Thursday, September 20, 2018

Wait On The Lord


Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:14

Dear Congregation,
       I try to read a fair amount of contemporary articles that deal with the state of the church, evangelism, the culture, ministry, and all the challenges Christians face in the world today. It is impossible to escape the pessimistic tone of so much literature that is out there. It is always interesting to note that the most pessimistic of writers often neglect to consider the working and power of God as a force behind any real change. What good is the Christian faith if its success and prosperity depend entirely on you? What are we without God’s moving? We get enough pressure from the news and from work and or family. Stress and pressure come from the merit system of this world. With Christianity we have exchanged our effort for Christ’s and His success is something that is assured.
        The psalms are great teaching tools to remind us that problems and challenges are not unique to contemporary society. In Psalm 27 David is very concerned about the reality of his enemies. Physical and tangible threats are very close to him. He pleads with the Lord in this psalm and his conclusion is advice based on truth to wait on the Lord. I think that is the best advice we could ever receive. To wait, trust, believe, hope, rest, seek, and glory in and on our Lord.
          We believe that He is in control of all circumstances and we believe that we cannot act for His advancement without His moving. I therefore encourage you Christian to meditate on this psalm, and wait on the Lord. He will strengthen your heart, He will equip you for the task ahead, He will build His church and save souls, He will deal with His enemies. May we as a church desire to and pray to see Him work in us and our community, may we plead as David did, but through it may our patience be long and our wait for His direction, guidance and power be rich, sweet, and rewarding. Wait, I say, on the Lord.

In Christ,
Pastor Basile

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

True Salvation


“Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of the mountains; truly, in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.” Jeremiah 3:23

Dear Congregation,
      This verse caught my attention recently in my devotions. There is nothing said that shocks us or gives us new information that we never heard before, yet it remains great fuel for meditation. The historical context is the common culture that captivated the minds and hearts of God’s people that caused them to seek worship of other deities or to worship God in ways He did not prescribe. Much of this foreign worship happened on hills and mountains. Thorough reform in Judah would have been accompanied by the dismantling of groves on the hilltops where these practices took place. Imagine how ingrained these cultural practices were that salvation and protection itself was sought for on the mountains instead in the way, truth, and live that was given to them by God. It has occurred to me that while often more subtle, we too seek a salvation from our own cultural hills.

          Humanity has always been captivated more with physical well being than spiritual. Often we can seek a salvation from the mountains and hills of our society. Salvation in health, salvation in finance, salvation in education, salvation in social popularity, salvation in entertainment. As Christians we would deny that any of these things can grant eternal life yet we still bow down to them on their own mountains. Jeremiah had to remind his audience that these hilltops could not save, Paul had to remind his audience that empty obedience could not save, the reformers had to remind their people that saints and indulgences could not save and we have to be reminded much the same, that our own 21st century Gods cannot save.

          Truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel. We are saved by grace, through faith, in Christ alone. We know our God through His Word alone. It is in him that we can find any stability through the craziness and confusion. Our godly actions come as a result of our salvation, not as a means to an end. In our spiritual practice we must seek Christ, we must embrace His salvation and His promises, we must worship him in spirit and in truth. We must remember that our only hope is in trusting him through challenges. Our Lord will never leave us or forsake us. May we not be enticed by the immediate gratification of hills and mountains where there is no eternal salvation. The true way and the good way is the rest of the Gospel!
In Christ,
Pastor Basile

Thursday, July 26, 2018

They Shall Share Alike


~But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike. I Samuel 30: 24

Dear Congregation,
      Here we have the words of David after a battle with the Amalekites. The situation is that of six hundred men who went with him to battle, two hundred could not make it all the way and stayed behind to guard the supplies. In natural human meritorial thinking, the soldiers who fought made the statement that the others left behind should not take part in the dividing of the spoils. David, as the verse above states, stops that selfish thinking on the spot.

          How characteristic of God’s grace this episode is. In other cultures, the soldiers would have gotten their way, but because David was a man after God’s own heart, favor was shown to those whose faithfulness was not necessarily the most visible. The Lord makes it very clear that He chose Israel not because of any characteristic that they had. In fact the Bible says they were one of the least of the nations and very stubborn. God displayed his love in covenant with them and desires faith not works. I like to think that David had all that in mind even in an event such as this. We need to keep this in mind when we consider how we view ministries as well. The attitude of the solders was of the Devil’s kingdom, not God’s.

          Another principle worthy of consideration here is that not everyone is called, equipped, or qualified to be a soldier. But soldiers need their supply chain and that work is just as vital to the larger victory as skill with a sword. Likewise in the church today, not everyone is called to be a preacher, evangelist, missionary, or teacher. Some are butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers and if that is their calling then they are completely in the will of God in their faithfulness. Some churches are placed on the front lines for works of mercy and evangelism in busy cosmopolitan centers. Some churches hold up the rear, defend the faith and see little activity. God looks at the heart and desires faithfulness. Mercy and not sacrifice. Do not be discouraged in your context or calling. Know that by God’s grace we all share alike, true Christians are the children of God by grace through faith in Christ and are good and faithful servants by looking to and trusting in Him alone. Do not judge by the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Rest in the Savior.

