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State Evangelism Conference encourages, challenges, ministers to participants, online viewers comment (0)

March 6, 2014

By Julie Payne

State Evangelism Conference encourages,  challenges, ministers to participants, online viewers

Many of you ... are carrying a burden,” said Sammy Gilbreath as he addressed the audience during the opening night of the State Evangelism Conference. 

“I pray that today and tomorrow you’ll let loose and let God touch your life,” added Gilbreath, director of the office of evangelism for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

The conference was held Feb. 24–25 at Eastmont Baptist Church, Montgomery, and also was streamed online, garnering more than 400 online viewers. The event offered the opportunity for participants to be encouraged, challenged and ministered to through a dynamic group of speakers and musicians, several of whom called attention to the pressing need for revival both in Alabama and the nation.

Headlining the opening night session was Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn., and former pastor of Gardendale First Baptist Church.

Gaines said he believes the difference between the church in the Book of Acts and today is prayer life. “We don’t pray like they pray,” he said, noting the concept of fervent prayer.

So what happens when people pray fervently? 

First God provides His peace, Gaines said, noting the example of Peter in Acts 12 sleeping in prison despite being bound with chains. Even though he was facing certain execution unless God intervened, Peter was experiencing perfect peace because of the church’s fervent prayer for him, Gaines noted. 

Second God activates angels, Gaines said, noting both the angel sent to Peter and the angel sent to shut the lion’s mouth while Daniel was in the lion’s den.

“One angel can do a lot of good. Maybe angels aren’t being activated because we’re not praying,” Gaines noted.

Third God surprises His servants. Gaines pointed to when Peter, after his prison escape, suddenly appeared to people who were gathered to pray for him. “When they opened the door, they were amazed,” Gaines said.

Lastly God engages His enemies, Gaines noted, providing the example in Acts 12 when King Herod did not give praise to God and was eaten by worms until he died. 

“You don’t need to be talking for God if you’re not talking to God,” Gaines concluded.

Another important aspect in the life of a believer is the concept of “stickability,” said Jim Futral, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention.

Futral referenced the end of John 6 where many disciples leave Jesus and He asks the Twelve if they also are going to quit. 

“If you don’t have stickability, it doesn’t matter what you do have — it won’t make any difference,” Futral said.

There are three things people need to do to have stickability, he noted. First check your credentials. “I’m talking about that simple, overwhelming … moment when Jesus touched your life and said, ‘I want to use you,’” Futral said. 

Then cling to the essentials, he added, referencing John 6:63 when Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you — they are full of the Spirit and life.” 

“It’s so easy for us to get off the essentials. ... Just do what Jesus told you to do,” Futral encouraged.

And don’t forget to celebrate the potential of saying yes to Jesus and letting Him work in us, Futral noted. “Don’t give up. You stick with the task — don’t let go,” he said.

But the instant you decide you want your church and your life to make a difference, be prepared because the enemy will attack, said Brett Pitman, pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church, Muscle Shoals.

Pitman told the audience that “you can do everything right and still suffer difficulty.” Job was a man of good character and reputation and great wealth but in one day he lost everything in his life, Pitman said.  

In the midst of suffering, remember that God has not forsaken you, Pitman said, noting that Job 42:12 says the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.

Compared to glory that awaits us, every bit of suffering in life is temporary because of the glory that is to come, Pitman noted.

In addition, all suffering provides an opportunity for God to be glorified, Pitman said, offering the audience some personal implications of how to deal with suffering. 

First allow weeping to lead you to worship, he said. “When you are stripped bare … beaten down … and yet in the midst of that through (a) broken heart you’re able to stand and worship the one true holy God … it will be the most glorious worship you will ever experience,” Pitman said.

Second suffer difficulty without sinning. “Oftentimes in our lives suffering is the doorway to greater sin,” he explained. 

Third look to the One who loves you supremely. “In the midst of suffering get your eyes off the storm and … on Jesus,” Pitman noted. “When you’re wondering if you’re going to make it, look to Jesus. Because He has overcome the world.”

It’s when the Father sees His Son Jesus that He is most pleased in us, said Vance Pitman, pastor of Hope Church, Las Vegas, Nev.

Six times in John 15:1–8 Jesus uses the phrase “bear fruit,” Vance Pitman said, noting four clues Jesus gives about what fruit is: fruit is the defining mark of a believer, it is a lifestyle characteristic, it is evident in varying degrees and it is that in the believer which glorifies the Father. 

Fruit is “the life of Jesus in me being lived through me,” Pitman said. “Through my union with Christ, I’m being changed on the inside. This change that’s happening on the inside comes out of my life on the outside.”

And while Jesus used the phrase “bear fruit” six times, not once is it an imperative, Vance Pitman said. “He never commanded you and me to bear fruit. You know why? We can’t … we’re just a branch.” 

Bearing fruit is not the focus of the life of a believer, he added. “The only thing the branch can do is hang on to the vine for all it’s worth, because the life is in the vine.”  

To read summaries of the sermons by other preachers — evangelist Bob Pitman; Alan Floyd, pastor of Cottage Hill Baptist Church, Mobile; and Georgia pastor Frank Cox — visit www.thealabamabaptist.org.

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