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Monthly Archives: June 2021

Don’t Fall Off the Bridge 04 Fornication

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What Is the True Meaning of Fornication in the Bible?

The Bible says some things very strongly. It says that fornication should “let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints” (Ephesians 5.3). Fornication means to have sex before you are married. If you are married, and have sex with someone you are not married to, that is called adultery. A lot of pastors are not talking about fornication any more, the word itself seems outdated and quaint to many people. But I believe that a good pastor should reflect the heart of the Lord, and give their people accurate Biblical knowledge and proper understanding. A pastor has to teach everything the Bible teaches.

I knew when I started this series on falling off the bridge – you know failing to make your destiny because you do not put one foot in front of the other but you end up doing something and going the wrong way and falling – that at some point I would have to address this. I was a little anxious for two reasons. One, I have had people leave Tree of Life when I talk about this. It genuinely upsets people as a topic. Secondly, I am a human too, and I have the same temptations as all of you, and I didn’t live perfectly before I got married, but we must live by the Word, live by faith and teach the whole Bible!

The standard of the Word of God is that no Christian should ever be involved in fornication, that sex should be for marriage, and marriage alone. Christians should not be involved in it – in fact, according to Ephesians 5.3, they should not even be talking about it. A Christian should not be speaking to another Christian they are not married to and saying “do you think we should have sex?”. Not even talk about it.

But fornication is becoming more and more common among Christians, and it is destroying the lives of many Christians, causing them to misstep and go flying off the bridge towards their destiny and a life of abundance and peace. Listen, there are men and women out there who will bring you to a place of fornication. They will take advantage of your needs, they will corrupt and destroy whole churches. They will stop you stepping into your ministry, your destiny and your abundant life. They will destroy your future!

Fornication is breaking God’s Word and God’s design for humanity. Now, every human being is subject to the temptation to commit fornication. But you need to put God as your highest priority, you need to make God your first choice, not sin. You need to realize you will lose out on life if you do not obey God. Your life is always better when you do things God’s way. You can be at church every week, you can worship with your hands in the air, you can tithe and you can serve – but if you are committing fornication you are in disobedience to God and His plan for your life.

I have had people tell me that the instructions on not having sex before or outside marriage are archaic, ancient laws, meant for an older generation, but not for now. They tell me that it is not realistic to save yourself for marriage, that lots of Christians are living together, that it does not make sense to keep your virginity. But we are supposed to live by faith in God’s Word, not what others are doing, what makes sense or what seems realistic. We are supposed to walk with the Lord and love the Lord. We are supposed to know the Lord and have a personal walk with Him. We are supposed to have a deep sincere relationship with the Lord and want to obey His Word and instructions.

Now listen, not committing fornication will cost you something, but it will pay more than it costs. Committing fornication will benefit you temporarily, but it will cost more than it pays. One of the ways that it costs is that fornication destroys your soul.

You may think I am being overly dramatic in saying this, but the Bible again is very clear. Proverbs 6.32 says that a man who commits adultery will destroy his soul. If you have sex before or outside of marriage, it is the same thing as taking an axe blow to your mind, your emotions and your ability to make good decisions. I have met many Christians who are deeply wounded in their ability to think, to feel and to make good decisions – often that wounding in the soul is caused by sexual immorality.

There will be people in church Sunday who came from their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s house. I won’t know any better, but it’s nothing to do with me, it is between you and God – and it is you destroying your own soul. You are negatively affecting your inner self, and that is not sustainable.

With my experience pastoring, I know that as soon as someone is involved in fornication, their spiritual life just jumps off the bridge. They are not walking forward any more, they are in free fall. Their soul starts to nose dive towards destruction. Right off the bridge!

Now knowing that fornication will destroy your soul is bad enough, but it also destroys your body. The Bible says “Flee fornication, every sin you do is without your body, but he that commits fornication sins against their own body” (1 Cor. 6.18). When you commit fornication, you are destroying your soul and assaulting your own body! Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, do not use it to commit fornication.

If you are in fornication, do whatever you can to get out of it.

Next post, we will discuss more ways in which fornication is the same as jumping off the bridge to your future.

