Thursday, April 28, 2016

BEING TWO-SOULED: COGNITIVE DISSONANCE, Dan Mayfield

"Cognitive Dissonance is defined as: the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, performs an action that is contradictory to one or more beliefs, ideas, or values, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values."

I have often wrote and talked about how holding conflicting beliefs in the same mind is the cause of mental disorders. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it explains ALL of mental issues, but I belief it explains most.

The article cited below is talking about the problem in the Army where the rank and file are asked to believe things that directly contradict reality.

"5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." Jas 1:5-8

"7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." Jas 4:7-8.

For Christians, it's called being "two-souled" or "double-minded" and James mentions it twice in chapter 1:8 when a man prays to God while also doubting, and in chapter 4:8 when a Christian tries to be friends with God and with the world. James says, "friendship with the world is enmity with God." James says that such a person is "unstable" in all his ways, meaning inconstant and restless. There is always going to be a restlessness in a person who acts like he's two people in one body. The two are restless for fighting each other.

Cognitive Dissonance or being "two-souled" for a Christian is when the life being lived isn't matching the faith being professed. This represents a contradiction which is often times witnessed by others, but it is also obvious in the mind and soul of the individual. If I'm not living what I claim to believe, it means there is a war inside of my head. And that war will cause emotional breakdown until the good or the evil finally wins.

From the article, "Leon Festinger‘s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. An individual who experiences inconsistency (dissonance) tends to become psychologically uncomfortable, and is motivated to try to reduce this dissonance—as well as actively avoid situations and information likely to increase it."

Leon may have coined the term, but Christians have always known that the inner belief must match reality. My thinking must be unified without conflict. My belief and lifestyle, if not matching up with the Scriptures, will lead to that "psychological" discomfort Leon speaks of. When we know the right thing to do, we must do it or else we sin, Jas. 4:17. When we say we believe in God, then trust God. If we claim to be a child of God, then don't be best buds with the carnal world. The inner dissonance will tear you up, Christian, until either you leave God or you leave the world.

"Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE." 2 Cor. 6:16.

The world being led by the Deceiver, the liar, who is Satan, will ask for you and me to believe things we know are not true. Planting and harvest will remain until the Lord returns, Gen 8:22. So don't believe the world's lie that we are going to destroy the earth. Men and women are created as perfect counterparts to one another, Gen 2:18. Don't believe the lie that women can do whatever men can do. She is the weaker vessel and is to be honored as such. "7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." 1 Pt 3:7. Both man and woman are beautifully designed for their role. God created them male and female and made marriage to be between a man and woman, Gen 2:24. Don't believe the lie that marriage can be between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman. The Bible says it is a perversion of nature. When we believe the lies of the world, cognitive dissonance happens. And when it does, you will find yourself in conflict with the God of the Bible. As there is no agreement between God and idols, so we must resolve the conflicts in our very being that cannot agree with God. That's not a good place to be.

So bring peace to your soul by living what you believe. The Army has become a dysfunctional mess, according to the article. Don't let that describe you, O Christian.

Remember, if you love Jesus, don't just call Him, 'Lord, Lord', but do what He says to do, Lk 6:46; Jn 14:15.

http://usdefensewatch.com/2016/04/fort-cognitive-dissonance-the-us-armys-new-home/

THINK YOU DON'T HAVE FREE WILL?

If you didn't God would not say, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME." Heb 3:15

Do you think predestined means that God just arbitrarily hardens people to go to hell? Why then would God say, "7Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, 'TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, 8DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,'" Hebrews 3:7-8

If a heart is hardened, it's not because God zapped it to be hard. It's because you are still carnal and refuse to embrace God's wisdom for your life. God doesn't want you friends with the world. But you want to be friends with the world. And so you harden your heart. Don't, stop, soften your heart and follow God while you still can.

THE CYCLE OF A NATION, Dan Mayfield

"7 At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; 8if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. 9“Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; 10if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it." Jer. 18

James McDonald in pointing out the impact the open sexuality has had on our nation, he pointed to what sociologists refer to the 7 steps in the cycle of a nation. When you look at them, think of Rome. And ask where America is.

