God, I believe, intends to bless us... God intends to meet our needs. God knows our desires. He knows our hearts... But God, oftentimes, will wait until we fall on our knees before Him, before He blesses us.

Vintage message from April 19, 1998.

I find in my life and in the lives of many people around me that I get caught up in my flesh, and I begin to do what I want to do. God allows…hard times to come on me…and then I cry out to God. And just like the Israelites, we continue to turn back to the sin of our flesh rather than continuing to walk with God. Even in the church, we find this… And you know what our hearts are crying out for? The very thing that the hearts of Israel cried out for. “We want a king! God, give us a king. Give us someone who will rule over us.” Well, let me tell you. God has given us a King. We have a King! We have One Who’s sitting on a throne. We have One Who wears a crown. We have a Man Who loves us, Who cares for everything that happens to us, and He has offered us entrance into His very throne. But for most of us, the concept of a heavenly throne, the concept that there is a God Who is real out there, wanting us to come before Him, because we don’t see it, because we don’t touch it, we begin to disbelieve it. But He’s there, and He’s working for our benefit. He’s working to bring us into that place of relationship…

And that’s the one point that I find in my life more often than not: that when God finally comes to the place of giving me those things that I have begged for, that once I have them, I regret having them. God will give us the things we want in the flesh. God will allow us to put ourselves in harm’s way. God will allow us to destroy ourselves, when the whole time He’s sitting right there, waiting for us to turn to Him…

God, I believe, intends to bless us as His children. God intends to meet our needs. God knows our desires. He knows our hearts… But God, oftentimes, will wait until we fall on our knees before Him, before He blesses us.

There's a God in heaven that is far greater than any problem that we could come up against.

Vintage message from April 26, 1998.

See, part of our problem in life [is] we begin to struggle. We being to have hard times, and we whine and we complain and we cry to one another. But yet, in fact, there’s a God in heaven Who knows everything that’s going on in our life. He’s created us. He’s worked to touch us. He’s tried to communicate with us, but yet we whine and we cry… Do you realize that God allows for us to go through hard times? God allows for us to have trials. God allows for us to have rivals. He allows for us to have people who will compete against us and try to put us down and try to take what we have. He allows for people like that to be in our life…

Each one of us in this room today should know that there’s a God in heaven that is far greater than any problem that we would come up against. Now, of course, that’s not to say that if we have a problem we can’t go to one another or that we shouldn’t go to one another. That in fact, God expects us to pray. God expects us to share with one another and to hold one another up. But you know what? There’s not a person that you’ll go to in this room with a problem that that person can solve your problem… But you know what? I know a God Who is great enough to meet every need in this room right now. I know a God Who is great enough to know the very heart attitude that we have…

Do you realize that God allows the things that go on in our life to happen in order to drive us to that place before Him? If you are uncomfortable in life today, if there are things going on in your life today, I will pray for you. I will give you advice if you seek advice, but you know the advice I’m going to give you is turn to the Lord, because He’s the One that will meet the need! He’s the One that has the answer! I only have opinion… Take it to the One Who has placed these trials before you. And you know what? He’s the One that wants to hear everything that we’re going through. He’s the One Who wants us to share with Him everything that we’re feeling, everything that we’re experiencing. Even though He already knows it, He wants us to share it with Him. You know why? Because it puts us in relationship with Him. If we’re talking to Him, and we’re communicating with Him, that means we must believe Him. We must know that He has something to do with my life. He’s the One that will deal with me. He wants us to acknowledge Him. He wants us to be in that place before His throne. We’re His children. How many of us here have children? And would any of us refuse to allow our child to come and crawl up on our lap and share a problem, no matter how old that child is?

The result of giving your problems to the Lord...is that He makes changes in your heart that no man could ever make.

Vintage message from May 3, 1998.

How many times have we found ourself in misery because of the circumstances that we’re in? Because of the things happening around us we are in misery. We’ve told all of our friends so many times that we’re finally getting to the place where we think that no one cares… Oftentimes when I’m going through struggles, when I’m going through hard times, I get this feeling that God has forgotten me. That somehow God has abandoned me. Somehow He’s gotten so busy with the affairs of the universe that I have been left out of the picture… Why has God abandoned me? Why has God forgotten me? Why won’t God speak to me? Why won’t God have anything to do with my life? But you know what? It’s not God Who does the abandoning. God has not forgotten. We turn our back on God. We get so wrapped up in our problem that we just begin to feel like God has forgotten us…

Do you realize that there is not a person alive on the face of this planet that has enough resource, enough authority, enough power to deal with even one other person’s problem? I mean, temporarily, we can put a bandaid on people’s problems… but do you realize that the true answer to the problem is not someone else. It’s not another person… Paul tells us that we are not to neglect the fellowshipping together with one another. That we’re not to neglect that gathering together and sharing our lives with one another. But you know, we are not called to fellowship with one another in order that we can unload all of our problems on each other, which oftentimes in many churches becomes the problem. We go to church thinking that the church is going to solve our problem. The church can not solve your problem! …The root of the problem most of the time…is that they are not right with God. They are not walking in fellowship with God… If we are right with the Lord, if we are walking in that place before the throne of God, if we are leaving our troubles there, that’s where the true source of help comes from… The result of giving your problems to the Lord, the result of pouring your life out before the Lord, is that He makes changes in your heart that no man could ever make. He does things in you that becomes a result that you would never experience by going to a psychiatrist, a counselor, a pastor. When God touches your heart, you no longer have anything to worry about…

Too often, we will go before the Lord with this big old bundle of trouble, we lay it before the throne of God, but we attach a chain to it, and after we get done dumping this at the throne of God and saying, “Okay, God. Now, You deal with it,” because He doesn’t reach down immediately and pull it up and take care of the whole problem, we turn and we walk away and we drag that trouble back with us. We go, “Well, I’m not going to leave it there, because God didn’t come and take care of it! God didn’t do what I wanted, when I wanted Him to do it.” …If we keep dragging our troubles back with us, it’s not that God is not answering our prayers, and it’s not that God doesn’t care. It’s that we have not truly given it to Him. If I say, “Lord, this is Yours,” I need to make sure and leave it with Him.

Thank you, Lord. I know You're in control. You will deal with it.

Vintage message from May 10, 1998.

Do you find yourself in that place that when God answers your prayers, when God fulfills the promises He’s made to you, when He does the miracles in your life, do you find yourself actually stopping and taking the time and rejoicing? This is one of the other things I’ve observed within Christendom today. We have all kinds of needs, and we’ll pray for all kinds of things, and we’ll say, “God, give me, give me, give me, give me.” And then God gives us, and gives us, and gives us, and gives us, and we turn around and say, “God, give me more, give me more, give me more!” But do we actually stop each time God blesses us, when God gives us that blessing, do we say, “Thank you, Lord! Oh, I rejoice in You! You have just fulfilled me. You have given me everything. You are the God that loves me. You are the One Who I need. I rejoice in You.”

…How many of us find ourself in that place: a place of need, and we pray out to God, and when God blesses us, we know we are completed? We’re fulfilled. God has fulfilled us… [Sometimes] I miss the point that the relationship with God is the relationship that we need. The relationship with God is the only thing we need… We oftentimes take for granted the things that God gives us. We oftentimes fail to see the blessing that God has poured into our lives…

God is the One Who handles everything. God will deal with it… That’s something that I don’t think that we really believe. We can say it, but yet I still find people who will complain incessantly because they’re going through some struggle or turmoil, rather than sitting down and saying, “Thank you, Lord. I know You’re in control. You will deal with it.” …Are there things in our lives that we need to be leaving with the Lord and allow the Lord to deal with them? Allow the Lord to raise them up or put them down? I’ll tell you, it will make all the difference in your life because God is a God Who hears. He is a God Who will judge, and He will deal with it. He will.

We can fatten ourselves on all that God has offered to us through His grace and His mercy, or we can begin to exercise the gifts that God has poured into us by the power of His Spirit.

Vintage message from May 17, 1998.

We oftentimes take for granted the blessing that God has poured out upon us. We in the church today understand and live within the grace and mercy of God. And you know, I see people who fall away and fall into sin and they say, “That’s okay. I’m under God’s grace. God will forgive me.” …I have to tell you guys that sometimes we have sin in our life, and that sin needs to be dealt with. If we continue to let sin grow in our lives…God sees it, and God will eventually deal with it. And it is happening in the church today that men are using the excuse of God’s grace and mercy to continue in sin. That’s not a fun thing to have to tell you. We need to be repentant before God. I would [rather] stand here and tell you, “Hey, guys, you know, God is good. God is love. God wants to forgive you for everything, so just sit back and don’t worry about a thing because God is in control and whatever you do is okay.” I would love to be able to tell you that this morning, but I can’t because not everything is always okay. Not everything is good and not everything that we do is right and pleasing before God, even if we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, even if we’re filled with the Holy Spirit… God will bring us to a time of account…

Let me tell you something. God is alive, God is aware, and God wants to be part of our life. But you know what? He will let us go our own way. God will allow us to turn from the blessing, and He will allow for us to live in the sin, but that sin does catch up with us, and He does call us to account… Understand, because God loves us and forgives us, and because Jesus died on the cross for us and has dealt with our sin, does not mean that God is going to automatically take us to heaven. He has promised that those who would receive Him, He will forgive, but part of receiving [Jesus] is living within the scope and the realm of the blessings that He gives us. Allowing fruit to be displayed within our life… If we continue to live in sin, if we continue to walk away from God, if we continue to despise Him, what does it say here? “Those who honor Me I will honor, but those who despise Me I will disdain.” …This is a wake up call, I believe, to the church… We can continue to live in sin if we want, and God will let us. We can continue to justify the sin in our own lives, and God will let us. But you know, pretty soon it will come to the place where we will be more concerned about us, about my needs, where I’m going, what I’m doing, and how I should be treated, that God will eventually turn away from us and say, “That’s your life. Go live it,” and will allow for us to be held responsible for the sin and the destruction that sin brings to our life. He will allow it… He doesn’t leaves us, and He doesn’t forsake us, but He allows us to live lives sometimes that turn away from that blessing. And though He doesn’t leave, He allows us to leave. He will allow us to walk away and live in sin…

We can fatten ourselves on the blessings of God today. We can fatten ourselves on all that God has offered to us through His grace and His mercy, or we can begin to exercise the gifts that God has poured into us by the power of His Spirit. We can begin to allow that Spirit to work in and through us and bring fruit that will be a blessing to others… We should be about bringing people back to the Lord. Not just telling them, “Shame, shame on what you’re doing,” but tell them, “I will not participate in your sin.” …As men and women filled with the Holy Spirit of God, we have the authority to stand up before our brothers and sisters and say, “The sin that you’re living in will destroy you, and I will not participate.” We don’t have to.

