March 22 – Blessed to Carry and Pass the Baton of Faith

It was time for the baton to be passed.  Excitement builds when this is done during a middle school track meet or at the Olympic level for we know that the outcome of a good hard run race often comes down to a flawless passing of the baton.  Our family had pioneered the mission work with an unreached tribe in China near the border of Burma.  For many years prayer, language study, meeting people, sharing truth and a whole lot of life was lived as this group went from no known believers to young churches starting up to worship God in their own language.  God’s Kingdom expanded. We sensed we completed our contribution and those we trained were ready to grip the baton and run their leg of this great race.

Before he died, Moses passed on his ministry baton.  Joshua was God’s newly assigned leader for His people and several times God told Joshua to be strong and courageous.  The first eight chapters of the book named after him, are packed with action.  With the Promised Land before him, Joshua sent in two spies who were helped by Rahab.  Then with the ark of the covenant leading the way, the Israelites crossed the dry Jordan River. The Israelites set up stones as a memorial, all the men were circumcised, and the Passover was celebrated.  Finally, the fortified city of Jericho was captured with a march and a shout.  Joshua erected an altar for offerings to the Lord and the entire nation of Israel gathered expectantly on both sides of the ark of the Lord’s covenant.  They faced the Levitical priests who carried it and waited for the priests to bless the people of Israel. Afterward, Joshua read aloud all the words of the law—the blessings as well as the curses—according to all that is written in the book of the law. 

That is a lot of information to take in, and just imagine if we were there living it all out; our journals would be filled with one amazing act of God after the next!  Yet in our own lives God intervenes, blesses, guides, provides and so much more, for us, His children.  God, saying, “thanks” does not feel like enough for all that You do for us.  The very air that we breathe is a gift, a blessing from You.  Your nearness comforts, Your strength gives us strength, Your Presence guides us. Please accept our sacrifice of thanksgiving.  With deep gratitude may we run strong and pass the baton of faith to those who will run after us.  Amen.

P.S. Great joy is mine to pass on this update from one who has gripped the baton and is running strong. “As of October 2015, we have completed 50% of the New Testament and have published the following Scripture portions: Luke (2011), Acts (2013), and a booklet including 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, and James (2015). We have early drafts of most of the rest of the New Testament. The SD church is using the published portions for teaching and study at church gatherings and for personal Bible reading. We often hear reports that the SD believers are eager to receive more of the Scriptures. Keep praying for us toward that end—that we would speedily complete the New Testament for the glory of Christ!”

Joshua 8:33b-34 HCSB