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Monday, November 8, 2010

Trees on an autumn morning (photo by Doris High)
Autumn morning scene in Lancaster County PA
(Photo by Doris High)

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"Guarding the Good Deposit"

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received" (1 Corinthians 15:3). "Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care"  (1 Timothy 6:20). "Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you--guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us" (2 Timothy 1:14). "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others" (2 Timothy 2:2). "Contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3).

Brooksyne received an interesting phone call recently. An elderly friend, although healthy at the present time and having no reason to believe her death is imminent, is wisely making preparations for her funeral.  She wanted the lyrics to a familiar Christian song by John Mohr titled, "Find Us Faithful".  It has a recurring line that states "May all who come behind us find us faithful." Well, that is certainly prudent foresight and provides an opportunity for witness much like the ongoing testimony of Abel, of whom it is written, "Though he is dead, he still speaks" (Hebrews 11:4).

Relay race runnerWhen I was in High School I participated in track and ran on a relay team.  In our practices our coach stressed the importance of passing the baton (the metal cylinder used in the relay).  A critical part of an effective relay race is the passing of the baton and we would actually practice this over and over.

In a relay race there is a small designated relay zone where the pass can take place, not before and not after.  It was critically important that we didn't drop the baton during the pass.  And I certainly recall an emphasis on the obvious – during my leg of the relay I was to carefully hold on to the baton and not let it slip from my grip!

In our first text Paul is writing to the Corinthian believers and states the essence of how the Gospel is transmitted, "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received."  The pattern is this: We receive, then we pass on.

In the two Biblical epistles to Timothy the apostle Paul was passing the torch (or baton, if you will) of the faith to the succeeding generation.  Paul calls this the "good deposit".  Although the direct recipient of these letters was Timothy, each believer in every generation does well to heed the charge in the daily Scripture portions.  Perhaps you will do so as well. It's interesting that in the Greek Paul adds further solemnity to this charge by placing the exclamation "O" before it (as seen in the King James Version). Thus it reads, "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust."

I preached from this text yesterday to our congregation. Coincidentally, we had a visitor by the name of Timothy. He told me later that when I emphasized, "O Timothy…" it shook him up a little, as he thought, "Oh no, the preacher's trying to get my attention."  He was doubly attentive after that point!

Today I place my name into this charge that Paul so solemnly gave to Timothy and encourage you to do so as well.
In my case the passage would read, "O Stephen, guard what has been entrusted to your care."

Each generation has a responsibility in guarding the deposit of faith passed on by the preceding generation and in turn passing it on unchanged to the succeeding one.  That's at the very heart of what Biblical Christian faith and ministry is all about.  We must vigilantly continue to, "Contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3).

Paul set forth the pattern to Timothy, "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others" (2 Timothy 2:2).  In a sense I am both receiving the baton and passing it on simultaneously. 

As I study the Bible I'm still reaching back and receiving.  I also benefit from many believers in past generations who have guarded the good deposit as well as my elders who are still living.  And I'm passing it on as well. Brooksyne and I view this online writing ministry as a part of our passing on truth.

Passing baton in relay raceHowever I am considering the present baton pass of truth during the pass zone which is my generation and specifically my life. I consider this both individually and for the church at large.  In my heart I believe there are significant ways the modern, visible church is slipping in this regard and it brings grief to my spirit.

And yet I am convinced that there will always be a remnant church, faithfully holding to the truths of Holy Scripture until our Lord returns. Christ has stated that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18). This true church may very well be hated by the world, for as it contends for the truth and the faith once for all entrusted to the saints, it will be labeled stupid, ignorant, intolerant, mean-spirited, hateful and even dangerous. In fact it already is.

May the Lord help us to be faithful in holding onto the Living Word, not compromising its message through our speech or lifestyle.  As we pass it on to the next generation in our present passing zone, may we do so without changing or watering down the truths and commands God sets forth in His Word.  Let us not customize or interpret God's timeless truths to more comfortably adjust our viewpoints to the trends of our society.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, the commandments that You give are to be impressed upon our hearts. Your love motivates us to obey Your commands and Your holiness teaches us to align our desires with Your own.  Help us to be extremely cautious about new teachings that are pleasing to the ear and popular with our present generation, but do not bear witness with our spirit or Scripture.  As we study Your Holy Word, from cover to cover, and meditate upon Your principles we will hold on to that which is of most importance and pass on to those who come behind the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints of all generations.  Amen.    

Selected portions of verses implemented into our daily prayer: Deuteronomy 6:6, Colossians 1:13,14

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Find Us Faithful"  Video   Steve Green  This is the song referred to in the message.

"Ancient Words"  Video

"Speak, O Lord"

"Word Of God Speak"  Video

This has absolutely nothing to do with today's message but was a humorous experience personally observed by us.  We intentionally withhold the name of the church and town, but it's located somewhere out there in North America: TMI: Second Opinion. I place this story on my humor blog "A Little Foolishness" which I rarely have time to post to.

Our friend Doris High's "Signs of Fall In Our Neighborhood" photo collection.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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