1. Technological advance
2. Growing military
3. Expansion of territory
4. Increased cultural influence
5. Multiplication of wealth
6. Moral decadence
7. Collapse

How long before God destroys this nation that encourages young children to experiment with sexuality? How long when children on Disney and children's programs are encouraged to inflame their passions? How long when 1/3 or children are born out of wedlock? How long when half of all couples are living together and not marrying? How long when the perversion of homosexuality and transgenderism are made a common thing? How long when every single television show celebrates this perversion? How long will this nation stand when it has already reached the point in the cycle of moral decadence?

Christian, you have to draw near to Jesus and be holy. Because He is coming and He's going to bring His wrath down on the godless nation. Be faithful and refuse to be a part of that deadly cycle of ruin.

FAITH IN TIMES OF TRIAL


GOOD PARENTING IS ELUSIVE, Dan Mayfield

It's always amazing to me to read of Old Testament people who themselves were pretty good people, like Eli the Priest and Josiah the King or David, but their children go off the tracks and do what is evil.

Of Josiah's son, it says, "31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 32 He did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done." 2 Kgs 23.

By the testimony of Scripture and from experience I know that good parenting is an elusive thing. Why this is the case is debatable. But it is a rare thing to see parents bring their children up, all of them, to walk with the Lord. Both of Josiah's sons did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. David's son practiced idolatry. Eli's sons practiced abominable things.  These and many more failed in the department of parenting.

I have seen plenty of good parents who consistently live their faith and they consistently discipline their children to follow the Lord. And these have been very successful. These give me more hope than Josiah, a great man of faith, does. Some parents might gain some consolation to see that even a Josiah failed to raise boys who loved the Lord. I do not. I have seen plenty of Christians, who I believe are genuinely saved, who are not consistent in the raising of their children. We all just need to try harder to bring our children to the Lord.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

ATTITUDE TOWARDS GOD'S JUSTICE, Dan Mayfield

"17Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; 18Or the LORD will see it and be displeased, And turn His anger away from him." - Pro 24
 As God does not "take delight in the death of the wicked", Christians do not take delight either, Ezek. 18:23,32; 33:11. Nevertheless, they who are wicked will be judged perfectly by God, Rom. 3:6. Some will go to eternal punishment and the faithful to eternal life. This is the "kindness and severity of God", Rom. 11:22.
Though Christians don't take delight in the troubles that have come on their enemies, still Christians can and should rejoice in the righteous judgment of God. This is a legitimate concern when people, even Christians, are questioning the justice of eternal damnation in hell. God will judge the world in righteousness.
 
Speaking on the wrath of God, John sees the congregation singing “great and marvelous are your works” and “righteous and true are your ways”, Rev. 15:3,4; 16:7. With the outpouring of the third bowl of wrath are the words, "5And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things; 6 for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.” Rev 16. The martyred saints and the persecuted church would rejoice in God’s judgment against the wicked.
 
I point out these things so that lest we be influenced by the modern sentiment that is opposed to a wrathful God. Let us check our spirit and respect that God's judgment will be perfect for unbelievers because the spirit of faith says, "they deserve it!" And instead of taking delight in this truth, instead strive to bring to them the eternal Gospel that can deliver.

THE FATHER, SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, D Mayfield

I don't want to show any disrespect to the Godhead that's composed of the three persons of the Godhead. We are Baptized into the name of the three, Mt 28:18-20. I love the Father, the Son, and I love the Holy Spirit. These are the source of our blessings.
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all." 2 Cor. 13:14
I commented in the past and believe it still that I couldn't imagine going through this life without ever acknowledging the three persons of the Godhead. We pray to the Father and daily we talk to Him. And though we joyfully acknowledge that Jesus is seated at the right hand, helping us by mediating our prayers, and still we barely give him a glance for fear that we might get the order of prayer wrong. When Jesus is mediating for you, go ahead and greet Him and thank Him for the High Priestly help He's doing on your behalf. Do we really think the 2nd and 3rd persons of the Godhead are to be unmentioned or acknowledged? I don't believe that's what is meant by praying to the Father through Christ. Yes, that's the protocol and so don't get that wrong. But all three are somehow involved in the prayer communication, Romans 8:26,34.

Of the Holy Spirit, Paul says, "the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" and of the Lord Jesus, Paul says, "Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us."

Now some might wish to argue about HOW the Holy Spirit does this or that, and I'm not interested in that discussion, at least not at this moment, but I'm only interested in giving the Holy Spirit that glory that He rightly deserves. Say it with me that "He intercedes for us". As Jesus intercedes for us, so the Holy Spirit is helping us in some way in our prayers. That's deserving of an amen and a word of praise to Him that is the 3rd person of the Godhead.

