But God …
If you like to follow along with us, we’ll be starting this morning in Matthew 19:26 and I think this is just one of the most comforting and exciting verses that God gives us in the Bible. And he says this, “With people, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.” You’ve probably seen that on a bunch of plaques. You’ve seen that you might have one in your house. I was here early this morning and preparing and there’s one in the back room where the kids meet. So that’s pretty cool. But listen with God, all things are possible. And let’s set the stage with kind of what Jesus is talking about, and who he’s talking to. You remember the rich young ruler has come and he has said to Jesus, he says, what must I do to obtain eternal life?
And Jesus, since he’s teaching to the Jews, Jesus says this, he says, well, keep the commandments. And the young man says, well, which ones? Cause he wants to know which ones. And so Jesus gives him a partial list of the commandments. And the young man says, well, I’ve kept those. From my youth on, I’ve kept those, he says. But he makes this real revealing statement. Then he says, so what else do I lack? And we learned from that, that this rich young ruler that understood the law, that kept the law right up until his youth understood also that the law wasn’t enough. See, he needed something else. And so he says, what else do I lack? And Jesus said this, and this was the hard thing for the rich guy. He says, sell all you have, give it to the poor and come and follow me.
And as you know, the rich young ruler walked away, grieved or sad because he couldn’t do that. I can’t sell all I have. I can do that. I can’t do what Jesus says. And so Jesus said to his disciples, as they’re all sitting there together, and after the rich young man had left, Jesus says to them, you know, it’s hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of heaven. It’s just hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of heaven. And so the disciples, then they start wondering, so then who can be saved? Who then is going to be able to be saved? And Jesus, his response then is this wonderful verse, verse 26 where he says, with people, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible. Everything is possible with God. Now we know Jesus is saying this in the context of salvation, who then can be saved?
Well, people in and of themselves can’t save themselves. That’s he’s making very clear Jesus and is making it clear. But God can save anybody and with God, all things are possible. Everything is possible with God. That’s an exciting thing. But see, sometimes we find ourselves getting a little bit too much like the rich young ruler and we start saying, but I. But I can’t do that. But I am not able to deal with that. But that’s just too much for me. But I, and you fill in the blank. We all have our own things that we put there. But I, I just can’t do it. It’s too much. And sometimes we find ourselves walking away too. We find ourselves just realizing it’s too much. It’s why I’m walking away. It just feels impossible. And Jesus kind of agrees with us. He says, yes, in and of yourself, it is impossible.
So he follows it up though with this, but God. And I think this is one of the most amazing statements in the whole Bible, just this little phrase, but God. But God. And you can almost imagine as they’re sitting there in a group and everything, his whole tone changing. With people, it’s impossible, but with God. I mean his whole tone changes, but with God, but with God and they probably start to feel this comfort that’s coming from Christ and it, and they even start to get a little confident. Just kind of look at Peter’s response in the next verses when you get a chance. But there’s a confidence and there’s a comfort and, but with God, all things are possible. Our greatest challenge to me is to stop saying, but I, and to enter into this comfort and confidence that we get from saying, but God.
As long as I focus on, but I things are gonna always seem impossible. That’s just the way it’s going to be. Cause like I, I can’t do it. We can keep going and we can try, but we can’t do it. So things are always going to seem impossible. But when I focus on but God, there’s infinite possibilities. There’s all kinds of possibilities. Everything is open to us. So let’s look at some places throughout the Bible where we see but God. We see this phrase, but, God. And hopefully this will be helpful to us.
I want to start way back in Genesis with Noah. Now everybody understands, Noah. Everybody understands what was going on. The people at the time were just awful. They were wicked. There was wickedness throughout the land. God says, and he says, you know what? I’m tired of it and I’m going to destroy it. I’m done with it. I’m going to destroy their wickedness. But the Bible says that Noah was a righteous man and he found favor in God’s eyes. That’s good. That’s a positive thing. So God says to Noah, he says, build an ark, build a boat. He says, and then take your family into the boat and I’m going to bring these animals into the boat and you are going to be protected. He says, build an arck. He says, because I’m gonna make it rain for 40 days and 40 nights.
Kind of interesting at this time because the people that Noah’s time, they didn’t know what a boat was. They had no idea what an ark was. And so you can understand how Noah got all the ridicule and everything he did for what he was doing. They also didn’t understand what rain was. The Bible says in chapter two of Genesis that God watered the earth with a mist. It had never rained up to this point. They didn’t understand any of this stuff. And yet Noah’s telling them, I got to build this boat because God says it’s going to rain for 40 days and 40 nights. When you look at how old Noah was in chapters five and chapter seven. Chapter five says, Noah was 500 when he started building the ark, 500 years old. When he got the ark done, he was 600 years old, so it took Noah a hundred years to build the ark.
