I could hardly wait to write you this letter. Last month as I sat down to write you, I heard the Holy Spirit say, The year 2023 will be filled with divine surprises, divine provision, and divine revelation for those who will receive it, and I’m excited to share more insight with you about this word I received from God.
But first, I want to say how thankful I am for the overwhelming response to last month’s letter. I really believe God wants to do these amazing works in our lives in 2023, and hearing that my letter helped so many of my friends to set their faith for it is a great encouragement to me as I write to you today.
I also want to say thank you for your precious partnership with our ministry. You are making a difference in so many people’s lives, and together — you, us, and the Lord, all working together — we are seeing lives impacted by the Word of God. How I wish you could hear the phone calls or see the letters and emails we receive with testimonies from people who are being strengthened and changed because of what God is doing! Because you are a big part of it all, Denise and I always want to clearly communicate from the depths of our hearts how grateful we are to God for you!
In last month’s letter, I wrote to you about how the Holy Spirit will give you divine revelations for the things you desperately need to know. Today I want to talk to you about the various kinds of divine surprises that God wants to surprise you with in 2023. There are many kinds of divine surprises, so be sure you don’t limit God as to what He can surprisingly do for you. It’s time to throw open your heart so you can receive whatever kinds of surprises Jesus wants to give you this year.
But first, let’s look at the different kinds of surprises that took people by surprise and caught them off guard in the early New Testament — beginning with the ministry of Jesus and then other surprises we find in the book of Acts. As you read this letter, determine what category of divine surprises fits your need best, and then believe that God will surprise you too. Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (see Hebrews 13:8), it means that if He did it in the past, He’s still doing it now, and He’ll still be doing it in the future. Oh, how He would love to give you a divine surprise in 2023!
My friend, as you look at the following categories, I think you’ll be overjoyed to see that we are the sons and daughters of a God who delights in giving divine surprises!
Surprises of Divine Revelations
In Acts 10, we read about a surprising revelation that occurred one day when Peter went up onto a rooftop to pray while he waited for lunch. Suddenly, taking Peter completely off guard, he had a surprising revelation that he absolutely did not anticipate!
Acts 10:9 and 10 tell us:
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance….
Notice the verse says that Peter “fell into a trance.” The Greek words for “fell into” describe an event that takes one completely off guard. In other words, Peter did not go to the rooftop intending to have this experience. He went there to wait for lunch and decided to pray while he waited — when, suddenly, he slipped into a trance, or surprisingly found himself in another dimension. It took him totally off guard, but as a result, he received a surprising revelation that he needed for his ministry!
Then in Revelation 1, we read John’s testimony about how he received the book of Revelation. Wow! This was another surprising revelation, and it totally took John off guard. Revelation 1:9,10 says:
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day….
Notice in verse 10, John wrote, “I was in the Spirit….” The words “I was” are the same identical words used in Acts 10 to describe how Peter slipped into another realm. In the same way, John surprisingly found himself in another dimension. It took him totally off guard and by surprise, but as a result, He received a brand-new revelation of Christ, as well as the book of Revelation!
Just as God gave these surprise revelations to Peter and John, He wants to give you a surprise revelation and to show you Who He really is and answer your questions. He wants to take you off guard and into another realm where you’ll see and know Him better than ever before. It can happen to you in 2023!
Surprises of Divine Healing
In Mark 5, we read of a woman who’d had an issue of blood for 12 years, suffered many things at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all the money she had on medical expenses. But regardless of all the medical treatments she had received, she continued to get sicker and weaker. Then one day she heard about Jesus, and she decided to go see Him for herself — and that’s when she received a sudden surprise healing that she did not anticipate! It totally took her off guard!
Mark 5 tells us:
When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague…. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
Notice the word “straightway” in verse 28. Wow…after waiting for 12 years to feel better, a surprise divine healing took place — and she immediately got well. I want you to know that just as God gave a surprise healing to this woman, He would love to surprise you with the healing manifestation you’ve been waiting for. You’ve believed and believed, and you’ve waited and waited. It can happen for you in 2023!
Surprises of Divine Deliverance
In Acts 12, we read about a surprise deliverance that occurred at the time Herod was persecuting the church in Jerusalem. Herod had already killed James, the brother of John, but when he saw that what he’d done to James really pleased the Jews, Herod decided to arrest Peter as well. But Peter miraculously escaped imprisonment because of a surprising deliverance he experienced that totally took him off guard.
Acts 12 tells us:
And when he [Herod] had apprehended him [Peter], he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter [Passover] to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.… And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision….
And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary…where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
These verses are full of divine surprises of deliverance. In verse 7, we see the word “behold,” which really means, WOW! This was such a shocking and surprising event, only the word “WOW” could describe it. Then in the same verse, it says the angel of the Lord “came upon” Peter. Those words “came upon” in Greek literally describe a surprising appearance that takes a spectator by surprise. Peter was so stunned by it all that He even thought he was dreaming. In verse 11, it says Peter finally “was come to himself” — or he realized this was really happening! Then in verses 12-15, we find this deliverance was such a WOW experience that the people praying even had a hard time believing it was really happening. That’s why in verse 16 it says they were “astonished.” That word “astonished” literally means they were out of their minds with astonishment!
