Wednesday 13 July
Archbishop Greg Venables has been a missionary in South America along with his wife Sylvia and family for over 37 years and has been serving in Argentina since 2000. This week, he is leading the morning Bible Teaching sessions on the theme of “More than Conquerors” (taken from Romans 8:37) Here VOX editor Ruth Garvey-Williams brings you a summary of what he had to say on Wednesday:
Jesus has done it! He has completed the work. He has already done it. What He has done is ours and we live in the light of His victory. We consider overcoming sin, pride and failure. Mediocrity is just not being what we are.
Today we are going to consider the problem of evil and the one thing we have to be clear about is that evil is real.
From the Bible, we learn that evil is real and whenever we encounter evil, we are very conscious that there is an evil behind evil. When we look at the terrible things that happen and we realise that there is something more evil behind it.
There was rebellion in heaven but evil has never had the victory. We are not in some cosmic battle hoping that one day we will win. Evil was not victorious in heaven and it fell to this world - it is localised in this world where we live. The whole world is in the power of the evil one but God allowed it and God through Jesus overcame it.
Satan cannot touch us 1 John 5:18. It doesn’t mean he can’t shout at us or tempt us but it does mean he cannot hold on to us because we are in Christ. There are so many people who are fearful unnecessarily. We need to simply resist and stand firm. Say no!
Genesis 50: 19 - 20. Whatever it is that you can look back on… it was intended for evil but God intended it for good. It is this thinking that will transform how you respond to everything around you. If you don’t get your thinking clear, even if you are in Christ, you can be overcome by all kinds of things.
There is a time when you need to stop praying and just get on with it. God has already done it! God has already won the victory. Prayer and fasting enables us to see more clearly what God has already done. We have to begin to understand and think in terms of what God has already done. Are we receiving that?
God takes you where He wants you to go. We have to believe that God is good, even if it doesn’t look like that.
Joseph is Abraham’s great grandson and his is the “favourite” son but he is taken into slavery. Joseph ran away from Potiphar’s wife. Don’t try stay around when there is sexual temptation - run. Then he was put in prison for years. When evil has happened to us, God wants us to move on.
What did Joseph learn through that situation?
1) He learnt that he could trust God, even though the circumstances gave the impression that God didn’t care. See Judges 6:13 - Gideon was threshing wheat in a wine press because when you are scared, you do weird things. Gideon asked, “If the Lord is with us, why is this happening to us?” Who are you going to trust - God or the circumstances?
2) He learnt that God’s purposes often involve suffering (2 Corinthians 11: 23 - 28). Serving God is not easy. It is blood, sweat and tears and it is difficult. That is why a lot of people do not want to serve God. It means that we have to move out of our comfort zone. There is so much to do. Are we going to be put off by being uncomfortable.
3) He learnt that in the end, only God makes sense of life. It is only complicated when you look for the loophole. When you go to God’s word, you find out what is truth. Some people tie themselves in knots trying to avoid what God has made plain. When you follow God, you follow God not yourself. You follow what He thinks. If God could turn the world upside down with just a handful of followers, what could He do with us? Go out in a blaze of glory! Your neighbours are suffering because somebody hasn’t told them and you might be the only Bible they read. Don’t expect to understand everything - you won’t! Just believe that God is fully in control!
4) He learnt that God intends everything for good. He wants to save many lives through us! He has called us to go and do it (not just a small group within the church). He wants to do us good through everything we have experienced. Believe it by faith now! Deuteronomy 8:16
5) He learnt to be forgiving and kind. The answer was not to be right or to justify himself. You have to get to a place where you say, “Your will be done” like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. When you have given everything, you will receive everything.
What is tying you up is that you will not let go of the people who hurt them. Whatever your situation, you have to forgive and you will never be free. Unforgiveness is bondage. You have to say “I forgive” and let it go. God wants you to be free to love other people.