And Second Peter 2:5 it tells us something real revealing about Noah. It says that Noah was a preacher of righteousness. Now think about that for a minute. Noah, for a hundred years preached about what God was going to do because God told him right up front. He preached for a hundred years, I’m going to make it rain and I’m going to flood the whole earth. Now, since Noah was 600 years old, I’m guessing he probably preached a whole bunch more than just a hundred years. But in modern times that or closed that church a long time ago, right? If only eight people got saved. Just his family, his three sons, his wife, his three sons and their wives, and that’s all that got saved. That’s an awful lot of preaching for those kinds of results. That’s kind of disappointing results when you think about it. But Noah kept preaching and Noah kept doing what God said to do and ultimately God started that rain and Noah and his family and the animals went into the ark.
And here’s something that no one had to experience that we don’t always think about. If Noah’s 600 years old, he’s got to have friends. He’s got to know people in this area. And they walk onto that ark and God closes the door of that ark, and Noah has to be thinking about all those friends and all those people he knows and what’s happening to him and what’s going to happen to them. It had to be so hard for him. But the Bible says in Genesis 8:1 the Bible says, but God. But God remembered Noah and he remembered his family and remembered the animals and God remembered Noah. Whatever was going on. God had a plan all along. God had a very specific purpose and a plan to save Noah and his family. To preserve mankind through Noah and to repopulate the earth almost completely, both with people and animals.
So God always had a plan for Noah and a purpose and Noah was able to understand but God. Now, somebody else who understood but God really well was Joseph. You remember Joseph and all the stuff that went on with Joseph? Joseph was a dreamer. Joseph loved to dream. And when Joseph had a dream where they were out in the field and they were gathering grain, and his sheaves stood up big, and the other sheaves around him bowed down to him, he was kind of foolish enough to tell his brothers and that didn’t make them very happy. And he has another dream. And the second dream was at the Sun and the Moon and 11 stars bowed down to him, indicating his father and his mother and his 11 brothers that were going to bow down to him. Even his father was a little upset at him for that one. And his father loved him greatly.
His brothers weren’t too pleased with what the dreams that Joseph had had and that the way he explained them to them. And so they made a plan to kill him. His Dad sent him out into the field where his brothers were tending the sheep and they made a plan to kill him. And fortunately, Ruben intervene and said, better not do that. So they stuck him in a pit and eventually they sold him to a group of Ishmaelites. Remember the Ishmaelites where we’re coming in a caravan and headed toward Egypt. And they sold him to the Ishmaelites heading to Egypt. And when he gets to Egypt, he sold to Potiphar. Now, Potiphar was an official in Pharaoh’s court. He was a very powerful man. And so Joseph comes into Potiphar’s house. And real quickly the Bible says that Joseph found favor with Potiphar.
And so Potiphar makes Joseph the head of his household. The only thing he kept from him was his wife. Well, you know how that went. The wife didn’t like even that much of it. And so she falsely accuses Joseph and Joseph gets thrown in prison. And the first thing we read about when Joseph gets thrown in prison is that God made it so that he found favor with the jailer, with the chief jailer. And so now Joseph is in charge and he’s taken care of things in the prison. And pretty soon a couple of guys from Pharaoh’s court get thrown into the prison. You remember the cupbearer and the baker. Pharaoh’s unhappy with them, he throws him into prison and they have dreams. And Joseph interprets her dreams. And just like you would expect, because it’s God taken care of everything they happen exactly the way that Joseph interprets them.
Everything happens just like Joseph said, the chief cupbearer is restored to his position. The baker is hanged, he ends up gone. And so eventually Joseph says to the cupbearer, he says, remember me, when you get restored back to your position, even before he had, cause Joseph was that confident. And so Joseph says, remember me. And so the Chief Cup bearer goes back and he doesn’t remember Joseph. Until one day Pharaoh has a dream. And you remember in that dream there are seven strong seven healthy cattle. And then there’s seven lean and gaunt and ugly cattle. And then there’s seven healthy ears of grain as the way the Bible puts it. So there’s, there are seven healthy ears of grain and then there’s seven ugly, unhealthy ears of grain. And you remember what happened?
The ugly ones ate up the good ones. And nobody could help Pharaoh with the dream. Nobody could explain what went on. Nobody could tell him why he was having this stream and more importantly what it meant. And he tried everybody. And then the Cup bear remembered Joseph and he remembered that he could interpret dreams. And so Joseph was brought back before Pharaoh and Joseph interprets the dream. The seven ugly cows are representative of seven years of famine and the seven nice cows are representative of seven years of great abundance. And he even tells Pharaoh what to do. This is interesting, because we don’t get told that Pharaoh asked. But Joseph still explains to Pharaoh, this is what you should do. During the seven years of abundance, exact a tax and start putting it away, stored away. And then when the seven years of famine hit, we’re going to have a whole bunch. And everything’s going to be good.
And so Pharaoh does that. And as a matter of fact, he puts Joseph in charge of it. Now Joseph has gone from being in prison to being the number two guy in all of Egypt. And he does exactly what he told Pharaoh to do. They put away grain in the seven good years. And when the seven years of famine hit, pretty soon people are running out of grain. People are running out of food and they need food, including Joseph’s family back in Canaan. And so Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt looking for food. They have no idea that Joseph is still alive. They have no idea of who he is or what he’s doing. They come to Egypt looking for food. Joseph recognized them. He gives him food the first time. They come back a second time and Joseph finally reveals who he is.
And it’s kind of a unique setting in God’s word. But here’s the thing that goes on. Joseph moves his family from Canaan and brings them to Egypt, brings them land of Goshen. They come there with 70 people, they leave with millions. They really prospered in the land of Egypt. And Joseph brings his family there and they prosper. And eventually his father dies. Jacob dies. Now the brothers are worried. They think back and they remember, what did we do to Joseph? Well, we sold him. We were going to kill him and we sold him into slavery and they were really worried that Joseph was going to try to pay them back for their wrong, now that their father was gone. And here’s the unique thing that goes on with Joseph. One, he entered so much and a lot of a falsely, and yet he is able to say, but God. And most of you know this verse in Genesis 15:20, Joseph says it like this, but as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result and to preserve many people alive. But God meant it for good.
All of the stuff that went on with Joseph, God was leading up to a very good and a very specific purpose for Joseph. But God. Now God had some good for Jonah as well . And I’m going to say Noah, so I’ll just apologize now, but he had some good plan for Noah as well or for Jonah. See, I did it right off the bat. Jonah. Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh and cry out against their wickedness. Oh, my. Nineveh was a wicked, awful place. They did awful things to the people that belonged to God. It was terrible, terrible, and Jonah didn’t want to go there. I’m going to stutter just to make sure I get it right. Jonah didn’t want to go there. And what did he do? He bolted down to Joppa and he finds a ship that’s headed to Tarshish and sails away totally the opposite way of Nineveh.
Pretty soon, while they’re sailing in the middle of the ocean, what happens? God brings a storm. The ship is tossed all about. It’s moving all about and it’s even getting to the point of ready to break apart. And where’s Jonah? Where’s Jonah? He’s sleeping. He’s down in the bottom, sleeping. Kind of a kind of a foreshadowing of when Christ was sleeping on the boat as well, right? Jonah is down there sleeping. And so the guys come down and say, what are you doing? The ship’s going to fall apart, what are you doing? And so they cast lots and they say, all right, who’s the responsible for this calamity that we’re having? And the lot falls to Jonah. And so what is Jonah say? Jonah says, listen, I believe in the one true God and it’s my fault that the ship is tossed and about ready to fall apart and about ready to come apart.
And so what does he tell them to do? Do you remember? Throw me into the ocean. If you throw me into the ocean, it’s gonna stop. And they did and it did, just exactly like he had said. And we know the stories. Jonah goes into the ocean. He ends up in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights another wonderful foreshadowing of our Lord, in the grave for three days and three nights. God tells the fish to vomit, Jonah up onto the shore, and he eventually goes to Nineveh. He never was happy with going to Nineveh. He gets to Nineveh and he preaches. He cries out against them and the hearts of the Ninevites are changed by God. And they believe God and Jonah is still unhappy. He is so irritated that God allowed this to happen. I didn’t want them to repent. I didn’t want them to come to you, Jonah says. He didn’t want it to happen that way. He didn’t want God to have compassion on them.
But here’s something that he did recognize in chapter two and verse six he says, I descended to the roots of the mountain and the earth with its bars was around me forever, but you oh Lord my God, but you have brought up my life from the pit. See, Jonah understood. Even though all of that was going on, God still lifted him up. It’s God that lifted him up. God took care of him. Even though he didn’t like what was going on. God took care of him. But God. But God remembered Noah. But God meant it good for everything that happened with Joseph and God lifted Jonah up even in a difficult time.
Now that’s all good for some Old Testament stuff. Let’s look at a New Testament example of God in his efforts when someone could say, but God. Now Paul, this is in Philippians chapter two and Paul is writing to the Philippian church and he’s reminding them of some of the ways that God shows great mercy for his people. And so he says early in the chapter, he says that he’s writing to encourage the church to serve one another and have the same attitude that Christ had. And to hold fast to the word of life, he says, and to share in his rejoicing. And then he explains how much I really want to send Timothy to you. I desire to send Timothy to you because he can be of help to you. And by the way, I want to come to you. I’m waiting for the time when God allows me to come to you.
By the way, Paul is in prison in Rome and he says, I’m waiting for the time that I want to come to you, but here’s what I have to do. I have to send Epaphroditus back to you. You send Epaphroditus to me, to minister to me while I was here in prison in Rome. And while he was here, he got sick and you heard that he got sick and he got sick close to death, close to dying. And you the Philippians heard that. And that has been a concern to you. So my desire, Paul says, is, I want to send Epaphroditus back to you and to be an encouragement to you so that you know everything’s okay. And then he says in verse 27, but God had mercy on him and not on him only, but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. Paul says God had mercy. But God had mercy. And he not only let Epaphroditus live, but he also had mercy on Paul by letting Epaphroditus live. So he was still there to minister to him. And he also had mercy on Paul by letting Epaphroditus live that Paul would be able to go back to the Philippian church and be an encouragement to them. And he had mercy on the Philippian church by allowing Epaphroditus to come back to them. All of this is “but God” in His mercy. God had mercy on all of those, everyone in that situation. And so Paul was able to say, but God. But God.
To me, I think the greatest and the most wonderful “But God” in the Bible is found in Ephesians chapter two. Ephesians 2:4-5 say this, but God being rich in mercy because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved. What a great verse. But God, is rich in mercy and because of his great love. Listen in chapter one of Ephesians, Paul is explaining to the Ephesians church how incredible this whole salvation is and what God has done through Christ to be able to make this salvation available and to secure eternal life. And so Paul is talking about all of this wonderful stuff in chapter one and then he says in chapter two at the first part of chapter two that this is what state we were in before God did all that. Listen to these verses. He says, and you were dead in your trespasses and sin in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience among them, we too all formerly lived in the lust of our flesh, indulging in the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature, children of wrath even as the rest.
That’s what we all were like, but God. We were dead in sin, but God.I mean that sounds hopeless, doesn’t it? That whole three verses sounds like we were just hopeless. And in the midst of all the hopelessness we get, but God who is rich in mercy. But God, who loves us with such a great love, even though we were hopeless, it made us alive together with Christ and through faith, you are saved. Through faith and belief in Jesus Christ. By grace you have been saved. What a great verse.
We were dead in sins, but God. We walked according to the world, but God. We walked in the ways of the devil and the sons of disobedience, but God. We lived in the lust and the desires of the flesh and the mind, but God. And we were naturally children of wrath, but God. We were in a state of complete hopelessness, but God made us alive together in Christ through salvation. God changed our lives completely. That’s who we were, if you’re saved, if you’re a saved believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are now alive in Christ. None of those things define you anymore. That’s pretty exciting.
God reiterates these same truths several different times in the New Testament. I have just a few examples. Just listen to these. Acts 2:22, this is Peter the first time he’s preaching in Jerusalem, and this is what he says to the, to the Jews in Jerusalem. He says, men of Israel, listen to these words, Jesus, the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through him in your midst. Just as you yourselves know, this man delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God. You nailed to a cross by the hands of godless man and put him to death.
Listen to verse 24. But God, raised him from the dead. Putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for him to be held by its power, but God raised him from the dead. All of that went on. They thought they were putting an end to this whole thing, but God. God had a wonderful and a great plan for Christ to raise again from the dead, making it possible that you and I can trust that can believe that and have eternal life.
Romans 5:6, it says, but while we were still helpless, we just talked about in the other verses how in Ephesians, how hopeless it looked and how helpless it made us look like we were. And he says, but while we were still helpless at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly, for one will hardly die for a righteous man. Though perhaps for a good man, someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates his own love toward us and that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. But God proved his love for us even when we were still sinners. You hear people all the time saying, I’m not good enough to come to God. That verse right there explains, you don’t got to be. You don’t have to be good to come to God. You just got to come to God knowing that he’s taken care of you bad. He’s taking care of all that stuff. But God, even when we were still sinners, proved his love to us in that Christ died for us.
