SAVANNAH — Johnny Hunt was the keynote preacher for the Inspirational Rally preceding this week’s annual meeting of the Georgia Baptist Convention. GBC President Thomas Hammond introduced Hunt as having just celebrated 46 years of marriage to his wife Janet, 40 years in the Gospel ministry, and 30 years as pastor of Woodstock’s First Baptist Church.
Hunt is a friend to pastors all over the Southern Baptist Convention and has effectively reached out to pastors through his internship program at the church, his Timothy-Barnabas Conferences, his City of Refuge, and his personal mentoring of so many pastors. Because of his love for people his message to people is always met with receptivity and gratitude.
On this night Hunt took I Kings 17 as his text and related pertinent and powerful truths from the first several verses of this chapter.
After sharing the context of the passage Hunt began talking about (1) the place of God’s purpose. Hunt explained that Elijah was commanded by God to first go to the Brook Cherith and then to the home of a certain widow in Zarephath. He explained that God used a brook that was drying up and a widow who was almost at the point of starvation to provide for the needs of the prophet. The situation did not look too promising from a practical point of view, but Elijah was obedient to do what God commanded. He faithfully went to the places God has prescribed for him.
Hunt declared, “Don’t ask God what is next until you have obeyed what God has already told you. Elijah would never have experienced the miracle on Mount Carmel where fire fell from heaven if he had not first obediently gone to Cherith and then to Zarephath.”
The place of God’s power
Then Hunt explained (2) the place of God’s power. He thundered, “When you get so dependent that you have no resource except God then He can work in you and through you. The place of power is the place of dryness. We are not to trust in gifts or wealth, but in Him.
“You need to get up early and spend time with the Lord. I get up early every morning,” Hunt explained, “but particularly on Sunday morning. I know that I need the power of the Holy Spirit for what I must do on Sunday. Then I get to church early and mingle with the people. In fact, I have learned that I may do more ministry on the way to the pulpit than I do in the pulpit.
“Think of people in the Bible who had a place of dryness or a place of solitude. There was Moses in the wilderness of Median; David in the cave of Adullam; Paul in the desert of Arabia; and John on the Isle of Patmos. Listen: where God guides He provides. He is responsible for our upkeep when we follow His directions.”
The place of God’s provision
Finally, the Woodstock pastor proclaimed, (3) the place of God’s provision. He declared, “I quit school when I was 16 years old. I got drunk when I was in the eighth grade. But there was a man, N.W. Pritchett, who invited me to church. By the way, people get saved often because someone invites them to church. People get in church with loving people and hear the preaching of God’s Word and they get saved. That is what happened to me in 1973.
“I wanted to improve my life. I went to night school to get my GED and finally on the third test I passed it. My pastor wanted me to go to Gardner Webb College. I was permitted to enter for one semester without cost because of my pastor’s plaintive appeal. Then I got an invitation to preach and was called to pastor a church when I had only been a Christian for three years. You can’t even become a deacon in that short a period of time.
“There was a godly man by the name of Otis Scruggs who told me he wanted to parent a pastor. Otis and his wife had two sons, but both of them died before they were two years old. They had prayed that one of them would be a pastor. But they adopted me and paid for my college education and every other Sunday he gave me a roll of $20 bills. Don’t be afraid to respond to God’s call, because you are afraid God won’t provide. The Bible says, ‘My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’
“And to laymen I would say, be faithful like a bird (raven) to provide for that preacher’s need. God can use a bird. God can use a brook; and God can use you.”