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Faithful To The End

Colossians 4:14-16
Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea. (NIV)

How do we know who will stay true until the end? The answer is that we don't! Luke did and Demas did not. Luke, the author of Luke's Gospel and the book of Acts, had travelled with Paul since joining him at Troas on the second missionary journey (indicated by the change from 'they' to 'we' in Acts 16:11). At the time of writing, Luke was still with Paul. Demas seemed equally committed but towards the end of Paul's life, with the possibility of being thrown to the wild animals in the arena, he writes, "... Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me ..." (2 Timothy 4:10).
 
As for churches: the real local church is the group of believers who meet together. When they move because of persecution, war, famine, lack of work or death, that congregation comes to an end, unless they are replaced by others. The church congregations in Laodicea and Colossae did not continue. But while they existed they worshipped Jesus Christ, proclaimed the gospel, discipled new believers and equipped them for wherever they should move. We know that God used some willing individuals to serve Him - like Nympha who welcomed believers to meet in her house. It is the individuals who need to stand firm to the end wherever they live or move to. Perhaps the clues to the demise of the church at Laodicea are in Revelation 3:14-22 - they became self-satisfied and kept Jesus outside the church.
 
The application should be obvious: however committed we appear to others, we can fall away from Jesus Christ if we allow our own interests to dictate our lives, and leave the Lord out of the centre of our desires. Like the Laodicean church, it can happen gradually: or like Demas it can be the final decision of a reluctant heart (unwilling to sacrifice everything for Jesus). The key is to practise giving up your 'rights' - like Nympha did in opening her home to others. It may be giving up possessions, money, status, power, or some of the pleasures of life. Once that happens, because of obedience to Jesus, then it becomes normal to trust Him with all the uncertainties of the future. People, who live with Him in control, get to the end in good order: but those who live by clinging onto control risk being found to be unfaithful at the end. Which are you?

Prayer 
Faithful God. Thank You for sending the Lord Jesus who gave up everything for me. I am sorry about the times when I have clung onto things and people to be my security, although they really became my idols. Help me to be willing to give up all that is not helpful for the sake of Your kingdom and glory, so that I can serve You with an undiluted passion in my heart. I pray for those who have slipped back but do not realise their danger. May I be a good example to them, holding lightly to all that is around me and holding tightly to Jesus. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams