When the song, “I like big butts and I cannot lie was at its zenith and featured in Disney’s brilliant animation, Shrek, I wanted to use that phrase as a sermon title. BUT caution got the better of me.
So, here I am, all these years later, randomly remembering that the biggest—and best— “buts” the world will ever know are found in the Bible.
Here are some of the better buts in the Bible:
THE EVIL BUT
Genesis 50:20 – “You meant it for evil, BUT God meant it for good.”
Joseph magnanimously forgiving his brothers and teaching them a lesson about omnipotence and sovereignty.
This is a good one for people like me to remember in times like this. How any good can come out of the Obama administration, only God knows. BUT God knows.
I tweeted a story about the homecoming queen at Auburn yesterday. Her mother was sexually assaulted and became pregnant. Her mom’s husband said she would abort the baby or he would be done with her. She did not abort her. She delivered the baby and then delivered her to an adoptive couple who raised her in a wonderful family environment… Well, here. Read it yourself at Lifenews.com..and share it with as many people as you can.
Another good verse on the evil but, and one that fits the above story, is Deuteronomy 23:5 – “Nevertheless the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God e loves you.”
THE AGELESS BUT
Isaiah 40:8 – “The grass withers, the flower fades, BUT the word of our God stands forever.”
The world can try to trivialize and marginalize God’s Word all they want. Generations come and go. Detractors grow old and die. The Word of God never ages, never diminishes, never fails, never dies.
Psalm 73:26 – “My flesh and my heart fail; BUT God is the strength of my heart and my s portion forever.”
God never wearies in His work. He doesn’t grow old and soft. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. When you are at your worst, He is at his best.
THE FRIGHTENING BUT
John 3:36 – “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, BUT the wrath of God abides on him.”
Some so-called preachers these days have expressed the opinion that Jesus is a way to God, rather than THE way. Nothing about that statement is true, nor could it be. Either Jesus is everything He claimed, or He is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on planet earth. His statements are too radical. His claims are too bold. His teachings are too clear. You are IN or you are OUT. In means life. Out means eternal death and damnation. Period.
John 14:6 – “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
Pretty tough to misinterpret or miss the message there.
The most frightening but in history is the one in John 3:36.
THE BEAUTIFUL BUTS
The most beautiful buts in the Bible are about the grace and mercy and salvation that is in Christ Jesus.
John3:16, 17 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten q Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
If you have ever attended Sunday School or a bible study at any point in your life, you have likely seen this but. If you have memorized even on verse in the Bible, it is probably John 3:16. It is not about condemnation with Christ, BUT it is about salvation. It is about redemption. It is about real hope. Real change. Real life.
One of the most beautiful passages in the Bible—and one of the most heartening, encouraging, stimulating—features one magnificent but.
Ephesians 2:1-10 – And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, which you once walked according to the 1 course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in g the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 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), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should s boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
That doesn’t need any elaboration or enlargement. That is preaching, right there. Just wind it up and watch it go. Watch it crush the hopelessness Satan wants to sow in the wounded heart. Watch it ease the mind of the man or woman who has made a mess of things. Watch it bind the broken heart and ease the worried mind. Watch it give sleep to the sleepless, rest to the restless, hope to the hopeless, help to the helpless.
And YOU He made alive. You! Alive. Now. Forever. Not just existing. Not just marking time. ALIVE.
YOU are his “workmanship.” In the original language, the word is poeima, from which we derive “poem.” You are the work of a lifetime, which for God is eternity. You are more beautiful than Di Vinci’s Mona Lisa. You are more important than Michelangelo’s David or his Sistine Chapel. Monet’s Water Lilies and Van Gogh’s starry nights have nothing on the beauty of HIS workmanship.
I love the big buts in the Bible. Without them, we would be lost. Without them, there would be no beauty, no hope, no healing, no help.
PS – To you bible scholars and sermon connoisseurs: I know that the “But God” sermon idea is nothing new. It has been a powerful theme preached by many great ones from Martin-Lloyd Jones to the great (and much less known, but no less eloquent or powerful) Earl Oldham. It remains a great theme—the great theme of the ages. But, God! If you cannot preach that, turn in your frock and turn over your flock to someone who can.