A Clear Conscience

On November 19 we had a snow storm and icy roads that kept some girls from coming.  However, we had a wonderful time with the smaller group that was able to brave the weather.  During our singing, we enjoyed having an “orchestra”!  Besides the usual piano, we had a violin, cello, mandolin, and flute.  It added a lot to the music!

P1130845For our lesson time, we talked about the importance of keeping a clear conscience.  Our conscience is a God-given sense of knowing the difference between right and wrong–God’s law written on our hearts (Rom. 2:14-15).  We can have ne of 3 consciences.  A good conscience is one that is sensitive to evil and free from guilt.  A guilty conscience is one that is bothered and troubled because of unresolved sin.  A dead conscience is one that is hardened against evil.

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A guilty conscience is God’s way of saying, “You need to confess your sin and make things right.” But what happens when we don’t deal with the sin that God has brought to our attention? What are the results of hiding our sin?

  • Living in fear of being found out (Num. 32:23b).  When we deal with the sin in our lives, we no longer need to live in fear. Although, it takes courage to confess what we have done wrong, there is freedom in having a clear conscience.
  • Hinders relationships with those we have wronged & with the Lord (Ps. 66:18). When we strive to maintain a clear conscience, our relationships with others are strengthened. Having a clear conscience is an important part have having a good reputation. Also, when we have a clear conscience before God, there is nothing between us and we grow in Him as a result.
  • Easy to continue in sin.  When others know your struggles (in particular your parents), they can help you by holding you accountable so that you don’t slip back into sin.
  • Affects our testimony and ministry. When we are hiding sin in our lives and it is hindering our relationship with the Lord, we cannot serve Him to the fullest. However, when we deal appropriately with the sin God brings to our attention, we grow in character and are better equipped to serve Him to the best of our ability.

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Little sins which are never made right will affect us our entire lives.  Each of us has made mistakes and sinned against the Lord and others, but we can obtain a clear conscience by going back and asking forgiveness from those we have offended and wronged.  Not dealing with sin in our lives will hinder our ability to grow in the Lord and serve Him.  This is very difficult to do, but the rewards are great and totally worth it. There is great joy and freedom in “striv[ing] to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” (Acts 24:16)

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Object lesson: jar=our lives; candle=the light of Christ

He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. -Proverbs 28:13

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Paper tube=sin in our life. It hinders our ability to shine for Jesus.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”1 John 1:9

Practical Assignment—Do you have hidden sin that you need to deal with?  Make a commitment to deal with it as soon as possible!

For our activity time, we packed some Christmas shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  We originally planned to pack 3 boxes, but everyone brought enough things so that we were able to pack 5 boxes!  This is a great ministry opportunity because the children who receive the shoe boxes hear the gospel and have a chance to be discipled.  We watched a couple of promo videos to get us excited for packing the boxes.

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The table laden with things to fill the boxes
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Putting the shoe box together
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Writing notes for the boxes
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Choosing items for the boxes
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Smiling faces as they pack

When we went to drop off the boxes at the collection site on Friday, the lady there told us they were closing in on 3,000 shoe boxes at their collection site!  She also told us that one shoe box on average impacts 10 people!  Samaritan’s Purse is also very dedicated to sharing the gospel and providing follow for the communities where the boxes are distributed.  What an amazing opportunity! Here’s a picture of some of the shoe boxes and cartons (each containing 15-23 boxes) at the collection site.

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We donated the shipping money for the boxes online so that we could get a tracking number for the boxes.  All going well, in January, we should be able to announce where our boxes were delivered.  Remember to pray for the girls who will be receiving our boxes, that they and their families will come to know Jesus as their Savior.

Mercy

Hannah, Emma, and Maria

On May 24, our Bright Lights meeting was on the topic of mercy.   So what exactly is mercy?  We defined it as replacing punishment with kindness, or when someone gets me out of trouble at his or her own expense.  Mercy is undeserved kindness.

Each of us stands before God guilty and helpless, unable to pay the debt that we owe.  God has extended great mercy to us by sending His Son, Jesus to pay our debt.  The more we recognize how utterly dependent we are upon God’s mercy, the more we will love Him.  It is so important to recognize the tremendous amount of mercy we have been shown.

Showing mercy to others is often times very difficult.  After all, they don’t deserve it.  But as mentioned above, mercy is undeserved kindness.  When we think of the many ways others have showed mercy to us, its not that hard to show mercy to others.  God calls us to be merciful to others, having an attitude of mercy and compassion toward those who have wronged us.