Romans 6:20 says, for when you were slaves to sin. That’s putting it even another level. We were hopeless. We were helpless and we were even slaves to sin. He says, but when you were slaves to sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore, what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now, having been freed from sin and enslave to God, you derive your benefit resulting in sanctification. And the outcome? Eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but what?, The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. But God, offered a free gift when all that other stuff was going on, but God. But God in his predetermined plan, in full knowledge, delivered Jesus to the cross to be raised again victoriously. Amen.
But God. Even when we were helpless and hopeless proved his love for us. When Christ died for us and but God, when we were slaves to sin, he gave us a free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. That’s what God has done. But God had this plan all along, right? For Jesus to come to this earth, to die on the cross, to be buried, to raise again on the third day, all according to scriptures, the Bible says, and then to ascend back to his rightful place of glory in heaven. God had that plan all along with our Lord. Also that we would no longer be hopeless. Also, that we would no longer be helpless. Also, that we would no longer be slaves to sin and that by grace through faith, we could spend eternity forever with Him. That is good news. That’s why God calls it good news, right? That’s good stuff.
If you haven’t experienced this grace through faith in Jesus Christ, I encourage you to do it today. If you haven’t surrendered your life to Christ and accepted his life to be your life, then do that today. Let God take control of your life because I can tell you this, he has a wonderful plan in store for you when you trust him and you will be able to go around saying, but God, if you haven’t already.
As a matter of fact, I’d be willing to say this, that we all have probably had several “but God” moments and “but God” experiences, if we were open to see them as God in our lives, right? I think we have. Some of us more than others. And by the way, what’s encouraging is God saying, you know what, I’m standing by with a whole bunch more of them. To encourage you. To lift you up. To comfort you. I got a whole bunch of “but God” experiences for you.
Now, I don’t normally like to say a whole lot about personal stuff, but years ago, between our two daughters, my wife was pregnant with another baby. And she was about 20 weeks along and the baby quit moving. And so eventually she had to go in and deliver that baby. And that was just a trying time, in our lives. At the time my wife was saved, I was not. And as a matter of fact, at the time I thought I was doing pretty good. I had a good job. I mean things were going pretty well and I thought I was in control of everything.
Whatever come my way, I thought I could handle it. I was sure I could handle it. That’s the way it had gone up until that point. But here’s the interesting thing. God used that experience to show me that I was in control of very little, if anything. And he is in control of everything. And I had a very large “but God” experience. That was an awful time for us. But God had a great plan because God used that experience to not only show me I wasn’t in control, but to start drawing me to him. Now, it was still three years before I got saved. But God used that experience to start drawing me to him. And now I can look back and I can say, but God had a much greater plan. And I think that’s the kind of stuff that we can all do. When we’re willing to look back and recognize, but God.
He’s got such a big plan. He’s got so many big plans for all of us. I know it seems like we’re all dealing with all kinds of stuff, right? Some of it really big stuff. Some of it is so consuming and it’s very difficult for us to handle it and it seems to affect our whole lives and our whole being. And some of it may be not as big as stuff and yet it continually is affecting us and continually affecting our lives. Well, I want to encourage you this morning with this wonderful phrase, but God. God’s got a plan in all of it. God’s got a purpose in all of it. God’s got something good that’s going to come out of it. And just like he remembered Noah, God’s going to remember you and the situation that you’re in. And just like God meant everything for good with Joseph and Israel, he means is for good for his people.
That’s his plan for his people. Goodness. And just like God lifted up Jonah and brought him back to a place where Jonah needed to be, God desires to do the same thing for each one of us. To lift us up and bring us to that place he wants us to, to be. And all along the way, God’s going to show forth his great mercy and his love, just like he did to the Philippian church, and to goodness, to the Philippian church and to Epaphroditus and to Paul. That’s what God wants to do. God’s going to do that for us. The more I say, but I, the more impossible things look and the more impossible things get. The more I’m willing to say, but God, the more I see all the possibilities. And the more, I see all of his possibilities in Christ.
So here’s my challenge this morning. Let’s do this. Let’s just throw away all the but I’s, shall we? I mean, cause they don’t do us a whole lot of good. Let’s throw away all the but I’s and let’s focus on, but God. Because with but, I, all we get is impossibilities. But with God we get infinite possibilities. But with God, all things are possible.