Wednesday, November 7, 2018

He Does What He Will

All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, “What have You done?” Daniel 4:35

Dear Congregation,
      These words were spoken by King Nebuchadnezzar after he been restored to sanity by the Lord and recognized that though He was the most powerful ruler in his known world, he still was not anywhere close to being God. Personally, I love this verse as it is a reminder to me that there is no event or circumstance that is worth panic, frustration, or anxiety. When we do panic, we are forgetting the purpose and force behind our reality. When I was in younger elementary school I was part of a little league baseball team. I think I mentioned before how I contributed little or nothing to the sport. However, in fourth grade, an event burned into my memory and stayed with me through life circumstances. I remember our team in the middle of a game losing badly. I remember sitting in the dugout watching the coach react to a particularly bad strike out. He began to bang his head against the cinderblock wall of the dugout in frustration. Even as a kid I recognized that this was not worth that type of reaction. Our understanding of God helps us to see our negative reactions in much this same light even when they appear to us as important.

          It is necessary to remember that Christian rest is not fatalism. The outsider may interpret it as such as we rest in whatever God sends as right. But in fatalism, humanity is trapped in a string of events without purpose or hope. The Christian not only knows there is purpose behind events but also personality. That personality is what gives us the satisfaction with God’s will. He has told us who He is, what He has done for us and where we will be going. He has told us that he loves us. He has sent His Son to live like us and die for us so that we have become His Sons and daughters undeservingly. This can never be said about cold empty fate.

          So the question for our hearts is still why does life frustrate and scare us so much. The Gospel teaches us to love Christ more than wealth, parents, children, siblings, health, safety, food, or any earthly provision. When we come to a place of knowing God and loving God so well that none of these things matter, then we find our true rest because our only satisfaction is in Him. We can love our family without fearing their loss because we love God more. We don’t have to worry about loved one’s salvation even though we pray for it. He does what He plans on doing and no one can stop Him or even dare challenge Him by asking what He thinks He is doing. We bow the knee, we trust, we obey, and we find our satisfaction totally in Him and His instruction. We have peace even when we do not get the results we would like in life. Enjoy Him alone, Glorify Him alone, rest in what He ordains, for Hi alone is right.
In Christ,
Pastor Basile

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Call Upon The Lord

“And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.” Joel 2:32

Dear Congregation,
          This is one of those verses that comes at the end of an unsettling passage and offers its own clarity and a respite. In Joel chapter two we read about the great and terrible day of the Lord. The description of that day is one we consider with some trepidation. The Scriptures make it clear that the enemies of God and those who have refused to believe in Him will not fare well. While we intellectually recognize they get what they have earned, it still does not comfort us to hear it. So the above verse is one that soothes and redirects our attention to where it needs to be. The day may be terrible but the Lord will save those who call upon Him and trust in Him.

          It always amazes me when I read through the Old Testament and particularly the prophets, to see that the attitudes of their day parallel our own society. When times are good and the harvest is plentiful, God’s commands are forgotten and new religion is explored. Amazingly, when the times are bad and people are suffering, God is cursed and still disbelieved. Humanity has the same pattern through the millennia. Yet, we can be thankful that the Lord God also has consistency through the ages. The remnant in any century that believes in and calls upon the Lord will be saved! His mercy is everlasting.

          As a twenty first century church we are naturally unsettled when we encounter so much unbelief. We want to see people come to faith and yet so much seems to act as a barrier to that. Our struggles are no different than what the true remnant church has dealt with in biblical times or in all of history. When the Holy Spirit convicts a person, he or she recognizes they are without hope and calls upon the name of the Lord. If that person has hope in something material they will not call upon the Lord. We can thank God that we see our brokenness and that He alone can fix it. We pray for revival, perhaps we should also pray for desperation. Pray for people to know the need of God. In the great and terrible Day of the Lord He will be the needed lifeline. Calling upon him will be so soothing and overwhelmingly satisfying. May it be so now! Praise Him that He has made belief in the Gospel so simple, that it has not changed and we can call upon Him any time any where and know His salvation, His presence, and His peace.
In Christ,
Pastor Basile

Thursday, October 4, 2018

God Sees and Works

Then He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’ ” Ezekiel 8:12

Dear Congregation,
     This passage gives us another glimpse into the actions and attitude of backslidden Israel in the days near the captivity and exile. Ezekiel is shown abominable acts committed by leaders on temple property. The verse highlights that they ceased to fear the Lord and feared only the criticism or judgment of other people. Not only that, but they created their own new theology concerning God. Since God was largely speaking through a minority of prophets at this point in history they could dismiss God as having abandoned the land or earth. God did not see them because they had declared it so.
          First lets remember that we do not get to dictate or decide what God can and cannot do. We also cannot make assumptions about God based on our own experiences. All of our understanding of the Lord must come from His revealed Word. Therefore God always sees all things, God is always with His true people despite appearances, and God will always have final justice and victory no matter how it may appear to the contrary. I have often noted in Sunday sermons how people do not change through history, and their actions are cyclical. We can say much of our own culture, indeed, even of “Christians” today to match the above verse. People as a whole can recognize evil generally yet they still practice it because in secret there is the pretense of privacy. Society has dismissed God from the largest public forums because as they judge it, He has abandoned the Earth or never existed. Therefore we have become the law makers and the law breakers. What we know from Ezekiel’s prophecy as a whole is that these elders were terribly mistaken. So the modern idolaters and leaders who dismiss God’s word are as well.
          We as the Bible believing church in the 21st century can take warning from this passage and also be encouraged by it. God has not forsaken the earth or His church and His Word is still powerful and effective despite what our news and entertainment sources would like us to believe. When society walks away from the path of Christ we know that God is neither ignorant of nor powerless to deal with its actions. We can find our strength and solace in the firm unchanging truth of the Gospel and we can know that He is God and does rule and will rule. Justice will be done, the saints will be vindicated, the Church will be triumphant, and all will be put right because of the real, objective, revealed Lord Jesus Christ! Let us call out sin for what it is and not cover it up. Let us proclaim the Gospel as the only solution, and be about the Father’s business till He come.
In Christ,
Pastor Basile

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