There have been many places in my life when the devil, working through circumstances, pain, loss, and need, has sought, and still seeks to convince me that at that place, I have reached the end.  The end of my dreams, desires, ministry, life.  His persuasion skills are powerful, and while his whispers from the darkness can sound like truth, like reality, they are, as always, a lie.  Jesus said that he was a liar from the beginning.  He always will be.  Might it be that you're hearing some of his whispers right now?  Is he telling you, in the darkness you walk in, that this is the end?
     We are seeing a huge increase in opposition to the church of Christ throughout the world, and very much here in America. The enemy is coming against us on every front, both as the Body of Christ, and the individuals who comprise that Body.  Satan hates what the Father loves, and the Father loves His church and people beyond description.  The devil's hatred will also be beyond description.  His hearts desire is to bring about the end of His church and of His people.  He will paint a very convincing picture of this end for us, but it's a counterfeit one.  It only looks real.  God alone applies the brushstrokes to the lives of His people.  In the midst of all the darkness and need, He continues to paint the portrait of our lives and all that pertains to them.
     Matthew 10:16-23 gives Jesus' words to His followers; "I am sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves...."  He goes on to list all that His followers will face in their journey with Him, and it is not a list that the flesh can accept.  He states bluntly that, "The one who endures to the end will be saved."  First, know that Christ here proclaims that He, and not the enemy define "the end."  Secondly, we need to know that the only way we will "endure" is by and in the power of His resurrected life.  Anything else or less will surely perish.
     Of this scripture passage, Eugene Peterson writes, "We live spiritually and morally in hostile country.  We need to be realistic about that...... Family strife, social discord, church unrest are not the end.  Christ is the end."  Wherever we are, no matter how dark and dangerous, no matter how threatening to our very lives, it is not the end.  Christ is the end.  And the beginning.  As the devil prepares for us a gravestone, Christ prepares a door.  A door into a new place in Him.....if we will endure in Him.
     How can we?  Watchman Nee speaks on Psalm 118:27, "Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar."  This verse has to do with the Old Testament offering of burnt sacrifices to God on the altar.  It was a whole burnt offering to Him.  All of the sacrificed animal was consumed by the fire.  Romans 12:1 tells us that the New Testament sacrifice is to be a living one, yet one that is also wholly consumed.  Nee writes, "The meaning of the altar is that the offering of our lives to God is to be ever consumed, yet ever living: to be ever living,  but ever consumed."  Such a life will not only endure, but prevail.  Such a life will know that it is not the devil's words, but Christ's that are the end.  Whose end are we seeing and believing today?  The counterfeit one painted by the devil, or the true, ever unfolding one created for us by Him?  

Pastor O
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   May 2019   
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