Steve Farrar: We’re living in a time of great uncertainty. Why? Because we thought the riches would always be there. We got conned.
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: Steve Farrar brings guidance for challenging times on today’s Focus on the Family with your host Focus president Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: Steve Farrar has spent decades equipping men to be better husbands and fathers, and I know every listener is going to be encouraged by the message he’s sharing with us today. Steve is the founder and chairman of Men’s Leadership Ministries and he’s the author of several books including Manna: When You’re Out of Options, God Will Provide. And that’s our focus today given everything that we’re facing in our economy in the United States and literally around the world. Uh, what do you do when you’ve run out of options? Have you lost income because of the coronavirus? I’m sure many of you have. Today’s program is for you.
John: It really is. And Steve actually recorded this message back in response to the stock market crash of 2008, but the principles are so timely and apply perfectly today. Here now Steve Farrar on Focus on the Family.
Steve: In 1776, Thomas Paine wrote a little booklet simply titled, Crisis. You may or may not be familiar with that little booklet, but you’re familiar with a sentence out of the booklet. The sentence is this. Paine said in 1776, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” That was true back in 1776 and it is true again, is it not?
These are the times that try the souls of men and – and the souls of women. I do a lot of men’s ministry around the country and never in my adult life have I met and talked with so many men who are so worried and so frightened and so concerned and experiencing so many sleepless nights.
So many people are troubled and worried and concerned because we have been experiencing an economic meltdown. When certain Biblical principles are ignored, chaos will be the result, even in the financial world. And so, we are experiencing not only in this country, but all over the world, an economic meltdown. That’s why so many people are worried and concerned and frightened and…
My dad passed away in January and at his memorial service afterwards – which was a great service because he knew Christ; it makes all the difference in the world, doesn’t it? I will tell you something, I – maybe you shouldn’t say this, but at my dad’s memorial service, we had a blast. We had fun.
Some of my buddies from high school were there and afterwards we were just, you know, drinking punch and talking. It was interesting, because it turned – the conversation turned to what’s going on in our lives economically. And one of the guys, “I shoulda sold my business two years ago. I shoulda taken that offer.” And he was just kicking himself.
One of the guys said, “You know what? I lost $180,000 in my retirement.” And I thought, “I wish I had $180,000 in retirement.
One of the guys had just been foreclosed on. And he said, “You know, really, I did some things which were my own fault.”
There’s not a person in this room, there’s not an adult in this room who isn’t feeling this right now. Maybe 90 days ago you had a job, but you don’t anymore. See, these are the times that try men’s souls.
Turn with me to 1 Timothy 6.
Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6, verse 17, he says, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world.” That’s us. You say, “That’s not me.” It’s you. You got up this morning. You turned on the shower and hot water came out. You are rich, are you not? There are people in the world who will never experience that, and you experienced it this morning. And you may be at the lowest point you have ever been economically, but you still live like a rich man in comparison with the rest of the world.
“Instruct those who are rich in this present world,” watch this, “not to be conceited”- and really watch this – “or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches.”
We’re living in a time of great uncertainty. Why? Because we thought the riches would always be there. We got conned. We thought the IRAs would always be at $180,000. So many of us, we didn’t mean to, even as believers, we fixed our hope on the “uncertainty of riches.”
That’s why we’re scared. That’s why we’re depressed. That’s why we’re sleepless. That’s why there’s so much anxiety. But see, it was – it was uncertain in the first place and we were told it was uncertain. “Don’t fix your hope on the uncertainty of riches”- now watch this – “but on God, Who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”
I love George Mueller, the great man of God, who lived in England in the 19th century. George Mueller had homes for orphans. But Mueller said, “The main reason I started my orphanage was not just to help the children, but the primary reason is, that I wanted to demonstrate to people that God is still the living God.” And as a result of that desire, Mueller made a pledge that he kept for over 60 years. He would never tell anyone that he had a financial need and he would never ask anyone to give to his ministry.
He believed that he could trust God and His promises alone and that God would richly supply him with all things and the orphans. He started small. At one point when he had 25 or 30 kids, children got up. They set the table for breakfast. Mr. Mueller had them sit down and he said, “Children, it’s time to pray.” There was just one problem; there was no food for breakfast. They set the table and the kids knew there was no food. Mr. Mueller said, “Children, let’s bow our heads.” And the children, as they were bowing their heads, some of them were looking at each other and going… (Laughter), “This guy’s whacko. There’s no food and he’s gonna thank God for the food.”
