A Life Worthy Of The Gospel

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ… (Philippians 1:27).

The apostle Paul wanted the Philippians’ living to be their preaching. Much like Francis of Assisi said years later: “Preach always; if necessary, use words.”

The big question is—what does conduct “worthy of the gospel of Christ” look like? I believe Paul identifies at least 15 characteristics in just the next 20 or so verses

  1. It is not a people-pleasing lifestyle. It is a God-honoring, Spirit-lead, Christ-glorifying lifestyle.
  2. It is steadfast, which means it perseveres even through the trials and difficulties.
  3. It is a heart and mind unified with other Christians.
  4. It is bold—“without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” 
  5. It is strengthened in Christ and it is in constant fellowship with the Holy Spirit. 
  6. It overflows with loving comfort, affection, and mercy to those around it.
  7. It humbly serves others while confidently refreshing itself in Christ.
  8. It strives to live as Jesus did, seeking always for God to be glorified.
  9. It is obedient to the conviction and direction of the Holy Spirit.
  10. It finds pleasure in doing God’s will.
  11. It doesn’t complain.
  12. It is a blameless and harmless life.
  13. It shines a light that attracts others to God’s love.
  14. It holds fast to the Word of life for the long haul.
  15. It is a rejoicing, contented lifestyle.

Heavenly Father, may it always be said of my life that it is one that is worthy of the gospel of Christ. May I always be sensitive to the nudges of the Holy Spirit to keep my life aligned in this way. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen! 

The Nearness Of God

I think too often we’re in too big of a hurry when we read the Bible. 

Think with me for a moment how much longer it takes to sing the lyrics of a heart-stirring song than it does to just say the words. The psalms were written as songs, and although the melodies that accompanied them have been lost to the pages of history, we would still do well to move more slowly and deliberately and passionately through these inspired songs. 

Let’s slowly consider Psalm 46 from four different perspectives…

First, as a pause from the noise. Selah can be used three different ways: (1) a pause to reflect; (2) a deep breath to crescendo into something bigger; or (3) a contrast between two very different things. There are three selahs in this psalm, and all of them call us to a pause from something noisy. To pause from…

    • natural upheavals—the earth gives way, the mountains fall, the waters roar, the mountains quake
    • political upheavals—nations are in an uproar, kingdoms fall 
    • religious upheavals—God has to serve the judgment of desolation, as He breaks the bow, shatters the spear, burns the shield

Selah/Pause from these upheavals and reflect—God is our refuge … the Lord Almighty is with us.

Second, notice the contrasts. The songwriter takes us to man’s mountains that fall and quake, but reminds us that THE mountain of God is our sure fortress. In the imagery of water, we see man’s attempts at refreshing that are roaring and foaming, but we also see God’s river that brings life and makes people glad. And look at how man’s use of power results in an uproar, but God makes wars to cease. 

Selah/Pause and reflect—aren’t God’s ways better than man’s ways? 

Third, notice the nearness of God. Twice the songwriter reminds us “The Lord Almighty is with us.” And then we hear God Himself speak to our anxiety-prone hearts, “Be still and know that I am God.” Those words “be still” can also mean “let go.” Let go of earthly things, negative voices, fears, trying to control events. If your hands are full of that, how can you grab onto God?! 

Selah/Pause and reflect—God is calling me to go—and stay—near to Him! 

Fourth, see how God’s peace and protection surrounds AND permeates me. In our Western literature, we are used to the climax—or the payoff—being at the end of the story. The story builds and then comes to a conclusion where the hero prevails. But in Hebrew poetry, the climax—or the payoff—is typically in the middle. So when we read Psalm 46, it’s tempting to say, “Hallelujah! Verse 11 says God is my fortress. That’s the climax, the payoff!” But really the payoff—the most important part—is the middle. In this psalm, that is verse 6. Everything else builds to this and radiates out from this. 

Read this psalm for yourself by reading the verses in this order: 6, 5, 7, 4, 8, 3, 9, 2, 10, 1, 11.

Selah/Pause and reflect—God is not only IN me, He also surrounds me. I’m invited to come close to Him because He is already in me. Nations rage, but His voice in my heart silences the upheaval. He is with me. He is the Most High Sovereign God that controls the outcome of all nations. Earth quakes and kingdoms rumble, but I will have no fear; I will be still and know He is God. He is my refuge, my strength, my help, my fortress! 

Don’t rush the reading of the Psalms. Slowly “sing” these inspired lyrics and listen to how the Holy Spirit will whisper to your heart. 

I’ll be continuing our series on the Selahs in the Psalms this Sunday, and I would love to have you join me. 

A Very Present Help

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

God is not just present—He is very present! 

God is not merely in the room with you, He is fully attentive to you. He’s never distracted, preoccupied, or disinterested. 

Regardless of the quaking or roaring around you, He is so very present that He knows your quietest sigh. You don’t have to look anywhere else for help because He is VERY present at this VERY moment. 

The rest of this psalm reiterates this promise:

  • God is in the midst
  • God will help
  • The Lord of hosts is with us
  • God is our stronghold 

God Himself speaks the words of the natural conclusion we should draw when we realize that He is VERY present at this VERY moment—

“Be still, and know that I am God!”

God + Nothing

You cannot serve God and _____________.

What goes in the blank? Not wealth, health, position, prestige, popularity, success. We turn all those good and legitimate things into God’s rival when our focus is on any one of them. 

Bottom line—NOTHING can go in that blank. All we need is God. 

