The Apostle Paul has just written those famous words, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)
He goes to say, he wasn’t sure which he would choose. He knew being with Christ would be far better, but he also knew serving out his purpose on earth, shepherding the flock, would reap eternal blessings.
And then, he cautions his readers to, “let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, ” to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27)
The Ancient Greek word for “conduct”here means literally to live as a citizen worthy of the gospel of Christ.
If our sins have been forgiven by the blood of the Lamb ,and Jesus is Lord of our life—we are citizens of another Kingdom, and we should live daily with this in mind.
And if this is daily on our minds, Paul says, then we should not, in any way, be terrified by our adversaries (Phil 1:28)
I remembered I had thought through this passage a few weeks ago, even before I knew I would take this slow read through all of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi.
Paul actually wrote, “not in “ANY WAY (be) terrified”.
Not in ANY way?
How about just a “little way” be terrified?
The word “terrified” here is a strong term likened to the terror of a panicked horse.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt like a panicked horse before. Maybe I didn’t show it on the outside, but my stomach has felt like a horse frantically jumping and reacting to bad news.
But, God’s children are to have no fear of bad news! And if you’ve watched the news lately you know there is a lot of bad news not to fear!
But, the Psalmist said, “For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.” (Psalm 112:6-8)
But how do we possibly find that calm steadiness in the midst of our scary world?
I think we have to train ourselves to pause.
We take the time to breathe in truth and let the truth of God, through the Holy Spirit, do it’s work in us.
Remember the Apostle Paul told us, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Rom 8:6
Think of this as pausing to deliberately turn an imaginary dial to “life and peace” rather than to “death”.
Life and peace come as we daily, sometimes moment by moment, lean into God, our refuge and our strength—
For “God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress”. (Psalm 46:1-11)
Did you pause? Did you read that slow and take it in? If not, perhaps, read it again?
For as we pause, as we pray, as we breathe in truth, we allow the Holy Spirit to remind us that, The King of the Universe is with us, we can be still, and we can know, once more, He has us.
Friend, this is the way we do not fear trouble, toil, and death in this day.
This is the way we experience life and peace and exhibit a faith that draws others to our Lord.
May you experience life and peace in this day from the One who holds us close and has our every tomorrow.
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