Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? …for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
— Matthew 6:31-33
On the day our family moved to the Soviet Union, we settled into our rented house and went to bed for some much-needed rest. When we awoke the next morning, we heard a news report that prices on all basic food commodities had soared 500 percent during the nighttime — the very day after we arrived! Not only that, but all the 50-ruble notes had been declared void, so if you had 50-ruble notes, you simply possessed pieces of paper that held no value whatsoever.
Unfortunately, on the day our family arrived, we also exchanged 1,000 U.S. dollars for rubles so we would have the currency of the land to get us started living in that part of the world. And the person who performed that transaction had exchanged our $1,000 exclusively into stacks of 50-ruble notes — which were now worthless!
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
In addition, stores were depleted of the most basic items, and pharmacies were completely empty. I mean, there was nothing at all on those shelves. It was also rare to find a gas station that had any gasoline to purchase. The entire infrastructure of the Soviet Union had fallen apart.
People were fearful that they would not be able to find bread. Therefore, when bread was finally shipped to our town, lines quickly formed all the way around the block. Basic products such as flour, sugar, milk, and eggs, could only be purchased in small, limited quantities — and only if people had ration coupons that were allotted to them by the government. But ration coupons were given to citizens only, so our family wasn’t able to obtain them.
Yet, through all this initial hardship and shock, God made a way for us to have everything we needed.
Admittedly, some of those earliest days were spent like scavenger hunts — looking for a gas station that actually had gasoline, searching for basic food items, and hunting down necessary paper products such as toilet paper. We faced many days when currency shops had no rubles to exchange. And if we had no rubles, we couldn’t buy products even if we could find them. Then once we’d find rubles, after losing $1,000 in the exchange market, we would only exchange small amounts of dollars to avoid another hardship like that first one. It was a precarious time that required an increased sensitivity to the Spirit of God to know when and how to act just to carry out basic business from day to day.
Today you may not be living in the dire circumstances we endured when we first moved to the USSR. But it’s a fact that people are facing difficult financial times all over the world. Products are more expensive than they used to be, and it isn’t certain which way the economy is headed. Perhaps you are also feeling the brunt of this financial volatility. But rather than let a spirit of fear control you, this is the time for you to stand strong on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:31-33.
Throughout the years of our own lives and ministry, there have been many times when Denise and I have not known how we were going to pay for what God was asking us to do. Yet we have learned that if we will seek the Kingdom of God first, as Jesus taught us, everything else will come into place as needed.
During those early days of our life in the former USSR — and every time God has asked us to do something bigger than our bank account could pay for — we learned to reflect on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6 where He taught us about trusting God in times of need. Jesus said, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed… For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:31-33).
Notice Jesus said, “Therefore take no thought…” Pay close attention, for these words “no thought” are very important for you and me. The word “thought” is preceded by a negative imperative, which means this is a command of Jesus not to do something. The word “thought” is the Greek word merimnao. It denotes anxiety, care, concern, or worry — or it depicts a person who is deeply troubled. This person is worrying about how his basic needs will be met.
By using a negative imperative with the word merimnao, Jesus was literally saying, “Don’t worry, for your Heavenly Father knows that you have need of these things.”
I can personally testify that God has been faithful in our lives and ministry from the very beginning to this present moment. Even when Denise and I didn’t know how our most basic needs would be met when we first moved to the USSR, God was faithful and on time to meet every one of those needs. And through times when God has required us to take monumental steps of faith that were beyond our financial capabilities, He has caused the necessary finances to come in, doing for us by His Spirit what we could not do for ourselves.
And let me also tell you that fretting, worrying, and being troubled never added one cent toward meeting our need or helped take us further toward our goals. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t tempted at times to fret or feel worried. But I have learned over the years that God is well aware of every need we face and of every cent that is required. And He is far ahead of us — working in ways we can’t even imagine — to make sure everything we need comes to us on time.
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” My son Philip Renner paraphrases it this way: “Put God first, and everything else will come your way!” All I can say to that is amen, as that is exactly the teaching Jesus was trying to drive into our hearts and minds when He spoke those words!
What about you today? Are you straining and worrying over things you can’t change or do anything about? Are you aware that God is knowledgeable of your situation? How is worrying going to help you change one thing for the better? It won’t! That’s why Jesus commanded you, “Don’t worry, for your heavenly Father knows you have need of these things.”
Today I encourage you to cast your burdens, troubles, worries, and cares on the Lord — and to seek Him and His Kingdom first, above all else. Then watch as He provides everything that you’ve been tempted to worry and fret about obtaining. God is faithful to provide for His own. He will be faithful to provide everything you need as you trust wholly in Him!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, as I reflect on my life, the truth is that You have been faithful to me from the very beginning. I repent for every time I yielded to the temptation to worry and fret instead of trusting You. Father, I ask You to please help me grow up and mature in this area of my life. I have no reason to ever doubt You, for You have always been faithful to me. Help me remember Your faithfulness rather than focus on the needs that seem so large and insurmountable. Your name is Faithful — and You will be faithful to me now and always!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I do not worry about God’s provision for my life. God has always been faithful to me, and He always will be faithful. Faithful is one of His names. He will always sustain all those who trust in Him and cast their burden on Him. Likewise, God will sustain me and help me. Even if my eyes cannot see the way, I know He is going to do it. Everything that I see is subject to change. Therefore, I focus my attention on the unchanging Word and the faithful character of God. I cast my burden on Him, and I trust Him to meet the needs of my life and to help me do the large tasks He has commissioned me to do!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you think of a time when you didn’t know how your needs were going to be met? Were you tempted to worry and fret? Did the worrying and fretting help you — or just send you into a tailspin of more worrying and fretting? In the end, what happened? Was God faithful to meet your needs?
- Name one specific time when you thought you wouldn’t make it, but then God miraculously provided what you needed. Did you stop to thank Him for His provision? Have you ever shared it with anyone else in order to encourage that person in the situation he or she is facing?
- I encourage you to read Psalm 103. Then ask yourself, What are the many ways these verses have been manifested in my life as the Lord has shown His goodness and faithfulness to me?