SHERWOOD – Preaching from Joshua 1:1-9 and other passages, Robert Smith, professor of Christian preaching at Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, Ala., encouraged leaders attending the Arkansas Baptist State Convention 2013 State Conference on Evangelism and Church Growth to “be strong and courageous” as they seek to share the gospel.
Prior to delivering his message, Smith thanked the convention for inviting him to be a part of the state evangelism conference.
"What a privilege it is to be a child of God, to know that you have been born twice and you only have to die once," he said.
“I want to talk about the God of the 'I was' and that 'I will be,’” Smith began.
He explained leaders sometimes put a comma or period in our ministry where God intends to put a semicolon.
Such was the case in the death of Moses – as with many leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. – people were perplexed and searching for answers. Smith said the Israelites were concerned with who would lead them.
“When one throne is vacant, God is always on His throne,” he said, adding, "God buries His workers, but not His work."
Additionally, Smith said God’s leaders sometimes question their calling – especially during difficult times.
“I can't count on myself, but I can count on God," he reassured.
“You've got to believe in the call of God,” Smith said. “We believe in the sufficiency of the Word of God, but do we believe in the sufficiency of the God of the Word?"
Reading from Joshua 14:11, Smith said while Joshua was at the time seemingly given a more important task than Caleb, Caleb didn’t “bellyache,” but rather he said, “Give me this mountain.”
“I still feel God is able. We need people comfortable in their own skin. We should rejoice with each other … but because it all belongs to God,” said Smith, adding, “Be comfortable being a Caleb. Be comfortable being an Andrew. (Remember that) Andrew is always bringing someone to Jesus.”
Smith said that we shouldn’t think too much of ourselves or our ministries and should always strive to train our successor.
“We are not indispensable. If you believe so, mess around and die!” he said to the roar of the crowd. “We need understudies to us. … I pity a church when it dies because the pastor dies or leaves … because a church is not built on a person.”
Smith encouraged those present to understand and observe the “pace and pitch” of their ministries, reiterating, "We have put too many periods where God has put semicolons."
The mark of ministry is not when things are going well, rather when they aren’t going well.
"God is not the God that takes you out of the storm; He keeps you in the storm," Smith said.