I love adversative conjunctions because, most of the time, they exalt the power and grace of God. There are occasions in Scripture where the writer uses the adversative conjunction to highlight human sinfulness. Psalm 78 is one of those places where the writer does both. Psalm 78 is 72 verses long, so it is too long to include the full text here. The psalm is a recounting of the exodus story and the 40 years of wandering afterwards. The psalmist states that his purpose is to educate the next generation and warn “that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation” (v. 8). The writer uses the adversative conjunction throughout the psalm to emphasize the utter foolishness and irrationality of human sin in contrast with the gracious work of God. The psalmist begins by recounting the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and the miraculous provision of water from a rock (v. 9-16). If anyone had a front row seat for such wonderful works, surely he would faithfully follow God, right? That is just the irony emphasized with an adversative conjunction in verse 17. The writer says, “Yet they sinned still more against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.” The people complained and did not trust in God. What would be a “normal” response to such an ungrateful and complaining spirit? You and I would probably cut off the relationship and find people who appreciate the things we give. If it were our children, we would discipline them. But God? Even though he would have been perfectly just to abandon the Israelites in the wilderness, he graciously provided for them. Psalm 78 highlights this in verse 23, “Yet he commands the skies above and opened the doors of heaven…” God provided manna and quail to satisfy the cravings of the people. ... Keep Reading

I love adversative conjunctions because they exalt the power and grace of God by uniting two opposing statements that present seemingly impossible scenarios. Let me highlight a few of my favorites. I preached on this text in our recent Advent sermon series. I love the contrast highlighted by the use of the adversative conjunction. This one, I believe, impacts us in a very relevant way. Let me lay out the context. Micah served as a prophet between 740 and 700 BC. The Jews had been spilt into two nations for nearly 200 years at this point. The northern kingdom of Israel had long endured under the leadership of godless kings. Most prominent was Ahab and his wife Jezebel, who had multiple confrontations with Elijah. In spite of their utterly godless culture, Israel enjoyed stability and prosperity in the mid 8th century BC. The southern kingdom of Judah swayed back and forth under godless and godly kings. Micah began his ministry shortly after king Uzziah died. Uzziah reigned for 52 years in Judah. So both Judah and Israel were enjoying political and economic stability when Micah began his ministry. And yet, Micah opens his prophecy by stating, “Behold, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place” (1:3-4). ... Keep Reading

I love adversative conjunctions because they exalt the power and grace of God by uniting two opposing statements that present seemingly impossible scenarios. Let me highlight a few of my favorites. The Upper Room Discourse found in John 13-16 records some precious instructions from Jesus for his disciples right before he is betrayed and crucified. Jesus was aiming to prepare his disciples for life and ministry after his departure in the ascension. The disciples did not fully understand that Jesus was leaving; they didn’t even understand that he would be crucified in a matter of hours. But these last words of Jesus would have been precious for the disciples to recall in the years ahead while they faced the various trials of ministry. The last verse of the Discourse (some include chapter 17 in the Discourse, but that chapter records Jesus’s prayer to his Father; the discourse with the disciples was complete in chapter 16) contains an adversative conjunction that highlights the power and promise of Jesus. As a summarizing statement of what he had said in chapter 15, Jesus says in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation.” That is a sobering statement. Jesus does not promise his disciples an easy life in this world, nor does he promise physical health or earthly wealth. He says his disciples will have tribulation. ... Keep Reading

I love adversative conjunctions because they exalt the power and grace of God by uniting two opposing statements that present seemingly impossible scenarios. Let me highlight a few of my favorites. Luther once said, “The epistle to the Romans is the most important document in the New Testament. It is the place in which the gospel is in its purest expression.” Interestingly then, Paul spends nearly three chapters to open his letter to the Romans to build the case that no one can be saved by their own works. The gospel is only good news when we understand our desperate need for salvation. Paul builds that case through Romans 3:20. In order to feel the weight of Paul’s concluding and summarizing statement in Romans 3:20, we need to briefly trace his argument in the first three chapters. He begins in 1:18 stating, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness.” He explains that there is a general revelation of God’s power and divine nature that is evident to all humans. People in their natural state, however, “suppress the truth” and “became futile in their thinking” and worship creation, rather than the Creator (1:18-23). Though they know, through that general revelation, of just condemnation, they practice “all manner of unrighteousness” (1:28-32). ... Keep Reading

I love adversative conjunctions because they exalt the power and grace of God by uniting two opposing statements that present seemingly impossible scenarios. Let me highlight a few of my favorites. Most would agree that the apostle Paul was an incredible minister for the gospel. Through his ministry, the gospel spread far throughout the Roman Empire. Much of the New Testament was penned by Paul. Some of our most beloved verses on the gospel and God’s grace come from Paul. In all of this success, however, Paul remained humble. We get a window into the source of his humility, and the power behind his ministry, through an adversative conjunction found in 1 Corinthians 15:10. We need to start with verse 9, where Paul states, “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” He is speaking about the resurrection appearances of Christ. He mentions in verse 8 that Christ appeared to him as the last appearance. ... Keep Reading

Why Do I Love Adversative Conjunctions?

