Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Christians Awake"1 (Lyrics)
Perhaps you recall a day when your supervisor listed several impressive qualities in you. Then came that word, "but". You braced yourself, for whatever came next would surely undo everything that had been said. That's the nature of that dreadful word "but". It has an uncanny way of reversing everything that came before.
I see an example of that in the city of Babel account in Genesis 11:1-9. Ancient Babel was on the rise. Urbanization and innovative technology had taken this city to impressive new heights, literally. The invention of clay bricks meant that the sky was the limit. Now the people could construct a towering worship centre reaching heaven itself. Here's where their pagan deities would come down to grant favour and success. Utopia was around the corner, and the gods were on their side! These city dwellers planned to make a big name for themselves.
Then came the game changer: But the Lord … .
Genesis 11:5 – But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. (NIV)
An unexpected deity came down to have a look. This deity was the Lord of the universe, and He disapproved. They had rejected Him, and they would ultimately self-destruct. So, instead of granting divine favour, He dispensed a judgment which unravelled their entire project. People could no longer understand each other. They couldn't get along. Undoubtedly, they became competitive and exploitative. Planning committees plummeted into disagreements and chaos. (We can perhaps relate.) These folk experienced exactly what they had tried to avoid: dispersion and vulnerability. God had interfered … mercifully.
Proverbs 16:9 – In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. (NIV)
I find this assuring. My God, still Lord of the universe, still intervenes in human affairs to squelch pride — from mighty empires to personal ambitions.
James 4:6 – That is why Scripture says, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (NIV)
God's grace and favour! That's what I long for — every day. Perhaps, that's why I admire the Psalms. Even when the psalmists felt vulnerable and oppressed by the forces of evil, they knew that they could always cry out to God. They experienced His favour deep within their being:
Psalm 34:19 – A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. (NIV)
Of course, the most astounding "but the Lord" intervention was the Christ Child's arrival. The God of the universe came down — not through a mighty tower, but through a humble birth. He stooped very low to reverse the curse of sin, to bring hope and salvation, to liberate us from the grips of guilt and self-effort, and to free us for His love.
Recently, I myself experienced a "but the Lord" intervention through the message, Meeting the Real Jesus by Tim Keller. That changed my besetting focus from my own efforts to simply God's extravagant favour through grace.
Let us all look forward to the best "but the Lord" experience yet: His new eternal city, the Holy City, where we will fully enjoy His lavish favour:
Isaiah 61:3a – And provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (NIV)
Prayer: Lord, intervene in our thoughts so that we stop saying, "Look what the world has come to!" and instead declare, "Look what has come to the world!" Worthy is the Lamb! King of kings! Halleluiah! Amen.
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Thanks for the encouraging words, Diane.
Thank you, Diane, for this timely message. Blessings.
Thank you, Diane. I plan to listen to Tim Keller. I like his messages.
Diane, yes! See what God has done!! A wonderful reminder. Thank you.
To God be the Glory, I’m SO happy He made YOU.
Hi Diane, have you listened to Chris Tomlin’s “Is He worthy?” It is a most amazing song!
Blessing upon your day!
Lots of good words and advice in your writings this morning. Your closing prayer is definitely one to be said over and over again. Blessings for these devotional writings you do and may you enjoy a very blessed Christmas time.
8 ins of snow! We both have key Doctors’ appointments, but not going anywhere – this is Vancouver after all!
Thanks for reminding me that Jesus is with us! Right here in our apartment!
Blessings on your Walk with our Saviour!
Thank you so much for your meditations in 2022. I am looking forward to reading the book by Tim Keller. I have been reading and rereading Andrew Murray’s Waiting on God. It is interesting the way God has author’s from different generations repeating His important messages. Murray stresses that it is God who works in us.
God bless you at Christmas and always.
I thoroughly enjoyed today’s devotion! No ifs, ands, or buts about it! I have a feeling I will be noticing that little ‘but’ word much more often when reading the bible. Thank you for opening my eyes!
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and I look forward to enjoying more of your creative and meaningful devotions in 2023.
Thank you for your very Daily Reading.
First of all, I found it very informative about the Babylonians, and secondly, this year I experienced God’s extravagant favour through grace.
I hadn’t seen my children or grandchildren in many years.
Financially I was in a situation where I couldn’t afford to travel to Canada from where I am living. BUT, with God’s grace and love, I was gifted a trip back by family and friends where I reunited with my whole family East and West of Canada.
This was certainly the best “but the Lord” experience yet.
May God Bless you and your family this Christmas Season.
I love your devotional today. It is so timely as we head into our 3rd pandemic Christmas season – for our family a 3rd virtual Christmas because of a high-risk family member whom the whole family protects – me, and we think of all the places even worse off living in war zones and see the atrocities. We join in your prayer for a “but the Lord” intervention, and like God ‘s people always have done since ancient times, we wait with hope and do not despair. If God’s people could wait thousands of years for the MESSIAH, we too can wait with hope for a “but the Lord” intervention in our times.
This year during advent the LORD has drawn my attention repeatedly to hope. God has used your writing for me today.
Your words always cut to the point, and when they do to the quick it’s because you let the Lord speak through you.
Your message, and Tim Keller’s sermon, which I just listened to, both help us focus on the Centre of it all. Thanks for being part of the blessing.
Thankyou so much.