We exist because of a relationship [with Jesus] and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Vintage message from May 31, 1998.

Do you realize that the church today is in a battle? Do you realize that when we walk out these doors that we are stepping into a world that hates God? [A world] that does not have the Holy Spirit, does not understand that they need a relationship with the Father, and that the Father has given His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for them as well as for us? When we walk out, and it may not be a battle with them, but Satan himself stands out in the world defying the church to come and take away from him what he’s stolen. Defying the church to stand up against his power and his strength. And you know what? We can walk around with the symbols all day long; we can wear the [Christian] t-shirt all day long; we can wear the crosses around our neck and we can show people all day long what “good” Christians we are, and never once open our mouth to tell someone that they are dying and going to hell if they do not have relationship with Jesus. You know what? It’s not about my t-shirt, and it’s not about my Bible, and it’s not about the cross I may wear. Those things are great reminders to me…but that t-shirt does me no good if it’s not coming out of my mouth, and telling people of the love that Jesus has for them. If I do not enter into the battle, and understand, because you enter into the battle does not mean that you are going to be defeated… It’s a battle, and…Satan may attack us, and Satan may do horrible things, and he may even strip away from us some of the icons, the symbols that God has given us. He may just take them away from us…but we do not exist because of a symbol. We exist because of a relationship and the power of the Holy Spirit…

Carrying your Bible is not going to protect you from the battle that is going on out there, because our battle is not against flesh and blood, but it’s against the devil. It’s against God’s enemy. It’s against principalities and powers that we do not even see. And the only effective weapon we have is prayer, God’s Word, relationship with Him, and faith.

There is not a believer on the face of this earth that "deserves" to go to heaven. We go to heaven because of God's grace. We find salvation because He reached out to us.

Vintage message from June 7, 1998.

When we live our lives for the Lord, when we represent God the way He wants to be represented…the unbelieving world sits up and takes notice. We have no power to save anyone. We have no power to change anyone. We do not have the power to go out here and win the souls of these people. Even though, Jesus, before He left, said, “Therefore, go into all the world making disciples of every nation.” We were expected, when we went out into the whole world, to take along with us the power of God’s Holy Spirit… When the world comes to the end of itself, when the unsaved finally get to the place where there’s nowhere else to turn, they turn to heaven. And you know what? We need to be there to help them understand what God expects…

The world today has tried to convince itself that it has no responsibility to its guilt. People live in whatever sin they want to live in. We see God’s hand heavy on this world…but yet the people today are still saying, “I am not responsible. I do not have to call what I’m doing ‘sin.’ I’m okay, you’re okay! I mean, we’re all free to live our lives the way we want after all, right?” …The fact is, we all deserve to go to hell. There is not one of us in this room, there is not a believer on the face of this earth, that ‘deserves’ to go to heaven. We go to heaven because of God’s grace. We find salvation because He reached out to us…

We need to wake up as a church. We need to wake up as God’s children and understand that our lives are to represent Him; that who we are is to make a statement to a dying world and a lost world. Who we are is to show the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

If you find yourself going through struggles...then put yourself in a place of fellowship with the Living God... Spend time praying. Spend time reading His Word. Get to know Him, and understand that He knows what's going on behind you. He knows the trouble. He knows the struggle, and He will deal with it.

Vintage message from June 14, 1998.

This is a message we need as the church today: that we wonder in our lives why bad things happen, and we wonder why hardships come, and when the hardships and the bad things happen, we turn to the things of the world because obviously God can’t deal with it. But let me tell you something. Jesus told us. He promised us. “In this life you will have tribulation.” He promised that. But then He said, “Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” We don’t need to turn to the ‘gods’ of the world. We don’t need to turn to the systems of the world. We, in our discouragement and pain and suffering, have to know that Jesus told us this would come…

When we as a people are repentant before our God, God shows His power to the rest of the world. We have a world out here that’s dying. We have a society that believes that their ‘gods’ are more powerful that ours. Their lifestyles are more important than ours. That their ‘fun,’ the things that they do, take precedence over ‘going to church.’ Let me tell you, I could care less about if you go to church or not, but do you realize you have a God that expects you to honor Him with your lives? You have a God that sent His Son to save you. You have a God that gave everything that He was so that you can know Him and be in fellowship with Him… Do you have trial and struggle in your life? Let me tell you, it is there for a good reason. It’s there to bring you to the place of showing the you need to be dependent upon the God who created you. He may bring even very, very hard trials. I know people who have lost children. I know people who have lost homes. Financially bankrupt, they have lost everything. And these people, God is speaking to them saying, “Just return to Me. Let Me deal with your life. Let Me use you as an example to a world.’ Just because bad things happen to you doesn’t mean you are bad. This is what we automatically assume: “Oh, God, You must be punishing me!” But it doesn’t necessarily mean that… Oftentimes, we react to the bad that’s happening around us before we take time to turn to God and say, “Why is this going on around us?”

…If you find yourself going through struggles, if you find yourself going through hard times, then put yourself in a place of fellowship before the Living God. Put yourself in a place of relationship. Spend time praying. Spend time reading His Word. Get to know Him. And understand that He knows what’s going on behind you. He knows the trouble. He knows the struggle. And He will deal with it.

I'm only here to serve. I'm only here to take what God has given to you, put it into some order and offer it to you, and then let you do with it what you need to do. It's food that God is offering to you. I'm just the server. Take the food and digest it. Grow because of it... Take God's Word in your own hand and study and grow and pray and develop that relationship with Him because...God could remove me at any time.

Vintage message from June 21, 1998.

God will bless you, and God will meet your needs but He won’t necessarily give you all the things that the world has… We don’t want to be like the people in the world… We want to be what God wants us to be… But it becomes so easy for us to look at what everybody else has because they have a little more. All of a sudden, we need that, too, to be successful. Well, let me tell you, I know people who have far less than I do, and I look at their lives and their walk with the Lord, and they have phenomenal walks with the Lord, and it tells me that maybe I should be getting rid of some of what I have and becoming more like them. That I should be seeking God rather than trusting in my automobiles and trusting in my home and trusting in all the things that God has given me. And this is the problem: we start gathering all these things that are blessings from God, and we begin to put our trust in the things, forgetting Who gave them to us, and what He gave them to us for. He gave us the things in order to make our lives more usable, to give us a little bit of comfort that we would trust Him and become more usable to Him. But we begin to turn to the things and expect the things and want more things and build up more things around us, that soon we’re so consumed by the things that we forget God Himself. We forget to listen to Him, and we forget to serve Him, and then begin to accuse Him because we know someone who has more than us. “God, why have you given that person more than me?”

…I’m only here to serve. I’m only here to take what God has given to you, put it into some order and offer it to you, and then let you do with it what you need to do. It’s food that God is offering to you. I’m just the server. Take the food and digest it. Grow because of it. Learn to go out and plant for yourself. Take God’s Word in your own hand and study and grow and pray and develop that relationship with Him because, you know what? God could remove me any time. I do not have to be here. I am nothing special. God may have gifted me in some areas. He may have given me some understanding, but you know what? That understanding is simply and only the Holy Spirit Himself that each one of you is indwelt with, or should be indwelt with. There is no man that is so spiritual, that is so close to God, that his spirituality will rub off on the people around him. It will not happen… I will not rub off on you. I would be flattered to influence you in some way, but I will not rub off on you. The Holy Spirit rubs off, the Holy Spirit indwells, the Holy Spirit fills, the Holy Spirit changes, and the Holy Spirit teaches. The Holy Spirit makes us who we are and what He wants us to be, if we’ll allow Him. But a man will not ever make you spiritual. Never, ever put your faith and your trust in a man, in a position, or in a leader because God may use (even against what we know are His principles), God may use wicked men. God may put wicked men over us in a position of leadership. What do we do then? Do like Israel and abandon God? Seek after another man who will do a better job? …What makes us think that another man will do a better job? …God wants to be your leader. God wants to fill you with His Holy Spirit. God wants you to trust Him. Not me. Not another man. Him, through the power oF His Spirit.

For any of us who have ever struggled in our relationship with the Lord and feel that God has somehow abandoned us, understand that God has NEVER abandoned us. We have just become so distracted in our life, we've turned our back on Him and are not listening to Him... God NEVER, no matter how much we reject Him, He never rejects and abandons us.

Vintage message from June 28, 1998.

Being a true worshipper is the toughest thing you will ever do because it is being honest with yourself and with God and with everybody around you. It is coming to the place of understanding what the truth is and living that truth from your heart, from your spirit, before God, and that is tough… If you think Christianity is wimpy, then you do not understand God’s heart, and you do not understand God’s Word.

…Sometimes being truthful is heart-wrenching. Sometimes coming to the bold, blatant truth about who I am brings tears to my eyes, and when it’s done because God has touched us, it’s okay. But if you’re doing it for the reason of impressing God, all you’ve done is gone to a “high place.” You have reinstalled that form of worship that God said He did not want. Think about how you worship and why you worship and where you worship… Dwell on verses like [John 4:24] where Jesus is explaining to the woman at the well, and you’ll come to the place very rapidly of knowing that the place you need to be in your life is before God in spirit and in truth…

Hear this very carefully: if you want to reject God, He will let you. He doesn’t reject you. He doesn’t turn away from you and, in fact, He will give you, oftentimes, the desire of your heart though it’s not the desire of His heart… Any of us who have ever struggled in our relationship with the Lord and feel that God has somehow abandoned us, understand that God has never abandoned us. We have just become so distracted in our life, we’ve turned our back on Him and are not listening to Him… God will allow sin to happen in our lives. God does not stop us from living the lives that we choose to live. God does not stop us from doing the things that we want to do. God gives us permission. “Go ahead. Go live that life.” But understand…we must know that if we’re going to live the life that we choose outside of God that there will be consequences… God never, no matter how much we reject Him, He never rejects and abandons us.

Our God is a compassionate, loving, and caring God, and He understands every little intricacy about us.

Vintage message from July 5, 1998. (Message ends abruptly.)