Don’t Fall Off the Bridge 03 A Sense of Urgency

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Sense of Urgency

There is a story Jesus told, and it goes like this:

15 When they heard this, one of the dinner guests said to Jesus, “Someday God will have a kingdom feast, and how happy and privileged will be the ones who get to share in that joy!” 16 Jesus replied with this parable: “A man invited many to join him in a great feast. 17 When the day for the feast arrived, the host instructed his servant to notify all the invited guests and tell them, ‘Come, for everything is now ready for you!’ 18 But one by one they all made excuses. One said, ‘I can’t come. I just bought some property and I have to go and look it over.’ 19 Another said, ‘Please accept my regrets, for I just purchased five teams of oxen and I need to make sure they can pull the plow.’ 20 Another one said, ‘I can’t come because I just got married.

Luke 14.15-20, The Passion Translation

People in this story missed out on their time with God because they did not have a sense of urgency about the things of God. Last week we said (here) that we need to put God’s kingdom first and some things have a time limit. Here we are looking at some of the excuses people use to put off doing what God has clearly instructed them to do.

  1. Property

I have seen many people miss out on God’s will for their life over a piece of real estate. I have seen people buy a nice house in a part of the country where there just isn’t a decent church that is going to feed them and lead them. It does not take long for them to backslide right out of God’s will. All over a house that within the next few decades is going to become toast. Never put property between you and Jesus. If He tells you to sell it, do it. Obey Him! Be willing to submit to Him even over property. This story Jesus told explains so clearly that people missed out on their destiny, their life, their future because of their property – because in their heart they put property above Jesus.

Now, of course Jesus does not mind us having property – and loads of it. We are after all the head and not the tail, we are the lenders not the borrowers, we should be the landlords not the tenants! That’s part of the blessing of Abraham. But you should be the one who tells property what to do, it should never tell you what to do, and it certainly should never dictate to you where you live, where you worship, how you live, what you are doing, how you operate. People max out their borrowing over a nice house, and then cannot give to the kingdom of God and cannot invest in their local church. They have turned down the kingdom for property.

Do not get this one wrong. Never let property be your idol, and never let it get in the way of you and Jesus.

2. Business Ventures

Again, I have seen people turn their back on the kingdom for business. I have seen people work with very ungodly people and become very unequally yoked for the sake of a few pounds, I have seen people working Sunday after Sunday and missing church and wondering why their fire is weak. I have seen people lie to get a job, cheat to make a sale. They have compromised Jesus for business. Recently, a pastor contacted me with a business deal that involved me selling things to people in my church, he was telling me how much money I could make and how I could do this and that, and it would have involved me taking advantage of all the trust and credibility I have gained as a pastor and using it to get monthly subscriptions from people for something that they just did not need. I would not do that, but I know people who have!

I know other people who have a call to full time ministry, but have politely declined the call because they cannot leave their oxen behind, they cannot turn their back on their business interests to serve God. Read the words of Jesus, read them in other Bible translations. You will find that your business is not as important, not nearly as important, as the business of the kingdom of God. Never use your business to ignore or disobey Jesus.

Again, you can have a business. You should have a business, or two, or three, or ten. Jesus has zero problems with you having a business, but He does have an issue when the business has you. When it tells you where to go, how to behave, how to act, what to do. Then that business is your Lord and Christ, not Jesus. Selah.

3. Marriage.

Thirdly, Jesus is very clear – you should never let your marital state be an excuse for not doing the work of the kingdom. I have seen more tears as a pastor because of people marrying the wrong people than anything else. People want to marry so they ignore the leading of Jesus, they ignore the Scriptures that talk about marrying a believer, they ignore that marriage should be a team and they fail to marry a team player. They marry some idiot that does not care about God, does not care about the kingdom, but they did pray a prayer ten years ago, and now they have to go to church alone, now they have to raise their children in the Lord alone, now tithing is a matter of conflict, praying is a bone of contention and fasting a real concern. When if they had followed Jesus and put the kingdom first, a godly spouse would have been added to them, and they would be talking with them about the Lord, enjoying the joy of being married to someone with Christian character, going to church together, being called to minister together, supporting and loving each other!

Again, God has no problems with you being married, but if you being married stops you enjoying the feast of the Lord, there is a problem! A huge big problem. You cannot use your wife, your husband, your son, your daughter as an excuse for ignoring and disobeying your heavenly calling. When God calls you, you cannot use your family, your business, your house, what you want to do, who you want to marry, where you want to live, as an excuse. None of that is seen by Jesus as a valid excuse. When He calls, then you should be following. When He invites, you should respond with a holy honour and wisdom.

