“The grace of God…teaches us to say ‘No’”
Tit 2:11-12 NIV
Talk back to your feelings. We put far too much emphasis on our feelings. We think everything has to feel good or it’s not worthwhile. We say things like, “I don’t feel like studying…I don’t feel like working…I don’t feel like reading my Bible”. Or, I feel like having another drink…I feel like sleeping until noon.” Don’t give your feelings so much authority. A feeling is highly unreliable; if you allow them they will control and manipulate you. God doesn’t want you to be controlled by your feelings; He wants you to master your moods. With Christ as the Master of your life, you can master your feelings. Talk back to them. God says He wants you to learn how to challenge your emotions. “The grace of God…teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled upright godly lives” (vv. 11-12 NIV). God's grace gives you the power to do what’s right. It gives you the ability to say no to that feeling, to that desire, to that impulse. Are you battling a weight problem? Before you ever walk into the kitchen and open the refrigerator door, you have already begun to talk to yourself about eating. If you are serious, you will have to challenge some of those subconscious attitudes about food. When you hear your mind saying, “I just have to have a snack or I’ll die,” you have to say, “No, I’m not going to die. In fact, I will be healthier if I don’t have a snack.” Bottom line: God’s supernatural power can help you to master your moods, thoughts, and desires.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Php 4:13 NKJV
Start believing you can change. Your beliefs control your behavior. The way you think determines the way you feel. And when your feelings become strong enough, they determine the way you act. The person who says, “I can’t do it,” and the person who says, “I can do it,” are both right. Much of the time you set yourself up to be defeated by what you’re saying. Your words reinforce either your right or wrong belief system. Three times in First Peter, God reminds us to be clear-minded and self-controlled. Why? Because a clear mind is essential to self-control. God gave us the power to change our habits when He gave us the power to choose our thoughts. Does Romans twelve verse two tell us to be transformed by working hard of by sheer willpower? No. What are we transformed by? The renewing of the mind. When your self-control is being tested, you need to fill your mind with the promises of God. Here’s one: “When you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Co 10:13 NIV). You must believe God when He says there’s “a way out” for you. Paul writes, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That means you can change, and you can be different. Stop setting yourself up for failure by constantly criticizing yourself: “I’m no good. I simply have no control over my life.” Nagging doesn’t work on yourself or on anyone else! Instead say, “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mk 9:23 NIV). “And I believe.”
“With the Lord’s help, [you] will stand.”
Ro 14:4 NLT
“Nothing…can separate us from God’s love.”
Ro 8:39 CEV
That first Christmas, God did something extraordinary. Max Lucado puts it this way: “Stepping from the throne, He removed His robe of light and wrapped Himself in skin: pigmented human skin. The light of the universe entered a dark, wet womb. He whom angels worshiped nestled Himself in the placenta, was birthed into the cold night, and then slept on a cow’s hay. Mary didn’t know whether to give Him milk or give him praise, so she gave Him both-since He was, as near as she could figure, hungry and holy. Joseph didn’t know whether to call Him junior or father. But in the end, he called Him Jesus, since that’s what the angel said, and since he didn’t have the faintest idea what to name a God he could cradle in his arms.” Lucado continues: “Don’t you think their heads tilted and their minds wondered, ‘What in the world are You doing, God?’ Or better phrased, ‘God, what are You doing in the world?’ ‘Can anything separate us from the love of Christ?” (v.35CEV). Then he answers his own question: “Nothing can separate us from God’s love-not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers about or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate up from God’s love” (vv. 38-39 CEV). Andthat’swhat Christmas is all about!
“A man’s temptation is due to the pull of his own inward desires.”
Jas 1:14 PHPS
For the next few days let’s look at how to develop self-control. Here’s the first step: Accept responsibility for your lack of self-control. Admit your problem. “A man’s temptation is due to the pull of his own inward desires, which greatly attract him.” The main reason you do things0is because you like to! When you know something’s bad for you but you still do it. It’s because you want to. Sometimes we try to ignore the problem of self-control of denying it: “What problem? I don’t have a problem,” or It’s just the way I am,” or “The Devil made me do it.” As long as you waste your energy making excuses, you can’t make progress. James points out that we like to take the path of least resistance, and giving in to temptation is usually the easiest course. The starting point for developing self-control is to face what God has already said in His Word: “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (Jn 8:34 NIV). Do you want more self-control? Then admit you have a problem, and be specific about it: “I have this problem. This is where I need help.” You may have a problem with food, drink, drugs, words, your temper, money, exercise, sex, TV, clothes, time-all these areas need self-control. So today get down on your knees and talk to God about the problem, believing that with His help you’ll be able to solve it.