We come to this place in our life that we begin to try to play God instead of letting God play God. We try to take the place of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives rather than allowing the Holy Spirit be the Holy Spirit. We try to tell people how to live, when to live and why to live, and that does not ever work. Our God is a compassionate, loving, and caring God, and He understands every little intricacy about us… There is not a one of us in this room that does not struggle with issues of sin in their life. God meets us where we’re at… But understand, there are consequences to the sin that we live in. There are consequences to the things that we do [and] to the things that we think…

One of the things concerning God’s will that is the hardest for us is hearing God say, “You must wait.” …How long do we wait? When God wants us to know, He’ll make it specific. He will let us know when and where. But until then, we must wait… What has He asked us to do as a people? Hasn’t He already made it very clear, very specific, what we are to do while we’re waiting for His return? …We understand, or should understand at this point, what God expects of us, and it’s very simple. Live our lives for Him, occupy in this place for Him, and bring others to know Him. Very simple. Simple instructions, but probably the hardest thing in life to do… How many of us are hiding today from the thing that we know God has specifically told us we must do because we are afraid to step out and trust that God will do it through us? …We run and we hide because we are afraid of the call. We’re afraid of the rejection. We’re afraid of this. We’re afraid of that. And though it has been made very, very clear, what God expects of us, we run and hide…

As we begin to live our lives to honor God, as we begin to put our trust in God, there will be plenty of people in our lives that will make trouble and think they’re doing it for the good of God. There will be plenty of people who will tell us that we’re witnessing the wrong way, that we’re living our lives the wrong way, that we’re doing this and that the wrong way, and that we shouldn’t do it this way, but we should do it their way. If you are studying God’s Word, if you are praying, if you are seeking God with all your heart…it doesn’t matter what anyone else tells you about how you’re living your life for God. If you are trying your hardest to live for God, through the understanding of His Word, through seeking out in the power of the Holy Spirit God’s desire for you, let me tell you, you’re not likely to be doing it wrong.

I am called to a place of prayer. I'm called to seek the God Who created me. I'm called to ask the Lord Jesus to step into the situation. Fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit. So I can stand firm through this, so that I do not have to fight this battle on my own, and then, God brings the victory. Then God gets the glory. Then God becomes the leader of our life.

Vintage message from July 12, 1998.

We come against trials every day. We come against struggles every day, and we have choices to make. We can trust God… We can trust that God will save us because we’re not wrestling against flesh and blood. We’re wrestling against principalities and powers that are from the pit of hell! Satan wants to destroy us! God’s enemy wants to see us fall away. But you know how many Christians I know that…roll over and say, “Hey, it’s not worth the fight. It’s not worth putting up a struggle for. I’ll give in. I don’t want to have to struggle…” Do you realize that when we give in that Satan not only wants us to give in, but then he wants to humiliate us because we loved or trusted or knew of God in some way. Satan just wants to humiliate us… You become nothing in the eyes of the world when you submit to the world; when you submit to the humiliation that the world offers you…

Jabesh Gilead could have easily said, “No way, we won’t give in to you. We have a God that is mightier than you are, and even though we may be few in this town, and even if nobody comes to our rescue, we will stand against you.” And do you understand that in life as Christians, as people who believe that Jesus died for our sins, that sometimes when we make that statement, we stand alone. We have people around us who do not want to hear that, and for the majority of this world, even though we are a small group of people, we are alone compared to the vast numbers of people in this world who do not believe that. And we have to be willing and ready to say, “I will make my stand.”

…Understand this principle: even though the Holy Spirit comes into your life, even though you receive Jesus as your Savior, and even though you may have times or great victory in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will still allow you to live the life you choose. The Holy Spirit will still allow you to live in sin. The Holy Spirit will still allow you to deny the power of God and live by your own flesh. Even though He lives right inside of you, He will allow it. But just like Israel, you begin, then, to live a very defeated life. Very defeated. God has not called us to battle the flesh and blood. He’s asked us to put on the full armor of God… How do we overcome the spiritual battle? How do we effectively use the armor of God? We use it in the power of prayer. When we come to the place of praying, when we come to the place of realizing our weakness, we put on the righteousness. We put on the truth. We live by the gospel. We trust God’s salvation because Jesus died for us. We believe that in faith.. And when we’ve done everything we can do to stand firm in that faith, when we’ve done everything to tell the world, “I am a believer,” but the battle is still coming our way — and understand that there will be battles in your life. The world doesn’t just lay down and die because we become Christians. They will battle with us, but we do not battle them. We don’t punch our neighbor in the nose… I do not battle with them. I am called to the place of prayer. I’m called to seek the God Who created me. I’m called to ask the Lord Jesus to step into the situation, fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit, so that I can stand firm through this, so that I do not have to fight this battle on my own. And then, God brings the victory. Then God gets the glory. Then God becomes the leader of our life.

Far be it from me that I do not teach the Word of God! Far be it from me that I do not pray for those who enter into this place.

Vintage message from July 19, 1998.

We oftentimes find ourselves in situations that are hard, and we begin to look for replacements for God. “If God is not going to deal with it for me, then by golly, I’ll do it. I’ll find a way to accomplish it… I’ll do it by my strength…” This is how I see the church responding to the God Who gave His Son for us. If God doesn’t answer our prayer like, “right now,” we begin to moan and groan and replace God with something else instead of waiting to see the power and strength of God deliver us once again. Do you realize there’s not one of us sitting in this room…that has not seen God’s deliverance in their life. Do you realize that? Every one of us has a testimony of God’s faithfulness.

…Do you realize God has a right to allow your flesh to be destroyed? …And do you realize that in that event, God will still be faithful to you? Think about that. Do you realize that there is not one of us in this room that is guaranteed that when we walk out of this door today that we will live to see another ten minutes from the time we walk out? …And do you realize that God will still be faithful even if He allows some of us to die? Even if He allows some of us to suffer? Even if He allows some of us to go without?

…Do you realize that you can not walk in relationship with God on the heels of the people who are around you that may be spiritual? You have to have that relationship yourself. You have to call on the Lord your God, the Lord my God, the Lord our God. If you are going to people and saying, “Pray for me because I know you to be spiritual and God hears you, but God doesn’t hear me,” there’s a real problem there. A real problem… If you allow the problems and the things that are going on around you to overwhelm your life so that God gets put on the shelf for a while, then you’re not seeking His kingdom or His righteousness first. Seek that first. Forget the troubles around you, because we have a God Who lives and Who is for us and will not allow us to fail in our walk with Him… Some of us may not see the blessings of God that we want to see until the day that we see Him face to face. He may allow for us to come to the point of seeing this flesh completely fall away, and then add to us the things we need while, in the meantime, making our flesh, and the death of our flesh, an example to the people around us…

I will not fail to teach you the way that is good and right. I will not fail to pray for you. Do you realize that that is the main distinctive of Calvary Chapel? It’s not fancy programs, and it’s not big youth groups, and it’s not beautiful looking buildings, even though sometimes those things have come to Calvary Chapel. Do you realize the distinctive of Calvary Chapel is to teach the Word of God? To equip the saints for the work of service, as Paul tells us? That we’re not here to have all the fun and glamor and glitter that many other churches find themselves doing. We’re not going to have big bands, and we’re not going to have a lot of fancy stuff, and I don’t care what people want in their church. If they want the fancy stuff, there’s plenty of them they can go to. When they come here, far be it from me that I do not teach the Word of God! Far be it from me that I do not pray for those that enter into this place.

We can not love God in our own way. We must love God the way He wants to be loved.

Vintage message from July 26, 1998.

Part of the problem that we have within our society today is we fail to remember what God has done for us. All of us are going to go through hard times. All of us are going to go through suffering. All of us are going to experience things that are uncomfortable within our life. I guarantee you, and I can tell you that Jesus promised that we would go through these hard times… But…if our eyes are on Jesus and His Lordship and His ability to overcome, then no matter the trial, the tribulation that we’re experiencing, we will overcome, too. And we can do this by remembering. Think of the testimony that you have in Christ, from the time that you gave your life to the Lord, the good things the Lord has done. We concentrate on all the bad… We look at those things rather than saying, “You know what? God’s blessed me.”

…We, oftentimes in our lives, have victory. But understand, for every victory we have in the Lord, there will be an even greater challenge because the enemy of God…does not like it when God’s children have victory, so he makes the next challenge even harder, and he comes against us with an even greater army. But you remember, our battle is not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, wickedness in high places…

We can not love God in our own way. We must love God the way He wants to be loved… God lays out for us very specifically how He wants us to love Him, how He wants us to enter into relationship with Him… We buy into this as Christians all the time; we buy into it even though we don’t want to, we buy into it: if God is not going to come to my rescue, then I must do something… As I study my Bible, I find that God helps the helpless. God loves the helpless. God simply asks that the helpless will turn to Him. If we, in our time of need, will simply put our trust in Him, He helps us because He loves us… We forget that God loves us, and that God wants to help us; that God wants to be part of our life. He asks very little of us. He asks us to believe in Him and to come through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Father wants us to approach Him in a very specific way. I will not tell you that there are many ways to God. I will not tell you that if you’re a good person, you’re going to go to heaven… You’re not going to hear that from me. I’m going to tell you, if you do not receive Jesus, if you do not come through Jesus, you will not go to heaven, and that’s not my statement. That’s Jesus’s own words. “No man comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6) It’s a very specific, simple directive that He’s laid out for all of us to know… And yet we persist in telling God, “I am going to like You, I’m going to love You, and I’m going to serve You in my own way. And if You want me, You’ll meet me on my terms. If You don’t come when I call, then by God, I’m going to go out and do it myself!” …But I’m going to tell you, God’s already laid out the terms, and He will not move. He will not budge.

I will follow God heart and soul. It's His victory, not mine. The tougher, the better because the tougher, the greater the victory for God, the greater the testimony. I can then stand up and say, only God could have done this!

Vintage message from August 9, 1998.

There are times we begin to fear. There are times we begin to doubt. But, you know, if we put our trust in God, if we put our trust in the One Who is truly leading us, …if we will tell God, “I am with You heart and soul,” we will begin to see amazing things happen in our life. But, you know, that’s a hard statement to make because we don’t know what’s coming. We don’t know what we’re facing… What is the one thing that God wants to do with our faith? He wants to challenge our faith more than anything. He wants us to grow to a place of trusting Him in all things… But understand, the more difficult the situation, the more difficult the challenge, the more possible it is that God wants you to step into it because then it’s not you, it’s Him. It’s His victory. It’s not my victory. And I don’t know what challenges you’re facing today. Each of us faces different challenges… What are the challenges that we are facing today? I don’t care how hard it looks, how challenging it may be — the more challenging, the more God wants to develop your faith. The more God wants you to trust Him because then He can prove Himself powerful. You know, if it’s too easy and I can do it (and if I can do it, anybody can do it), how does God get the glory for that? God sometimes wants to do things that are so impossible, that the only thing we can do is stop and stare in awe up to heaven and say, “That was God!”

