November 5, 2002
Tony Preston of Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City offered three Bible study sessions to interpret the theme of the Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting: "The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength." Preston is the assistant academic dean, assistant professor of pastoral leadership and director of doctoral studies, collegiate ministries and extension programs for the seminary.
His studies centered on communion with Christ, companionship with believers, confidence in the sovereignty of God, and deliverance from enemies.
Preaching from I Samuel 18:1-9 Tuesday morning, Preston focused on the power of God to sustain Christian leaders for a lifetime of ministry. "Communion with Christ is essential if we are to be renewed when our strength fails," he said.
He noted that God provides people to give strength to ministers – just like He provided David with his friend Jonathan.
"We face enemies from within and enemies from without," Preston said. "If we are to be found faithful to the end, we will be dependent upon God, and others who are faithful to God and to us. Ask God to bring someone into your life who is to you what Jonathan was to David."
Tuesday afternoon, Preston’s study focused on the necessity of having confidence in the sovereignty of God. Referring to Matthew 11:1-6, Preston said even John the Baptist was tempted to fall away from Christ – even after all he had seen and knew of Jesus.
"We are in danger of falling away if we ever begin to believe or doubt that He knows what to do or how to do it," he said. "If it could happen to John the Baptist, it could happen to me the Baptist and you the Baptist."
Pointing out verse 4, Preston noted that the message Jesus sent to John the Baptist remains true today: "Turn to what He has said and what you have seen, and you will have strength for the journey."
In his final Bible study Wednesday morning, Preston addressed God’s deliverance from enemies. He said Christians have two options when facing enemies.
"We may try in our own strength to escape and be defeated in the process, or we can experience God’s grace in deliverance," he said.
Referencing II Samuel 22:1 and I Samuel, Preston said God delivered David from the hand of his enemy (Goliath) and from Saul.
"All of us will face a giant, and in all likelihood, we will face a Saul in the course of ministry," Preston said. "Our ‘Saul’ may be a he or she and claim to know Christ, but in essence, they would do us harm."
Preston summed up his theme interpretation by offering these three points: "Listen to the counsel of godly men, count on the intervention of God, and live a godly, holy life."
He closed by noting that nine out of 10 seminary graduates are no longer in the ministry. He asked the audience to stand and applaud all those in attendance who had been in the ministry for 50 years or more.