“Your Father knows what you need” (Matthew 6:8). If you need wealth to complete His purpose for your life, He will give it to you. If you don’t, He will withhold it. But He will always give you your daily bread. 

If you need a prominent position, He will place you there; if you don’t, He will withhold that position. In either place, we still submit as faithful servants to holy God. 

If success will allow me to bring glory to God, He will give me success; if falling flat on my face will allow me to bring glory to God, He will knock me down.

If physical health will allow me to share the Gospel with others, God will keep me healthy; if I can serve Him best from a place of physical limitation, I can still do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

“My God is able to supply all my needs” (Philippians 4:19). He gives me all that I need to fulfill His plans for me. “So do not worry” about your bank balance, your standing in the community, your health, your family, or anything else. His grace is sufficient for you.

What goes in the blank? Nothing. 

God + Nothing = Everything you need!

Poetry Saturday—A Mother’s Day Wish

When I consider how my life is spent
The most that I can do will be to prove
‘Tis by His side, each day, I seek to move.
To higher, nobler things my mind is bent
Thus giving of my strength, which God has lent,
I strive some needy souls’ unrest to soothe
Lest they the path of righteousness lose
Through fault of mine, my Maker to present.
If I should fail to show them of their need
How could I hope to meet Him, face to face,
Or give a just account of all my ways.
In thought of mind, in word, and in each deed
My life must prove the power of His grace
By every action through my living days. —Nelle Reagan (President Ronald Reagan’s mother)

9 More Quotes from “The Way Of The Warrior”

Erwin McManus’ book The Way Of The Warrior will unleash something in you to want to become the warrior for peace that God intended you to be! Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“There is no territory more critical or difficult for you to take than that of your inner world. … Every battle that you will ever face in the outside world must first be one in your inner world.” 

“When your mind is shaped by hope, you do not see simply two paths; you see an endless number of paths filled with opportunity, possibility, and beauty. However, if your mind-set is shaped by cynicism or fear or doubt, then the only paths you see in front of you are the ones that are filled with pain and disappointment, with failure and hardship.” 

“The warrior knows that honor is not found in the victory. Honor is found in the nobility of the battle. If the battle is not worthy of the warrior’s life, there is no honor in its victory. In the same way, the warrior knows there is no dishonor in defeat. Failure and defeat are not the same. To fear defeat is to surrender victory. There is only a good fight and a good death for the one whose life is given to the noble. The warrior never claims victory for themselves but only for others. In the same way, the warrior never gives blame for defeat but owns it for themselves. The warrior owns defeat, and therefore defeat never owns the warrior. The warrior who lives and dies with honor enters each eternity undefeated.” 

“Here is the hard reality: even if it’s not your fault, it’s still your responsibility. Though the wounding wasn’t your fault, the healing is your responsibility. Though your past may not be your fault, your future is your responsibility. Though their choices were not your fault, your choices are your responsibility. Don’t let those who are at fault keep their hold on your life by relinquishing your power to change and to be free of them.” 

“Energizing and exhausting are not diametrically opposed. The things that give you energy also cost you energy, but that cost has a return. The things that energize you the most might actually cost you the most energy. They might be the hardest things that you do. They might be the most difficult challenges in your life. But when they are energizing, you do not find yourself in a deficit of energy, because whatever it costs you, the return is greater.” 

“The warrior finds their strength because they fight only battles that matter.” 

“Worry consumes your energy without productivity. … Worry is a waste of energy. Emotions such as anxiety and stress are the result of unharnessed energy misdirected by our fears and doubts. … When you doubt, you hesitate. When the warrior hesitates, he faces certain defeat. … When you doubt, your energy wars against itself. It becomes unharnessed and unfocused and loses its power. There is a strength that comes when you have confidence that even if you fail, you’ve given yourself to the right battle. We spend too much of our lives trying to make sure we are right about the what, the where, the when, and the how, and too little time making sure we are right about the why.” 

“We transmit to one another what occupies our souls. Your soul is the conduit of your energy. If your soul is empty, you will consume energy from the world around you. … When you are full of life, you become a conduit of life. You will become a source of what is good and beautiful and true. People will naturally draw inspiration from your life. They will see you as a source of hope.” 

“This is the paradox that the warrior has come to know. They know they are not the source of their own strength. The fire that burns within the warrior is an eternal fire. The warrior knows their strength because they know their weakness. It was Jesus who said, ‘Apart from the Father I can do nothing.’ The warrior understands there is no weakness in this. The warrior has found their strengths and their weaknesses. Jesus spoke to Paul about this: ‘My power is made perfect in weakness.’ The way of the warrior is to know that God is our strength. The warrior boasts all the more gladly about their weaknesses so Christ’s power may rest on them. The warrior knows they were created by God who is Spirit. Though we appear as flesh and blood, every cell in our bodies is energy. All our energy comes from God. What we do with our energy is up to us.” 

Check out some of the other quotes from The Way Of The Warrior that I shared here. 

Poetry Saturday—Christ In Me

What would it be like? To have Christ within?
To have my voice, but Him speaking.
My steps, but Christ leading.
My heart, but His love beating
in me, through me, with me.
What’s it like to have Christ on the inside?

To tap His strength when mine expires
or feel the force of heaven’s fires
raging, purging wrong desires.
Could Christ become my self entire?

So much Him, so little me
that in my eyes it’s Him they see.
No longer I, but Christ in me. —Max Lucado
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