…God wants to deal with each and every one of us on an individual basis. He wants each of us to have a commitment to Him that says, let’s step out and trust Him… What overwhelming challenge do you have to face once you leave this building? …It’s not going to do you any good to run and hide from it. It’s not going to do you any good to complain about it… People easily abandon the Lord when things get tough, but we have to be a people who will never abandon the Lord no matter how tough it is… I don’t care what’s out there. I’m going to put my faith and my trust in God. The harder, the better…

This is the other thing we have to understand: that when we step out in faith, people see our faith. People see the victory that God begins to have because of us…but the challenge will be there, for people around you will say, “Don’t give God all the credit. I mean, after all, you did something.” …Well, the fact is, I’ve done nothing! God does not need me. God only uses me because He loves me, and He can do this job, He can do any one of our jobs, He can do any victory within this world without us…

Do you want to see great victories in your life? Do you want to see God do major things through you? Then be available and allow Him to use you. Know that He doesn’t need to use you. He can, and He wants to. If we will make ourselves available. That’s where we need to find ourselves. In the place of saying to ourselves, “I will follow God heart and soul. It’s His victory, not mine. The tougher, the better, because the tougher, the greater the victory for God, the greater the testimony. I can then stand up and say, You know that only God could have done this!” We don’t want to be anywhere else, because when we take the credit to ourselves, when we put ourself on a pedestal, when we have men looking at who we are and what we do, then when we fall, it hurts desperately. And God will cause us to fall because God wants the victory, God wants the credit, and God wants our faith in Him.

God is saying..."Go on out and share the gospel with someone. Get involved. I've got the victory! Look! It's happening all around you! Just jump in and do something. Get involved and be part of what I'm doing!"

Vintage message from August 16, 1998.

Do you realize that today God is having a great victory over His enemies in this world? He is bringing thousands and thousands of people to know Him and the Name of Jesus Christ. He has asked us to be involved. But do you know what? God does not need us to save this world. God did not need me when He put His Son on the cross. God did not need me when He raised His Son from the dead. But you know what? God is saying, “Dave, go on out and share the gospel with someone. Get involved. I’ve got the victory! Look! It’s happening all around you. Just jump in and do something. Get involved and be part of what I’m doing.” He’s allowing me to be part. He doesn’t need me for it, but He wants me. For my sake He wants me, because He loves me. He wants me. He wants me involved….

One of the things that I find that is most oftentimes forgotten, when we find ourselves in turmoil, when we find ourselves in the middle of a battle, when we find ourselves in a struggle, we assume upon God. We assume, we assume, and we assume, and we never take the time to stop and pray and say, “God, is this what You are doing? Is this what You want? And if it should or must be changed, what do You want me to do it, to participate in it?”

…God steps back oftentimes in our life. He will allow for us to find ourself in a horrendously hard situation. One that you and I would never, ever hope on our worst enemy. We find ourselves in the midst of this turmoil… God allows our faith to be tested. God allows for us to be challenged to the very depth of our soul… How do we respond to this? Do we begin to rant and rave and demand of God and dictate to God how things must work, how they will work, how He will get us out of this hard time? This is how I experience most of Christianity today — how people deal with God. They don’t go to God and say, “Man, I’m just struggling here, but not my will but Yours be done.” [Instead] it’s, “God, this is what’s happening in my life, and this is what You’ll do about it! …God, why aren’t you answering? I’m praying to you!” …Does God have to speak to you? Is God required to answer when you demand? …When God doesn’t speak to me, it’s usually my fault. When God doesn’t answer my prayer, it’s usually because He is building my faith. When God doesn’t come through right now when I want Him to, it’s because He has a greater victory in store. A better plan. And if I would just wait, and allow Him to do it, then He gets the credit. The victory is His, and it has nothing to do with me… This is the amazing thing with God: He knows what I need far more than I [do].

It is better to obey than to make sacrifice, because in obedience we see God do more powerful, greater things.

Vintage message from August 23, 1998.

Do you realize God fights our battles for us? God has not given us the responsibility or the right to exact revenge on our enemy? He’s the one that will do it, and the only time we have involvement is if He asks us to have involvement… God Himself wants to take the revenge for us because He knows the reasons why revenge needs to be brought. We don’t. We do it out of anger. We do it out of bitterness. God does it out of justice and righteousness…

Are we just serving God or do we truly trust and believe God? …How many times do we find ourselves questioning God in this way? God asks us to do something. God asks us to go through something. God puts something in our path, and we begin to look at it, and we begin to say, “Why would God do that? I’m not going to do that! God wouldn’t want me to be hurt. God wouldn’t want me to be inconvenienced in any way. After all, God’s a loving God. God loves everybody and everything. God wouldn’t want me to do anything that would cause discomfort or be discomforting.” We begin to question God’s motives. We begin to question why God is doing what God is doing and how He’s doing it, and when we don’t like it, then we change it to suit us! …We can make serving God the way we want to serve Him, even if it’s how He wants to be served or not, sound so righteous…

Now the question is asked: …does God delight in the things we can do for Him over obedience to what He has asked us to do? …It is better to obey than to make the sacrifice, because in obedience we see God do more powerful, greater things…

Part of the problem that we have in the world today, we don’t feel we have to take God’s Word literally. I mean, after all, God didn’t really mean that… When God wants us to take the Bible figuratively, He explains it and makes it clear that it is figurative. Otherwise, we take God’s Word literally. When God says to do it, we do it even if we don’t understand it. Even if it’s hard for us, we do it because God says to do it, and we believe it because God says it will happen… We have a mishmash of beliefs in our world today because people do not take the Bible literally. Well, let me tell you. Take God’s Word the most literal that you can, and I will tell you, you won’t be far off on its interpretation.

There is nothing and nobody who can stop me from loving the Lord my God except for me.

Vintage message from August 30, 1998.

God is long-suffering that way. God loves us desperately, and God wants to use us. If there’s a point that I make any more clear, I don’t know how I can make it more clear. God loves us! Plain and simple. God loves the men that He created. God wants to use those that He created. God wants to participate with those that He created, and God proves this to us through men like Saul. He just asks for us to have a willing heart to serve; a willing heart to be obedient…

Sin does that, you know? If we do not eradicate the sin from our life, if we do not trust God to take care of the issues of sin in our life, that sin hangs around and not only affects us, but later on can affect those around us, and will try to work its way into other people’s lives. After all, they see us living it. How many of us have ever seen another person living in sin that doesn’t seem to be dealt with by God and say, “Well, why isn’t God dealing with him? It must be okay for me to do it, then, too. Gosh, if he can get away with it, I want to get away with it…” Why would God allow for people to get away with sin? God doesn’t allow anybody to get away with sin. God doesn’t fall asleep. God is watching everything…

This is the problem we have within the church today; why sin is so prevalent within the church today: because there are too many people who only want to associate with others who know God. They’ll go to church. They’ll worship God. They can even come in here and worship with us. Have a great time. Be blessed out of their socks. But their association is with us, not with God. They have not received Him to themselves…

We have to be zealous about dealing with the issues of sin within our life… God doesn’t look at the outside. God looks at the inside. God knows our hearts. He knows our motives. No matter how good we try to look on the outside, if we do not daily, hourly, moment-by-moment, seek this love relationship with God, if we find ourselves seeking anything that’s of this world, we find ourself seeking wickedness. We find ourself seeking that that God does not approve of. God created it all, and He may bless us with the physical, material things, but if that’s what’s motivating us, then we are separate from the Lord our God…

No one, no one can stop you from loving the Lord your God. They can take your life from you, they can torture you, they can humiliate you but men can not stop you from obeying this command [to love the Lord your God]. The only one who can stop you from obeying this command is you, yourself. And you know what? It happens to me all the time. I allow myself to get distracted by the things around me… In fact, there is nothing and nobody who can stop me from loving the Lord my God except for me! …He wants us to be one hundred percent, personally, sold out to Him…

So often I find myself in these moments of discouragement... and God gently reminds me...don't get caught up in the circumstances... Do what God has called you to do and He will work everything out.

Vintage message from September 6, 1998.

There are times that we become friends with people that greatly disappoint us. We pour our lives into people who turn away from God, [who] turn away from the things that we thought we saw in them… It’s so easy to become mournful of a person that we have befriended, that we have tried to raise up to love God, and they don’t. Understand, it is not your fault if someone rejects and turns away from God, even if you’re a bad witness. Do you realize that the sin that I may commit, the bad witness that I may be to you, is no reason for you to turn away from God?…If you put a man on a pedestal, if you begin to look at and worship a man that God is using, then you are looking for a fall yourself because there is no man, including myself, that lives a sinless life, that will live up to your expectations or your idea of perfection and what a pastor or a man of God should be. A man of God is simply someone whom God has chosen because that man loves Him, but is still sinful by nature. We being to grieve when people around us fall. And it’s okay to hurt for someone when they stumble and they fall away from the Lord, when they reject Jesus, when they turn away from what is familiar to us as believers. It’s okay to mourn, but…don’t forget to serve the Lord, don’t forget to continue on even if you have been rejected or hurt or disillusioned by someone around you. Continue on. Don’t stop.

How many of us have found ourself in these circumstances where even though God has done the miracles around us and in us and through us most of our lives, we find ourself in that moment of discouragement. And now this great and mighty God that we love and we serve is so insignificant that we fear the things around us. “Oh God, how can you protect me?” …But God is so loving. God is so patient… So often I find myself in these moments of discouragement. I find myself at times of struggle, times of hardship, and God gently reminds me of what my job is. Don’t get caught up in the circumstance. Just do your job. Do what God has called you to do and He will work everything out…

One of the things I find in ministry is sometimes God chooses to do things differently, and it scares people to death. We get into a routine. We get into tradition. We get into the things that are familiar to us, and we want it to always stay the same… God will do the unfamiliar within our ministries. God will do the unfamiliar within our lives. God has the right to change whatever He wants within us and around us, and He may even want to turn our world upside-down. And you know what? It scares us to death when God brings change, even if that change is good and that change is for the best, it scares us to death because it has pulled us out of our tradition. It has pulled us out of our routine. We are people of familiarity. We want everything to be the same day in and day out. We don’t want our routine messed up… But, you know, sometimes God invites us to be part of the blessing, even if we don’t understand it…

Sometimes we have to humble ourselves, we have to bring ourself to say, “God, it is Your right to pick for Your service whom it is that You desire, and if You pick him, then I’ll accept him.” It’s hard. It’s hard because it humbles us… But you know what? My God is much greater than me. My God can accomplish whatever He darn well pleases to accomplish without me… You know the greatest work you can do for God is stepping out of His way. After He has used you, step out of His way. Wait for Him to give you another task. Don’t keep pushing for bigger and better and greater… If God has used you and has not given you another task, step out of His way. Put yourself in a place where you can continue to pray and study and be silent before God. Don’t run off to the next ministry thinking that God has to do something more with you… It takes prayer. It takes time alone with God. It takes being faithful.

God, refine me. God, make me what You want me to be even if it's going through the heat of the fire. Refine me!

Vintage message from September 13, 1998.

