counseling

Encouragement and Reflection

While we are busy with the holiday season sometimes it seems an impossible to time to stop and breathe and maybe, even perhaps realize how much we need the love and encouragement of Christ to keep moving forward. Yet as the year is coming to a close, this truly is the season to stop and soak up encouragement as we head full speed into the new year. We thought we would share some scripture here to encourage and cause reflection. We also look forward to this new year, your new year. 

Romans 8:1-2 NIV

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a]free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:35-39 (MSG)

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Galations 2:20 (NIV)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galations 2:19-21 (MSG)

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

Isaiah 44:22 (NIV)

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
    your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
    for I have redeemed you.”

Isaiah 44:21-23 (MSG)

“Remember these things, O Jacob.
    Take it seriously, Israel, that you’re my servant.
I made you, shaped you: You’re my servant.
    O Israel, I’ll never forget you.
I’ve wiped the slate of all your wrongdoings.
    There’s nothing left of your sins.
Come back to me, come back.
    I’ve redeemed you.”

23 High heavens, sing!
    God has done it.
Deep earth, shout!
    And you mountains, sing!
    A forest choir of oaks and pines and cedars!
God has redeemed Jacob.
    God’s glory is on display in Israel.

Lamentations 3:58 (NIV)

You, Lord, took up my case;
    you redeemed my life.

Matthew 9:36 (NIV) 

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

More on Thankfulness: Keep going.

As we venture deep into the month of November, which so many equate with a time for thankfulness and reflection, it is time to also be aware that it is not just cultural but Biblical. Why would God instruct us to be grateful?

Why would we not be grateful? This is a discipline, a discipline of our mind, our will, and our nature. We are hard wired by sin to complain, lament, bemoan, commiserate; regarding any circumstance we are experiencing. Even if we win the lottery we’ll complain about taxes and how many “new” friends we have.

The lead of Jesus was to thank his father daily, eventually even thankful for the “cup” that would not pass from his life. Imagine what our lives would be like (if they even were to exist) if we had a complaining Christ, a bitter Jesus? Let’s make this Thanksgiving a hallmark event in our life, a commitment to live differently, love differently, and think differently.

15. Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

16. Romans 1:21

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

6. Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Keep going...God has commanded us to do so.