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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Persevere

“…for you have a little strength, have kept My Word, and have not denied my Name.” Revelation 3:8 (b)

Dear Congregation,
      Just this morning my attention was brought once again to the seven churches of the Book of the Revelation. These churches often serve as a warning to us as believers and a guide to us as a church. Some background study is required to grasp the entirety of what is being said by the Lord to these churches but it is clear that of the seven only two are commended. Both of those commended churches are small, poor, and oppressed. Smyrna was a heavily persecuted church and it was commended for being rich in its faith and truth. Philadelphia was also persecuted. It faced temptation on every side and yet it is commended for the three things you see above.

            Philadelphia had a little strength. Not much money, not too many people, not many things of which to boast in this world. When one does not have much strength it is natural to covet it and pursue it. No one really wants to be left behind or find themselves an outsider. Yet both the Scripture and history teach that this is exactly where Philadelphia found itself. They had nothing to attract Greco-Roman culture in themselves; yet their little strength is what kept them great in Christ as II Corinthians 12 also reminds us. Though Grace Community Church sometimes seems to have little strength, lets not allow that to dampen us for that is not something God condemns or avoids.

            Philadelphia kept God’s Word. It was preached, it was taught, it was sung, it was memorized, it was discussed, it was loved, and it was obeyed. Say what you will about Philadelphia, it may not have been an Ephesus or a Laodicea in appearance, but it centered completely on the Word of God. That is what the church is there for. For social networking, for fun and games, for charity work, you may want to look elsewhere, but for learning God’s Word, applying it to your life and growing in sanctification and holiness, Philadelphia was your church. Can this be said about Grace Community Church? May it be said all the more!

            Philadelphia did not deny the name of Christ. When the world worships itself and all that is in it, the true church proclaims Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no other name, there is no other way. This will not be a welcome message nor will it be appreciated, but it is the message. There was no compromise in Philadelphia, no sweetening, no soft peddling. The Gospel was its banner and its purpose. They persevered.  Is salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone the central point of Grace Community Church? May it increase and continue.

            There is great joy and excitement in a Church where God is big and people are small. I see that at Grace and I believe we need to continue to look to God’s Word for direction and encouragement with our ministry. If Philadelphia was commended for these three things lets continue to pursue them ourselves. That we may please God and not people.

In Christ,
Pastor Basile


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Know the Scriptures

Dear Congregation,
      I want to apologize for not writing in this fashion the last couple of months. When I write the devotionals I want to write them with the conviction that they need to be done. I did not feel that conviction for many weeks. I will endeavor to be more faithful in keeping them up, but they may not be every week as they were. Thank you for your patience with me.

~Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Matthew 22:29

            The context of this verse is the Lord’s Jesus’ answer to the wiles of the Sadducees. You remember that the Sadducees denied the authority of Scripture except for the five books of Moses. Likewise they denied a future resurrection. They were the theological liberals of Jesus’ context, the rationalists if you will. In mockery they ask about a hypothetical scenario that would make the resurrection seem all the more ridiculous. However, Jesus’ first responsive statement above exposes their incorrect presupposition. They do not even know what they are talking about! The Master then goes on to correct their error. How many intellectual challenges to Christianity may be answered with the same statement above? So many make claims or dismiss God out of ignorance of who He truly is and what He has actually done and said. We should remember this when dealing with people on an apologetic level. What does the Bible actually say, and are we dealing with an Almighty God in the argument? I believe half if not more of the lame oppositions to the faith may be settled with the schooling of the statement above.

            In addition, the Church may also benefit from such a statement. The church is always tempted to stray to the right hand or the left. Many times it is because of what she sees around her as apparent success. May worship always be regulated by a call back to the Scriptures and the power of God. May theology, leadership, teaching, evangelism, discipleship, all fall under the authority of both. It is so easy to forget the Scriptures and God’s power. So easy to feel the weight to perform and put our own stamp of effort on ministry. In doing so, we do as the Sadducees did and rationalize God’s instruction to meet our own finite comfort zone. May it never be. May we know our Bibles and God’s power.

            The individual is tempted in the same manner. How many times is faith tested because we do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? Illness may cause us to think that God has abandoned us or is not aware of what we are going through. What does your Bible say about illness? Loneliness may cause us to look for companionship outside the family of God out of desperation? What does your Bible say about that? Is God powerless? Peer pressure may cause us to pursue a lifestyle or a gain that God does not condone. What say the Scriptures? Our own self glorification may cause us to sleep in or do something entertaining rather than Worship the Lord with His people and keep the Sabbath day holy. What does your Bible say? The words of our Lord in rebuke of the Sadducees are a sobering call to us as well. May our study of God’s word never cease and may we rest in the power of God through every temptation and challenge!

In Christ,

Pastor Basile 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Gospel Better Than Life



“Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.” Psalm 63:3

Dear Congregation,
       It is very difficult for anyone to measure the value something compared to life itself. Many who speak on such matters do so without serious thought or without ever having faced the challenge. Realistically, a parent may value their child’s life above their own, a soldier may give his life to save his comrades, yet even there the choice is not without inconceivable weight. Even still it is not a constant value for every parent or soldier. We value self and life so much that for the vast majority of people nothing can take precedence. And yet, the Scripture repeatedly challenges our selfishness and directs us to that which is definitively of more value than our lives; the love of God.

            The Lord Jesus tells us to give up our lives for Him, to die to our self, to give up parents and children for His sake. He does not say this to teach that life is worthless or meaningless, on the contrary, he says it to show the value of the everlasting life that comes through Him. If you are clinging to something that is temporary, even your own existence, then you miss the power and gift of the Gospel. The Psalmist, quoted above, says that God’s lovingkindness is better than life itself. If anything is worth more than life its God’s love. If anything provides purpose, understanding, knowledge, and fulfillment, its God’s love. How can we pursue our own glory when we know that it will never last? How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? The beauty of God’s love is that it is better than life because it is eternal life.

            Where is God’s love ever made more clear than on the cross? The Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ gave up His life and suffered the curse of sin, death, and hell in your place because of His lovingkindness. That lovingkindess on his part was of more value than His own life. When the Christian dies to self, is born again, and gives up all to follow Christ, he or she gains all the riches of heaven and eternity. Certainly of more value than 100 years on earth. The Psalmist declares that he will praise the Lord for this love, for the Gospel. May we be of that mind as well. May we say with Job, that we will trust in Him even if he slays us, because there is no other. Eternal life is more precious than anything. Christ has given us that and all that comes with it because of His lovingkindness. May we always remember that this is better and more precious than earthly life.

In Christ,

Pastor Basile