January 12, 2023 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I admit that I say some goofy things in my sermons. Sometimes it is because I struggle to pronounce words correctly (I inherited this struggle from my dad; it’s in the tongue). Sometimes it is because I get excited about the truths of Scripture and my mouth runs faster than my brain. Sometimes it is because I want to help people remember what I am saying. It is for this last reason that I have said things like, “I love adversative conjunctions!” Adversative conjunctions are those connecting words that unite two opposing statements. Some common examples are but, though, and however. In Scripture they often unite two opposing statements that present seemingly impossible scenarios. Take for example Ephesians 2. Paul says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked… but God made us alive together with Christ…” (v. 1, 4-5). We were dead, but God made us alive. The Bible is full of these contrasts, especially in Paul’s writings. My love for grammar in the study of Scripture is not merely an interest in grammar. My love for grammar is rooted in the belief that God has revealed truth about himself and his ways through the inspiration of not only the words but also the grammar of the Bible. This attention on the inspiration of grammar began in seminary while I studied biblical exegesis with John Piper. This paragraph caught, and has held, my attention: ... Keep Reading

The Pursuit of Wisdom

January 5, 2023 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

One of the beauties of the book of Proverbs is its simplicity. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the father instructs his son that there are only two paths in life: the way of the wise and the way of the foolish. Following the way of the wise leads to the blessed life with God. Following the way of the foolish leads to destruction, misery, and death. The father, naturally, urges his son to heed his call to follow the way of the wise. In our modern and postmodern context, we tend to muck up this simplicity. Life is not that simple, right? It cannot be that black and white? There are other paths, neutral paths; we even think and live as if we can walk both paths of the wise and foolish at the same time with no negative ramifications. In complicating life, we miss the simplicity in which God wants to meet us and bless us. We need to heed the call of Proverbs to follow the way of the wise. The second chapter of Proverbs is a beautiful invitation to pursue wisdom. The father lures his son to the pursuit with a promise, “My son… if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (2:1, 3-5). If you diligently and eagerly seek for wisdom, then you will know the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the well-spring of a blessed life with God. The father outlines this blessed life in the remaining of Proverbs 2. God gives wisdom (v. 6). God is a shield to those on this path (v. 7). God watches the way of his saints (v. 8). The one on this path will understand “righteousness and justice and equity” (v. 9). Wisdom and knowledge will be pleasant to the soul (v. 10). The blessings continue through verse 22. ... Keep Reading

Resources for Your Prayer Life

December 29, 2022 | by: John Lee | 0 Comments

As we begin to finish another year around the sun, we prepare ourselves and our families for another year in the Lord’s grace and faithfulness. Truly the Lord’s mercy is new every morning (and year!). As we finish off the year, you might find yourself reflecting on all the years, people, events, etc. that the Lord has used to shape you, to prune you, and ultimately to make you more like Christ. One thing that I found myself reflecting on and thanking God for were all the years of family prayer meetings on the couch growing up. My parents still hold those family prayer journals that are filled with pages of honest prayers that we shared and prayed for one another. Those journals have become tangible reminders of God’s gracious kindness and faithfulness, a sort of Ebenezer for us. As I consider how formative those years have been for my own prayer life today, I find myself looking back at all the helpful and supplemental resources that have impacted my prayer life this year. ... Keep Reading

Grabbing Our Attention

December 22, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Every day we are bombarded with spectacles. Author Tony Reinke explains, “A spectacle is something that captures human attention, an instant when our eyes and brains focus and fixate on something projected at us” (Competing Spectacles, p. 14). These spectacles spring from our screens and almost every corner of our lives. Part of the reason why spectacles grab our attention is because we were made to behold greatness. Reinke writes, “Our hearts seek splendor as our eyes scan for greatness. We cannot help it. John Piper says, ‘The world aches to be awed. That ache was made for God. The World seeks it mainly through movies’ – and in entertainment and politics and true crime and celebrity gossip and warfare and live sports” (p. 18). We ache for greatness, but thousands of silly spectacles distract us from what is truly great. As C.S. Lewis wrote a generation ago in his Weight of Glory essay, “We are far too easily pleased.” ... Keep Reading

The Path to Joy Leads Through Valleys of Sorrow

December 15, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The theme of joy permeates the Christmas season. From the angel’s announcement to the shepherds (“I bring you good news of great joy” Lk. 2:10) to carols like Joy to the World and O Come, O Come, Emmanuel with its repeated refrain, “Rejoice!” to greeting cards wishing you joy this season, joy is unavoidable. What do we do, though, when we don’t feel the joy as all these proposals encourage? What hinders joy? What can maximize our joy? Perhaps it is human nature, but we too often associate our level of joy with the circumstances of our lives. A child’s joy on Christmas morning is linked to the gifts he receives. An adult’s joy is tied to a job promotion or bonus. Or we experience joy in relation to family members, seeing a child succeed, visiting a loved one after a long separation, or enjoying a relaxing vacation together. If we do not receive what we want, lose our job, or have a loved one pass away, these joys are threatened. The Bible, however, does not speak about joy as something linked to the circumstances of our lives. In biblical terms, our joy is directly linked to God himself. Psalm 16:11 says, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Our joy is made full in the presence of God, regardless of what is happening in our lives. Peter says that we “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible” when we believe in Christ (1 Pet. 1:8). Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). And we are encouraged to pray that God would fill us with all joy (Rom. 15:13). ... Keep Reading

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