In Christ,
Pastor Basile

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Watch For The Morning


I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6

Dear Congregation,
      If you ever feel that God is distant and does not understand humanity or that the faith of the Old Testament was only one of ceremony and obedience. Then I hope you will take the time to reread the Psalms and meditate on the humanity that drips from so many of its verses. The inspired songs often display the human condition in the light of this fallen and sinful world. I remember when I first read them how struck I was with so many of their sentiments as if they were written directly to me. Their ongoing relevance is once again a testimony to their divine authorship and God’s perfect understanding of His creation.

          In Psalm 130 the struggle of the believer is on display. He understands God’s Word and God’s promises. In his understanding he longs for them to come to pass. There is both a comfort and a challenge in this passage. The challenge is for us to have this same kind of longing and hope in the Lord’s Word. In our business and our near sightedness we often long for things that are so trivial that we cannot remember them a year later. Perhaps a weekend event, perhaps a date, perhaps a vacation or a Christmas present. Is our greatest longing for the fulfillment of God’s promises? For His Gospel to be effective, for evil to be destroyed, for Salvation to come to the stranger and  the loved one? The Psalmist waits for the Lord’s deliverance more than the daily, more than the trivial. Night time is still intimidating today. We are often afraid to go out to certain areas or places when it is dark. In ancient times this was all the more intimidating. Imagine how dark the earth was at night. Only the moon and stars and a flickering oil lamp or candle for light. Very little could be done at night and an enemy seemingly had the advantage. In addition, without modern clocks it was harder to tell just how far away daylight was. There was longing for daylight and morning to a degree we cannot easily understand. Yet the longing for God’s working was greater.

          There remains great comfort in the truth that morning does come. We wait and hope and trust, but like the dawn, God always delivers according to His will. He is always faithful to His promises. If you are in darkness right now and are waiting and wondering if there will be a dawn, be assured that God’s deliverance is certain. Verses seven and eight talk about God’s abundant redemption and the certainty of it. If you are a Christian, you have that abundant redemption. You have an eternity in the heavens and your morning will come in the form of heaven as a certainty even if your earthly trial does not pass now. We look to the eternal morning for rest and peace. We look to God’s Word for direction, strength, and certainty. We hope, and are not disappointed, for Christ is the all sufficient savior who delivered us and has given us more than we know or deserve. If you wait on the Lord you will not be disappointed.

In Christ,
Pastor Basile

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Almighty God


“Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?” Job 38: 31-32

Dear Congregation,
       I have said before that if I were to simplify the Book of Job into a single thought it would be that the Lord’s message for Job was “I am God and you are not”. The Gospel of Jesus Christ gives us eternal life and assurance of citizenship in heaven. By grace we are made sons and daughters of the Almighty and enjoy a fellowship with Him that is unparalleled. However, through the intimacy of the New Covenant, the teaching to Job remains still. He is God and we are not.

          In the above verses the Lord asks Job about his power over the stars and constellations. How marvelous a thought, that the stars remain almost as mysterious to us today as they were to Job. We may know what they are probably composed of, we think we know how far away some of them are, we have theories about their life cycle. But the truth is that the vastness of space is still beyond our scope and reality. The atheist echoes Carl Sagan and cries that we are the pale blue dot in the vastness of the cosmos. But then the Atheist values his limited life more than logic should allow. Humanity wonders what lies beyond the solar system and thousands of Science fiction books, shows, and movies have attempted to answer according to varied imaginations. God in His revelation to mankind is very brief when it comes to this great expanse, “He made the stars also”. We know they are there but they are not in our grasp or under our control. As with Job, so with us. We have no real knowledge or power in such a vast and mysterious space. But God does!

          God Created these stars and planets and nebula. God tells us they declare His glory. Who among us can consider the heavens and not feel small? Can you loose the bands of Orion, can you bind the Pleiades? Can you make the hair on your head change color? Can you add an inch to your height? Despite the technology God has allowed us to discover, He is still God and we still are not. However, His power is something that the believer relies on for peace and comfort. If he can bind and loose the stars in their courses, then He can get you through a medical struggle. He can deliver you from a wicked boss of coworker. He can give you the strength to endure loss. He can give you a peace that passes all understanding as your heart and mind is kept in Christ Jesus. If you know Him and live in Him and walk with Him, you have the greatest master, ally, and friend in existence. Do not live your life as if you are God. The weight of the cosmos is not on your shoulders. Give it over to Christ and delight in His Gospel. He can do all things, He has saved you, and He will deliver you. Delight in His will and rest in His eternal providential plan.

In Christ,
Pastor Basile


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Triumph Of The Wicked is Short


“Do you not know this of old, Since man was placed on earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment? Though his haughtiness mounts up to the heavens, and his head reaches to the clouds, yet he will perish forever like his own refuse; Those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’” ~Job 20: 4-7

Dear Congregation,
      It is good for us to reflect on serious and sobering passages like this.  This is a statement made by Job’s “comforter” Zophar. While we remember that the presuppositions of the comforters were largely wrong, many of their individual statements were dead accurate. Such is the above passage.

