Thursday 14 July
Overcoming fear and suffering
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 Thursday:
We are considering together what we ARE (not what we would like to be, if only) based on Romans 8:37.
I make no apology about dealing with serious things. So much of what is being done and taught around the world is very “light”. Here we are in comfort and safety, while there are people at this moment in persecution, without food or drinking water and without security. We often don’t think about it. God wants us to change.
The big problem is self: self-satisfaction, self-pity, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, self-justification and self centredness. We have to get to the end of ourselves and then we begin to think about God and others.
I Peter 1:3 - 9 - Why start with moaning? Start with praise! You are not starting with “you,” you are starting with “Him”. He cares about us.
Our sin is a terrible thing. We spat in the face of God. Yet, He looked down on us from the cross and said, “Have mercy on them.” He has given us new birth. This is not the reward at the end if we get it right. If you are in Christ, you are a new creation. This is your state. It has happened. He overcame sin and death. We have an inheritance that can never perish.
Through faith, we are protected! His shield is all around us. How many people live in fear all the time? Don’t let fear wreck you. The only fear you need to have is the holy reverent fear of God. Don’t fret. We just need to get on with things.
In this you greatly rejoice… Are you miserable? Whatever you are going through it is only for a “little while” but God is taking you somewhere and even in the midst of it, we can rejoice.
Don’t belittle your suffering, it is real. It hurts! It is grief. Christ suffered terrible pain on the cross. This is not stoicism. It is not grit your teeth and get through, it is “We greatly rejoice, even though we suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”
1 Peter 1:13: Therefore gird up your minds… Sort your thinking out! Have minds that are alert and fully sober.
Acts 9:15 there are so many people in churches around the world who think that once you become a Christian everything is going to be very easy and comfortable. It is a lie.
We need to face two things:
Temperament - Know yourself. Some people are more prone to anxiety or pessimism. Learn to live with it but learn to overcome it.
Circumstances - Your situation might not be want you want it to be. It is terrible when people have friends that point the finger. When things go wrong and don’t get better, it doesn’t meant necessarily you need to pray more, you need more faith or you have hidden sin in your life.
Serving God means suffering. Otherwise Christ’s ministry would have been a disaster. Everyone abandoned Him at the end.
It is tough but it is glory! You have to get up and get out. I’m praying that the church will get out of its buildings and onto the streets. People aren’t going to come into our building. I’m not surprised when we sometimes look so miserable.
2 Corinthians 1:3 Don’t start with yourself, start with God. Two most wonderful words in the Bible are “but God”. If you start with your problems, you will never get any further. Start with praise. What comes out of your mouth when things aren’t working out?
Instead of drowning in self-pity, get up and go find somebody to comfort. Forget about yourself and you will find that it might even have an effect on you!
Successful ministry for Paul = “We felt we had received the sentence of death.”
Paul says, “This happened, that we might not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” - we have to die now otherwise nothing else will happen. Otherwise it will always be about us. This has to be done. Everything else is an excuse. Deal with it while you have an opportunity. Get to the end of yourself.
Daniel 3: 16 - 18 God can change my circumstances but even if He doesn't I won't give up! I will still trust Him and worship Him. We want to be adult Christians - childlike but not childish.
The only things that got burnt in the fiery furnace were the “bonds” - the things that tied them up. And Jesus was right there in the furnace with them.
Paul pleaded with God to take away the thorn in his flesh. But God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.” That is all you need. Are you willing to let God’s power to be made perfect in your weakness?