Greetings in Jesus’ precious name!
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!! This month we officially mark 30 years of ministry in the former Soviet Union!
That’s right — 30 years ago this month, Denise and I traveled together to the Soviet Union to rent the first home for our family, to purchase our first car there, and to move many of our belongings there prior to our family’s arrival on January 2, 1992. Because we rented our house in Jelgava, Latvia, in October 1991, this is the date we use to mark our beginnings in the former USSR.
We decided to release our autobiography this month to commemorate this celebration. It is called UNLIKELY — Our Faith-Filled Journey to the Ends of the Earth It’s not just a true-life story filled with with teaching and life lessons God has taught us every step along the way all these years. It can be ordered right now at a 50-percent discount at renner.org/store. Please pray with us that God will use this book to encourage others to launch into their own unlikely adventures of faith!
Before I get into my teaching this month, I want to say how thankful we are to everyone who is standing with us in prayer or giving financially to help with our Ministry Expansion Project. If we had to do this step of faith alone, it would be difficult, but because of those who our “giving team” to make it happen, the victory is getting closer! Thank you for praying and for being a part of this amazing expansion to help us minister more effectively to the people God
But this month — because it commemorates 30 years in the former USSR — Denise and I have been doing a lot of remembering. All this remembering has caused us to recall good times and times that were also really hard. But it has brought our minds to Paul’s words in Second Timothy 1:6, where he said, “
This wonderful verse is about the power of remembering right things.
It is amazing to me that when we are confronted with a new challenge, we often fail to remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Our perspective gets blurry because of the problems we are currently facing, and we forget that we’ve gone through similar or even worse circumstances before. The looming mountain of problems before us looks so big that we momentarily fail to remember all the other mountains we’ve already faced and overcome with the help of God. That’s why we need to put everything on pause from time to time — to remember how faithful God has been to us.
When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, the younger man was facing the biggest mountain of his life. Nero had become the emperor of the Roman Empire. Because of his tyrannical rule, believers were being persecuted and were even dying for their faith. In the midst of all the panic, Timothy was tempted to fear for his life and his future. He must have wondered, Is God going to be faithful to me in this terrible hour?
So in Second Timothy 1:5, Paul told Timothy, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice, and I am persuaded that in thee also.” Paul was reminding Timothy about something very important!
God’s faithfulness was a part of Timothy’s family heritage. His grandmother trusted the Lord — and the Lord had never failed her or let her down. His mother trusted the Lord — and the Lord had never failed her or let her down either. Because Timothy was dealing with great stress and difficulty, Paul took the opportunity to remind him that just as God had never failed his grandmother or his mother, neither would He abandon Timothy in his own difficult hour.
Then Paul told him, “…I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6). I want you to particularly focus on the phrase, “I put thee in remembrance.” It is taken from the Greek word anamimnesko, a compound of the words ana and mimnesko. Pay close attention, because this is very important! The word ana means again or to repeat something. And the second part of the word, mimnesko, means to be reminded of something, such as recalling memories.
When these two words are joined as in this verse, it means to regather or to recollect memories. The little prefix ana carries the idea of replaying these memories over and over again in your mind, the way you would press the rewind button on your video player so you can back up and watch one part of a movie over and over again.
This means there are some memories we should never forget!
For example, we should constantly hit the rewind button in our minds and “replay” the times God has been faithful to us in the past — delivering us, healing us, and rescuing us time and time again. We should replay those scenes in our minds until we are in constant remembrance of, never forgetting, His faithfulness to us.
You could translate Second Timothy 1:6 in the following way:
I am putting you in memory of all these things, so that by your remembering them, you might stir up the gift of God that is in you….
Paul reminded us how powerful it is when we take our eyes off our present times of trouble and remember God’s delivering and rescuing power for us in the past. If we really looked at our past, we’d likely find that we have faced other moments more severe than the one we’re facing right now — and God never failed us or let us down. In fact, He delivered us and turned those situations around.
As Denise and I have been remembering all those moments in our own lives recently, it has encouraged us to see how faithful God has been to us all these years!
Please don’t ever forget what God has already done for you. Those memories will stir you up and encourage you to face your present dilemma with faith. Just as God has always been faithful to you in the past, He will be faithful to you right now.
Never forget how:
- God has healed you.
- God has delivered you.
- God has saved you.
- God has guided and directed you.
- God has brought you through difficult trials.
- God has provided for you during hard financial times.
- God has protected you from the snare of the enemy.
These kinds of memories are powerful and will stir up your faith today!
So the next time you feel you’ve hit a mountain too big to climb or a problem too big to overcome, take the time to get alone with the Lord, hit the rewind button, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you regather and recollect all those past events when God came through for you. As you replay those memories over and over in your mind, your faith will rise to a new level of confidence. You’ll be able to look your problems right in the face and say, “God’s record with me has always been good. He has been faithful to me in the past, and I know He’ll be faithful to me now as well!”
God has been so faithful to us — and He is faithful to you too. But if you have a need right now that feels too challenging to face alone, let us know how to pray for you and we’ll stand in faith with you for that mountain to move in Jesus’ name! Just give us a call, send us an email, or go to our website at renner.org/prayer to let us know how we can be praying with you. I promise you that we will really release our faith with you.
And please pray for those who are ordering my autobiography UNLIKELY right now. We want God to use this book to encourage people to launch out into their own journeys of faith!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families