          Since sin, rebellion, and wickedness entered into God’s creation by the act of man, death as the curse and consequence has reigned. Because of this consequence, evil never has immortality.  The cry of the world is, “ How can such a God exist who allows evil?” The Biblical answer is that He does not allow such evil to prosper. The God who sees declares that everyone’s sins shall find them out and His justice is the only justice that is complete and is guaranteed. Everything that is done on the earth is noted by Almighty God. The wicked have only a short time to prosper until the hard factual reality of death eventually takes them. The above passage tells of the shortness of life and the Scripture in James alludes to it being like a vapor of hot breath in the cold that is there for a moment and vanishes. Verse seven says that a wicked life is the same as human waste and decomposes with the same value. Death and eternal judgment are sure for those who would live as an enemy of God and His holy righteous law. There is no scientific escape.

          The Christian is not subject to this death or judgment, for while those living under the covenant of works are judged by their works and have no hope, those under the covenant of Grace are made alive in Christ. The Christian looks at the world and understands the plan of God’s salvation. That He does deal with wickedness and that at the last day nothing will be hidden or overlooked. The Christian does not live a life in vain for himself alone nor does he feel the weight of responsibility to correct all of the evils of society. The Christian proclaims the way out of death, judgment, and condemnation. The Christian proclaims Christ crucified and that there is no other name given by which we must be saved. We shall not die but live! Not because of any good in us but by free grace through faith in Christ alone. Let us not worry and fret jealously or anxiously over the lives and actions of the wicked. Let us not lose heart over the things we see in the news every day. They will have their reward! Let us rejoice in the salvation given to us and raise up the banner of Christ ever higher. All are invited to trust in Him now while it is called today. Do not wait till tomorrow when you may be nothing but refuse. Make your life about Christ. Believe in Him as Lord and Savior and live in peace and assurance for all eternity.

In Christ,
Pastor Basile

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Pride, Prosperity, and Idleness


Dear Congregation,
       It has been some time since I wrote my last weekly devotional. I am going to try to start it up again. I hope they will cause you to think, pray, and grow closer to the Lord.

“Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49

          Here the Lord through the prophet speaks to Judah, the blessed nation that was chosen of God to be the city set upon a hill. He says they are more wicked than apostate Samaria and vile Sodom. In articulating reasons for ancient Sodom’s destruction, God specifies the sin of pride, the numbness of prosperity, and indulgence in idleness. As a result, that wicked city was so self absorbed they could not care for the legitimate needs of others around them. This verse recently struck me as an extremely relevant warning and rebuke to our present day circumstances. It would be very easy for any preacher to apply it to the United States or global westernized culture as a whole. However, the original context is addressed to God’s people and I think we should consider this verse in light of the Church in our present society.

          Pride is not a good thing. I am not sure where or when we began to be taught that it was. Pride is deceptive, selfish, unattractive, phony, pompous, and very fragile. There are over one hundred verses in the Bible that deal with pride and it is always a negative attribute. Pride causes us to take our gaze off the savior and place it so intensely on ourselves that we become a god in our own eyes. Thinking ourselves wise, we become the most pathetic of fools. In pride we loose track of the very meaning for our existence and when our pride and self esteem are damaged we are at a loss for how to go on. May the Church never be lifted up above its prescribed dependence and may its people never forget that all they are is as a result of grace.

          Prosperity is another attribute that we have been taught to value that this passage warns of. When we have all that we need, mixed with pride, we again break the first commandment. We have ourselves as god before the Lord God. Having too much food, we do not pray to the source for our daily bread and become content with the illusion that we manufacture food. Have you ever noticed that religion of any kind is often stronger in agrarian culture? That is not because of lack of education or refinement; it is because there is a more direct understanding of dependence for good weather to grow crops. Industrial societies have lost sight of the source in all the technology and are often more secular. Be thankful for blessing but never take your comfort and provision for granted. Prosperity is often accompanied by idleness as it was with Sodom. With nothing demanded of us to do we find ways to gratify ourselves that are outside God’s glory. Again, the key here is self obsession. In boredom we need to always be finding more stimulation. How true this is in the 21st century! Technology has enabled so many necessary tasks of old to be done in seconds or minutes instead of hours or days. We have an abundance of time as a culture and what is done with it? Either it is wasted or it is channeled into more stressful circumstances than are needed. May the church be about the Father’s business and do what is commanded in its worship and organization not looking to innovate out of boredom or compete with unbelievers. Instead of boredom may we find people to engage with and help.

          The last phrase in the above verse states that Sodom and then Judah ignored the poor and needy. As a culture they forgot their own real poverty and need and thought themselves better than those who were not like them at the present moment. I fear the Church in America falls in to this far too easily as well. May we remember the Gospel of grace in every aspect. May we remember that as God’s people we are poor and needy and have nothing without Him. As we have received, so may we give. May our gaze be upward as well as outward. May be known as the most selfless, compassionate, secure, humble, and active people in our respective communities. May the Lord protect us and His true church from pride, prosperity, and idleness. May we live for our savior and not ourselves and may we live in his restful amazing grace.

In Christ,
Pastor Basile