God wants to refine us, and He will use the things of life to refine us… God allows for us to be refined because when we stumble into sin, when we stumble into selfishness, when we stumble into ourself, it shows that there is impurity in us that needs to be dealt with, and God is about forgiving, and part of the forgiving process is the refining process. He forgives the sin, and then He burns away the dross — the gross, yucky, ugly stuff that’s in our life — and brings us to a place of being able to honor Him…

“And the Lord is with him.” Probably the greatest statement that could have been made about David is that it was recognized in him that the Lord was in him. When people look at you, when your friends around you are talking about you…what are they telling them? What are people telling their friends about you?… What do people say about you? And when they say it, do they tell their friends, “This person is a person who loves God. God is with this person.”

…If you’re being tormented, if Satan is attacking you, if you find yourself in struggle, let me tell you, the best place to turn is God’s Word. Start reading it out loud. Go to a friend, have them read it out loud to you, but whatever you do, get into God’s Word, because God’s enemies hate the truth. They hate hearing the truth. They don’t want to be part of the truth…This is what causes the enemy to flee. It’s not anything that I do well, but anything that I do sharing God’s Word in truth. See, Satan knows God’s Word, and he knows how to twist it. But, if you take God’s Word, and you leave it in context, and you read it to yourself to gain from it what God wants you to hear, what God wants you to know, Satan can’t deal with that. Satan can’t hang around that because Satan does not want to hear the truth. He knows the truth! He’s lost! He’s condemned for all eternity. He knows that, and every time he hears the truth of God’s Word, he is reminded of that. He is deceived. He has deceived himself, he has deceived his followers, and he had deceived mankind to believe still, somehow, that he can win, and so he continues to try. But then, when we open up God’s Word, and we start reading, and we start studying, and we pour God’s Word over us, he hears the truth once again. That’s why Paul, in Ephesians chapter five, tells us, when engaged with one another, when in fellowship with one another, that we’re to read to one another, that we’re to sing to one another psalms, hymns, spiritual songs. That we are to encourage and bless and build one another up within God’s Word because Satan will not hang around when the truth is being shared. We are less likely to fall to sin. We are less likely to fall to the enemy who is seeking to devour us. We’re less likely to fall to that when we are studying and living within God’s Word…

That’s my prayer for each one of us today: it’s that each one of us here would become serious about who we are in the Lord Jesus Christ; that we would seek His Word in such a way that the enemy of God flees from us, rather than stands there and laughs at us; that we would, in fact, become such a threat to the enemy that we become his number one target because he fears what God will do with us. God, refine me. God, make me what You want me to be even if it’s going through the heat of the fire. Refine me.

When is the last time that you got out of bed, put on your clothes, and stepped out your front door simply and only to prove that today, no matter what comes my way, no matter what happens in my life, today I will prove that there is a God in heaven by how I life my life.

Vintage message from September 20, 1998. (The original message was cut off at the end.)

In my life, there have been many times that I have been faced with great challenges. And you know what? God has overwhelmed me with story after story and example after example of His great provision, of His great strength, of what He can accomplish in and through me, but all of a sudden this thing comes out of no where that is intimidating to me, and it scares the pants off of me! I can’t deal with it! …I think we all should ask ourself, when we meet these challenges head on, why are we afraid of what we’re facing? Why don’t we do something about it? Why do we sit down and cower when we have the examples and the stories within our history, within our life, that say that, in fact, God will provide. God will take care of us…

God has given us little things to be responsible for, and even though there may be greater things for us out there to do, we can’t abandon those little responsibilities as insignificant. If we abandon the little responsibilities, we abandon all character within ourself. Anything that God would try to do within us is null and void because we show ourselves to be of poor character because we don’t take care of the responsibility first and foremost that He’s given us, no matter how small that responsibility might be…

How many times have we been praying, “God, use me in some way. God, do something with me,” and we step out, and we know the greatness and the power of God, but yet one person or one circumstance, one situation stands in our way, and we run and cower from it. We do not see how the battle can be won because of one minor circumstance. Goliath was a minor circumstance standing in the way…

If you want to be effective in ministry, if you want to be effective in what God has called you to do, look at where He’s called you from. Be the person that God wants you to be. Look at the responsibility that God has given you and don’t try to step beyond that responsibility. Don’t try to become great. Be who you are, and God will use you in mighty ways…

This is how we perceive life oftentimes. We look out at the world around us. We see these great and mighty things of the world that God has asked us to conquer [and] to overcome. We look at ourselves, we see this insignificant shepherd, and we say, “No way!” But David, who spent the time with God already, had seen the power of God in his own life, had seen the provision of God in his own life, stepped out to prove to the Philistines, to prove to Goliath, and to prove to all Israel that there is a God. When is the last time that you got out of bed in the morning, put your clothes on, and stepped out your front door simply and only to prove that today, no matter what comes my way, no matter what happens in my life, today I will prove that there’s a God in heaven by how I live my life. Today I will prove that there’s a God in heaven by what I say, by what I do, by how I live. I don’t care how many Philistines are out there. I don’t care how many giants are standing amongst them. Today I will prove that there is a God in heaven, and that God in heaven loves me. Good way to start your day. All of us have great challenges that we have to overcome. But you know what? We’re not going to overcome them in our own strength.

Are we ready to step out of the way and let God do what He wants? Are we ready to let God be God, and we be His servants, His vessels, to use as He will, not as we will?

Vintage message from September 27, 1998.

[This] is something, I believe, that we each need to come to grips with. We need to say that when God raises up a man that maybe, just maybe, God knows what He’s doing, and that person is as usable to God as I am… How many of us are willing to say that of ourselves: “God, You use anybody else around me that You want to use…” Because, you know what? It’s not about me. It’s not about what I can do. It’s not about my ability to teach God’s Word. It’s not that I can impress anybody. It’s about what God is doing, and how God is doing it. And you know, there are times that we get in God’s way. We demand that God use us in ministry. We expect God to do great things with us, and when God starts raising up somebody else, we get jealous, and we cling to that that God had used us in. And I have seen ministry after ministry brought down because men clung to the ministry rather than clinging to God Himself and saying, “God, You do what You want to do. Use me how You want to use me, and if You want me to be king for a day, that’s fine; if You then want me to be a servant, then do that in me, too.” …I believe that God wants to bring us each to that place of humbling ourself before Him, in allowing Him to raise up whom He will, when He wants to…

God’s will is not up to me. I do not tell God what to do, when to do it, or where to do it. It is in God’s hands to use me how He will… We can build our own kingdom. We can take charge of our own kingdom. We can take charge of our own lives. We can live life how we want, how we choose, and God will let us… God will allow for us to build our own little kingdom but understand, God will always have His way. Always. He’s not deterred because of us. He’s not stopped because of us. If we want to live in sin, He’ll let us live in sin… Are we ready to step out of the way and let God do what He wants? Are we ready to let God be God, and we be His servants, His vessels to use as He will, not as we will?

But, Lord, I want Your will to be done. I want for You to be able to use me how You will. Lord, I want You to be able to use our praise team as You will. Lord, I want You to be able to use my family as You will. And Lord, I want You to be able to use each and every person in this fellowship as You will. Take those choices that we would make and, Lord, if they’re usable, use them. If they’re not, show us. Show us then, Lord, how to step back and recognize the men and women around us whom you do want to use, and let us be excited about it. Let us fall in love with those, Lord, that are serving You because You’ve called them to serve.

We have a loving, patient, caring Father in heaven, and because He created us, He knows who we are and why we do what we do, and He's patient and long-suffering.

Vintage message from October 4, 1998. (The original message was cut off at the end.)

There are times in our lives that we feels like the Holy Spirit has left. There are times in our lives that we are caught off guard and we fall to sin or we fall to arrogance or we fall to pride or we fall to jealousy. There are times in our lives today when we believe that maybe the Holy Spirit…has departed, and we look at people around us with jealousy. We look at people around us with envy. But understand something. If the Holy Spirit has ever been in you, if He has taken up residence in you because you’ve invited Him in, if you don’t feel Him, it’s not because He’s left. It’s because you have started to ignore Him. First and foremost, He will never leave you or forsake you. If I don’t feel Him, it’s because I’m not paying attention. He’s there. We don’t have to become jealous of other people’s ministries. We don’t have to become jealous about what God is doing in another man’s life…

But you know what? We have a loving, patient, caring Father in heaven. And because He created us, He knows who we are and why we do what we do, and He’s patient and long-suffering. He gives us every opportunity. And like Saul, we can begin to look around us at the people that God is using, we can become jealous in our heart, we can become envious in our heart, or we can put our eyes back where they belong. Take them off the people around us and put them back on the Lord. Repent of what we’re doing and why we’re doing and how we’re doing it and just simply walk with Him…

Are we willing today to be used of God simply because God wants to use us? How many of us found ourselves saying, “God bless me. God bless me. God bless me.”? We say “God bless me” because we want God somehow to reward us for the things we do for Him. What if God never blessed you in any way that you perceived in life, would you still serve Him? If God took your house away from you, if God took your car away from you, if God took your kids away from you, if God took everything that you perceive in your life as a blessing away from you, would you still serve Him? Would you still love Him? These are questions I believe we need to ask ourselves today…

Oftentimes when we wander away from the Lord, we lose perspective. I have seen many people wander away from the Lord. All of a sudden they fail to see the power that God has had in their life. They fail to see the power that God has had in other people’s lives. All of a sudden we create God in our own image, and we make Him a weak nothing. God can do nothing… Understand, if you walk away from the Lord, if you fall away, you lose perspective. God does not cease to be powerful. We just cease to see Him as powerful…

If we will just continue to walk faithfully in all that God has done in us, He will continue to work in us… If we do not want God working in our life…God will not force Himself on us. God wants willing vessels. God wants vessels that will say, “I’m here. Use me.” If we say, “No way,” He won’t use us! God is always loving. God is always gentle. God is always caring. We become belligerent. We become hateful. We become destructive. God does not. God waits for us to say, “Use me, Lord.” And then He uses us.

The friends we need are friends that are going to stand before God with us. The ones that are going to pray for us. The ones that are going to pray with us. The ones that are going to give us guidance in God's Word.

Vintage message from October 11, 1998.

It’s hard to understand when God does things differently. And you know, when God does something different in my life, I’m looking for the difference to be good. I’m looking for the difference to be pleasant. I’m looking for the difference to be uplifting. But, you know, occasionally things come along in my life that God is doing that is different that is not pleasant at all… The Lord does not do things the way we want Him to do them — always. The Lord does not live to our expectations. He wants us to live to His expectations…

Sometimes, no matter how successful or unsuccessful we are, we will go through hard times. It doesn’t matter who you are, what part you play in life, you will go through hard times… Regardless of what your circumstances are, God will, from time to time, give us a friend that we can depend on… It’s good to have friends that we can turn to, especially when we’re in hard times… Friends are great, but you know what? Friendship can only go so far. We can only depend on friends to a certain point… The friends we need are the friends that are going to stand before God with us. The ones that are going to pray for us. The ones that are going to pray with us. The ones that are going to give us guidance in God’s Word…

When things start getting crazy in our life, when we do not understand what’s going on, we can flee from the responsibility, we can escape from the things that are tormenting us, and we can run out to the world and try to hide or…we can run to a friend who will pray with us. And understand, that when we enter in to that place of prayer the Holy Spirit takes control, and there is nothing…that is too powerful for the Holy Spirit to handle… Just because God’s enemy tries to bring torment to us and wreak havoc in our lives, it doesn’t stop the Holy Spirit. He is still working… The Holy Spirit is not out of control. The Holy Spirit is not perplexed. The Holy Spirit is not lost even if we are. When we find ourselves in those times of struggle and turmoil we turn to friends who have the relationship with the Lord, who are able at that point in their life to say, “Let me pray with you. Let’s turn to God’s Word and find out what His Word has to say. Let’s put this in the hands of the Creator of this universe.”

