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When we set new goals and objectives, we set ourselves up to have a head on collision with something called "restraint."
It's the New Year. Time for a fresh start. Time for renewed goals to achieve those things that God has put in your heart. I love that about the New Year; I love that fresh start.

It often reminds me of the day I received Jesus into my heart and He "forgave me of all my sins and cleansed me from all unrighteousness—all wrongdoing" (1 John 1:9).

It was a fresh start with the Lord then, and I've loved fresh starts ever since.

There are many worthy goals and objectives people think of at this time of year. Maybe you want to spend more time reading or studying God's Word, or maybe you want to spend more time in prayer. Maybe you want to lose some weight, or start an exercise program, or take a class to further your education.

No matter what the goal and objective is, it's great to approach it with a new fresh start. It's also great to have support and encouragement. Unfortunately, there often isn't much support around.

People will be glad to hear about your new goals and will often offer initial words of encouragement, but that will quickly fade. Then it will be you facing those goals eye-to-eye, all by yourself.

You might get in a Bible Group of some kind to learn, fellowship, and pray with others in support of achieving your daily goals. There will be support and encouragement in a place like that, but that usually won't happen more than once a week.

You will still have to face the rest of the week yourself. Even if you get in a support group like Weight-Watchers—which is excellent and would offer you far more support and encouragement than you'd get in other places—you still have to do the work of losing weight yourself.

When we set new goals and objectives, we set ourselves up to have a head on collision with something called "restraint." We will never experience real change at anything without restraint.

What Is Restraint?
Restraint is that thing we are all supposed to have in within us. That ability "to hold back or to keep in check; to keep under control: to limit or restrict whenever necessary." Restraint is something we were to have developed along our path of life.

When we were children, our parents were supposed to have restrained us. Proverbs 23:13 says, "Don't fail to discipline your children. They won't die if you spank them." This verse is talking about restraining children when they are young.

Methods are altered to the age of the child as they grow older, but restraint in some form is to be taught and administered to them so that they have learned what it is. Then, when they get to be adults, they will have the ability to restrain themselves.

Some children are disciplined, but far too many are not. Some parents don't because they are confused over the fact that discipline and spanking sounds and feels cruel. They have concerns it might do psychological damage.

While abuse may cause psychological damage, correctly administered discipline certainly will not. In fact, withhold it from your children and you will have real problems on your hands. If restraint through discipline is taught early on, and if it's administered appropriately (with compassion but with firm instruction), it will save a child's life. It will teach them restraint.

Proverbs 22:15 says, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him." The rod of correction is not spanking alone. It also implies teaching, tutoring, mentoring, and firm instruction.

These are all tools to teach children restraint as they grow to adulthood.

Another reason parents don't teach their children restraint is because they don't practice any themselves. You are rarely going to find a father or mother who is 100 pounds overweight instructing their children to eat nutritionally and moderately.

Most people will not steadfastly instruct what they do not practice themselves. Children who have parents who don't administer restraint become one of two things: they either learn no restraint at all and become just like their parents, or they become the abused objects of unhappy hypocrites.

Either way, the child of a parent without restraint suffers greatly.

Proverbs 25:28 says, "He whose spirit is without restraint is like a city broken down, without walls." At the time when this was written, a city with broken down walls or without walls represented a city that could easily be attacked by the enemy.

The enemy could come in and raid the city and then destroy everyone in that city. This verse is teaching us that when we don't have restraint, we set ourselves up to be hurt and attacked in numerous ways—over and over again.

Restraint is critical to our lives.

When we set goals—"today I am going to limit my calorie intake, eat only certain healthy foods and no sweets"—the enemy immediately moves in to tempt us. Hunger begins to build; the thoughts, desires, and patterns of old eating habits begin to surface again.

Restraint is needed to overcome those thoughts and desires, and to reestablish healthy new patterns. Do not be deceived. Restraint is not something you put on like amour. It's something that is built within like muscle.

Restraint is built over time by you receiving the truth about what God says to you in 1 John 4:4: "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them (every voice and temptation): because greater is He (Jesus) that is in you, than he (Satan and every demonic voice, spirit, and source of temptation) that is in the world" (AMP).

There are many promises of God's strength for your inner man. The knowledge and faith received in those truths, coupled with prayer and the exercise of restraint, is how that strength from God grows and progress toward goals is made.

It takes work. It's not a magic wand. Don't let the devil tell you that your walls are torn down. Tell him you are a child of God and restrain him and the temptations that would prevent you from reaching your goals.

Parents are to restrain children. We are children of God and—through prayer and the help of His Holy Spirit, His grace, His inward strength, and the promise of His Word—we are the ones who restraint ourselves as adults.

Enjoy your fresh start in Him!

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All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Tim Burt
Web site: Todays Fresh Manna
Pastor Tim became a part of the leadership team at Living Word Christian Center in 1984 and served as Associate Pastor from 1989 to 2017. He and His wife Renee, also a Pastor at Living Word, resigned, feeling impressed by God to pursue the tremendous growth of their ministry "Fresh Manna," as well as teaching conferences and seminars, and increasing their involvement on the mission field through Tim & Renee Burt Ministries.

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