By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
KNOXVILLE — As his term as president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention came to a close, David Green offered some words of excitement. He also issued a challenge.
Delivering the president’s message at the 145th annual meeting of Tennessee Baptists, Green reminded those in attendance that they have the ultimate reason to rejoice: Salvation. Green also challenged attendees to “evangelize the lost, encourage the saved and extend our borders.”
Green, pastor of First Baptist Church, Greeneville, delivered his year-ending president’s message during the Tuesday evening session of this year’s Summit, held at First Baptist Concord.
Green preached from Isaiah 54, and reminded attendees that they should “rejoice in the promises of God, respond to the plan of God, rely on the power of God and and remember our relationship with God.”
He also encouraged Christians to rejoice always, celebrating all that God has done for us. “The Lord inhabits our praise,” said Green. “So, if we want Him around, then why don’t we sing more than we cry? … We need to stop acting like God is dead. We need to stop acting like God didn’t promise us anything. We need to stop acting like Jesus didn’t die on the cross for our sins. We need to live our lives like free people.”
Green said the promise of salvation is cause for celebration. As such, Christians should never stop rejoicing, even during the so-called “hard seasons” of life.
“If you can’t praise God where you are, then you can’t praise Him where you wish you were,” said Green. “We need to learn to praise God in any circumstance. … Jesus is who He says He is, and we need to start living our lives like we believe it. He bought our peace with His blood.”
God’s perfect timing is another reason for Christians to be filled with joy, regardless of the details, Green said.
“God is always right on time,” he said. “He’s not going to be early, He’s not going to be late. He’s going to be right on time, because He knows best.”
Green noted that today’s Christians, like the Israelites, should be reminded to rejoice and sing because of God’s promises, not because of their position. “Today, the church is the recipient of the promises of God, but we act like the ones in exile,” said Green.
“When problems come to the household of faith, praises must rise from the faithful,” he added. “God really does inhabit the praises of His children. I can’t think of a better way of drawing near to God than telling Him how much you love Him.”
Green said there are few things sadder in the world than seeing a defeated Christian; one who has lost sight of the joys of being a child of God.
“We’re heirs of the promise — that’s the best news ever,” he said. “So, let’s enlarge the tent, stretch out the curtains of your dwelling, lengthen the cords, strengthen the stakes. If you’re putting up the spiritual tent of God, you’d better have the right cords and you’d better have long stakes.”
Green reminded attendees that they need to guard against seeking the favor of men instead of pleasing the Lord.
“We dare not have a shallow, superficial piety that attracts the attention of men, while it turns away the very heart of God,” said Green.
The love of Jesus should be on display in everything we do, Green said, especially in regard to how we treat others.
“If we loved one another inside our churches as much as we say we love Jesus, people would be knocking down the doors to get into the church,” he said.