The Lord may sometimes send us into a desert situation... How do we respond?... We don't panic because of it. We live in it. We walk headlong into the wilderness knowing that that's where God is at. If God is there, you don't want to be anywhere else.

Vintage message from October 18, 1998.

God is far more powerful than even our worse enemy. God is never out of control. God is never off of His throne or dethroned because of an enemy I might have. There is no problem that I will face, no situation that I will come in contact with, no matter how hard it is, that takes God by surprise and that God can not deal with. Even though He can deal with it, God still allows sinners to be sinners. That’s a hard concept to understand. Even though He may take control of someone’s life for a short time for our protection, He still allows them their life. God will not take peoples’ choice away from them…

This is the other thing that we don’t understand: why does God allow those who have done nothing wrong to be persecuted in this way? …God allows for people to attack us, even those that we would not expect. Even those that should be the closest to us. He allows them, in their sin, to attack us. And what is our response to that? How do we deal with that? …One of the things that we fail to see coming in our lives is that the Lord may sometimes send us into a desert situation… It may be God’s will for you to suffer a little longer. It may be God’s will that you do not come to this place of responsibility just yet… Just because the Lord calls us to something does not mean He’s ready to use us right now. And there may be wilderness situations waiting for us. God may be sending us into a place of preparation and training and wilderness and a place of hardship, a place of struggle, a place of trial, a place where our hearts will truly be tested before the Lord…

What happens when we’re accused falsely? How do we respond? Do we panic? You know what? That’s part of a wilderness that God has there for us to learn from. We don’t panic because of it. We live in it. We walk headlong into the wilderness knowing that that’s where God is at. If God is there, you don’t want to be anywhere else. If people are accusing us falsely, then we know that it’s false accusation, so why do we have to worry? …We fear the wilderness. We fear that which we don’t understand, that is not successful. But you know what? It may be God’s will for us to go through some wilderness time. Are we willing to accept some wilderness?

But understand, first and foremost, we are called to a place of prayer. God is in control. God knows what’s happening. God is still sitting on the throne. Let’s let Him be on the throne and not get all caught up in the wave of whatever’s coming around us from the world. Let’s not be caught up in it. If it wants to overflow us, fine. That’s at God’s discretion. But if we’re walking with the Lord today, loving the Lord our God, then tomorrow if He moves us on to some place else, if He does something different in our life than what we expect, we will continue on. We will still love Him. We will still be walking with Him. The circumstances won’t change that. People hating us won’t change that. And I believe that we’re going to see a whole lot more hated from the world dumped on us as the church. It may not be tomorrow, but I believe it’s coming, and I believe it’s coming quickly. Be prepared. Be prepared in your hearts to just simply walk with the Lord your God because you love Him… Sometimes God has hard times ahead for us. Is that okay? …Is it okay for God to use you how He chooses to use you? Good or bad. Is it okay?

Do we believe that God sees everything we do? We are surrounded by people...who do not care if God is watching or not... The questions is, do we care? Do I care enough to stand firm in God's Word regardless of the persecution, regardless of the hard times?

Vintage message from October 25, 1998. (The original message was cut off at the end.)

This is something I feel that sometimes we neglect in our lives. We allow for things to be in our lives that are hinderances to our being an effective witness and example to those around us. We carry “weapons.” We carry anger. We carry bitterness. We carry all kinds of things in our lives that when we’re asking God to deal with a problem for us, we still carry those weapons with us just in case. Are we willing to set down our weapons, to give them to someone to carry for us, away from us, so that they are not available to us whatsoever?… What is there in our lives that hinder us in our meeting with those that God will bring us in the world? It’s a question I believe we need to ask. Do we throw up walls? Do we throw up barriers of protection? And do we carry those weapons that stop us cold from being able to interact with people around us, that God has made it plain that He wants us to have interaction with? It’s a dangerous thing to do because it stops God’s will in our life when we have those weapons.

“The Lord is witness between you and me.” Do you realize our friendships would be stronger, closer; we would be less vulnerable in our life; we would be less likely to sin; we would be less likely to live the lives that we do oftentimes if we understood this statement?… Ask yourself this question: Would I do the things in my life, would I live the life I live if I truly believed that God was watching everything I was doing?… These are the questions we should be asking ourself. What would we do if someone — a father, a friend, a brother — if someone was walking around behind us continually, every moment of the day, watching what we were doing. Would we do the things that we’re going to do?… We live our lives in secret. We sin because we believe people are not paying attention. We screw up because somehow we have convinced ourselves that no one is watching. The Bible is very clear that men do the things that they do because they’re done in darkness. They believe that no one sees what they’re doing… God is watching everything. God sees everything. God is witness to everything that we do… God is witness between you and me. Is God witness? Do we believe that God is our witness? Do we believe that God sees everything that we do?… If I don’t believe that God is actually watching, if I believe that no one is paying attention, I’m liable to step out and fall…

Understand, we are surrounded by people who are not believing in God. We are surrounded by people who will make wrong choices, who do not care if God is watching or not. The question is, do we care whether or not God is watching? Do we care how we live our lives before the God Who created us? Do we care to have friendships that are so deep that we would be willing to give our lives to see our friends succeed? Do we care? Do I care enough to stand firm in God’s Word regardless of the persecution, regardless of the hard times?

God knows what's going on in our lives...and He's waiting for us to just simply calm down, come and sit in His lap, and let Him work it out... My problems are insignificant compared to [His] greatness.

Vintage message from November 1, 1998.

All of us will face discouragement as believers. Each and every one of us in our lives will face discouragement. Each and every one of us at times in our lives will face things that we do not want to face. We will have circumstances happen that we did not plan. The unexpected creeps up on all of us, and the unexpected oftentimes is very unpleasant, and will bring us to depths of discouragement that we never thought imaginable… Trusting God is not always easy, trusting God is not always fun, and oftentimes, more times than not, God’s plans for our life are not our plans for our life. And we become discouraged when God does not do things our way. When God does not give me my way, I become discouraged! And in our discouragement, we put ourselves into some very, very bad situations. We get ourselves into trouble, and then as soon as we’re in the trouble, then we start crying out to God again, “Oh God, save me! Protect me!”

…There is nothing, nothing that we are, nothing that we do, that amounts to anything outside of the relationship and obedience that we’re supposed to have to God. The problem that we have in life most of the time is that we see glimpses of what God wants to do with us. We hear these little whispers in our ear. “I want to use you.” …Anytime God calls us, anytime God wants to do something in our life, there is a training period that goes along with that call, and there’s also God’s enemy out there who wants to discourage the call. There are distractions in life, and the greatest distraction in life is our own flesh that God has to get out of the way. Before God can use us in any kind of successful way, He needs to remove our flesh, our desires, our expectations…

But this is the thing I find in our life so often: even when we are discouraged and distressed, there are men that are truly listening to God. There are those who stand before God and pray and seek God’s will… If you believe God has called you to something, just because it’s not happened yet, don’t flee from it. Don’t run away from it. Give God time to work it out. Give God time to make the changes in your life, to strengthen your life, to give you the training you’ll need in order for Him to do that great thing in your life that He’s called you to…

It is so typical of our human nature. We are so wishy-washy where God is concerned. One minute we’re trusting God, “Oh, man! I’m a mighty warrior for God, and nothing’s going to move me! — Oh, man! Look at that enemy! Oh, oh, I think I’m moving!” You know? And it’s usually not the people that we’re afraid of, but it’s the challenge to my faith that I’m afraid of… David brings me to this place of understanding, God is above it all. God is not discouraged. God is not discontented. God is not in debt. God is not distressed in any way. Do you realize that God is not distressed in how we respond to Him? God does not have to flee. God does not have to run and hide even though we find ourselves doing that… He knows what’s going on in our lives, he knows why it’s going on in our lives, and He’s waiting for us to just simply calm down, come and sit in His lap, and let Him work it out. He calls us to these places of time of prayer before Him, time of searching our soul…

God, You’re the greatest. There is none like You. My problems are insignificant compared to Your greatness…

It's never too late to turn from our sin. It's never too late to make things right with God. It's never too late to make our stand and allow God to deal with me.

Vintage message from November 8, 1998.

We find ourselves going through struggles, hard struggles, because God is disciplining us. But you know what? I don’t believe God disciplines us in wrath, and I don’t believe He rebukes us in anger. If He were going to do that, He would never have let His Son, Jesus, die for us. He would never have given us a Redeemer Who shed His blood innocently. Jesus did nothing deserving of the death that He died but God, because He loved us so greatly, so deeply, He allowed His Son to die, though He still says those that He loves, He disciplines. And you know what? We can mistake sometimes discipline for God’s wrath. We can see anger where God really intends for love. But you know what? God does not stop His discipline for us. He will, from time to time, allow for us to be in agony and anguish. He will allow for us to suffer. He will allow for us to go through struggles and hard trials. He will allow that, especially because He wants it to bring us back to Him, back to this relationship with Him…

The big question is, what if I refuse to sin? What if I trust God? What if I allow God to deal with me and with those around me?…

I hear people say all the time, “Well, what I do doesn’t affect anyone! It was just a little white lie. It doesn’t affect anyone.” You have no clue who’s watching. You have no clue — the life that you live, the sin that you commit — you have no clue how that is affecting the people around you. You know what? It may have no affect today. It may have no affect tomorrow. But the sin that you commit today, the little white lie you tell today, the simple deception just to get your own way may not have any affect right now, but in the future it may grow into a major disaster…

God can redeem it. I don’t care what it is that we do, God can redeem it. God can make it right. God can make good come out of it. That’s the thing that’s the hardest for us to understand, but in Romans He tell us, all things work together for the good: all things work together for the good to those who love the Lord, to those who are called according to His purpose. How many things? All things. I don’t care how badly we’ve sinned. I don’t care how badly we’ve blown it. If we will turn to the Lord, if we will enter into that relationship with the Lord, if we will seek the Lord and His love, if we will begin to live according to the call that God has placed on our life and for most of us, that’s simply to just love — love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, our mind, our soul, and our strength and love our neighbor as ourself. If we do nothing more, then all things — past, present, and future — will work together for good… It’s never too late to turn from our sin. It’s never too late to make things right with God. It’s never to late to make our stand and to allow God to deal with me…

[Jesus] died for sin, once and for all. It’s not an issue of sin anymore before God. Do you realize that? It is not an issue of sin anymore. But yet, we make it an issue of sin. God has made it an issue of relationship. God has made it an issue of simply walking right before Him. Loving Him. Knowing Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. But we get caught up in the sin. We get caught up in the good and the bad rather than when we blow it, turning to the Lord and saying, “God, I’ve blown it. Please, please Lord Jesus, heal me. Deliver me from my enemy, Lord!” And you know what? My worst enemy is myself. My worst enemy is me. My flesh gets in the way so often it just makes me sick sometimes. My enemy stands right here in my shoes. “God, deliver me from my enemy. Know my heart. Know my desire. Lord, my desire is to walk with You. My desire is to be right with You, Lord. I don’t know why I keep blowing it. I don’t know why I keep doing the wrong things. But I do. But, Lord, You heal me.”