For our activity, each small group was assigned a parable from the gospels and were supposed to see how it illustrated mercy.  Then they were supposed to act out the parable for everyone else, using a bag of props.

 

The girls in their costumes
The parable of the lost sheep
The parable of the unmerciful servant
The parable of the prodigal son
The parable of the good Samaritan

Our yummy snacks were provided by Maria and Jenna.  During snack time, the girls surprised me with baskets of goodies, home made items, and thoughtful cards.  I was so blessed and encouraged by their generosity and their sweet notes.  Thank you, girls!  You are all such a blessing to me.

Thank you, girls!

Gaining a Clear Conscience

At our third Bright Lights meeting (Feb. 16), we covered the very important topic of “Gaining a Clear Conscience.” Not only is it an important lesson, it’s perhaps one of the most difficult to put into practice.

First of all we talked about what our conscience is. We described it as a God-given sense of knowing right from wrong—it is God’s law written on our hearts. Romans 2:14-15 says: “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.”

From our skit: Sisters Alice and Mary couldn’t get along

We all make mistakes and sin against the Lord and others. Sins that we never make right, whether little or big, will effect us for the rest of our lives. When we do something wrong, we need to back and make it right.  If we try to ignore our conscience, things will only get worse.  God’s Word emphasizes having a clear conscience.  Why is this?  1.) Because we have to stand before God (Acts 24:15-16);  2.) to avoid failure (1 Timothy 1:19); and 3.) to maintain a good reputation (1 Peter 3:15-16).

We learned that there are 3 types of consciences:  A good conscience, which is one that is sensitive to evil and free from guilt; a guilty conscience, which is one that is bothered by guilt and unresolved sin; and a dead conscience–the very worst–which is one that is hardened against evil.  We each need to desire to have a clear conscience.

There are many sad consequences of a guilty conscience and hiding sin in our lives.  One of these is living in fear of being found out (Numbers 32:23b).  Secondly, a guilty conscience hinders relationships with those we have wronged, and more tragically, it hinders our with the Lord (Psalm 66:18—“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”)  Thirdly, when we are hiding sin in our lives, it is easy to continue in it because no one else knows and it able to help us with our struggles.  A guilty conscience also effects one’s testimony and ministry.

From our skit: Alice battling her conscience

So how do we obtain a clear conscience?  An important first step is to desire to have a clear conscience.  Next, list offenses that you have committed against God and others, and then confess your sin to the Lord.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Now, purpose to ask forgiveness from those you have offended or wronged.  Determine when you will ask forgiveness and do it—don’t put it off!!!

When you ask for forgiveness, show sincerity and humility (James 4:6—“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”)  Explain that you were wrong and make no mention of the what they did.    It is important to understand that we need to fix the problems in our lives, which are often big, before we try to fix the small problems in someone else’s life (Matt. 7:3-5).

From our skit: Be sure your sin will find you out!

There are many benefits of having a clear conscience that far outweigh the difficulty of going back and asking for forgiveness.  Some of these many blessings are that you will be able to resolve conflicts, you will experience great freedom and joy (no more guilt!), you will have more strength to overcome future temptations, and you will have a good testimony to others.

My sister Abigail and I each shared about a time when we had to clear our conscience.  Both of us agree that while confessing what we have done and asking for forgiveness is hard, the rewards of obeying the Lord in this matter are great and totally worth the difficulty.  There is great joy and wonderful freedom that comes when we gain a clear conscience.

As an illustration of the struggle within of gaining a clear conscience, we presented a skit about Alice who after a fight with her sister Mary, buried her sister’s doll in the garden to get back at her.  Alice’s conscience told her that she needed to confess what she had done and make things right, while the “Bad Conscience” convinced Alice that it was just too hard to confess, after all no one would ever know if she didn’t tell.  Alice decided to cover up what she had done and lived in fear of being found out—which happened one day.  Mary’s doll was filled with corn kernels, and one day Mom found some corn growing (in the shape of a doll!) in the garden. Alice learned the hard way that “He who covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

Playing “Bright Lights Pictionary” during our activity time

We were very grateful for the 17 girls that came out to the meeting. Our snacks were provided by Lily and Betty. Betty made some beautiful cupcakes to celebrate the birthday of one of the girls, which was a treat for us all.  Happy birthday, Joy!

The beautiful cupcakes

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at our next meeting on March 1st!