THE "BUT" IS THE ISSUE!
(1)Contrary to expectations
(4)Used to emphasize the word that follows.
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I had not so much considered how much the usage of the “But” could determine the mood of God in relating to us as when I read the Bible book of Revelation chapters 2 and 3. In it I saw a letter God wrote to His people in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. The effect of the “But” has never hit me this hard going through these letters. It should interest you to know that the Bible is the greatest book ever written in the sense that it speaks of things past, things in the present and things yet to come. The Bible is not dated and this is why this letter God wrote to these people in the cities named above is very much for us today as it was for them. Friends pardon my long introduction of the topic. I shall now set about scrutinizing the issue of the “But” as I feel led of God to do.
I saw in Revelation 2 verses 1-3, words of commendation to God’s people in Ephesus. They were commended for their hard work and patient endurance. It was also to their credit that they would not tolerate evil people and made efforts to ascertain the claims of those who claimed to be Apostles(sent of God) and found many to be liars and deceivers. They patiently suffered for God without quitting. It shocked me to note in verse 4 the word “But”. “BUT I HAVE THIS COMPLAINT AGAINST YOU. YOU DON’T LOVE ME OR EACH OTHER AS YOU DID AT FIRST”. Friends, this sent shivers down my spine. It is possible to be about the business of God and yet come behind in your love for God. God may be speaking to you who are a committed worker in your local church. He may be speaking to you who have been in the faith for some years now. Have you lost your first love for God? Will you be honest enough to evaluate your walk with Him. Where is that devotion to reading the word of God, prayers, evangelism and showing love to people around you? Can you remember just how much passion and devotion you had with the Lord when you first gave Him your heart? This may be the “But” that God is expressing about your life. I call you to remembrance of God’s word in Matthew 24 verse 12 “SIN WILL BE RAMPANT EVERYWHERE, AND THE LOVE OF MANY WILL GROW COLD”. Has your love grown cold? Confront this “But” in your life and renew your love for God.
Then I saw again in Revelation chapter 2 verses 12 to 13, a commendation of God’s people in Pergamum. It was to their credit that though they dwelt in the city where Satan had his throne, they refused to deny Jesus Christ even to the point of being put to death for the sake of Christ (Martyrdom). Yet I saw in verse 14 another “But”. “BUT I HAVE A FEW COMPLAINTS AGAINST YOU. YOU TOLERATE SOME AMONG YOU WHOSE TEACHING IS LIKE THAT OF BALAAM, WHO SHOWED BALAK HOW TO TRIP UP THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. HE TAUGHT THEM TO SIN BY EATING FOOD OFFERED TO IDOLS AND BY COMMITTING SEXUAL SIN”. Now friend, are you one of the “it does not matter” or “I don’t care” Christian? Many of us would gladly sit under Pastors and Teachers who interpret God’s word to suite popular opinion. Many have been taught that drinking Alcoholic drinks isn’t a sin after all. Some have suggested that it doesn’t matter what dress you wear or how you wear them. Many in our days are not taught to flee youthful lust. In fact, Brothers and Sisters may now go on picnics to Bar Beaches and public swimming pools and wear swimming trunks and panties. Is it not popular in our days that despite the many “Married and Singles” ministries around, many Brothers and Sisters are going to the altar with 3, 4, 5 months pregnancies and are wedded? Why is premarital sex (fornication) not being regarded as a sin anymore? Don’t we have people today who approve of homosexuality and even conduct weddings for gay couples in Church? This may be the “But” that God is expressing about your life. What teachings are you tolerating that runs contrary to God’s written word in the Bible?
It was so sensitive an issue that despite the love, faith, service and patient endurance practiced by God’s people in Thyatira, the Lord’s “But” about them was this issue of tolerating falsehood in the guise of doctrines and truths. It was in Thyatira that Jezebel(an immoral woman) took over as the prophet, seducing people away from God. Be careful my friend and cast away from you every teaching, word of knowledge and wisdom, and revelations that go contrary to God’s word.
I saw again a “But” that shook me to the core. You must give attention to this my friend. God said to His people in Sardis, “I KNOW ALL THE THINGS YOU DO, AND THAT YOU HAVE A REPUTATION OF BEING ALIVE- BUT YOU ARE DEAD”. Are you having a reputation of being alive, people know you as some fine Christian man or woman but before God you are dead? People know you as a Christian brother or sister but within you and to God you are not. You are just attending Church for other reasons different from a true, wholehearted worship of God. This may be the “But” God is expressing about your life. You are very pious in conduct outwardly but in the secret, pornography, masturbation, lies, stealing, lust for pleasures and evil thoughts are eating you up. You know it. God knows it too. Listen, this is what God is telling you, “REPENT AND TURN TO ME AGAIN. IF YOU DON’T WAKE UP, I WILL COME TO YOU SUDDENLY, AS UNEXPECTED AS A THIEF”(REVELATION 3 VS 3B). There isn’t any need giving people the impression that you are a Christian when you are not. It is time to surrender our hearts totally to God. I know again a king who was in this situation. King Amaziah was said in 2Chronicles chapter 25 verse 2 to have done what is right in the sight of God but not with a perfect heart. Friend, come to God in repentance and total surrender if this is the “But” in your life.