And he began to pray. “Our Father, we thank You that You are our Father. You promised You will never leave us or forsake us. You promised that You will meet all of our needs according to Your riches in glory. We thank You that You’ve been so faithful to us in the past. And Lord, we trust you this morning (Sound of knocking) for Your…” (Sound of knocking)
There’s a knock on the door and Mr. Mueller said, “Children, excuse me.” He goes to the door, opens it. There’s a man at the door. He sees behind him a wagon pulled by a horse with a broken axle. The name of the bakery on the side of the wagon. The man says, “Sir, I’m sorry to bother you, um, my axle broke. I have these deliveries to make around town. I’m never gonna get ‘em done. Is there any way you could take these fresh baked goods off my hands?”
That morning, those children saw that God is the living God. You know, most of us in this room, our kids have too much. We’ve given ‘em too much. I gave my kids too much. And we’ve raised them in Sunday school, and they’ve been to, you know, AWANA and Christian schools. And they got the memory verses, but many of our kids have never been in the position where they’ve had to see the living God come through. Well, maybe that’s about to change.
But see, when you see it, you can’t deny it. You know it’s true. You know it’s true. Next verse, verse 18, he says, “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” In – in Mueller’s biography in another section, he writes of a couple that he knew. He respected them and their walk with Jesus Christ. They had been blessed remarkably in their business.
And they wrote a letter to Mr. Mueller, because they were somewhat confused because they had recently suffered a significant financial loss. And Mr. Mueller wrote back and basically said this. He said, “I believe if it were me and I had incurred a heavy financial loss, I believe that I would give the Lord a thank offering because He did not take it all.” What? Somebody help me with this. What a different perspective. Interestingly enough, those people took his advice and they gave an offering. Now they’d taken quite a hit, but they gave an offering and it cost them to give that offering.
Mueller later says, “I’m glad to report to you, dear reader, that God in His faithfulness, did not return that offering to those friends four times or 10 times or even 50 times. God returned that offering to those dear people 1,000 times. Is that not remarkable? But it’s the Word of God: “Give and it shall be given unto you, pressed down, shaken together, running over.”
You see, we think, “Well – well – well, see, now I could give three years ago. I could give… I can’t give now.” You need to give now. Maybe you can’t give what you were giving before, but what does this say? “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” Why is it that we wouldn’t give? Because we’re not sure that God will give back. Can He be trusted?
John: You’re listening to Steve Farrar on today’s episode of Focus on the Family and you can get his book on this topic. It’s call Manna: When You’re Out of Options, God Will Provide. We want to get this great resource into your hands and if you can, please, make a generous donation of any amount to support the ongoing work here at Focus on the Family. Uh, request that book an donate if you can when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Or at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s go ahead and hear more now from Steve Farrar.
Let’s go to Matthew 6. The question is, in this time of great uncertainty, is there any certainty? Is there a foundation? Is there an anchor?
In Matthew 6:25, Jesus said, “Don’t worry about your life.” So, what do I do? I do the same thing you do. I worry about my life and you worry about your life. But Jesus said, “Don’t worry about your life.” We’re not sure when this thing is gonna get fixed. Why should I not be worried?
Well, He gives us some reasons. Do you see in verse 25, He said, “For this reason, I say to you,” um, “do not be worried about your life.” What He’s talking about here is killing worry. He’s talking about anxiety. Have you ever been sick with worry? Not – not sick with the flu, not sick with a fever, sick with – with worry. Worry to me – worry and anxiety, it’s a force. I believe in this passage there are two certainties. Let me give them to you.
The first certainty is this. The first certainty is the certainty of Providence – of Providence.
He is the great Creator. He spoke the worlds into existence. Now this God, Who is our Creator, you should understand this about the Providence of God. That which God has created, He continually sustains and provides for. Uh, Hebrews says of Jesus, that He upholds all things by the word of His power. He continuously upholds all things by the word of His power.
Uh, we have kids in Sunday school and we’re giving them little Sunday school lessons, little children. We have Sunday school curriculum. Back in the 1500’s, they didn’t have that. They didn’t have what we have today. They – so they wrote their own little curriculums and a lot of times they were called “catechisms” and some German Christians wrote what is called the Heidelberg Catechism. And there’s a question and then the answer.
Let me give you the Heidelberg Catechism, the question 27, “What do you mean by the Providence of God?” And here is the answer. “The Providence of God is the almighty and everywhere present power of God, whereby as it were, by His hand, He upholds and governs heaven, earth and all creatures, so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, in all things come not by chance, but by His Fatherly hand.”
