am learning that there have been two other words out there for a very long time that bring power, resolve, and victory that I don’t use regularly enough. These two words trigger confidence, humility and worship.
I think John Piper brings it into focus when he says “Revel in these two priceless words. Every thing, sweet and bitter, that will occur between now and the moment of your death God will work for your good (Romans 8:28), and every glorious pleasure that you will ever enjoy in your future eternal life in his presence (Psalm 16:11) because of the gospel of these two words: “but God.”