Pushed Together – The Habit of Keeping a Clear Conscience

Pushed Together

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

In her book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, Janet Thompson describes the anguish she and her husband, Dave, faced with a daughter in crisis. Out of their experiences came blessings, for the Lord knows how to bless us amid our burdens; and one of those blessings was a closer marriage. “We can let a prodigal daughter be a bitter dividing force,” Janet wrote, “or she can actually draw us closer together when we realize that the same love that brought this child into our world—whether by birth or adoption—will see us through…. A prodigal doesn’t always negatively affect a couple. Any crisis my husband and I have gone through together has only strengthened our marriage and commitment to each other.”

Every marriage faces difficult days. How important to let the pressure push us together, to humbly confess our hurts, to pray together, and to seek to edify the other. Hard times can push us apart, but that’s not the best way. It’s not God’s way. Even in the most difficult times in marriage, we are capable of growing closer to each other in the Lord.

A Single Thought: Listen to others not to respond, but to understand.


The Habit of Keeping a Clear Conscience

…strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. —Acts 24:16

God’s commands to us are actually given to the life of His Son in us. Consequently, to our human nature in which God’s Son has been formed (see Galatians 4:19), His commands are difficult. But they become divinely easy once we obey.

Conscience is that ability within me that attaches itself to the highest standard I know, and then continually reminds me of what that standard demands that I do. It is the eye of the soul which looks out either toward God or toward what we regard as the highest standard. This explains why conscience is different in different people. If I am in the habit of continually holding God’s standard in front of me, my conscience will always direct me to God’s perfect law and indicate what I should do. The question is, will I obey? I have to make an effort to keep my conscience so sensitive that I can live without any offense toward anyone. I should be living in such perfect harmony with God’s Son that the spirit of my mind is being renewed through every circumstance of life, and that I may be able to quickly “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2 ; also see Ephesians 4:23).

God always instructs us down to the last detail. Is my ear sensitive enough to hear even the softest whisper of the Spirit, so that I know what I should do? “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” (Ephesians 4:30). He does not speak with a voice like thunder— His voice is so gentle that it is easy for us to ignore. And the only thing that keeps our conscience sensitive to Him is the habit of being open to God on the inside. When you begin to debate, stop immediately. Don’t ask, “Why can’t I do this?” You are on the wrong track. There is no debating possible once your conscience speaks. Whatever it is— drop it, and see that you keep your inner vision clear.

The message of the prophets is that although they have forsaken God, it has not altered God. The Apostle Paul emphasizes the same truth, that God remains God even when we are unfaithful (see 2 Timothy 2:13). Never interpret God as changing with our changes. He never does; there is no variableness in Him. Notes on Ezekiel, 1477 L

OSWALD CHAMBERS

Will You Receive The Desires Of Your Heart?

Psalm 37:1-5

When people speak about their wants, they often cite today’s passage with zeal despite having little genuine understanding. We love the idea that the Father will give us the desires of our heart. Unfortunately, when we focus only on receiving good things, we miss the psalm’s context, which is a divine promise with human obligations.

God’s greatest interest is not to indulge us, but rather to give us more of Himself. Self-indulgent prayers overlook the first requirement for the promise’s fulfillment: delighting in the Lord. We are to take pleasure in time spent communing with Him and serving Him. As we read God’s Word and pray, we’ll experience His work in our life, and our faith in Him will deepen.

Over time, our growing trust in God means that we begin to appropriate His ways of thinking. Then committing to His plan—the second requirement—remolds our heart’s desires until they look like His own preferences for our life. Even so, sometimes what God provides may appear very different from what we requested. But when He hears our shortsighted appeals, He answers based on His infinite knowledge and His great love for us. Instead of giving us what we think we want, He bestows the perfect answer to our prayer.

God derives enjoyment from granting our requests, but His greatest joy is hearing us express an earnest desire to know Him better. The by-product of delighting in God and committing to His way is receiving our heart’s wishes. Our primary reward is a relationship with the loving God who offers to share Himself with humanity.

