Acts 23:1 NKJV

We know that God often speaks to us in a ‘still, small voice’ (1 Kings 19:12 NIV). Often, that voice comes to us via our conscience. God helps to direct our day-to-day life with tugs on our heart and passing thoughts. He can draw us towards His plan, and Himself, through our instincts. God is in the feelings that grow in our gut.

Paul understood the importance of paying attention to his conscience as a way to stay in tune with God. He wrote ‘I myself always strive to have a conscience without offence towards God and men’ (Acts 24:16 NKJV), and he was right when he acknowledged that it takes constant striving. It’s not always easy to hear past the noise of everything going on around us. Listening out for God’s voice speaking through our conscience takes practice. When we ignore those quiet thoughts, the tugging feeling in our heart that we know is right, we dull our senses a little more each time.

On the other hand, when we train ourselves to listen out for the small voice that we know is God’s, we’ll get better at recognising it. When our conscience is built up by God’s words and by knowing the Bible, we’ll start to want to do the right thing. We’ll start to recognise what God wants and expects of our more and more quickly.

Once we attune ourselves to hearing God’s voice in our own thoughts and feelings, our natural inclination will be to gladly live in accordance with His will every moment of our lives.

Num 11-13; Mark 5:31-43; Ps 2; Prov 10:30-32

Always keep your conscience clear

Acts 23:1 NKJV

At the Mark Twain memorial in Hartford, Connecticut, you will find these words framed: “Always do right. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest. Truly yours, Mark Twain, New York, February 16, 1901.” When your conscience is programmed and governed by God’s Word, it will lead you to do the right thing every time. And it’s created by the first lessons you learn about right and wrong; which is why as a parent, you have the most important job in the world.

If you’re never taught those lessons, you fail to develop a conscience. If you’re taught them poorly or incompletely, you develop a stunted conscience. If you override your conscience and refuse to obey its inner voice, you develop a hardened conscience, and over time, you will live your life as if you don’t have one at all. You’ll compromise, cover up, and cut corners to get what you want.

You can’t see a conscience or autopsy one, but you can hear it whispering in your mind and feel it tugging at your heart. And those are the whispers and tugs you must respond to in order to walk in the blessing of God. Paul said two important things about his conscience: (1) “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men” (Ac 24:16 NKJV). (2) “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”

Above all, don’t neglect your conscience – it is either healthy or becoming unhealthy. And as it goes, so goes your character, your reputation, and the quality of your life.

Soul food: Num 11-13; Mark 5:31-43; Ps 2; Prov 10:30-32

Hou altyd jou gewete skoon

Handelinge 23:1 NLV

By die Mark Twain gedenkteken in Hartford, Connecticut, sal jy die volgende woorde vind: ‘Always do right. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest. Truly yours, Mark Twain, New York, February 16, 1901.’

Wanneer jou gewete deur God se Woord geprogrammeer en geregeer word, sal dit jou lei om elke keer die regte ding te doen. Dit word deur die eerste lesse wat jy oor reg en verkeerd leer geskep; dus is dit hoekom jy as ouer die belangrikste werk in die wêreld het.

As jy nooit daardie lesse leer nie, ontwikkel jy nooit ‘n gewete nie. As jy die lesse nie goed genoeg nie of onvolledig leer, sal jou gewete nie volledig ontwikkel nie. As jy jou gewete oorheers en weier om sy innerlike stem te gehoorsaam, sal jy ‘n geharde gewete ontwikkel en met tyd sal jy begin om jou lewe te leef asof jy nie ‘n gewete het nie. Jy sal kompromieë aangaan, wegsteek en hoeke sny om te kry wat jy wil hê.

Jy kan nie ‘n gewete sien of een ontleed nie, maar jy kan dit in jou gedagtes hoor fluister en jou hartsnare voel roer. Jy moet aan hierdie fluisteringe en roeringe gehoor gee om in God se seën te kan wandel.

Paulus het twee belangrike dinge oor sy gewete gesê: 1) ‘Daarom doen ek ook my uiterste bes om altyd ‘n skoon gewete voor God en die mense te hê’ (Handelinge 24:16 NLV). 2) ‘…met ‘n absoluut goeie gewete het ek my lewe tot vandag toe in diens van God gelei!’ Moet bo alles nie jou gewete afskeep nie – dit is óf gesond, óf besig om ongesond te word. As dit ongesond word, sal jou karakter, jou reputasie en jou lewenskwaliteit ook afneem.

Sielskos: Num 11-13; Mark 5:31-43; Ps 2; Spr 10:30-32

Rise Up

Ezra 10:4 NKJV

We all have things on our to-do list that seem overwhelming or difficult. We can also have times where even simple things seem overwhelming because of how we feel in the moment. In Ezra 9 and 10, we see Ezra praying and crying because Israel had broken some of God’s instructions at the time. He spends some time mourning the situation, before someone called Shekaniah tells him to get up and fix the situation.

This moment is a great reminder that, when the time comes, it’s our responsibility to do the same – rise up and fulfil the task at hand. It’s okay to have moments where we feel overwhelmed. Sometimes, our relationship with God involves ‘weeping and lying face down on the ground’ like we see in Ezra 10:1 (NLT).

God wants our honesty, and that means that He makes space for us to share our feelings with Him. But once that’s done, He calls us to dust ourselves off and carry on with our responsibility. This is made much easier with support. Doing the difficult thing, working through feeling overwhelmed, is much easier with good people behind us. Shekaniah’s instructions to Ezra in chapter 10:4 read: ‘Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it’. How precious and encouraging are the words ‘we will support you’?

When God gives us a responsibility, He equips us for it. So with the right kind of people around us, reminding us of the supernatural courage we’re given, we can rise up and get the job done.

Num 8-10; Mark 5:21-30; Ps 35; Prov 10:28-29

“Be of good courage, and do it”

Ezra 10:4 NKJV

You probably may not have heard of Harlow Curtice because he wasn’t a Harvard graduate; he was a country boy with only a high-school diploma. But he had big dreams. He started out as a bookkeeper in General Motors and rose to become a company president by the age of thirty-five. By the time he was forty, he was the general manager of General Motors’ esteemed Buick division. He worked his way to the top of his profession with a talent for new ideas and action. He bravely designed new styles and models. And he personally travelled throughout the United States to inspire dealers and instill in them a renewed enthusiasm about their Buick products. And guess when he did it? In the middle of the Great Depression!

Under his leadership, the sale of Buick cars quadrupled; his division became the second biggest moneymaker in General Motors history. When he was asked what he attributed his success to, he cited these three things: (1) He set goals for himself and required the people around him to do likewise. (2) He took pride in confronting and overcoming obstacles. (3) He was willing to take risks and do the things talented but fearful people around him refused to do. As a result, winning became a habit and a lifestyle.

Those three principles are solidly scriptural and time tested, and they will lead you to success in whatever you put your hand to. So the word for you today is – “Arise, for this matter is your responsibility…Be of good courage, and do it.”

Soul food: Num 8-10; Mark 5:21-30; Ps 35; Prov 10:28-29