Seasons Change—But Jesus Christ Remains the Same!March 4, 2016
Greetings in the lovely name of Jesus! This is the month we typically welcome warmer spring temperatures and the blossoming of flowers and trees after a winter season of dormancy. Spring represents a season of hope and new life as “old, dead” things in nature come alive and turn new once again. I really want to share with you and impress upon you this month that although seasons change and things in society all around us are constantly changing, Jesus Christ remains steadfast and the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Events can occur suddenly in our governments and economic systems all over the world. But the Lord is our one constant in every season — a Rock that we can stand on forever, who establishes, strengthens, and steadies us as we look to Him (see 1 Peter 5:10 AMP).
I’ll share with you something that happened to us early in our ministry in the former USSR that proved this truth in our lives afresh and anew. On the day our family moved to the Soviet Union 25 years ago, we settled into our house, which Denise and I had already rented, and we went to bed for some much-needed rest. When we awoke the next morning, we heard the news report that the price of all basic foods 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 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 suddenly worthless!
In addition, stores were depleted of the most basic commodities, and pharmacies were completely empty — I mean there was nothing at all on those shelves. It was 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 into town, lines quickly formed all the way around the block where that bread was sold. Basic products, such as flour, sugar, milk, and eggs could only be purchased in small, limited quantities — and only if you had a ration coupon that was allotted to you by the government. But ration coupons were given to citizens only, so our family was not able to obtain them.
Yet through all this initial hardship and shock, God made a way for us to have everything we needed. Not only that, our minds were kept in perfect peace as we looked to and trusted Him.
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 paper products, such toilet paper. We faced many days when currency shops had no rubles to exchange. If you had no rubles, you couldn’t buy products even if you 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 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 is a fact that people are facing difficult financial times all over the world. Commodities are more expensive than they used to be, and it is not certain which way the economy is headed.
Perhaps you are feeling the brunt of this financial volatility too. 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.
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
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 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 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 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 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 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? Worrying won’t change a single thing for the better. 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 is the Lord, and His character never changes (Malachi 3:6). Also, He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). That means that what He has done for anyone else, He will do for you too!
How can Denise and I and our team be praying for you this month? We pray for our partners every day, but knowing your specific needs helps us pray more accurately. We’re honored to be your prayer partners, so please let us hear from you!
We love you and thank God for you!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families