Death by Sin

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12)

This very important verse conveys several vital truths. First of all, death came into the world only when sin came into the world. Suffering and death of conscious life, whether animal or human, were not a part of God’s “finished” and “very good” creation (Genesis 1:31–2:3). There was an abundance of food and all other provisions for both people and animals. There was certainly no “struggle for existence” or “survival of the fittest,” for every creature was created “fit” for its own environment.

When Adam sinned, however, it became necessary for God to bring the curse of decay and death not only upon Adam but also upon all his dominion (Genesis 3:17-20; see also Romans 8:20-22; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

Furthermore, there remains no warrant for the notion that “Adam” is simply a generic term representing the human race. He was “one man.” In fact, he was “the first man” (1 Corinthians 15:45), and Eve was “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). There was certainly no population of evolving hominids becoming “Adam.” In fact, Christ Himself made it clear that Adam and Eve were there “from the beginning of the creation” (Mark 10:6, quoting Genesis 1:27).

The entire argument here in Romans 5:12-21 becomes irrelevant if the Genesis record of the creation and Fall of Adam did not happen precisely as recorded in Genesis 1–3, and this would mean that there is no reality in the saving work of Christ, either.

Such a rejection of the Christian faith is hardly warranted by the fragmentary fossils that have been alleged to support the notion of human evolution. No one should stake his eternal soul on such a will-o’-the-wisp as that! HMM

God Doesn’t Need Us

Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things. —Acts 17:25

The problem of why God created the universe still troubles thinking men; but if we cannot know why, we can at least know that He did not bring His worlds into being to meet some unfulfilled need in Himself, as a man might build a house to shelter him against the winter cold or plant a field of corn to provide him with necessary food. The word necessary is wholly foreign to God….

To admit the existence of a need in God is to admit incompleteness in the divine Being. Need is a creature-word and cannot be spoken of the Creator. God has a voluntary relation to everything He has made, but He has no necessary relation to anything outside of Himself. His interest in His creatures arises from His sovereign good pleasure, not from any need those creatures can supply nor from any completeness they can bring to Him who is complete in Himself….

So lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy, not to say enjoyable, to believe that we are necessary to God. But the truth is that God is not greater for our being, nor would He be less if we did not exist. That we do exist is altogether of God’s free determination, not by our desert nor by divine necessity.

Lord, You don’t need me, yet You love me and choose me to be Your child. I don’t deserve it, but I accept and thank You for Your gracious gift of life and love. Amen.

By Comparison Unclean

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. (Revelation 1:17)

In the Old Testament, whenever the living God revealed Himself in some way to humankind, terror and amazement were the reactions. People saw themselves as guilty and unclean by comparison!

In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John describes the overwhelming nature of his encounter with the Lord of glory. Although a believer and an apostle, John sank down in abject humility and fear when the risen, glorified Lord Jesus appeared before him on Patmos.

Our glorified Lord did not condemn John. He knew that John’s weakness was the reaction to revealed divine strength. He knew that John’s sense of unworthiness was the instant reaction to absolute holiness. Along with John, every redeemed human being needs the humility of spirit that can only be brought about by the manifest Presence of God.

Jesus at once reassured John, stooping to place a nail-pierced hand on the prostrate apostle, and saying: “Do not be afraid. I am the Living One. I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and hades.”

God sends the right messenger to the right man

There was never a soul yet that sincerely sought the Saviour, who perished before he found him. No; the gates of death shall never shut on thee till the gates of grace have opened for thee; till Christ has washed thy sins away thou shalt never be baptized in Jordan’s flood. Thy life is secure, for this is God’s constant plan—he keeps his own elect alive till the day of his grace, and then he takes them to himself. And inasmuch as thou knowest thy need of a Saviour, thou art one of his, and thou shalt never die until thou hast found him. God sends the right messenger to the right man.