By David Stahl    

Make no mistake my friend the greatest focus in our lives is not how much money we give to the church, how much service we do for God, how long we can speak in tongues, or how well we can pray and preach, oh no,  the number one focus of God in our lives is our integrity and God’s second focus in our lives is do we have a love for the truth.  Not do we know all truth which will carry us only so far in knowing God, but having a love for the truth will easily carry us past our inability to know some things of God, our religious works, and our immaturity in God. Paul tells us, “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”  (1 Corinthians 13:2)  Having all of these things (what most Christians go after in their walk with the LORD) and not “charity” or love, then we are nothing.  Again our integrity in all matters of our lives is God’s number one focus.  Now we think God is looking at us in the big things, but oh no my friend that is wrong.  God is more concerned about the small areas in our lives than He is concerned about the big areas.  As a matter of fact the smaller the area, the more insignificant we think the area the more God is securitizing us closer.  We think God is examining us in the big areas of our lives (cheating, lying, stealing, committing adultery, or murder, etc.),  but He is not.  We like big things (flashy and showy), but do you know that? God likes small things (behind the scenes people and things) and He is measuring us in the little, insignificant areas of our lives. Most of you all know we have a maternity clinic in Aveile, Nigeria (about six hours south of Abuja and six hours north of Lagos) where we are delivering 125 to 130 babies a month, that is more than the local hospital in the Jacksonville, NC area.  Well it was built in 2005 and has not had a major facelift since.  We had to build a wall (and paint it) around the compound to protect the clinic from the continued violence,  robbery in the country, and the massive crowds of ladies that come (often with their kids) each day to be seen for maternity medical issues or to be fed.  So I let some of my friends know about the need for the critical improvements to the maternity clinic and two wonderful brothers gave me some money.  One brother gave me $4,000 and another brother gave me $5,000, praise the LORD.  Also most of you know I travel out to the nations every year.  In my travels I usually finish my year in Bulgaria and Romania, there are some Bible Schools and churches I have fallen in love with and the feeling is mutual with them. Usually in November I travel there, but in the summer for the last two years God has sent me out to a country I have not been to in some time.  Last year we (Pastor Victor Foster and I) went to India (not been there 10+ years) and the year before that we (Pastor Victor Foster and I) went to Ethiopia (not been in 12+ years).  So now it is summer, I have the money for the clinic ($9,000), and we were hosting a pastor from Tanzania, which I have not been to in 11+ years.  How tempting would it be to use the money for the maternity clinic on the trip to Tanzania? What a test from God! Remember God tests, Satan is the tempter.  You know in God we must not fall into patterns with God, just because you did something last week, last month, or last year does not mean God wants you to do it this week, this month, or this year.  I thought I wonder if God wants me to use this money for our trip?  I know the money was given for the maternity clinic, but I can rob Peter to pay Paul and use some of the money for our trip to Tanzania, God will be glorified, the church in Bukoba will be strengthened with our BHG conference and crusade, great things in God will take place. I even in ways perused my thought. It is okay to lean forward (project, plan, and coordinate these must be done in advance) in the foxhole, but when you pull the trigger to spend money and expend resources we must be right and well within God’s guide lines of integrity. Some of my friends in ministry (not ours) would say not a big deal as long as the money is spent on ministry, well the LORD does not look at things that way. Remember God closely scrutinizes us in the little things in the insignificant areas, things we think are not important to God, well the smaller the area (like our thoughts, our character, and our integrity) the closer God is looking at us. Now here is the strange part I know we could have went on the trip and God would have been glorified and mighty works would have been done.  Amazingly God was leaving it all up to me to either do the right thing or do something that would not totally reflect His integrity and character in my life. How subtle is that? You would miss it if you did not have an ability to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  In Mathew Jesus shares, Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”  (Matthew 7:22-23)  The key word to understand these verses is the word “iniquity.”  The word “iniquity” does not mean bad or wicked like we use it today, but is Strong’s #G459 which means, lawlessness, without the framework, or outside the law. These Christians (in verse 22) were not doing bad things after all they were prophesying, casting out devils, and doing wonderful works, “in thy name,”  but they were not doing these mighty works within the framework and guidelines of the way God wanted things to be done. They were operating in “iniquity” or outside the law, they were operating in lawlessness, outside the way God wanted things to be done; while casting out devils, prophesying, and the like and that is why God said, depart from me, ye that works or operates outside the framework of the law.  It is odd, strange, and even scary to me to know God will allow people to operate or work outside His framework, maybe that is how evangelists, preachers, and teachers (just turn on Christian TV) can function and be off track (or even over in sin) yet still do good things for God. After all Isaiah tells us, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”  (Isaiah 55:11)  It has nothing to do with the speaker, but all to do with the sender.  God can even use someone (or even a donkey) in sin to share His word, so we must not get all puffed up and think we have arrived when He uses us. I was even more amazed when the brother who gave me $5,000 was going to cover my ticket which I planned to use on the conference or crusade.  It was not a question of God’s ability to keep us or provide for us, but it was a question of my integrity and my love for the truth. Make no mistake I (and the others) were qualified (after all God has made me an international Bible teacher) to go on the trip, but since the money was given to me for the maternity clinic I was not authorized. This is a divine spiritual principle that many young Christians violate; you may be qualified to do something in God, but if God has not authorized you to do it then doing it would be sin.  The longer you go in the LORD the more subtle and even almost seemingly deceptive the LORD’s tests become. He will not hold His cards out for you to see or show you what He wants you to learn, oh no the LORD will hold His cards close to His chest and see if you have enough understanding and spiritual discernment to know what He is saying and doing in a given situation or circumstance.  He will hide and watch us to see how we will respond in given situations. Solomon said,  “The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. 9  My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.”  (Song of Solomon 2:8-9)  For the young Christian many cannot handle such scrutiny and inspection they do not have a spiritual wherewithal to discern the mature subtle tests, but as “we grow in the grace and knowledge of the LORD” our spiritual ability is to sharpen, become fined tuned, and as God checks us out He then can approve or qualify us for the next thing He has for us.  If we pass the test what awaits us is God’s treasures, not His blessing.  I would rather have God’s treasures than His blessing.  Again in Isaiah we read, “And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.”  (Isaiah 45:3) If you think the “treasures of darkness” and “hidden riches” are money, influence, power, or authority you are a greedy, selfish, and arrogant Christian.  God gives us His treasures not for service, but to build in us His integrity and His character in us (we do not have it when we first are saved) and to establish us in the inward man the more. “Hidden riches of secret places” in the uncertainty and darkness of not knowing, but then coming into the light of knowing that we have done the right thing.  What a treasure God gave me. Not a feeling or an emotion because I still would like to go on the trip in spite of the new dangers I just found out from Pastor John recently (after all God made me an international Bible teacher this is what I am to be doing), but a sense of “well done” knowing I have done the right thing in spite of my emotions and religious zeal by not going.  Knowing the LORD and His ways is far above any trip to preach, teach, or minister abroad and knowing He has called me by His name is far beyond diamonds, gold, or rubies.  What a treasure far greater than any blessing. Without integrity all we have is commonness which is the opposite of holiness.