Before & After Pictures

From this…

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To this…

 

This was done in less than two weeks and we had none of the furnishings or equipment two weeks ago either!  God is good!  He supplies all of our needs.  I can’t wait until Sunday :).

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Thou Art Loosed!

Many today are bound with problems that they are unable to overcome by themselves.  Even Christians are in bondage to the works of the devil.  Through the blood of the cross, these bondages have already been broken – on Heaven’s end.  They have been bound in Heaven.  Yet so many, in ignorance, allow the devil to exercise control over their lives.  Outward religious performance will not move the devil out of your life.  Only true spiritual authority will cause him to flee.

On a certain day in the synagogue, Jesus ministered to the woman from the Abrahamic Covenant (the pre-side of Calvary).  Jesus was operating in the prophetic fulfillment of the cross.

Matthew 8:16-17 says:

He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.

Fulfillment, in its culmination, came at the cross.  But Jesus also ministered on the promissory note of prophecy.  Jesus said to that woman in Luke 13:12: “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity!” The words, “are loosed” are in the perfect tense.  It is completed action in past time, with present continual results.  This is what we must understand about our authority in Christ; it is not something God is going to do; it is something He has done!  Having spoken this, Jesus laid hands on the woman and immediately she was made straight (v 13).  The religious leaders of that day didn’t like that one bit. They were filled with indignation (v 14). Religion does not teach one much about their dominion and authority in Christ.  If you are involved in a “cessation church” (those who believe that  the  power  of God  has ceased from manifestation), then get out and wash your hands of it! Don’t have a form of godliness while denying the power thereof.  The Bible says to turn away from them (II Tim. 3:5).

Jesus rebuked them and called them hypocrites (v 15). Hypocrites will tell you that sickness is the will of God to teach a lesson and then they will spend all their money at the doctor and the drug store trying to get out of “God’s will.” If sickness is the will of God, then why not pray for a double portion? Even common sense tells us this is ridiculous.

Some people (ignorant ones) say, “If it’s God’s will to heal everybody, then why don’t you go down to the hospital and clean the beds out?”  That’s poor theology!  You would have to apply that to salvation as well by saying, “If it’s God’s will to save everyone, then why don’t you go down to the tavern and clean off the bar stools.”  This is faulty on both counts because God will not override people’s will. Through ignorance or unbelief some people have set their will against healing.

Jesus said:

So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?  (Luke 13:16)

It was her legal redemptive right to be free.  It is your legal redemptive right to be free, and set others free.  Satan’s authority over your life has been legally broken by the court of Heaven.   Your defense attorney and advocate, Jesus, has taken His own blood into the Holy of Holies and satisfied Heaven’s righteous demands.

You are God’s agent of deliverance in this sin-torn world.  Satan fears your potential in Christ. God has given you the authority to bind the devil and loose the power of God! Rise up and be who God wants you to be and take authority over your adversary, the devil. A stronger than he has come upon him and overtaken him – Jesus! Satan has been stripped of all his armor. Jesus has taken the spoils and divided them to His people.  Dominion is ours! (See Luke 11:22.)

The Apostle Paul, part 5 of 5

The Writings of an Apostle

Paul wrote a total of thirteen epistles, fourteen if you count Hebrews (no author named). These epistles were later canonized as being divinely inspired as Holy Scripture.  Paul wrote to the newly founded churches across Greece and Asia Minor, as well as Rome.  There were many issues in the early Church that needed addressed.  As an apostle, Paul wrote as a spiritual father, caring for his children.

Winds of doctrine were blowing through these churches.  False teachers were on the prowl, seeking to devour these new converts. Paul’s writings were passed from church to church as a compass to keep them on the right track.

Today, we are blessed to have the writings of the greatest apostle to ever live. The Pauline revelation is the heart of the New Testament.  He brought the deep truths of God out in an understandable way.  Paul was a master of the Greek language.  He could have written in classical Greek, but instead chose Koine Greek, the language of the people. Though easy to understand, Paul’s writings were weighty and hard to discern without the Holy Spirit’s help. Listen to Peter’s words concerning Paul’s writings:

2 Peter 3:15-16
And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

Though apostles today cannot write divinely inspired Scripture, it is still vital for an apostle to weld the power of the pen.  His teachings and testimony should be recorded for the continuing blessing of generations to come.