When we depend on God, God proves Himself dependable... When we are in times of trouble...if we simply wait on God, God will protect us.

Vintage message from November 15, 1998.

Ask yourself: is my sin affecting those around me? Is the life that I’m living, a life that is dishonoring God, or the lies that I’m telling, the things that I’m doing, are they affecting other people?… We have no clue what our sin is going to do to somebody else. We have no clue how our lives are going to adversely affect someone else. On the same token, what if we’re doing good? How is the good that we’re doing affecting people around us? Think about it. We all know that we want to do good, and if we do good, if somebody else is watching then they might even be persuaded to live good lives themselves. If we live as believers, because we are a believer and we live our life as a believer, that will have an affect on somebody else around us because you know what? People are watching what we do. You may think yourself to be a person of insignificance, a person who is unimportant, a person who no one wants to look at [or] have anything to do with. That you have no affect on anybody, but believe me, God has put someone in your life…that watches what you do… The lives that we live are being seen. The lives that we live affect people around us… No matter what we do, no matter how far we fall, no matter how far we run away from God, we can turn back. God desires the relationship with us… God calls us back to Himself. No matter where we go, no matter how far we fall, God loves us. He wants us…

There are times in our lives that we do things for people, we lay our lives down for people, we sacrifice who we are and what we have for those around us, we do good because we love the people around us, and then we expect that at least they will treat us right because we’ve helped them. Isn’t that the natural conclusion?…

There are times that we become discouraged. How many of you have ever been discouraged? And especially discouraged about the people who are around you? The people who are supposed to be your friends. The people who are supposed to be helping you. The people that you are supposed to be loving and that they’re supposed to be loving you. We become discouraged because those people seem to have turned against us. But you know what? God wants the relationship on an individual basis with each of us. And you know what? You guys might decide some day to hate me…but no matter what you decide to do, no matter how you decide to live, I have a choice to make. I can love you regardless. I can do what’s right to protect you… We don’t become enemies with those we are related to in heaven. I don’t care what they do, we don’t sue them, I don’t divorce my wife, I don’t take my revenge, I don’t beat people up, I don’t steal from them, and I don’t lie to them even if they have chose in a moment of weakness of flesh to do it to me…

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” So the standard of perfection that we see here — and I know none of us will attain complete and total perfection while we’re in this flesh — but we can be perceived in a perfect manner as our Father in heaven is perfect if we will love our enemies, if we will pray for those who are persecuting us, if we will let God Who loves all men, Who lets the sun shine on the evil as well as the righteous, those who do good and those who do bad get the same rain, the same blessing. “God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish.” God extended His love to all men and understand, each and every one of us at some point in our life were wrapped up so totally in sin that we were out of relationship with God and we had to choose. We had to say, “Lord, it is now time for me to come into relationship with you. Please have me. Lord Jesus, come into my life.” And He loved us, and He forgave us, and He didn’t hold our sins against us… There are people who act like heathens, but you know what? They’re not my enemies. I don’t have to fight them. It is not my place to fight them. It is my place to love them. It is my place to do what is right before them, to be a witness to them in order that they will see the love of God and turn their lives over…

When we depend on God, God proves Himself dependable. When we are fleeing, when we are in times of trouble, when we are having struggles, if we will simply wait on God, God will protect us. God will deal with us. God will give us what we need… Ask yourself: has God called you to something? If God has called you to something, He is going to fulfill His call in your life if you will let Him. He’ll take as long as He needs but He will fulfill that call if you’re trusting. He will protect you. He will bring you through it… We feel that we are being pursued. We feel like the enemy is breathing down our neck, no matter what that enemy is… I don’t care what it is that you feel is pursuing you as an enemy and trying to destroy your life. If you will wait on God, if you will trust the Holy Spirit to deal with you, no matter how close it seems to be, God will call it off. God will deal with it. God will protect you. Sometimes He allows us to even step right into the flame. Sometimes He allows us to feel the pain and the struggle and the suffering of our enemy, whatever that enemy is, but it has been my experience and the experience of so many other believers that if we wait on God, God comes through… Understand, we do not attack one another. If we are brothers and sisters we do not attack each other. And even if we are attacked, we pray for and we love our enemies. Bottomline. Jesus said to do it and in doing it we show a perfection that only comes from God, that can only be equated with God because the world does not know how to do that. The world wants their vengeance. The world wants their pound of flesh. But when we can turn to those who are enemies and love them and do what’s right by them, the world sees that there is a God in heaven… We don’t have to be bitter. We don’t have to be angry. We don’t have to turn on one another. God will deal with it. God knows how to deal with it, and He will deal with it.

Regardless of what other men are telling me, I want to obey the Lord. I want to be a godly man.

Vintage message from November 22, 1998.

One of the things that I want to warn you about is how you interpret Scripture… This is where I think we find ourselves most of the time: wrapped up in our own faults, wrapped up in our own hurts, wrapped up in our own desires, wrapped up in our own pursuit of life. We begin to look at God’s Word and then we interpret God’s Word from that perspective. “God, Your Word is to be fulfilled for my comfort, for my benefit, for my sake.” And when we become uncomfortable, we begin to accuse God. “God, it’s Your fault! You did not give me what You promised!” …We begin to turn even God’s Word inward on ourself. You know what? God’s Word isn’t for me. God’s Word is His Word for a world that He loves…

That’s the other thing you gotta be very careful of: if God has called someone, you’re involved in their life and they don’t seem to be responding to God’s Word the way you think they should, don’t ever take matters into your own hands… There are times that we have expectations about people, and we want God to speak to those around us, and we’re saying, “God, speak to them.” Well, when God doesn’t speak to them in the time frame that we think that God should, we take matters into our own hands. Let God do His work. Let God fulfill His Word. Let God be God in those lives around us. God forbid that I should lay my hand on another person that God may be anointing or that God may be dealing with… It’s God’s job. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job…

Can you say this morning, “I want to be a godly man [or woman]”?… Regardless of what other men are telling me, I want to obey the Lord. I want to be a godly man. …How we live our life is important. The things we do, the things we say, they are important. There are people standing around watching how we pursue life, what we do in life. It is important how we live. It is important the statements that we make. It is important that people see in us godliness… We want to make right statements… God forbid that we should live lives that display ungodliness before the people around us…

And can we say that this morning? “I will let God deal with any problem that I may encounter. I will let God have the place in my life to deal with it how He will. And if someone has wronged me, if someone has lied to me, if someone has hurt me, if someone has done anything to me that is in any way outside of God’s will, I will let God deal with it, and I will live my life from a godly perspective. I will live my life to show the love that God has for me. I will live my life to show people that at least there is one man on the face of this earth that will trust God in all circumstances… I will trust God.” Let God deal with it. He’s the judge. “May He vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.” It’s not me that’s going to deliver myself. It’s God…

Are there people in our lives that we’ve treated badly, that we need to go to in confession? Are there people in our lives that we have wronged? Are there there people in our lives that, like Saul, we have pursued our own flesh, our own fleshly desires, and because we’ve done that, we’ve stepped outside of God’s will, and we’ve hurt those around us? Easily dealt with. Go to those people and confess to them, “I have been wrong,” and then God can begin the healing process.

Am I interpreting God's Word from the perspective of my hurt and disappointment?

Vintage message from November 29, 1998.

Understand that sometimes in your life, you will be left on your own. Those that you depend on to make decisions with you, to pray with you, those that you trust for the spiritual direction in your life may not be there. God may take them home, or He may remove them to another place, but sometimes your life will be left alone to make decisions…

Men who truly love the Lord are going to be challenged. And no matter how much good you do, no matter how good you are, no matter how closely you walk with the Lord, there will be times that you will experience in your life, that something will come along that will so shake your faith that you’re ready to quit…

Understand, even the one [King David] who walked the closest to God will find himself challenged to walk away. You will find yourself challenged. How do you make your decisions? How do you interpret God’s Word? That is where we need to be asking ourself the questions. How do I interpret God’s Word? Am I interpreting God’s Word now from my life’s perspective because now I’m standing in this situation where this man has stabbed me in the back even though I’ve shown him good? Am I interpreting God’s Word from the perspective of my hurt and my disappointment?… God will always bring us back to a right perspective if we’ll let Him.

How many times have you found yourself saying, "You did not have the right to treat me that way!... I have the right to my anger..." Well, you know what? I'm sorry to tell you, you don't. God has given us the right to forgive. God has given us the responsibility to forgive. God has given us the call to forgive and to love.

Vintage message from December 6, 1998. (The original message was cut off at the end.)