I saw another “But” written in Revelation chapter 3. It was expressed by God about His people in Laodicea, “I KNOW ALL THE THINGS YOU DO, THAT YOU ARE NEITHER HOT NOR COLD. I WISH THAT YOU WERE ONE OR THE OTHER! BUT SINCE YOU ARE LIKE LUKEWARM WATER, NEITHER HOT NOR COLD, I WILL SPIT YOU OUT OF MY MOUTH! YOU SAY, ‘I AM RICH. I HAVE EVERYTHING I WANT. I DON’T NEED A THING!’ AND YOU DON’T REALIZE THAT YOU ARE WRETCHED AND MISERABLE AND POOR AND BLIND AND NAKED”(REVELATION 3 VERSES 15 – 17). This is serious! Is this the “But” in your life? Are you a lukewarm, unconcerned, sitting on the fence Christian? You are afraid of being tagged fanatical. Religion appeals to you more than a yearning to know God and serve Him diligently. You have at least passed “Cold” state of a sinner and unbeliever by professing faith in Christ, and that’s where you stopped. No, you need God; you need to be fervent (Hot) for the Lord. You have become comfortable obviously because you believe you have got the ticket to Heaven just by professing faith in Christ. Yes, you have indeed obtained an instantaneous justification by faith, but where is the daily sanctification unto Holiness? You are actually naked before God though you think you are clothed. Maybe this is the “But” in your life, here is what God is saying to you, “I ADVISE YOU TO BUY FROM ME GOLD THAT HAS BEEN PURIFIED BY FIRE. THEN YOU WILL BE RICH. ALSO BUY WHITE GARMENTS FROM ME SO YOU WILL NOT BE SHAMED BY YOUR NAKEDNESS, AND OINTMENT FOR YOUR EYES SO YOU WILL BE ABLE TO SEE. I CORRECT AND DISCIPLINE EVERYONE I LOVE. SO BE DILIGENT AND TURN FROM YOUR INDIFFERENCE”(REVELATION 3 VERSE 19). Do not be indifferent and continue to hold unto sinful habits you call “my weaknesses”. Seek to live the sanctified life that God purposes for you and yearn for Him with all that is in you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking any sin is so small and insignificant that God will overlook. Friend, let God’s word correct you today.
I have had a couple of these “But”s in my life. In fact, for many years I tried all I could to cover them up and act as if they never existed. I have decided to confront them and correct my ways before God. I pray earnestly that while I’m still alive that God will help me to overcome every one of these “But”s. I plead with you my friend that you confront yourself today and correct your wrong way of life. These “But”s must not be made light of or excuses made for them. They are potent enough to keep anyone out of Heaven. God forbid that you hear these “But”s at the gate of Heaven. Make that turn around today!
I like you to know that God also used the “But” in a different sense, in the commendation of His people in Smyrna and Philadelphia. These churches were without reproach and without rebuke and had a great blessing and a promise of reward. God said to the Church at Smyrna; “I KNOW YOUR TRIBULATION AND YOUR POVERTY(BUT YOU ARE RICH)….” (Revelations 2 vs 9). This is the commendation of a people who stayed true to their faith in God despite the adverse circumstances around them. They did not get this world’s applause, infact, they were tagged “poor folks”, and ridiculed, but in God, they were truly the richest. I am so certain that we can also get this commendation if we will rise from our slumber and remain devoted to God and committed to living right no matter the circumstances. God says of His people in Philadelphia; “I KNOW YOUR WORKS. BEHOLD I HAVE SET BEFORE YOU AN OPEN DOOR, WHICH NO ONE IS ABLE TO SHUT. I KNOW THAT YOU HAVE LITTLE POWER, AND YET (BUT) YOU HAVE KEPT MY WORD AND HAVE NOT DENIED MY NAME” (Revelations 3 vs 8). Friends, what a great testimony this is! If only we will employ all the power we possess into doing just this one thing; keeping the word of God and never denying His name, then God will testify of us this way too.
Now you know the issue of the “But” and I hope you can now know just what the “But” in your life is and what it will be on that day you stand before God, the Righteous Judge of all souls and the King of kings. I conclude with this great promise of Jesus Christ of glory for His people who overcome sin and Satan and are faithful to the end. “I AM COMING SOON. HOLD FAST WHAT YOU HAVE, SO THAT NO ONE MAY SEIZE YOUR CROWN. THE ONE WHO CONQUERS, I WILL MAKE HIM A PILLAR IN THE TEMPLE OF MY GOD….” (Revelation 3 vs 12a).
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