God has a way of working all things together for good. He does this individually and collectively. Such is the case with my family and Eastside. God has been involved in my transition from student to minister. This “first” work we are praying will be where I retire or die. The Eastside congregation is a resilient group that has done so much “In Spite of the Devil.”
Eastside is still here, in spite of the devil wanting to shut her doors. The devil hates the Church of Christ. The eternal plan to save the souls of men is in the Lord’s church (Ephesians 3:9-11). The devil hates God, and anyone a part of His family, he wants to destroy. So, it follows that the devil wants to destroy the lampstand and lighthouse of salvation. Sometimes men get involved in their own lusts and become tools in the devil’s hand to accomplish this. I have come to really appreciate God for His manifold wisdom in placing godly men (emp. plural) over His flock, and not one single tyrant, like Diotrephes (3 John 1:9-11). The devil has used men like Adam, Judas and Diotrephes throughout history to thwart Gods plan for the church and righteousness, but in spite of all that, the church is still strong. Eastside is still here.
Eastside is still healing, in spite of the devil trying to wound her. The devil figures on the weakness of men, but often forgets about the power of God. The devil has a great ability to cause harm through human relationships and the frailties of others character. Although the devil is able to cause wounds that might seem (for a time) to be fatal, through the power of God and the strength of our familial bond- Eastside is on the mend. The devil thought he dealt the church a death blow, but how sorely mistaken he was. The devil thought the people here would cower, and give in to his evil plans, but the group decided to rise up and fight for truth and right. The devil has always underestimated Gods people. He thought he had Gods people right where he wanted them in Egypt, and then God showed up (Exodus 14). The devil thought he had Gods people right where he wanted them, scattered and slaughtered throughout the world, but God brought them back together to accomplish His will (Acts 2). The devil has always been a day late and a dollar short. Although the devil was able to wound the church- she is healing quite nicely, and looks to make better than a full recovery.
Eastside is still evangelizing, in spite of the devil. The devil uses all kinds of tools to try and stop progress against his kingdom of darkness. The effective way to do that is to destroy the church from within. The devil recruits his own subjects through their own weaknesses and desires. Satan is quite crafty, and usually, evangelistic efforts dry up when problems arise and the church is in a volatile state. When a congregation goes through difficulties, it is hard to be “others focused.” This is exactly what this great congregation has done. She has focused on growing closer together through fellowship and evangelism. This is so important and so encouraging to me, the preacher. The devil heaped up problems on top of the pandemic, to try to snuff out the very potent influence of this congregation, but the members here to chose to fight the devil, and not let him win. And once a month, during the warm weather months, she remains faithful to her calling. The members meet and invest time and money into the community here- and it is making a difference! Eastside is committed to being like Jesus and doing “Kingdom” work. Some like to “play” church once or twice a week. They meet together and sing some songs and salve their weary consciouses through a Bible study and sermon, but beyond the shallow façade, they’re empty. Not Eastside! I am so proud to be a small part of a group that is evangelizing, in spite of the devil.
Eastside is growing, in spite of the devil. The pandemic has really done a number on many congregations. Sadly, many folks have found themselves content to sit at home instead of worshipping with the saints. Some have gotten used to “worshipping online” and may still be perusing any number of church live streams to “get to worship” while they travel to do any number of things that day. They may “worship” while driving to the lake or some other event. When you consider that with what the devil tried to do to Eastside, the only thing that we can conclude is the devil has lost this round! We are a going and growing group. We have had several families “come to see” what we have going on here, and we know that God is going to give the increase relative to the door-to-door evangelism efforts. We, as a group, have seen a steady increase month after month. This is genuine, grass roots- growth. We are not member stealing- swelling- but rather, God is increasing our power and influence as we grow in spirit and truth. The numbers will follow as we strive to do Gods will and mirror the New Testament pattern. We are growing.
Eastside is going to heaven, in spite of the devil. This is the most thrilling point of them all, folks. The fact that through all of the devils’ devices, we are not ignorant of them, we are still faithful to our Lord. Our faithfulness will lead us to that heavenly shore. We know that one day our wounds and weariness will tell the story of His faithfulness as we enter the gates to that City. We are going to heaven together. As your minister, I want you to realize the great things that are going on right here at home. You are the reason things are going so well. You are the reason Eastside is still here, healing, evangelizing, growing and going to heaven. Let’s continue in this fight until our time on earth is through. Let’s assault the enemy every day and pray for those who would seek to persecute us. Let’s be like Jesus, and know that by and through Him- we have Victory- in spite of the devil.
God bless you, and it is an honor to be your minister.