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And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 2 Peter 1:4 (NLT)

Rules. No one really likes them. Even when you are the one making the rules you don’t really like them. Rules can be made for many reasons. Some people make rules to protect themselves, to gain power over others, or to stop some issue that they have a personal problem with.

Nations have fallen and lives have been lost because people revolted against the rule makers or the rule makers enforced the rules harshly. Rules, by nature, carry with them the idea that you can’t have freedom and rules at the same time. Ironically, that is a rule in and of itself.

Rules can also be made with our best interest in mind. “Don’t touch a hot stove.” “Look both ways when crossing a street.” “Don’t do drugs.” Good rules. Made with your best interest in mind. No control issues there.

But we still get burned. We still get hit by cars when we run into the street. We still get addicted to drugs. Why? Because the human nature, the voices of the enemy tell us that we are invincible. We go ahead and have the affair because we’ll be careful and not hurt anyone. Speeding this time won’t hurt. Wearing a seat belt when I drive is being a sissy. We make up all sorts of excuses.

But breaking rules really amounts to one thing that none of us really wants to admit. Sin is fun. That’s another lie the enemy tells us and to be honest, he’s right…sort of. There’s something in our human nature, the adventurous side that tells us it’s exciting to live free of rules and that nothing bad will happen to us or others.

Oftentimes, people who proudly flaunt their lives of ‘freedom’ do so to cover up a gaping wound. They try to fill that wound with all sorts of things. Activities, friends, drugs, sex, multiple partners, even good things like working for charities. But they just can’t fill that wound.

The Apostle Peter shows us how to fill the void. The salve that heals our wound isn’t found in ourselves. It isn’t found in anything we see or do in this world. Healing comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  The rules, so to speak, that He gives us for daily living aren’t so He can control us. They are there solely for our benefit.

That wound inside yourself can only be filled through forgiveness and faith in Jesus. The old nature, your human side, will still try to draw you back to the old ways. The ways of so-called freedom, but you know that so-called freedom only leads to more pain.

Allow the promises and new life of Christ to empower you to live in true freedom. Freedom from the guilt, the pain, the fear of being caught, the fear of death itself. He promises to empower you through His Spirit to live a full, refreshing, happy life free from the pain of the wound.

PRAYER: God in Heaven. I’ve known about you for a long time. I’ve even given my life to you at one point. But the pain of this wound was too great. I tried to fill it with things that didn’t satisfy and ended up hurting myself and others. Please forgive me for my weakness. Empower me to live for you in freedom. Thank you for your promises of excellence and power in my life. I accept your forgiveness and resolve to live in your power from this day forward. Amen.

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

In this age of technology the most amazing computer of all is that oldest computer of all, the human mind. There is nothing so powerful, so fast and so able to store, retrieve and make use of information as our minds. A computer, amazing as it is, is only as capable as the mind of the operator!

Our minds tell us each morning who we are, how valuable we are, who God is and what He can do for us. Our minds control how we feel about ourselves, our relationships, our abilities and the chances for success in the midst of struggle. It’s often our minds and not our abilities or circumstances that determine our chances in the midst of turmoil.

The Bible tells us that a mind that steadfastly trusts in God is a mind that is at peace. The mind is considered the intellectual part of the human being. It’s the part of us that rationally evaluates the facts before us and makes an action decision based on the facts.

The heart on the other hand is the ‘emotional control’ center of the body. Acting on emotions without, or ignoring the facts (mind) leads us to actions and thought patterns that may be damaging to ourselves, our faith and God. Acting on emotion alone can lead us to despair, depression or even death.

Don’t allow your mind to control how you look at yourself or others. A mind that focuses on the facts of who God is and who you are in His sight is a mind that will be able to navigate even the toughest of times. Like a runner focused on the finish line, a steadfast mind is oblivious to distractions that may keep it from reaching the goal.

True peace can only come as a result of struggles. True peace is that inner quality that outside forces can not affect without our permission. A mind that steadfastly trusts God is a mind that will enable us to withstand anything that life can through at us. By growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ and learning more about Him through Bible Study and interaction with other Christ-followers, we can develop a mindset that will empower us to steadfastly trust in God and have the inner peace only He can give us.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you today for the amazing mind that you have given me. A mind that can store so much more information than I can imagine and makes man-made technology pale in significance. I confess to you that often times my mind causes me to doubt You, to doubt my abilities and to question the motives of those around me. I worry, I get angry, and I retaliate because I question your ability to handle the issues in my life. I ask today, that you would give me a mind that is focused on your power, your riches and your ability to see me through life. Help me to grow closer to you and to Jesus through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. Romans 8:6 (NLT)

There are times in our lives when God seems far from us. Prayers seem to go unanswered. Relationships fail or flounder at best. We can’t seem to control our nasty sin habits. It seems like all of life is going down the tubes.

God loves each of us very much. He loved us enough to send His Son Jesus to die as an innocent man so that we can be forgiven. No matter how many times you fail, no matter how many times you make wrong choices that hurt you or those you love, He will always welcome you back.

That’s the good news. So why is it that even those of us who strive to follow Christ in each aspect of our lives have such a struggle with peace and resisting sin?

The problem lies with our mind. Our mind is a powerful thing that can control how we think about ourselves, others and God. If we allow ourselves to dwell on our failures and our sin, we will never break those habits.

If we allow ourselves to constantly think about the things others have done to us we will never be free to forgive and to move on with life. Forgiveness isn’t for the person that wronged us. Forgiveness is for our freedom!

If we let our desires, lusts and self esteem be controlled by our own desires we will continue to live a life of defeat and frustration.

Not only is the mind powerful, it’s trainable. But it takes lots of work and lots of prayer. Begin each day with a resolve that you will focus only on what God wants in your life. Ask His help in keeping you pure from the thoughts, frustrations and anger that keep you entrapped. Surround yourself with trusted, Christ-following friends that will support you, celebrate your victories and understand your failings.

We live in defeat as followers of Jesus Christ because we allow our minds to be guided and controlled by our own sinful nature and not the powerful, loving, Holy Spirit of God.

PRAYER: Holy God, I come to you today admitting that I’m frustrated and angry with my inability to live the life I want to live. I want your life and peace to control me on one hand, but on the other hand I want my own selfish desires to be satisfied. I live in guilt and shame knowing that I fail You and others so often and you are so willing to take me back. Please forgive me. Help me to start each day with the resolve to live in your peace. Empower me with the wisdom and power of Your Holy Spirit to live one day, one moment at a time learning to control my mind for you. Bring people and healthy relationships into my life that will draw me to You. Amen.

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