What kind of situation are you in right now that naturally looks hopeless? Well, it couldn’t be more hopeless than the plight Peter was in, but that is when God gave him a surprise deliverance. What God did was so shocking that Peter thought he was dreaming. Since God did it for Peter, He’ll do it for you too. God wants to give you a surprise deliverance to set you free from whatever your problem is — a deliverance so mighty that you’ll think you are dreaming! It can happen to you in 2023!
Surprises of Divine Miracles
There are all kinds of miracles, but a huge one took place the night Jesus sent His disciples to the other side of the Sea of Galilee and told them He would meet them later. But they sailed right into a horrible storm. It seemed all was lost, but the surprising moment happened when they saw Jesus come walking toward them on the water. It so totally took them off guard that they screamed when they saw it happening! This really was a surprising miracle!
Matthew 14 tells us:
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away…. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
Do you feel like you or your family have sailed into a horrible storm that you don’t know how to get out of? Then this is a great moment for Jesus to come walking to you on the water to work a surprising miracle for you. You may think there is no escape from what you are facing, but Jesus specializes in doing surprising miracles in the middle of storms. Since God did it for the disciples, He is willing to do it for you too. In fact, God wants to give you a surprising miracle so great that it will make you want to shout and scream! It can happen to you in 2023!
Surprises of the Supernatural Presence of God
In Acts 2, we read about 120 believers who were gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem to pray. Then suddenly, the power of God rushed into that room, taking them totally off guard, and they experienced the surprising supernatural presence of God.
Acts 2:1-4 tells us:
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The word “suddenly” in verse 2 carries the idea of a sudden and surprising event that totally took all of them off guard. They had been praying for days and days, but they still didn’t know what God wanted them to do. But then — suddenly — they were visited with a surprise of the supernatural presence of God that was so great, it sounded like a mighty rushing wind that filled the whole house.
God is not a respecter of persons, which means that since God did it for them, then He is willing to do it for you too. If you’re hungry for the supernatural presence of God, He wants to give it to you on a surprising level this year. He’s just waiting for the moment to move and do it. It can happen to you in 2023!
Surprises of Divine Connections and Friendships
In Acts 18, Paul was coming from Athens to Corinth by himself, and he was discouraged. But at the same moment, a couple named Aquila and Priscilla were also coming from Rome to Corinth for the first time. As all three turned to walk the main road into Corinth, they “accidentally” — or divinely —encountered each other. They didn’t know it, but God was arranging a supernatural connection and friendship between the three that would last for many years.
Acts 18:1,2 tells us:
After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla….
In verse 1, the word “found” is used to describe what Paul felt when he divinely crossed the path of Aquila and Priscilla. That word “found” in Greek is where we get the word eureka! That means this was a eureka moment for all three of them. They would have never dreamed of meeting each other on that road, but God had orchestrated them to get there at the same time. He surprised them!
Then in Acts 19, we read about yet another surprising connection and friendship that must have taken the apostle Paul completely off guard. As unlikely as it was, God surprised Paul by bringing a pagan to help rescue Paul from a dangerous situation. Who would have ever imagined that God would use a pagan to help a preacher?
But Acts 19:29-31 tells us:
And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.
In verse 31, we see the words “the chief of Asia, which were his friends.” The words “chief of Asia” in Greek describe the Asiarch of Ephesus, who was the highest pagan priest in the cult of emperor worship. There were only 12 Asiarchs in all of Asia, and verse 31 says this pagan priest was Paul’s friend. What a surprise! At a moment when Paul was about to make a big mistake and charge into the theater, where he could have been severely hurt or even killed, God surprisingly used a pagan to deliver him!
So Acts 18 and 19 are loaded with surprises of divine connections and friendships that were totally unanticipated. Think about it: God surprisingly brought an apostolic team of three together, and then God gave Paul a surprising connection with a pagan who so befriended him that he was instrumental in helping Paul in a difficult moment. My friend, if God can bring a team together for Paul and use an unbeliever to help Paul in a hard moment, God can do this for you too. Are you believing Him for surprising divine connections and friendships that can make a big difference in some area of your life this year? It can happen to you in 2023!
I’m so thrilled to tell you that God wants to surprise you with all kinds of wonderful things in 2023. Open your heart right now, throw up your arms, and declare: “Father, I’m ready for some wonderful surprises! Please, surprise me with the manifestations of Your goodness this year!” I’m sure that if you seek Him, release your faith, and believe for this year to be a year of divine surprises for you, God will show up and show off in your life this year!
Denise and I and our prayer team would love to put our faith together with yours for the manifestation of God’s goodness in any area of your life where you feel it is especially needed. If you need a surprising move of God, I want to tell you that God is willing and ready to do the surprising for you. But please, reach out to us and let us know how we can pray with you!
And please pray for us, too, as we are also anticipating the wonderful goodness of God to enable us this year to do everything He has asked us to do. God is faithful! Let’s believe Him to show His goodness to all of us. And before I close, I want to thank you again for praying for us and for supporting this work with your precious gifts. Oh, how we appreciate you and thank God for you!
In my letter next month, I’m going to talk to you about the third blessing mentioned in this word from the Lord and its benefits if we will receive it — divine provision. I can hardly wait to write that letter to you!
We are your brother, sister, and partners in Jesus Christ,
Rick and Denise Renner
Along with Paul, Philip, and Joel Renner and our ministry team