John Wesley, the apostle who founded the Methodist Church in the UK, had real problems in his marriage. His wife got jealous when he pastored people, his wife got upset when he worked, she got annoyed when he travelled, she got envious when he wrote letters to families in the church. She did not like the call of God on his life. They got married on a Monday, and on Tuesday John was preaching, and she never got over that. But she never stopped him doing what God called him to do. He loved her, respected her, endured her emotional outbursts, and then got on with the call of God. And without Him doing that, the United Kingdom would be in an even worse than it was. The Methodist Church for many years has been one of the major reasons why our nation has been brought back to the Word over and over again. John Wesley was unyielding – nothing got between him and serving God with all His heart, and putting God first. John Wesley did not fall off the bridge. And nor should we.

In our next post, I will talk about marriage again, and one of the things that has caused so many people in our generation to fall off the bridge and fail to get to their destination.

Don’t Fall Off the Bridge 02 Put the Kingdom First

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The Kingdom of God - Calvary Presbyterian Church

The Bible is so clear and powerful and explicit on what should go first in our life. Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6.33).

The first thing in your life should be God and His kingdom. If you want to have a life of increase and a life of fruitfulness, you have to learn to put God first. You put God before your comfort, you put God before your income, you put God before your security, you put God before your thoughts, your dreams, your ideals, your life. This will change your life for the better over and over and over again.

I am a pastor, I have been pastoring Tree of Life Church in Dagenham now for eleven years. It is a growing church, not just growing in size but also growing in wisdom and depth. People are becoming disciples and seeing the kingdom of God expressly grow and increase. If you think that you can do that in a week or two, or a month or two, or a year or two, you are a fool. We have to put the kingdom first in terms of time. I know someone whose vision is to go and plant a Bible College in a foreign nation, then after two years, move to another foreign nation and start another Bible College. That cannot be done. It is impossible. It takes more time than that. You have to keep putting God first. Find any growing successful church and you will find a church where the pastor has been in ministry a long time. You will find a pastor who put God’s kingdom first.

You need to put God’s plan and God’s kingdom first in your life. Then it takes time to prepare and get ready. You could not be a priest until the age of thirty in the Bible – Jesus did not start in ministry until the age of thirty. It takes years of putting God first again and again to get to where God wants you to go. It takes years to build a church, years to build character, years to build a ministry. So you need to put it first.

I know too many people who will only consider ministry when they are ready in their time, not God’s time. I know far too many people who will go to Bible College when they get their pension. They are exhausted from life, they have left themselves too little time to build something huge. They can still contribute and do something wonderful, and God is a God of restoration, but they have never put the kingdom of God first.

The kingdom of God really needs more young people! There are a whole bunch of things young people can do that older people cannot. They have a passion and life about them. Students can pray all night, serve in ways unencumbered by life and work and family. Give your first years to the Lord if you still can! If you are at an age and God is calling you to Bible College, don’t wait until the circumstances line up – do what God says.

The kingdom of God needs people of faith! If you crystalize for too long ignoring the call of God, your faith in your soul dries up, but if you act on what God is saying, you build momentum. There are people called to plant a church in 2010 the same year I was. Now in 2021, I have years of experience, wisdom, and momentum and I can see hundreds of churches. The person who ignored the call would take several years just to get back in place. We owe it to the kingdom of God to put it first in our lives. Ministry is, despite what most people assume, hard work. You do not have much time for yourself or your loved ones when you are a pastor! You need to start when you have a spring in your step still!

Do not hate the kingdom of God – put it first in your life. Do not put off kingdom work until you retire. What – architecture is a great choice for your life and when you are full of life, but now I am old and tired, I will serve God? No – put the kingdom first, whatever that means between you and God!

If the kingdom is first, then it is the kingdom you do first. Delay your marriage and serve the kingdom. Delay your career and serve the kingdom. Stop delaying the kingdom for everything else. The fields are right now white unto harvest, not in four months time. Do not bring delay into God’s Kingdom. Get up on Sunday and arrive at church early, someone will find you something to do to help set up.

People fail to realize that whenever God speaks, a timer starts. If you miss the opportunity, you will not be able to do what God has called you to do. The available time you have to serve the kingdom diminishes day by day! Well, I will bide my time with this and serve God later will not work as a life philosophy. If you are called to ministry, there is a clock counting down the days. Prepare, invest, get ready… do what it takes. Maybe you have been told to launch out into business to finance the kingdom – the time to do it is reducing. Maybe you have been told to move to another nation to serve Jesus – the time to do it is reducing. Prepare, get ready, learn, launch.

Put the kingdom of God first in terms of priority, and you will end up living the best life you can ever life. Selah!

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