This kind of glory I don't give to angels or to Mary, the mother of Jesus, or to the apostles or to any other. But the Spirit of God who was there in the creation (Gen 1:2) has all of the attributes and nature and glory of the Father. The 139th Psalm reminds us that we can't ever hide from the presence of the Spirit of God. He's here and He's there.

The Holy Spirit with Jesus Christ and the Father be with you today.

PREACHING MEAT TO GROW IN FAITH, D Mayfield


"1Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do, if God permits." Hebrews 6:1ff.
There is a place for milk and there is a place for the meat. It is true that some Christians never grow and always suck on the milk. This is a grave problem, 1 Cor. 3:1; Heb. 5:12. When listening to much preaching, it seems that too often the milk of the word is the main focus. Now I'm not against preaching and teaching the milk, but the church will not grow to maturity and the fullness of Christ on a steady diet of milk, The primary focus of preaching in the church needs to be meat.

"Leaving the elementary teaching" does not mean forget it and never mention it again. But it means that you have to keep building upon these which are the foundation of the faith. A house can't be completed by using only the "elementary" things which are the first principles we share when making disciples and baptizing them. "Leaving" means that the Sunday sermons will primarily be the things of mature Christian living and teaching doctrine.

If you aren't yet a Christian, you need to know the things of the identity and nature of Jesus Christ. Unless you believe in the Son, you cannot have the Father, 1 Jn 5:12. The Gospel plan of salvation is to believe in Him and confess that you believe He's God's Son, and believing must lead you to penitent belief because He died for your sins so that you would turn to holy living, and upon penitent belief, like Acts 2 and Acts 22, allow yourself be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit so that God by His grace might cleanse your conscience and blot out your every sin. Then live faithful and worship Him in spirit and truth. Now that's the elementary things which are the beginning of the Christian life. Now move on to maturity in a life of fervent prayer and serious study of God's Word so that what God has taught you will be put into practice every day.

THE TEST REVEALS THE HEART, D Mayfield


"You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." Deut 8:2
The children of the Israelites who left Egypt did suffer trials because their parents did not trust in the LORD. And so God said to them through Moses that the 40 years of wandering was a trial to see if this new generation would serve God with all its heart.

Even for God's children today, as with every generation, it is how we live during adversity that reveals the sincerity of our faith. Most Christians can believe and hope they would be faithful. And that's all fine and important to think. But a few have lived in the trial and they proved they were faithful.

When the years of wandering seem to go on and on, keep the faith. When the night is long and rest comes hard, keep faith. When the walk has become more difficult to do, keep faith. When it seems you are going it alone, keep faith. Faith, because our heavenly Father is never far from you whose heart is His.

God wants to know your heart is all for Him.

SERVE WHERE YOU ARE, D Mayfield

No one stands exactly where I stand. I am where I am at this moment in time. And in this moment in time, there's no future and no past. So regardless the circumstances, this is the best time to serve God.

No one enjoys or suffers the exact conditions which I am under at this moment. We are all alike in this that our situation is different from everyone else's condition. We are alike that we all can and ought to serve God at this very time.

Wherever and whatever condition you find yourself in, this is where the Lord looks for your faithful service to Him. It's no good to Him if we say when conditions are better will I honor Him. It's a disappointment to Him if we don't pray in the lions den, or if we don't cry out in the belly of the great fish, or if we don't sing in the prison, or if we don't pray when the stones are crashing upon us. Waiting for a better season is waiting for what isn't promised. Job is the example of faithfulness in adversity. Only he could live the life of faith in exactly that time and circumstance. It's true of you and me today.
"For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods." Ps 96:4.
The Lord does not change. He is to be praised today. He made us and we did not make ourselves. He made us in His image so that wherever we found ourselves in this life, there we would find God. In the bright sunshine or in the dark valley, the unchanging God is there both to be praised and trusted.

Augustine of Hippo said, "You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you." Confession, Book 1, Chapter 1. Do we know the unquiet spirit that has not yet found rest in God? The rest is not like the rest the world gives. The rest is the peace in our spirit that is calm through the worst of life's storms. We only find this in God. He is the calm.

