Wouldn’t you like to learn to rely on God and not yourself? The Bible has a surefire plan. Expect to die and then watch God rescue you. It may sound crazy, but that’s exactly what happened to the Apostle Paul. He said, “We do not want you to be uninformed…about the hardships we suffered… We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life…” (2 Corinthians 1:8, NIV) Paul’s saying he expected to die. Not a pleasant thought. But then, from out of nowhere he experienced the incredible value of the entire challenge. “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:9, NIV) So, if you’re in the middle of a seeming catastrophe, a priceless life lesson may be right around the corner. You might learn to rely upon God and not yourself. 


Don’t be surprised if God takes you back to something you previously ran from. If you don’t believe me, you can ask Moses when you see him. After Moses killed an Egyptian, he fled for his life and lived in the desert for 40 years. But no amount of time could keep him from having to go back and face a dimension of his past that he thought he was finished with, but God wasn’t. So, once again, don’t be surprised if God takes you back to something you previously ran from. Not to rub your nose in it. But to resolve something He alone knows needs resolution. Perhaps it’s a healing from past wounds. But whatever it is, if you let Him take you back, you’ll eventually be so glad He did.   


A few months before I received Jesus, after many ups and downs, I found myself genuinely searching for God. One day, on the Hawaiian island of Molokai with a friend, we both knelt and prayed, “Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, we have studied your teachings, and we know you are not the same person. Please reveal yourself to us.” It was a Hail Mary pass thrown into the cosmos. But God heard it. A couple of months later, my friend went into the woods and chanted every day to the Hindu god, Krishna. At the end of a month, he was losing his mind. He then walked into the Christian church he’d grown up in and had a powerful experience with Jesus. When he told me about it, I received Jesus, too, and my life was changed forever. A little prayer, from a sincere heart.


In John 4, the Woman at the Well told her town that Jesus had revealed to her everything she’d ever done. It wasn’t true. In reality, He’d only shared with her the one thing that bothered her the most. She’d been married five times and was living with a man who wasn’t her husband. She knew it was wrong, but it took the convicting words of Jesus to bring her to her senses. At some point, in each of our lives, Jesus will speak words to us that are hard to hear. In that moment, if we open our heart, He’ll set us free. For only after we acknowledge our blind spots, can we see clearly to help others believe what we’re saying is true. Only when we embrace reality, can others embrace it too. 


When my mother became pregnant with my twin brother and me, she was 41 years old with three older children. My father, who was about to be elected to the first of five terms in the U.S. Congress, didn’t want more children. So, he told her to get an abortion. She refused and we were born. Sadly, twenty years later, the courage my mother demonstrated by having two children late in her life, I refused to step into. In 1969 and 1971, I didn’t allow my two babies to be born into the world and had them aborted. Though I have been completely forgiven since 1972, when I received Jesus, I believe it is my mother’s obedience and prayers that have fueled my commitment to honor the memory of my children. Who I named, Noah and Caleb; for we will indeed meet again.


Everything God allows any of us to go through, even tragic situations, are designed to inspire us to reach out to Him in faith. The Bible says that without exercising our faith, not only can we not please God, we can’t get to know Him either. In John 11, Jesus said, “Lazarus is dead. I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe.” (John 11:14b-15, NKJV) Jesus wasn’t glad their hearts were broken; He was glad that their sorrow would lead them to reach out to God in faith in order to receive His miraculous intervention.Their need gave them a reason to believe in Jesus. God is giving each of us reasons to believe in Him, and they are all connected to miracles He wants to do in us and for us.


There’s one thing you never want to get on you. It’s called “glory.” All glory belongs to God. Glory is like radiation. If it touches you, it will contaminate your life. Because glory belongs to God. When He healed the lame man outside the temple, and the people kept looking at Peter and John as if they had done it. Peter admonished them, “Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” (Acts 3:12, NIV) It is vitally important that, no matter how mightily God uses us, we redirect people to look to Jesus for their source of help, and not to us. Our strength is minute. God’s strength is infinite. If and when miracles or healings happen in your life, give the glory to God.


If you ever get to experience a spiritual revival from Heaven, you’ll never be the same. A friend shared how during the Jesus Movement, around the same time I received Jesus, he was living in a Christian community house. People were getting saved so often that they actually had a running game on how long it would take people who came into the house to receive Jesus. Shortly after, someone came in claiming to be an atheist, but in 18 minutes he was praying to receive Jesus. Once you’ve seen God move in a supernatural revival, nothing else compares to it. It’s been 49 years since I experienced a revival, and I long for it every day. “Jesus, please send a spiritual revival again to revive the Church and awaken our weary and lost nation. We so desperately need You.” 


Would you consider it an honor to be flogged and whipped for following Jesus? Most of us would find it difficult to connect those dots. Yet, in chapter five in the Book of Acts, the disciples felt honored that God would allow them to suffer that kind of persecution. “The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.” (Acts 5:41, NIV) Would to God He would send a revival that would awaken our hearts to be willing to suffer for Him. The Bible says, “If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us.” (2 Timothy 2:12, NLT) “Jesus, give us the courage to face whatever hardship or persecution is ahead. Your grace will be sufficient for all we have to face.”


Have you ever taken an oath? Most oaths are made to a god, whether he exists or is a figment of people’s imaginations. Oaths are no joke. People live and die by the oaths they make. Did you ever read in the 23rd chapter of the Book of Acts the story about the 40 men who made a solemn oath to kill the apostle Paul and not eat until they had? They vowed to eat no food until Paul was dead. Really? I always wondered how many of them starved to death, because they didn’t get to kill Paul. I doubt very many. Paul lived for many more years. What’s the moral of this true story? Be sure the god you make an oath to really exists, and if He is the One true God, make sure you keep it!  


Do you feel like your plans for the future have been shipwrecked? Perhaps you even believe your life is being shipwrecked right now. In Acts 28, Paul was on a ship that was shipwrecked on an island. Everyone on board the ship was spared because of Paul’s obedience and relationship with Jesus. Once safe, God used Paul the apostle to pray for people on the island to be healed. He had been through a nightmare, and yet was filled with faith. One of the greatest challenges in life is believing that great victories are around the corner from terrible losses. If we can just remain focused on God‘s promises more than Earth’s perils, supernatural breakthroughs are around the corner. Never forget, faith alone makes God smile and the Devil tremble.


I was talking with a very gifted baseball player who was headed for the major leagues. He was a catcher. I asked what the most difficult struggle he faced was in playing baseball. He said, no matter how many improvements they have made over the years in the padding in catcher’s mitts, pitchers were throwing the balls so fast, there’s always a lot of pain connected to being a catcher. The second struggle he faced, even though he was a great player, was the fact that most of the time he didn’t get on base and had to sit down after failing to get a hit. His comments reminded me of two universal challenges we each face: pain and failure. If we can survive these assaults against our peace of mind, and learn to thrive in spite of them, we will live victorious lives.