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-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Rodney Hogue <rodhogue@aol.com> http://www.icgrace.org
Editors: Teresa Seputis, Earlene Bown
Transcribers: Sharon Farris, Rita Joyce, Erma Kummerer, Fred Pekkonen

Prayer-School Course #32

Grace and Christian Values

By Rodney Hogue

Lesson 13
Integrity, Failure And Intention

We talked a bit in our last lesson about how character is important to God, and how He spends a lot of time building character in the lives of those who belong to Him. One of the primary ways that God develops character in our lives is to bring us through periods of difficulty and testing. Character is not developed in the easy times so much as it is developed in the times when the pressure is on. It is sort of like diamonds -- do you know how they are formed? Diamonds are made out of coal. But in order to turn a lump of coal into a diamond, you have to apply great amounts of pressure for long periods of time. And that is one of the primary reasons that God allows difficulty and hardship to come into our lives. It is because He wants to bring forth that "diamond" of godly character and integrity in our lives.

Do you know what else comes with times of testing? Failure. I really have to talk about failure here as we talk about character. A lot of times we see failure in a very negative way, and we need to see failure in a different way because failure is going to be one your best teachers. You will probably learn a lot more from your failures than you will learn from your successes. Your failures will burn something in you that a lot of times your success will not do. We all go through failures. Personally, I don't have an issue with people that fail. Failure is never the issue. Quitting is the issue. Running away is the issue. Hiding is an issue. Covering up is an issue, but failure is never the issue.

When people fail, they respond to it in many ways. Some people are overwhelmed by it. Some people are disabled by it, but some people are challenged by it. And those who become leaders are those who are challenged by their failures and they want to correct those failures so they don't have to repeat those failures.

We all have failures. Failure has some very important benefits because it reveals the heart. It exposes the areas of vulnerability in our lives. It reveals our inadequacies. It exposes our insufficiencies. It demonstrates to us our need for God. It reveals the areas of our lives that are not submitted to God. So failure is not the issue. So when I talk about integrity, I'm not talking about a person that doesn't fail; I'm just talking about the person who gets back up and keeps going -- the person who learns from failures -- the person who addresses the things that have been exposed.

Deuteronomy 16 says, "You shall not distort justice. You shall not be partial. You shall not take a bribe, for the bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous. Justice and only justice shall you pursue that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God has given you." God has called us to be people who live by integrity. It says here the bribe blinds. So a lack of integrity will simply bring blindness, or the lack of integrity will pervert even the righteous and even the wise. A lack of integrity can mess those things up, and it will strip you from walking in the promises of God.

Proverbs 3:3-4 says, "Do not let kindness and truth leave you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablets of your heart so you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Don't let it leave you. Bind them around your neck and your heart. When you do so, God will give you favor."

Now what is leadership? Leadership is the ability to influence people into the right direction. So therefore, what is necessary for you to become a leader? It is the capacity to influence, and that comes when God gives you favor. You see, whenever you do things the right way, God releases favor upon you. You don't have to work for it because God's going to give it to you. And everywhere you go, you're going to find a divine favor, which is better than a man favor, or a man-manipulated favor. It's God that gives it to you and He gives it to the person who walks in integrity.

Here's another verse that speaks to the same thing. Proverbs 22:11 says, "He who loves purity of heart and his speech is gracious, the king is his friend." Isn't that good? That's talking about favor with those in authority, those over you. You're the friend of those people. And God will see to it that you are because it is His favor that you will carry.

One more verse talking about integrity: Proverbs 10:9 states, "He who walks in integrity walks securely." Is that good? If you're walking in integrity, you're walking in a very secure place. By the way, it does say this too, "...but he who perverts his way will be found out." Why? Because you can't hide from God.

What we do in my church is to ask God to expose the lack of integrity. God is really good about doing that. When we talk about a lack of integrity and a lack of character, this is not something that we just thought up all of a sudden. In reality our commitment to integrity began before I even came to this church. Before I even came to this church, this church was going through a conflict resolution process. There were some integrity issues in the leadership of this church, some pastors and some leaders in the house. So as we began to come together, we decided that integrity was a very important issue in the house. There was no trust in the house and nobody trusted the leaders because they had been burned and they had been hurt. We decided that integrity was an important thing and we stood together and said we expect our leaders to walk in integrity. If you don't want to walk in integrity, then just don't plan on being a leader.

So we lifted up some standards for our church executive council and we said that if a person going to be in this position of authority in the house, that person can't exhibit areas of bondage. They can't be walking in immorality. They can't be walking in secret and flagrant sin, either hidden or open. We lost a few people over that one. We lost a few leaders over that set of requirements. They said t was too high of a standard. But who are we to lower the standards of God? God has standards for leadership.

If you go to the book of Timothy or the book of Titus, you see requirements for elders, requirements for deacons and for leaders in the house. It does give a set of standards. If you go to James, it says that not everyone should be a teacher, because you will incur a stricter judgment. God does have higher standards for leadership. It's not that our intent is to throw anybody out; we just want to have everybody come up to those standards. That was our objective. Integrity is important to God. We ask God to expose lack of integrity because we want God to help them come into His place and calling, because you can't come into the fullness of God's call if there are things hidden that you won't bring to the light. We don't help anybody if we don't bring things to the light.

Another important characteristic of character is intention. Intention means that I do things with purpose. Intention means a course of action that one intends to follow, an aim that guides action or direction. It means I simply do the right thing intentionally. Proverbs 4:25-27 says this, "Keep your eyes focused on what is right. Look straight ahead to what is good. Be careful what you do and always do what is right. Don't turn off of the road of goodness. Keep away from evil paths." In other words, I am going to choose to walk down this path; it's a choice I make. I'm going to live on purpose, not by accident. I'm going to make a decision that this is the road I'm going to go down, and I'm going to stick to this particular road. I'm not going to operate on what I feel like doing. I'm going to operate because I choose to do it and I'm going to choose to do it God's way.

A lot of times people live by how they feel, not necessarily by what is right. When Moses was getting ready to go off the scene, he gave some parting words to the people of Israel. He would say this to them, Deuteronomy 30:20, "Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey Him and submit yourself to Him for He is your life. Then you will live long in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

Note what it says here: choose to love the Lord. In other words, you love the Lord because you choose to, not because you just feel like it. You don't just wake up one day and say I feel like being obedient today. You have to choose to be obedient because you don't always feel like it. Some days you wake up and don't feel like being obedient or loving the Lord today. This is not an issue of how you feel; it is an issue of choice. I choose this way.

We all have the choice of what we choose to do. Here it says he wants you to choose to love the Lord. I want you to work on loving the Lord. That is why Jesus said this is the greatest and foremost commandment in Deuteronomy 6, "Love the Lord with all your heart, your soul, your mind." This is the first and the foremost commandment, as Jesus would declare it. Everything else flows out of your loving the Lord. So love the Lord. If you want to walk down the right road, choose to walk down the right road. Love the Lord and then choose to obey Him. The word of God says that you must choose to obey Him and commit yourself to Him for He is your life. Now we may look to a lot of other things to give us life, but who is the only source of true life? It's Jesus. Everything else out there is a substitute. It's an imitation. It is second rate. He is the only source of life. It's a choice that you have to make.

When Joshua was getting ready to go off the scene he said this, "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, then choose for yourselves today whom you will serve. Whether the gods which your fathers served, which were beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you were given -- but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua said, "I already made my choice. You can choose, but we've already decided." And he lived his life with intention and purpose. You're able to do that as you know who you are; you know who you belong to, and you know His will for your life. It all comes from Him. He is the only source to find that.

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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