If I'm young or old, God is waiting for me to trust Him. If I'm rich or poor, healthy or sick, God's glory beckons me to draw near. No matter my lot in life, the son of God inspires me to draw near.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

JOHN PIPER IS AMAZED AT HIS SALVATION

John Piper is a Calvinist. He sets out to show how his Calvinist view of Romans 9 positively affects a person. Number 4, he says, it helps him to keep amazed at his salvation.

A Calvinist, first off, has no assurance that he's saved. He's only got a feeling. To a Calvinist, the saved person is specially elected by God. Calvinism distorts the doctrines of election, predestination, and the like, to mean that before the world was created, God specially selected the exact individuals who would be saved and all the rest, the ones He didn't elect, are doomed and there's not a thing they can do. The problem Piper has is that he's not seen the list God elected to save. He doesn't have a clue as to who is elect. And the most that he can do is compare his own life with that of others. It's works based. He thinks he is the elect based on his own feelings and estimations. He doesn't know if he's saved or whether he is persevering.

So Piper is amazed at his salvation that he can't know he has. What he means is that he sure is glad that he's one of God's elect. It's a marvel to him that by good fortune, God elected to save him when all of his neighbors are doomed to go to hell by virtue of God's decree. I don't know about you, but that's not amazing to me.

We aren't talking here about one guy getting lucky and winning the lottery while everyone else continues in their regular lives. No, we are talking about one guy winning the lottery, rejoicing in it, know that the rest are losers who are not merely staying in their regular lives, but are in fact going to hell. That takes a special kind of person who feels positive about that.

That's right, John Piper, you are amazed at being the elect. You weren't selected for salvation by God because you loved God and believed in the unseen over the material world. No, God didn't care about those things - not according to your doctrine. God just picked you for salvation for no good reason. "But isn't that what Romans 9 says, that before the boys did good or evil, God chose Jacob over Esau?" That's not talking about salvation. It doesn't say God saved Jacob and damned Esau to hell. The only thing involved in that choice was God's prerogative to determine who would be Israel and who would not be and the lineage through which Messiah would come.

"But it says, 'Jacob I loved, and Esau I hated" and "The older shall serve the younger." Genesis 25:23 shows that these judgments didn't apply to the two boys but to the nations that would spring from them. The descendants of Esau were the Edomites and they were evil. God hated them, Malachi 1:2-4. The descendants of Esau served Jacob. But Esau in his life never did. So it is a gross misrepresentation of the narrative to conclude that God doesn't decide who is elect on the basis of faith: who has it and who does not.

Calvinism is just about as wrong as any doctrine of man could be. There's nothing good to say about Calvinism. In so many ways does Calvinism distort the Bible. Piper wishes to pretend that only those who believe like him could be amazed at salvation. Wrong. A true disciple is one who hears the Gospel of Christ dying on the cross for his sins which makes him repent and be immersed for the forgiveness of sins. This person who comes to salvation by obedient faith is amazed at his salvation and he glorifies God that all sinners are offered the same chance. That's amazing.

I wouldn't say Calvinism is amazing. I would say it's so wrong that it's scary as hell.

God bless you. Dan Mayfield

ROMANS 9 NOT CALVINIST, by Dan Mayfield

So the chapter begins with the clear message that Israel is lost. At least most of Israel is lost. Despite having the way to righteousness handed to it on a silver platter, Israel is lost and it's giving Paul a lot of sorrow and grief. Paul wishes they were saved but, alas, there's nothing he can do about it.

Now how does that fit into the Calvinist approach to Romans 9? Well a Calvinist says that God picked the christians and the rest are lost. So if a Calvinist believes his doctrine, doesn't that mean God didn't elect to save Israel? Paul says that not everyone from Israel is the true Israel. Verse 6 says, "They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel." Since the word of God didn't fail, all that Paul has been saying from the first chapter of Romans is established according to God so that no one can claim God's word failed. So why is Israel lost?

The Calvinist view has to follow the thread through chapter 9 of Romans and conclude that most of Israel is part of the Ishmael, fleshly and faithless branch that comes off of Abraham. The Calvinist has to see that lost Israel is the Esau branch and nation that went off from Isaac. As God hated Esau, God hates Israel. Right? Why? Because Paul is clearly saying they are not the true Israel, cf. Romans 2:28-29. They are the uncircumcised, though outwardly circumcised. So why do Calvinists not see that according to their doctrine that Israel is not elected for salvation and that they are doomed in their depravity?