The Hardships of an Apostle

The book of 2 Corinthians offers us a unique peer into the personal life and hardships of the apostle Paul. It was extremely difficult for the apostle to the Gentiles.  But God was always faithful to deliver him in times of trouble. Let him who thinks apostleship is an easy road, one to be desired, consider the following from just one of Paul’s epistles, 2 Corinthians:

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. (2 Corinthians 1:8)

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love (2 Corinthians 6:5-6)

For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. (2 Corinthians 7:5)

Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.  From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;  in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;  in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—  besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.  (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. (2 Corinthians 12:7)

Paul’s hardships served only to make him greater.  Some say that he had to suffer because he had no faith. This is ridiculous thinking. Paul did not operate in the “cadillac faith” that some modern prosperity preachers teach.  Paul was a living example of faith in everything he did.  Paul was the greatest apostle of all because he made himself the least. The following passage portrays the heart of Paul throughout his life, ministry, and death as a martyr:

Phillipians 3:7-14
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.  Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;  that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The Vision

Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. (Hab. 2:2)

Sunday, June 3rd will be a great day in the life of The River church.  We will be having our inaugural service in our new building that morning.  God has instructed me to share the vision for the church.  Come expecting to be challenged for He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all the we ask or think (Eph. 3:20).  

Work Day…

Today we prepped the main room of the “new” building for painting, which will be done over the next couple of days.  All of the chairs were also put together today.  With just 7 days left before our first service, there is a lot to do still, but I have no doubt that we will be ready.  Thank You Jesus!

 

The Apostle Paul, part 4

Paul’s Missionary Journeys

Missionary work is central to the life of an apostle.  Not all missionaries are apostles, other qualifications must be met.  Not all apostles are missionaries, per say.  That is, an, apostle will do missionary work, but not necessarily be a missionary. Paul was not just a missionary, but it was the most outstanding aspect of his ministry.  Paul took three major missionary journeys in his life.

I. First Missionary Journey

After being separated as an apostle, along with Barnabas, in Acts chapter 13, Paul set out on his first missionary journey. Barnabas and John Mark were his companions and co-workers.  Early on, Barnabas was mentioned first in the team, but after a while Paul was spoken of first.  An obvious indication of Paul’s leadership as the head of their apostolic team.

Early church ministry was done by apostolic teams. This began with Jesus sending out the seventy, two by two (Luke 10:1).  However, on Paul’s team, John Mark got homesick during their travels and returned home. This would later be a point of contention that would break up this apostolic team.

During the two-and-one-half-year missionary journey (spring of 47 A.D. to. fall of 49 A.D.), Paul and Barnabas made disciples, built churches and trained leaders in the following places:

  1. Seleucia
  2. Island of Cyprus (struck sorcerer blind)
  3. Perga
  4. Antioch of Pisidia
  5. Iconium
  6. Lystra (crippled man healed; Paul stoned and left for dead)
  7. Derbe

After completing these stops, Paul and Barnabas went back to each of these new churches and followed up on their work.

Acts 14:21-23
And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Ordaining elders is an important function of apostles. They didn’t perform this function on their first trip through.  Time was needed to develop the qualities and characteristics that were necessary.  Those who had distinguished themselves as leaders were set apart to lead these new congregations, under the supervision of the apostolic team, and more specifically, Paul.

After this lengthy, prosperous apostolic journey which spread over 1,200 miles, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, their home church.  Regardless of how large and successful Paul’s ministry became, he never saw himself as being above, or better than being accountable.

Acts 14:26-28
From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed.  Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.  So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

II. Second Missionary Journey

After a Church Council at Jerusalem (Acts chapter 15), Paul began to feel the stir once again to visit the newly formed churches he had founded.  When the Word said that Paul and Barnabas “abode long time” at Antioch, it is estimated that it was two years.  Antioch was a training center among churches. Paul’s leadership skills were put to good use. But the call to return to the mission field stirred his nest.

However, tThe contention was so strong between Paul and Barnabas regarding John Mark, that they parted ways: And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other (Acts 15:39).

Paul chose Silas as his new partner and received the blessing of the brethren (Acts 15:40). They set out on Paul’s second missionary journey which is spoken of in Acts 15:36-18:22. They visited the following places:

  1. Syria
  2. Cilicia
  3. Derbe
  4. Lystra (Timothy joins team)
  5. Troas (Paul receives vision)
  6. Philippi (beaten and jailed; first European church)
  7. Thessalonica
  8. Berea
  9. Athens
  10. Corinth (joined by Aquilla and Priscilla; stayed at Corinth 18months)
  11. Ephesus

Once again Paul returned to Antioch, his home church and spent time there.

III. Third Missionary Journey

Acts 18:23-20:38 covers the third missionary journey of Paul.  Once again, Paul began by retracing his steps to visit the churches he had founded. He immediately set out for Ephesus.  Paul stayed at Ephesus for over three years, building the church.

The following are the places Paul went to on his third mission aryJourney:

  1. Ephesus
  2. Macedonia
  3. Philippi
  4. Troas
  5. Miletus

The three journeys covered a period of twelve years. Paul was used by God to establish churches in the majority of the cities in Asia Minor and Greece.

Next, we conclude with Paul’s writings and hardships.