Don’t Fall Off the Bridge 01 Put First Things First

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I am starting a new series of blog posts today about how not to fall off the bridge. We are walking along a narrow path according to Jesus, and there are many people who have fallen off the bridge of faith and shipwrecked their faith. One of the reasons that people fall off the bridge is simple – they do not have good priorities. They do not put the most important things first, they do not choose well.

When you are a sinner or a brand new Christian, you only can choose to do a bad thing or a good thing, but when you start to grow as a Christian you need to learn to choose between two or three good things, and work out which one is the best thing. Jesus taught clearly in several places that we should put the first things first, that some things are more important than others. Some things are more important, should be done best and done first. As a Christian to stay on the bridge of faith, we need to work this out, work out what hte most important things are and do them.

God is so patient. He is so kind. Many people are not living for God but are still clearly very blessed, because God is so patient and kind. But here is the truth, if you are not living for God and not feeding on the Word of God and not feeding on His love and grace, and not praying in tongues, and keeping close to God, then eventually you are going to see the Word of God as insignificant in your life. Then you will not do what God wants to do in your life. The Word, living by faith, prayer, obedience to your calling – these are things you must do first.

I had a lot of distractions in my life – I got into medical school, I can sell things really well, I had a good career taking off in the city. But I am so glad today that I put God’s calling for my life first. I am so glad today that I did what God wanted me to do, and now I flow in the anointing and see miracles and see changed lives. Listen carefully – if I had not put my calling from God first, I could have ended up a doctor, I would be a in conference of doctors going “do you know one day I thought I might not go to medical school, I thought of being a pastor” and we would have all laughed at how young, immature, over-spiritual and over-zealous I was. I have met a number of people who have told me – I felt God called me to be a pastor, but they never did it, they went into business instead. They treat God as insignificant in their lives. They reach a certain age, and try and compensate for a life of ignoring God, they retire and go to Bible College to make up for 40 years of disobedience and ignoring God’s call on their life, and it never works well. God is still kind and patient and will open up doors to them, but their hearts take a long time to heal because of decades of ignoring God and His Word and His Spirit. I am talking about real things here. What would have saved these people? Doing first things first.

Another problem is that when we take important things and do not do them first, we often end up putting them off forever. That is one way to fall off the bridge of faith and stop being able to live by faith. If you fly often like I do, you will know that a delay can easily become a cancellation! If you delay in doing God’s Word and doing what God has called you to do, it often ends up as you never doing it. Many people intend on obeying God when their marriage is a bit more mature, after they have saved and gone on their first holiday abroad, when their children are older, when this or that. They put the kingdom of God in second place to all these things, and their victory and life never manifests and the right time never comes.

I have watched with a great heaviness in my heart people who are clearly called to ministry putting other things in the way, and delaying ministry until nothing happens at all. I have heard pastors tell me “God has told me to start another church” and they just do not do it. I have heard Bible College directors tell me “God has told me to start another Bible College” and they just do not do it. Always waiting for a better day is not the way forward, it’s the way to cancellation! People do not realize that every day that passes, circumstances change, and if you keep resisting God’s will, you will eventually reach a place where it simply does not matter any more and their dreams just do not motivated them anymore. It’s sad.

Has God spoken to you? Has He told you to do something? What has He asked you to do? Is obeying God first for you? Is His kingdom and His authority the most important thing in your life? Or have a million different things got in the way?

It is not faith and not grace to put God second or third or hundredth in your life. Can you imagine a man with two wives? He will never be able to give the right amount of attention to either of them! They will always be second in his life. You get married to be the number one in the other person’s life. And God is the same – He wants to be number one in your life. Not second to your spouse, your house, your ego, your career, or even your ministry. What is God saying to do – do that!

If God has called you to do something, to be somewhere, to get involved with something – then do that. Ignore every “if” and “but” and do what you are called to do. I planted Tree of Life Guildford when it was utterly foolish, when I had young children and a young church in Dagenham, I had no leaders, I had no people, I knew zero people in Guildford. But God told me to do it, and a few years later, we have a married couple pastoring that church who are remarkable, we have some exceptional elders, we have a worship team, a welcome team, we have people getting saved and healed, we have changed lives. If I had waited for the right time, I would still be waiting. The right time has not come, I made the time right. Seize the day, do what the Lord says, change the world. Everyone necessary to make that church glorious turned up after we had made the plans to move forward and do it. Selah!

The Doctor’s Report!

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Something that happens far too often to me as a pastor is something that is not going to help anyone walk in victory and actually hold you back. The story goes something like this (names have been changed to protect the innocent):

Jimmy wakes up Monday morning unwell, he has several symptoms that concern him and restrict him from being able to move or work. He is in pain. He prays, because Jimmy is a good Christian. On Tuesday, Jimmy phones the doctor and makes an appointment. The earliest appointment he can get is Thursday.

On Wednesday, still in pain, Jimmy calls me as the pastor, or puts a prayer request on the website, or email, or one of our WhatsApp groups. The prayer request goes something like this: “I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, I am in pain and have a number of symptoms, but can you all pray for me that I get a good report from the doctor”.

I find it really difficult to respond to this, because the prayer request is entirely misplaced. The truth is that if we were living by faith in the Word, the doctor’s report would not move us. We simply would not care one way or another what the doctor’s report says. You do not get to walk in victory or move forward in faith through a doctor’s report.

Isaiah 53.1 says “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” It is the Lord’s report that you need to believe, and here is the good news. The Lord’s report does not change. It is superior to every doctor’s report, it is superior to every bank statement, every bill, every piece of mail you ever get, and every email you ever read. That is what you need to read, to believe, to conceive, to receive, to declare, to focus on. If the doctor’s report disagrees with the Lord’s report, then make a choice to believe the report of the Lord. I really don’t care if the doctor tells me that I will die in 24 hours, I have a report from the Lord that says I will not die but live and that is the only report I accept. The doctor’s report might say I am terribly sick, but I don’t believe it. I have a report from the Lord that says by His stripes I am healed and that is the only report I accept.

The reason we want a good report from the doctor is because we are so unspiritual we actually trust the doctor more than the Word of God. That is a situation that we must address in our lives, and take the time to fill our hearts and minds with the Word of God until we realize it can be trusted.

The report we believe determines what manifests in our life. So stop caring about the doctor’s report, stop worrying about what the world worries about, stop idolizing the NHS (you can be grateful for it, but it is not God and it’s reports are not God!), and start believing the report of the Lord.

Listen if you start believing the report of the Lord, what will always happen is this: the arm of the Lord will be revealed. The arm of the Lord is powerful, and heals all sicknesses, destroys all diseases, restores all that is missing and brings life. Real life. Health. Real health.

If the doctor’s report says you are sick, and you believe that report, you will start talking and walking like a sick person. Sickness will dominate you. If you rather turn to the Lord’s report and read that and believe that report which says that the Lord is your Healer, that all your sicknesses and diseases were borne on the cross by the Lord and that by His stripes you were healed, then healing will dominate you. You will start talking and walking like a healed person.

So, next time sickness attacks your body, and you need some prayers from your church, we are glad to pray with you. We love praying with you. But don’t ask us to make something as insignificant as the report of a doctor good because you are too carnal to trust the Word. Rather ask us to stand with you against those symptoms, sicknesses and pains. We will, and in Jesus’ name they will definitely leave. When we resist satan he always flees from us. That is the report of the Lord.

Please pray for me, but don’t pray for a good report from a doctor, I do not care. Not now and not ever. Rather pray the report of the Lord over me, and I will pray it over you:

Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. (Ephesians 1.15-23)