Driving through New Mexico not long ago, we passed two commercial trucks, one right after the other, and I heard God’s “Heads up – this is your culture, and the choice I offer you.” The first truck carried a logo with a “lucky” 7, horseshoe, and four-leaf clovers, and instantly I thought how much people trust in luck or their own intelligence and resources, rather than trusting in God, his wisdom and His loving goodness. No offense to this trucker; I thank him/them for being part of this nudge from God. The proliferation of magazines named and devoted to SELF and the plethora of casinos in our country and folks who go there for recreation (hmmm….what happened to local, state and national parks?? tongue in cheek, not judgment) is only symptom of the love of self and money that consumes so many of us, love of self I suspect out of hidden insecurity and not knowing how loved and accepted we are by God, and love money for the sake of security, money for the sake of things we can buy, money for the sake of money itself, rather than money as a tool God gifts us with to bless and further his Kingdom work and purposes in transforming lives.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Almost two thousand years ago the apostle Paul warned his discipled “son” Timothy :
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV
Times have changed due to advancing technology, but I venture to say people haven’t changed at all. I’ll include myself, because I’m not free from own shortcomings, openly admitting here to an inherited internal sense of fear that many of us grew up with, being children of children the Great Depression and World War II. The fear caused me to let go of some blessings God placed squarely in my hands in the last few years, so I don’t pretend to be Wonder Woman of Faith; I’m as frail as anybody when I trust in myself or let the enemy of my soul pour lies and doubt into me.
BUT, and you know there is always a BUT…, God is gracious and slow to anger,and He will not always accuse …
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. BUT from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts. Psalm 103:2-18 NIV
So the second truck we passed was a truck from Covenant Transport. I didn’t know at the time, though I guessed, that Covenant Transport is founded on Christian principles and values. You can check them out on their website http://www.covenant transport.com,and no,I’m not getting any kickback from mentioning them, though I do think they are worth considering if you’re looking for a trucking company
Covenant, and keeping covenant, matters to me because it matters to God, and despite tragedies in my life, I will not( okay, I even admittedly stubbornly refuse to)blame God for the tragedies or walk away from his love and goodness and faithfulness. What I will walk away from is swallowing Satan’s bait of bitterness that would poison my heart, walk away from doing evil to people who have hurt me, walk away from hiding God’s goodness in my life from others or ever being ungrateful for all the second and third and unlimited chances for blessing God gives me, and gives you, too, if you call him Father and call Jesus Lord.
What and who we are to walk away from are the things and people Paul told Timothy to avoid in 2 Timothy 3: 1-5. Paul goes on to warn and encourage Timothy:
Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconic and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:5-17 NIV
James echoed the same warnings and encouragement in his letter,and he includes a few BUT’s:
You adulterous people( note: an allusion to covenant unfaithfulness; see Hosea 3:1.), don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? BUT he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud BUT shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:4-10 NIV
So trust in 7’s, horseshoes, clovers, my own intelligence,technology,luck,theocrats table or slot machines to be the source of my blessing? As someone l loved was so fond of saying,”I just don’t think so.” I remember a verse we used to add in the old gospel song “Give me Oil in My Lamp” when I was in senior high Methodist Youth Fellowship: Give me gas in my Ford, keep me truckin’ for the Lord…”
Solomon said much the same thing in Proverbs 3, and I inserted Do’s where appropriate for contrast and emphasis:
3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
(Do)Bind them around your neck,
(Do) Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 (D0)in all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; (Do) Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.
9(Do) Honor the LORD from your wealth And from the first of all your produce;
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine.
11 MY son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD Or loathe His reproof,
12 For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.
13 (Do) how blessed is the man who finds wisdom And the man who gains understanding.
14 For her profit is better than the profit of silver And her gain better than fine gold.
15 Sheis more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways And all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who hold her fast.
19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens.
20 By His knowledge the deeps were broken up And the skies drip with dew.
21 (Do) My son, let them not vanish from your sight; (Do) Keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22 So they will be life to your soul And adornment to your neck.
23 Then you will walk in your way securely And your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden fear Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes;
26For the LORD will be your confidence And will keep your foot from being caught.
27Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it.
28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you.
29 Do not devise harm against your neighbor, While he lives securely beside you.
30 Do not contend with a man without cause, If he has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy a man of violence And do not choose any of his ways.
32 For the devious are an abomination to the LORD; BUT He is intimate with the upright.
33 The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, BUT He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet (aka BUT) He gives grace to the afflicted.
And Shepherd King David gave us sound,wise advice in Psalm 37:
Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him(my inserted confession,this is one weakness I deal with in being too impatient for God to move and act in his time and ways,and I would have saved myself a lot of pain and grief and instability and turmoil if I’d stayed put where he first put me and not listened to well-meaning but not the best advice from people instead of listening for GODs voice back in 2009!! )
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. (Do) Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, BUT those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land. Psalm 37: 3-9 NIV
Sighing for my own impatience, I remind myself that in April of 2014, the Lord showed me very plainly and sovereignly in three successive license plates: Justice Christz Chronos
I thank God that he doesn’t give up on me ever, his faithfulness never leaves me, and he never forsakes me. Instead, God “inscribes me (tattoos) on the palms his hands”
“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me. Isaiah 49: 16 NIV
God writes me on his hand Just as he does Jerusalem and Zion, because I’m part of his family and a citizen of his New Jerusalem and Zion. I have his Word on it, and so do you if – yes, this is the condition to receive his unconditional love – IF you confess your sins, repent, and call and truly receive Jesus as your Lord, Savior, Redeemer, and Lover of your soul.
So a “…BUT…” to pray today is all the BUT’s in the Bible passages above, and any of your own that God’s Holy Spirit speaks precisely and patiently and lovingly to you: ________________________________________________________and in Jesus’ name a big AMEN,make it so, Father God, for Your Glory and Your Kingdom come here on Earth as in Heaven and Your Victory in my life for all the world to see!