The Calvinist thinks he understands that God hardens men, like Pharaoh, just to make an example and to exalt His name. The Calvinist thinks that God damned Esau for no good reason but that He does what He wishes and you are talking back if you question the rightness of this. After all, He's the Potter and you are the clay. The Calvinist must follow the line of thought and conclude that Israel is lost because God fashioned Israel for destruction and to be a vessel for dishonor: like a chamber pot, as one Calvinist put it.

When you follow the Calvinist line of thought, you do see no hope for Israel. God makes one vessel for honor and another vessel for dishonor. Israel, being lost, is the vessel of dishonor, according to the flow of chapter 9 of Romans. But is this hopeless condition for Israel what Paul is saying?

Paul sees a way for the lost state, pictured in Ishmael, Esau, hardened Pharaoh, and the clay fitted for dishonor, to be saved. Romans 11 shows that the natural branch of the olive tree is only cut off because of unbelief. But as the Gentiles were grafted into the olive tree, so Israel can be saved if they believe, Rom. 11:24. Israel is lost, for sure, but Israel can be saved if it comes to knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ. "Faith comes from hearing, hearing by the word of Christ", Rom. 10:17. This is what Romans 9 is teaching. The last four verses of Romans 9 shows that the switch from unrighteous to righteous is a possibility. Just believe in Christ and the hardened clay becomes soft. The vessel fitted for dishonor becomes a vessel for honor.

This truth upsets the Calvinist cart which says the lost and saved are all fixed by God's decree made before the world was founded. Contradicting this view, Paul makes it clear that the Gentiles attained God's righteousness because they sought it by faith. And therein is the decree and choice of God. The Jews who have been pursuing righteousness by works, didn't attain it. Not because God decreed who would be lost and who would be saved. The point is Israel needs to believe in Jesus. Israel in the unbelieving and faithless condition is a vessel fitted for dishonor. But Israel can change and become a vessel for honor, 2 Tim 2:20-21. Israel in the lost condition is Abraham and Sarah circumventing God's promise to produce a child of the flesh. But Israel that turns to Christ, confessing and believing it, will be saved and will become the true, spiritual Israel. Abraham and Sarah had a faithless moment to produce the child of the flesh, but later they had the faith in God and the child of promise was born. Paul's countrymen according to the flesh can likewise make that change. Lost Israel is a nation still clinging to Esau the firstborn. Yes, the allegory of Galatians 4 fits here which says present day Israel is the child of the bondwoman, Hagar. But the Christian community is the child of the free woman. How can Israel go from lost to saved? Believe.

Belief is possible for all. Preach to the Jews and if they believe, they will be saved. Preach the Gospel to the lost neighbors and family members and friends. If they believe, they can be saved. God hasn't fixed any soul to be damned. God has only determined that if they don't believe, they will be lost. And God has only established that everyone that believes will be saved. No, Romans 9 is far from Calvinist teaching. Paul wasn't the first Calvinist. Paul didn't teach Calvinism.  The Calvinist doctrine is the evil antithesis of the Gospel.

Monday, March 14, 2016

THE REVELATION BLESSING FOR FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIANS...

"Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near." Rev 1:3

The early church that received John's Apocalypse was in need of correction often and in need of encouragement always. The first century Christians were being put to death, Rev 2:10,13. The Christians in Asia's 7 churches (see Revelation chps 2 and 3), not the city of Rome proper, were under duress and the words of John promised a blessing to them.

As I read the letter through the eyes of the first century Christians, I read words of encouragement to remain faithful with the promise that God's temporal and eternal judgments are imminent. The judgment of God on the harlot was imminent. And the coming of Christ with the final judgment is always seen as imminent. The two are separate, just as much as they are separate in Matthew 24 which tells of Jesus' judgment on Jerusalem and which also tells of the second coming of Christ on the last day. The first comes with signs of the approaching Roman army. The second has no signs and comes like a thief in the night. So the Christians in the first century received a blessing of encouragement from God through the Revelation letter.

It is wrong to steal away the blessing by interpreting the Revelation letter the way a Tim LaHaye or a Hal Lindsey who create a fiction that has no context for the early Christians. But it would also be wrong to rob the last chapters of their glorious promise of eternal bliss.

So when you read the Revelation letter, read it through their eyes. There is a blessing for reading it and for doing what it says.

