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The Joy of a Clear Conscience

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If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? – Genesis 4:7 –
These words, spoken by God to Cain, deal with what may well be the single most profound aspect of human experience – the work of conscience.
Cain and his brother each brought an offering to God, related to his life’s work.Cain was “a tiller of the ground,” and Abel, “a keeper of flocks.” The Lord was pleased with Abel’s offering, but had “no regard” for Cain’s.Why?Because Abel brought his offering in faith and Cain did not (Heb. 11:4).
This difference is intimated in how their respective offerings are described. It is said of Cain, simply, that he “brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground.”But concerning Abel, it says he brought the “firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.”This means, as Cassuto explains, that “whilst Abel was concerned to choose the finest thing in his possession, Cain was indifferent.”[1]
Cain held back the best portions for himself and gave the leftovers to God.[2]In so …

The New Left-Hander’s Study Bible

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Nashville (JNN) – Thomas Nelson, Inc. has announced the publication of a new specialty Bible designed to appeal to left-handers.

The Left-Hander’s Study Bible is set to come out just in time for Christmas. “I am so happy to finally have a Bible that is sensitive to my needs,” said Amanda Laevus.  “We live in a right-hander’s world, and everything is geared toward them, including the Bible.” “Think about it,” said Thad Armstrong, the key figure behind the development of the new Bible, and himself a leftie.  “The Bible has favored righties over lefties since the very beginning.  It speaks, for instance, of right and wrong.  How is this supposed to make a leftie feel?  And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  In our new Left-Hander’s Study Bible we have kept the text of the NIV, but have made some modifications so as to be sensitive to lefties.” Here’s a sampling of the kind of changes that have been made: ·“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is left” (Eph. 6:1). ·“After he had…

Faithful are the wounds of a friend

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Recently, while preaching through the book of Zechariah, I was struck by a passage in the thirteenth chapter in which the prophet spoke of a time when the Lord would so work in and among his people that they would no longer tolerate the presence of idols or the prophets who served them.So adamant would they be in this that even the family members of the false prophets would rebuke and discipline them.What’s more, the false prophets themselves would come to be grateful for this.
Every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies.He will not put on a hairy cloak in order to deceive, but he will say, “I am no prophet, I am a worker of the soil…” And if one asks him, “What are these wounds on your back?” he will say, “The wounds I received in the house of my friends” (Zech. 13:4-6).
The genuineness of their repentance would be proven by the fact that they would regard as friends, those who had reproved them and rescued them from their error.
The same sentiment is expressed in Pro…

The Pilgrims' Cautionary Tale

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Kate Zernike, writing for the New York Times, finds fault with what she calls “one common telling” of the story of the Pilgrims.That telling – she also calls it an “interpretation” of their experience – has it that they conducted a brief experiment in socialism.The problem for Zernike is that it’s not simply an interpretation or one common telling; it’s what no less an authority than William Bradford documents in Of Plymouth Plantation.Bradford, of course, was governor of Plymouth Colony for 30 years.
It was not the Pilgrims who wanted a communal plantation; it was required by the terms of their agreement with the London Company that financed the colony.  (He who pays the piper calls the tunes, as they say.)  It did not go well.  Here is Bradford in his own words:
“They began to consider how to raise more corn, and obtain a better crop than they had done, so that they might not continue to endure the misery of want. At length after much debate, the Governor with the advice of the chief …

Count Your Blessings

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As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, we would do well to consider just how vital giving thanks is to the worship of God.  We get a sense of its importance when we read this devastating indictment from the pen of the apostle Paul:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Rom. 1:18-21).
Here we find the root of all sin – a failure to honor God as God (i.e., as the Lord of all) and, consequently, a failure to give him the thanks he is d…

The Spectral Evidence against Brett Kavanaugh

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Their “gut reaction” was that her allegations “rang true”
Imagine being charged with a crime you didn’t commit, a crime punishable by death.The only evidence against you is that offered by your accuser, who testifies that he saw you commit the crime.I don’t mean he claims to have seen it in the usual sense, as in with his eyes, but in a preternatural sense, i.e., in a vision.You’re tempted to laugh the matter off.Surely such evidence is inadmissible in a court of law?But to your dismay, the court takes this “evidence” very seriously.Making matters worse, every time you deny your guilt, the accuser claims a recurrence of the vision right then and there in the courtroom.Thus, every denial only multiplies the “evidence” against you.When it’s all is said and done, the jury renders its verdict: guilty as charged...and off to the gallows you go.
Nineteen people were tried, convicted, and hanged for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts on this kind of evidence.[1]The trials began in February 169…

The Absurdity of Killing Jews for Jesus

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How can anyone who has ever read the Bible—and claims to believe it—be anti-Semitic, like the wicked young man involved in the synagogue shooting last week in Poway, California?
How much we Gentile believers in Israel’s Messiah owe to the Jews!  How can we not love them and be grateful for them?  Except for the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, the entire Bible has come to us through Jewish hands.Our Lord Jesus, who said, “Salvation is from the Jews” (Jn. 4:22), was himself (of course!) a Jew.All the apostles were Jews.Most of the early believers were Jews.Our Lord’s brother, Jacob (James), said there were many myriads of Jewish Christians in his day (Acts 21:20). In the later chapters of his letter to the Romans, Paul tells Gentile Christians to bend over backwards in consideration for the Jews, and so live as to make the gospel appealing to them.Is it necessary to say that doesn’t include murdering them?
Paul’s pathos in Romans is palpable:
“I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am n…