Encouragement to Pass the Baton – Crosswalk Devotional
By Laura Bailey, Crosswalk.com
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” – 2 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV
Recognizing the handwriting on the front of the card, a grin quickly spread across my face. The person behind this well-timed letter of encouragement? A wise, older spiritual mentor who had invested countless hours encouraging and spurring me on in various ministry avenues. Often times with notes just like the one in my hand.
It had been one of those weeks, and really, the past few months had been difficult in ministry. Our church was experiencing a time of transition, the congregation constantly changing, causing a deeper strain and commitment on already maxed-out members to keep serving through this uncertain time.
In this particular season, our church experienced great loss among our elderly serving saints, some rejoicing in Heaven while others were confined to their homes. We deeply felt the absence of these spiritual powerhouses, their physical contributions, their rich godly wisdom, and their deep love for the Lord and His people.
As I read over the card from my mentor, a woman I playfully call my “church grandmother,” tears pricked my eyes. She wrote to let me know she was praying for me, that I would have strength and wisdom as I served. She closed the letter with warm regards and unexpected biblical commissioning from 2 Timothy 4:1-2, “I’m passing the baton to you.”
Paul’s letter to Timothy was his way of passing on the honor, privilege, and great responsibility of teaching the church. This charge to Timothy contained the Greek word diamartyromai, meaning obligation. Paul’s word choice implies that he desired Timothy not only to listen but ready himself to obey. In the subsequent verses, Paul urged Timothy to prepare to teach the Gospel in all seasons, to all people, in times of prosperity and adversity.
The inspiration for the final words in my mentor’s letter came from Paul’s final words as he passed the baton to Timothy because his earthly life would soon come to an end. With these words, Paul encouraged Timothy to persevere and remember the gospel as he had modeled. Paul and Timothy had a mentor relationship, a father/son bond, and a deep friendship. Paul loved Timothy and wanted to see him succeed in his earthly ministry, but he knew from experience serving the Lord is filled with opposition and hardship.
Paul’s final words of advice, as he reiterated the passing of his ministry leadership to Timothy, “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5) Paul passed down wisdom from years of experience; keep calm, preserve through the trials, share the Good News, and complete the calling of Christ on your life. As we read through other accounts of Timothy, we see that he did heed Paul’s wisdom. He grabbed the baton of faith, ran the race well, and persevered.
My mentor and the Lord knew I would need encouragement and commissioning to navigate and persevere in ministry. May we strive to be people with arms and hearts open to receiving this great commissioning from the saints who have run their race and finished strong. And may we be faithful in looking for opportunities to pass the baton of faith when the time comes.
Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle
Sermon: Faith and Life
By: Charles Spurgeon
‘Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’ 2 Peter 1:4
Suggested Further Reading: Colossians 3:1–10
Rejoice in this, brethren, you are made partakers of the divine nature, and all these promises are given to you in order that you may show this forth among the sons of men, that you are like God, and not like ordinary men; that you are different now from what flesh and blood would make you, having been made participators of the nature of God. The other result which follows is this, ‘Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’ Ah, beloved, it were ill that a man who is alive should dwell in corruption. ‘Why seek ye the living among the dead?’ said the angel to Magdalene. Should the living dwell among the dead? Should divine life be found amongst the corruptions of worldly lusts? A member of Christ’s body found intoxicated in the streets, or lying, or blaspheming, or dishonest! God forbid. Shall I take the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot? How can I drink the cup of the Lord, and drink the cup of Belial? How can it be possible that I can have life, and yet dwell in the foul tomb of the world’s lusts? Surely, brethren, from these open lusts and sins you have escaped: have you also escaped from the more secret and more delusive temptations of Satan? O, have you come forth from the lust of pride? Have you escaped from laziness? Have you clean escaped from carnal security? Are you seeking day by day to live above worldliness, the love of the things of the world, and the ensnaring greed which they nourish? Remember, it is for this that you have been enriched with the treasures of God.
For meditation: Never treat evangelism as an excuse for worldly behaviour. We must meet unconverted people, but what will make an impression upon them is the fact that we have been transformed by the grace of God. This should be seen both positively (Matthew 5:16) and negatively (1 Peter 4:3–4).
Genesis 28:15 15I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Jacob had bought his brother’s birthright and stolen his blessing. As he fled from his brother Esau, he had an encounter with God at Bethel. There, God promised many things to this rascal. Nothing is really asked of Jacob. True, Jacob valued the blessing but went about obtaining it in an ungodly manner. Once God had expressed the blessing and promises to Jacob, Jacob went about cutting a deal. Allow me to paraphrase it. “OK, if you protect, feed, clothe me, and get me back here safely, tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you a tenth and worship you here. Then I’ll adopt you as my god.” (I use the little “g” intentionally.)
How patient God is with us! Jacob had just been told how blessed he was, in spite of his deceptions, received promises he didn’t deserve, and then he talked to God as if God needed him! If we will look deep within our own heart, we will find the same is often true of us and our requests of God. He has given us promises as great as the ones He gave to Jacob, and we still wheel and deal with Him as if He should be grateful for our worship.
Prayer: Oh Lord, open our eyes to who You are and all that You have promised us. Help us to worship and adore You and ask in humble gratitude only the things that are in your will for your glory and honor.
Wow! Glory to God – Todays Devotion
SCRIPTURE READING — 2 CORINTHIANS 1:18-22
It is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us. . . .
I have a wooden “Christmas” tree that stays up all year in my living room. After the Christmas season, because it is a flat tree with shelves, it is my tree of wisdom, and on each shelf there is a sign with an inspiring, clever saying on it. For example, “Sing like no one is listening”; “Dance like no one is watching”; “Love like you have never been hurt before”; “Live like heaven begins tomorrow”; “We do second chances”; and “Today I need a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus.”
My favorite chair sits beside the tree, and when people enter my house, they usually notice the tree and comment on it. The signs remind me to smile or pray or appreciate something about our life, our story, and our family.
I am thankful that 2 Corinthians reminds us of who God is. God’s promises are sealed with the “Yes” of his love for us in Jesus. God’s “Amen” (“So be it”) is to his glory. He has affirmed us as his own, and through the Holy Spirit he has given us full, new life. There is no waffling on God’s part. God’s “Yes” is always “Yes.”
Let this be a “Wow!” thought for your day. God is completing in you what he started.
Dear God, thank you for equipping us to stand firm. Thank you for working in us so that your glory can be seen. Thank you for the “Wow!” factors in your promises. Amen.