LUTZ–Delivering a passionate and personal sermon to messengers gathered for the 2023 Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting, Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ executive director-treasurer proclaimed, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
Green shared that through the course of his 46-year-ministry, he has served in a variety of contexts, including “a rural church, a First Baptist red brick church, a white column church on the city square and a suburban church in a growing area.”
Focused on Hebrews 13:8, Green said, “The journey of faith and ministry has many challenges and changes. While the contexts of ministry are different, the constant of faith and ministry never moves.
In every season of life and ministry, Jesus Christ is the same. The same Christ who meets you on the top of the mountain is the Christ who meets you in the depth of the valley. The same Christ who sustains you in the good times is the Christ who sustains you in the hard times. He is the same.
“In every season of life and ministry, Jesus Christ is the same. The same Christ who meets you on the top of the mountain is the Christ who meets you in the depth of the valley. The same Christ who sustains you in the good times is the Christ who sustains you in the hard times. He is the same.”
Green taught, “The victory of Christ is declared in the Old Testament.”
God’s response to Moses in Exodus 3:14, “I am that I am,” reflects God’s truth, “I will continually be what I repeatedly have been! I will always be what I have always been! I am the same yesterday, today and forever!” he said.
Green continued, “The great ‘I am’ is revealed throughout the Old Testament and is fulfilled in Jesus Christ!”
The same Christ who died, was buried and resurrected in the New Testament is the same Christ who promises to return and claim His Bride, the Church.
On Easter Sunday 1977 Green recalled preaching his first sermon. “I was not trained in homiletics or hermeneutics, did not know Greek or Hebrew, did not understand the proper way to exegete a text.”
But, because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, the husband of a relative heard the gospel that day and accepted Christ as his Savior.
Green shared that the truth of Hebrews 13:8 became even more personalized in his life in 2023. “This year has been a year that everything I thought I could stand on was just knocked out from under me, both professionally and personally.”
First, on May, 5, Green learned that the Florida Baptist Convention was the victim of cyberfraud and had “sent money to what we thought was a partner in ministry but it turned out to be thieves who stole the money. That’s a challenging moment.” Green contacted the State Board of Missions who provided leadership through the experience of investigating the cyberfraud attack. Considering his role with Florida Baptists not as a job but as a “sacred stewardship of trusted resources,” Green said, “Everything in my life was shaken,” even to the point that he offered his resignation to the State Board of Missions, who would not accept it.
“I want Florida Baptists to thrive because there is too much at stake in this state,” he said. The investigative report, presented to the State Board of Missions on Aug. 24-25, revealed no criminal engagement “from anybody that was a part of our team.”
“I’m sorry for what happened,” he said, stating that the Convention is now “better and stronger” because protocols and training have been established to prevent such an occurrence from happening again.
Then, on Aug. 28, as he and his wife, Karen, were watching updates on Hurricane Idalia making landfall in Florida, Green said that he did not know about “the hurricane that was about to come into my life and Karen’s life.”
That afternoon, he received a phone call which led him to head to South Florida to check on the welfare of his middle son, who was unreachable by phone. When Green arrived at his son’s home, “Our worst thoughts were reality.” Their 41-year-old son, Philip, had died unexpectedly on his kitchen floor from heart failure.
“You never anticipate a day that you will stand and watch your son being rolled out on a gurney from his house. It was the worst day of my life,” he said.
“The Bible says that ‘Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning.’ We’re still in the night.”
Green thanked the Florida Baptist family for its love, support and prayers through the loss of their son, “for being the heart and the hands and the voice of Christ in our lives.”
Earlier in the year, Green said that he had begun working on his sermon, focusing on this particular passage of Scripture. “God knows all things, doesn’t He?
“I can stand before you today with a heart that is broken and still crushed, but I can testify–and Karen can testify–in our lives of the goodness and the faithfulness of the Lord and that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”