Question 28: “What advantage is it to us to know that God has created and by His Providence does still uphold all things?” And here is the answer: “That we may be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from His love, since all creatures are so in His hand that without His will, they cannot so much as move.” The certainty of Providence is what keeps us going, folks. He’s gonna sustain it. He made you and you know what? Only He can keep you alive. And we’re gonna see in this passage, He promises to keep us alive.
Now let me give you the second certainty. The second certainty is the certainty of the promises. This great God – this great God – Who cannot lie. He can’t do it.
So, therefore, when God makes a promise, you can bank on it. You can count on it.
Look at Matthew 6:33. “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” That’s a promise.
Christianity is based on facts. “Come let us reason together.” Jesus says, “For this reason.” Look – watch this now. Watch how you fight off worry and anxiety. “For this reason, I say to you, do not be worried about your life.” Okay, I’m thinking, “Why should I not be worried about my life?” Now watch how He wants me to think, He wants me to think. “Do not be worried about your life as to what you will eat or what you will drink, nor as to body as to what you will put on” or how you’ll make your mortgage payment or all the… Those things would be in there, some of the necessities of life. See, those are the very things that worry us.
“Well, why should I not be worried?” Well, then He asks a question. “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” He’s asking a question. He wants me to think and the answer is, “Yes, it is.”
Verse 26, He wants me to think some more. “Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow, nor reap, nor gather in the barns and yet, your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”
“Oh, and who of you, by being worried, can add a single hour to his life?” He’s asking me to think. This worry, does it …? You know what? This is a complete and utter, absolute waste of time and energy. When I worry and when I’m “tsunamied” by worry, you know what I’m doing? I’m living as an atheist. I’m living as though He’s not there.
And He is there. And He has shown Himself to me. So, I gotta grab myself and shake myself. This worry is a waste of time. I’ve got work to do and this is sapping my strength and sapping my energy. Lord Jesus, help me to trust You (Sound of smack of hand) right now.
I want to give you four words in Matthew 6 that are critical. Everything hinges on these four words. The first word is “Father” – Father. Here is the Son of God, telling us how to handle worry and anxiety and He keeps pointing me to my Father – to my Father. And who is my Father? He is the Almighty God. He is the Providential Provider. “Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee. All I have needed, Thy hand hath…” providenced – “provided.”
And He always does it just in the nick of time. And He scares us to death.
And what’s He doing He’s just testing our faith, right? He’s just testing our faith. Are we gonna trust Him? “I’ve been faithful to you all these times; are you gonna trust Me here?”
I’m in a tight place. All right, what are you gonna do? I refuse to give in to this worry. So, what do you do? You start thanking Him. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer [and] supplication with…”
Several weeks ago, I got “tsunamied.” I told the guys in the Bible study that. I said it hit me at 4:30. I was wrong. It hit me at 3:30 in the morning. It took me about two hours – two and a half hours to shake out of it. And the things that ultimately brought me out of it was, I spent about an hour and two cups of coffee, just going back over my life. All I did was thank God. It’s early in the morning. Nobody was around. The phone wasn’t ringing. It took me that long to fight off worry and anxiety. Oh, by the way, when I was done, nothing in my life circumstantially had changed. I still had the same problems and the same fears, only, um, I wasn’t worried because of my Father – my Father.
Uh, note the word faith. He says, uh, in 26, “Why are you worried about clothing? Observe the lilies of the field grow. They don’t toil. They don’t spin, yet I say to you, that even Solomon in all his glory, clothed himself like one of these. If God so clothes the grass of the field which is alive today and tomorrow is throw into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, oh you of…” What? “…little faith.”
He doesn’t say “no faith.” We’ve got faith. He says, “You of little faith.” Could I tell what little faith is? Little faith is little Biblical thinking. I have little faith when I am not thinking Biblically about His Providence and about His promises. That’s when I have little faith. When I start thinking about who He is and what He has said, my faith increases.
Third word, the word “first.” We’ll pick it up in 31. “Do not worry then saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear for clothing?’ The Gentiles eagerly seek.” Note the word “seek;” this is what the Gentiles are seeking. “The Gentiles eagerly seek all these things.” Watch this. “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things but seek…” Third. “The kingdom of God.” Seek 12th the kingdom of… Can I be honest with you, folks? Some of us in here have been seeking Him fourth. Some of us have been seeking Him 10th, 15th, 20th. That’s not the way to live your life. The word is “first.” “But seek first His kingdom, His righteousness…” Watch this. “All these things will be added to you.” That’s a promise from Almighty God.