How many of you have ever dealt with people that, even though you probably had nothing to do with why they’re angry, [you] find yourself the recipient of their anger? You know what? It’s okay to say, “I may be at fault.” …If I’m having a bad day, and God sends someone to me and says, “Forgive. Love.” It’s because God sees my heart and He’s concerned about me… How many times have you found yourself saying, “You did not have the right to treat me that way! I have the right to feel the way I do. I have the right to my anger. I have right to my vengeance.” Well, you know what? I’m sorry to tell you, you don’t. God has given us the right to forgive. God has given us the responsibility to forgive. God has given us the call to forgive and to love. God has not given us a right for vengeance for ourself… You know the main reason to forgive? The main reason to forgive the offense, to look aside when someone offends you is because you’ve got a future. God has a plan and a purpose for your life. You’ve got something that God is going to do with you down the road, and you know what? You don’t need the sin on your conscience. It may seem good today, and it may feel good today, but this is the way it is with much of the sin that we fall into. It feels good now but it has lasting consequences…

Are we willing to step out in boldness when we see that our brother or sister is getting ready to step into sin, and say to them, “It’s time to leave it alone. It’s time to walk away from it. Don’t do what you’re going to do, because if you’re going to do this thing that you are planning on doing, understand it may have consequences in your future.” If nothing more, a guilty conscience, and a guilty conscience can be a great hinderance to a servant of God. There are a lot of people I know who do not serve God today because of a guilty conscience. It’s not that they’re not able to serve God, and it’s not that God is not able to use them. It’s that they have crippled themselves because of their own guilty conscience, because of the sin they choose to live in. And you know what? We don’t have to live in sin. We do not have to continue down a path that is sinful…and especially, especially when God goes out of His way to send someone to us to tell us the path you’re heading on is a path into sin, a path that will leave you crippled in your future…

Christians, you will have bad days, you will have challenges, you will have tests to your faith, and you will, from time to time, stumble and fall… Don’t get so discouraged that you walk away. I’m telling you now, you will have bad days. Don’t believe that because you’re a Christian that now everything is going to be rosy; that it’s all going to be good; smooth sailing… You will have bad days, but you have brothers and sisters around you…those who God will use in your life to encourage you, to remind you that you shouldn’t be sinning, to give you direction on how to avoid the sin, and even if you should sin, even if you should fall flat on your face, God has given you brothers and sisters to pick you back up. The Holy Spirit picks you back up.

May the Lord deliver me from all my troubles. Don't leave it up to me to deliver myself.

Vintage message from December 13, 1998.

Oftentimes we find ourselves in situations where we see it as the right time to strike. I will deal with my problems right now. I will say what I need to say. I will do what I need to do to deal with my problems right now, rather than saying, “God, there’s my problem. You deal with it.” Once again, if we take matters into our own hands, we do not know what the lasting consequences of what that will be… I don’t care what problem you’re having, I don’t care where you find yourself in life, [or] what aggravations are coming against you, it’s time will come. God is in control. God knows what He’s doing. And even though the opportunity presents itself, understand, the enemy will allow us to see opportunities that God has offered us as moments of faith for God, [but] the enemy offers it to us as an opportunity to sin against God. Our faith is being tested at every step of our life… How you respond to the things that come is a step of faith, and unless you have this love relationship with God, unless you understand Who your Creator is and have that love relationship with Him, you are going to respond wrong…

“Far be it from me to stand against what the Lord is doing…” Do you find yourself wanting to say that when you face life? Even major challenges, major desires in your life, and I know all of us are tempted. We have desires: things that we want, things that we want to do, possessions that we want to bring to ourself. Do you find yourself saying, “Don’t let my hands sin. Don’t let the sin be mine. God, protect me. I don’t care how much of a desire I have. Don’t let the sin be mine.” Let God deal with it. If God wants you to have it, He’ll give it to you. If God wants the problem to go away, He’ll take it away. He’ll deal with it. God is still the God of this universe. He’s still in control. He has not abdicated His throne. Not to Satan, …not to me. But sometimes, you know what, I feel like maybe He should give it to me, because I know what to do. I know how to get the job done. I know how to live my life! And, I try to live everybody else’s life for them too. And, you know, I could probably do a pretty good job if you would just listen to me! How many of us have found ourselves saying that? It’s easy to live everybody else’s life for them, but understand, when you begin to do that, you’re sinning against God Who has not yet stepped off His throne. He is in control. He can deal with it…

Do you realize that God already knows what you’re going through? That God already knows what your struggles are? And that God, through the power of His Holy Spirit, has already intervened in your life? That God is already seeing to your needs? God is already seeing to your problems. God already knows what He’s doing with you and where He’s taking you. What an amazing thing! What an amazing statement! To understand that, wow, God already knows! God was already in control… Sometimes I think we step out and take matters into our own hands, and we try to bring conclusion to our problems because we’re tired of going through our problems, and we make matters worse because we fail to see that God is in control, that God has already started to work, that God has already taken matters into His hands…

Sometimes God allows for us to go through hard times at the hands of other men. God allows it… It would be very easy for us to say, “Well, where was God in all of this? Why didn’t God stop it?…Why didn’t God do this? Why didn’t God do that?” Have you ever found yourself asking that question? …And we begin to blame God for everything, and God is the bad guy. God is out of control, therefore I must take control of my life… All I can tell you is that I know from God’s Word and from my life that God is in control, and that God does, from time to time, allow bad things to happen to good people. God allows our faith to be challenged to the very core of our existence to show us that we will, in fact, stand firm in Him and trust Him…

I believe [this] is the statement that each of us need to make in our lives: May the Lord deliver me from all my troubles. Don’t leave it up to me to deliver myself.

Are you willing...to say, "God, let me be uncomfortable as long as You're in control"?

Vintage message from December 27, 1998. (The original message had imperfections and was cut off at the end.)

Let me ask you a question real quick: what happens when that person that you look up to is removed? I mean, who of you have someone that you look up to spiritually? I know probably most of us in this room do have someone that we look up to spiritually: spiritual father, spiritual mother, a pastor, a friend, someone that we look up to spiritually, someone that we go to when we’re struggling, someone that we go to when we’re having problems, someone we go to when we need someone to pray for us. We have those people in our life. What do we do when those people are removed?…

When people do not put their full faith in the Lord, when people decide that they’re just going to play games, when people are just “church-goers,” when things get tough and God does not speak to them…what’s the first thing they do? They turn to the world. They turn to the things of the world. They turn to those things that have what they believe is supernatural power, that might give them some answers…

God wants us to know that He’s in control even though, when God is in control, it does not always mean that we’re going to be comfortable. Are you willing, today, to say, “God, let me be uncomfortable as long as You’re in control”? Are we at this place in our life where we can say, “God, if bad has to happen to me in order for Your will to be accomplished, then let it come. If my life has to be taken, if You have to sacrifice my life in order that Your good may be done to this world, then God, go ahead.” Are we at that place where we can say that?…

First and foremost, God just simply wants us to obey Him even if we don’t understand His command…

Do you understand that no matter how far you fall, no matter how wicked you become, that if the Lord is your God, that you can come back?

Vintage message from January 10, 1999.

We, in our lives, too often fail to look at how God has provided for us, how God has protected us, all the things that God has done for us. Do you realize that each one of us in this room this morning have a great and glorious testimony of God’s faithfulness? I don’t care who you are. You have a testimony if you will just take time to look at your life and what has brought you to this place where you’re at today, and I don’t mean this church. I mean where you’re at in life… When we fail to look at God’s faithfulness it puts us in a situation of taking things into our own hands, matters into our own hands. We take control. We take the reins, and when we take the reins, we get in trouble…

And you know, this is where it happens: when we make a name for ourself, when we begin to build ourself up in the eyes of the world all of a sudden we become so arrogant we fall to our own deception…

Do you understand that no matter how far you fall, no matter how wicked you become, that if the Lord is your God, that you can come back? If He is truly your God, I don’t care what the consequences of your actions are, you can find strength in Him once again…

We need friends. We need people in our lives who will pray with us and pray for us. We need people who will be honest with us.

Vintage message from January 17, 1999.

God is not stopped by our mistakes. God is not stopped by our rebellion. God is not stopped because we stop. Do you understand that God is God? He doesn’t need us. He desires us. He wants to work with us and through us, but He is not stopped because of the things we do. And in fact, no matter what we’ve done, if we will take the time even today to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, He will make it right. He will work it together for good. He will bless our lives if we will allow Him to. And the other thing I hear a lot: well yeah, God will bless us once we’re good. Once we begin to do things right then God will bless us, but do you realize it has nothing to do with whether we’re right or wrong? God blesses us. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He didn’t wait for us to get right with Him. He began to bless us. He just simply wants us to seek Him first. Even in our unrighteousness, He wants us to seek Him first. Even in our mistakes. Even in our stupid decisions. Once we’ve done the wrong, we can stop and start over again, and then seek first from that moment on…

God can work even through the evil things around us. God is not stopped because there are troublemakers in our midst. God is more powerful than those things that we look at that are troublesome. God is not stopped. It doesn’t take God by surprise that there are troublemakers and evil men. God still wants to bless us… Once God has blessed you, once you have sought God the way David did, and you have seen the miracle of God work in your life, that is the time to begin to share. That is the time to stand up and be generous…

Oftentimes, when we fall away from God, we also fall away from those friends that God has put in our life. There’re some friends that we need to fall away from. There’re some friends that would lead us only into evil. There are troublemakers and evil men in our midst that we do not necessarily want to be friends with. But understand, when we fall away from the Lord, there are friends that are around us who are praying for us, who are trying to encourage us and build us up. People that we can depend on and trust… We need friends. We need people in our lives who will pray with us and pray for us. We need people who will be honest with us and blunt with us and bold with us…God knows our needs. God knows the direction He wants us to go.

God is concerned about how you and I as individuals respond to Him.

Vintage message from January 24, 1999.

God is not obligated to answer our prayers when we are selfishly seeking for our own gain and using Him as something less than what He really is: the God and Creator of this universe, the One Who wants relationship and is desiring relationship with us. He wants us loving Him, receiving His love, and walking with Him daily, not just turning to Him in our time of need, but turning to Him because He is our need. He is our need… We need to get away from using God for our benefit and start honoring God because He’s our Creator… We are the created vessel. We are here for His use. We are to be used in His hand, for Him to glorify Himself. He’s not there for us to use when we want to be glorified, when we want to be lifted up, when we want to look good. That’s not what He’s there for…

One of the problems we have in society today is that we do not interpret the Bible based on what the Bible says; we interpret the Bible based on our life perspective — what’s gone on in our own lives and how we’ve lived and the things that we’ve experienced, and then we understand God from that perspective rather than looking at His Word…

It’s only been…a little more than two hundred years, and this nation’s already begun to reject God to the point that we’ve kicked Him out of school, we’ve kicked Him out of just about every part of public life, and you know what? There are many churches also closing their doors to the Word of God, the standard that God has set. They’re saying…”Since God won’t allow” — and we go down the row and name every sin that any one of us is participating in and say, “Since God won’t allow it in our church, we’re going to kick God out, and we’re going to show the world that we as a people can love the world even better than God did.” And in fact, we then begin to reject God even within the institution of the church. But understand, God is not concerned about institutions… God is concerned about the hearts of individuals… God is concerned about how you and I as individuals respond to Him, and as we receive Jesus into our life, as we walk in relationship with God, He calls us the church. We’re not an institution. We’re a body. We’re not a place to meet. We are a functioning organism. We are meant to work together, love together, share together, and when we’re not sharing together, when we’re dysfunctional as the body, it’s noticeable…

He will be looking at the hearts of individuals. Because He’s a loving God, He’s looking for those that He can preserve. He’s looking for those that will walk in relationship with Him, that He can use to reach those around them… We have a God in heaven Who created and is far more powerful than any circumstance we’ll find. We have to be prepared, though, to call out to the Lord our God… I believe God wants us to stand firm to the end.