IF YOUR CHILDREN ARE YOUNG

You are training your children and they are going to go the way you train them to go. Little children are designed to learn and you are training them. What will they learn? They are learning to be selfless or selfish. They are learning to be givers or takers. To be kind or brash. To be thoughtful or thoughtless. To be humble or proud. To be modest or vain. To be industrious or a slacker. To be responsible or untrustworthy. To be nurturers or discouragers. To be spiritual or fleshly. Be assured that your children are learning these things from you.

I have had parents of grown children very adamantly say they aren't responsible for the wrong direction their children went.

Firstly, parents are always taking credit when their children went the right way. But taking responsibility for the wrong direction the children went is harder to find. If parents are instrumental when their children go the right way, they are also instrumental in the wrong direction their children go. This is not said to condemn anyone. God has grace to save for parents who were less than effective in spiritual training - if they have faith and humility about the matter.

But secondly, no one is a perfect parent. No one can claim complete credit for all the good their children do and no one, and I mean no one, can absolve themselves of any responsibility for the wrong way their children go. So when children go astray, parents must examine and own when their training of their children wasn't up to God's expectations. Parents, if my selfish spirit overshadows other traits, that is going to affect my offspring. Parents, if my daily thinking of money and how to cling to more of it overshadows other traits, it will affect the children. If your thoughtfulness for the sick and the weak in the body of Christ is always being seen, it will overshadow the weaknesses in your character. We are none perfect, and so we must always be conscience that our children are watching and learning.

If your children are young, work especially hard to always show your love for Christ and your desire to always be pleasing to God. Make God and everything about the church of Christ to be the center of your life. Anything less simply will not do. God bless you young parents. I say this with humility and love.

by Dan Mayfield

GOD WILL FORGIVE YOU AND WILL RECEIVE YOUR SACRIFICE

God says to Israel, "23“You have not brought to Me the sheep of your burnt offerings, Nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened you with offerings, Nor wearied you with incense. 24“You have bought Me not sweet cane with money, Nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; Rather you have burdened Me with your sins, You have wearied Me with your iniquities." Isa 43

We come together on the Lord's Day because He gets the first of everything. He is first before parents, work, and before our cherished pursuits. So we worship God.

Why do we worship God? Because the life in you and me is necessarily given away to something or to someone. When we are not worshiping God at the appointed time, then we are giving worship to something else. To not worship God is to turn to an idol. Our life is sacrificed to the things of the flesh or it is given to God. There is no option but to sacrifice ourselves to something.

What was the sacrifice Israel brought to God? Sins and iniquities. The blood sacrifices might be offered, but what God saw was the sin of an unconverted people. It wearied and burdened God. And so he rejects the worship of people who love their mammon and other idols more than God. God simply will not accept the leftovers that are seasoned by a week of fleshly living. Have we sacrificed to your idol and expected that God would not notice?

The church of Christ is God's people. And God's people are to be holy and wholly devoted to Him alone. We are to love Him more than mother and father. We are to love Him more than our own life. Love Him more the delicacies and precious things of this world. Life is too short to be giving our best to the world.

"What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?" Says the LORD." Isa. 1:11

Israel, who God promises to forgive which probably means the faithful remnant, has been pleasing itself and has been worshiping itself. Paul tell the Romans that the mind set on the flesh is death. The mind of Israel was set on the flesh so that whatever it offered on the altar was a nauseating slab of meat and nothing more. There's no sweet aroma of a godly man who is bowed in his spirit. There's no gentle and quiet spirit of a godly woman bowing before His throne. God sees the idols in the heart. And so their sacrifices are sin and iniquity.

Paul also said in Romans 8 that the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. True worship must begin in the mind, heart and soul. The idols must be torn down. God is to be worshiped in spirit and truth, Jn 4:23,24.

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins." Isa. 43:25.

Life is too short to miss the promise of forgiveness from God. Maybe Isaiah's audience won't turn and rejoice over the blessed Gospel. It's so very hard to leave the idol in the heart. But God says He will forgive. It might not be you who is broken in spirit and who runs before the throne of grace. It might not be your children who have learned from you what is important. But there will be a remnant of people who put God first. And God will be glad to receive their sacrifices. They will have the aroma of a broken spirit. They will smell of love. They will be the visible representation of faith. And God will forgive.
by Dan Mayfield

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