The fourth word is “future.” Verse 34, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” You say the word “future” is not in that verse. Yeah, I know, but I needed a word that began with “F” because the other three…
…Began with F. So, I had to twist it, kind of a homiletical thing I learned in seminary.
Um, you see the word “tomorrow?” You see the word “tomorrow” there? What’s tomorrow? The future. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; all these things shall be added unto you.”
And you know, when you read the passage, it seems to me, that’s the place to stop. I mean, how do you top that? I got a Father. Seek Him first, He’s gonna take care of me. But He doesn’t stop there. He puts in there, verse 34. And He goes to the future, because see, anxiety tends to get us about the future. I mean, I’m okay today. I mean, am I functioning? Am I breathing? Have I got something to eat today? See, I’m not worried about… I’m worried three weeks out or six weeks or 10 weeks. Or man, what if this doesn’t… Or this… What if this falls? See, that’s where we are, out in the future, just – just live in the next 12 hours.
You say, “Lord, would You just get me to lunch? Would you just help me make it today through dinner? Lord, it’s 7 p.m.” You go to bed at night. You know what I try to do when I go to bed at night? You know what I try to say to myself every night? I try to remind myself of Lamentations 3. I thank God for His mercies. Before I go to sleep at night, I – I try to say, “Lord, thanks for this mercy today in this and this.” And then I say to Him, “Lord, thanks that Your mercies are new every morning.” When I wake up there’s gonna be mercies for me tomorrow I don’t know a thing about.
A lot of people hurt, and a lot of people are scared. I – I had a gentleman, probably in his 70s say to me not too long ago, he said, “Steve, I know the Lord and,” he said, “He’s been good to me.” He said, “I’ve taken a real hit.” He said, “I – I gotta be honest with you. I’m in really good health.” And he said, “I’m afraid I’m gonna outlive my money.” And he was just being practical.
Can I tell you something from the Word of God? You can’t outlive your money, because it’s not your money in the first place. It’s His money and He has promised to make a way.
So, our Father, we praise You. We honor You. We glorify Your name because of Who You are. Help us, Lord, today to enjoy this day and what You have given to us. Help us to leave tomorrow and next Friday and next month. And if we can trust You for today, see You’ll be there next Friday, and You’ll be there next month.
You’re already there and You’ve already got a solution. Help us to live off of this truth, we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
John: Some timeless words of wisdom from Dr. Steve Farrar on today’s episode of Focus on the Family and he reminds us to seek God first, and everything else second. And as we said at the top of the program, Jim, Steve gave this message soon after the stock market crash of 2008, but it really applies to today.
Jim: It is, John, and I love that idea that Steve mentioned in his closing prayer – that God is already in our future and He already has a solution for what’s worrying us in the here and now. And that is powerful. And I hope that gives you a sense of peace today, especially as we deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on both families and businesses. You know, I’ve been in touch with a number of our donors as well as our team that, uh, builds those relationships and I gotta tell ya, many of you are in a tough spot and we know that. And, uh, our hearts go out to you. Our prayers go out to you. Jean and I are praying every morning as we start the day for Focus, for our mission, and for those who support us, that the Lord’s mercy would be there. So, I hope that brings some comfort, but I know many are struggling. And we will get through this. And let me remind our listeners that we care about you, especially in the financial difficulties again that many of you are facing. Let us know how we can pray for you. Send us a note. Jump online. Come to our website. We’ve got great resources to kind of help you. Especially for those of us who are sheltering-in-place like Colorado right now and several other states. There are great resources that you can use for your family. In addition to that, obviously, for those that are, um, in a good place, or a better place, if you can help Focus with those needs to, uh, have our counselors online to help folks that are struggling, to provide marriage advice, parenting advice – all the things that we do in a normal day here at Focus. We are open. Uh, many are working from home, but, uh, we are still doing the work of the ministry. And through Focus you are making a difference.
John: And, of course, one of the resources we have would be Steve Farrar’s book on this topic called Manna: When You’re Out of Options, God Will Provide. We’d like to send that to you. We’re making it available to you. If you can, please make a donation to support the ongoing work here at Focus on the Family. If you can’t afford it, we do want you to have the book. We’ll send it to you. We know others will help cover the cost of getting this resource out to those who really need it. Our phone number: 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. As Jim said, we are taking phone calls, and then, uh, online you can donate and get resources at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. Join us again next time, won’t you? As we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.