Pastor's Devotional

  1. Encouragement

    But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

    Dear Congregation,
           I want to encourage you with the words and impact of the above verse. The disciples are in a boat in the middle of the Sea of Gallilee at night in the dark. The circumstances naturally lead to a disposition of trepidation. When The Lord Jesus comes walking on the water to meet them they are naturally even more disturbed and think even worse of their situation. But the Lord’s words are to be of good cheer, for He is with them and they have no reason to be afraid. He identifies Himself, He draws near, and all will be well.

          There is so much in life to cause us to be afraid. Life sometimes feels like a boat in the middle of a sea in the dark. We do not know what is around us very well and all seems so fragile that any moment we could be tossed overboard. For calm we distract ourselves, but all distractions come to an end. We take comfort in the familiar and hope it will not change. But the familiar always changes and often that unsettles us. We hope the future will be like the past, because the past is what we know. Yet the future never ceases to surprise us and shake us. We turn to our fellow shipmates for strength, community, and friendship. But ultimately we are all in the same boat and cannot solve one another’s problems. Then comes the Lord. He is not in the boat, He is not in the water, He is above it and has power over it. He tells us to be of good cheer. Not because the circumstances have changed. The sea is still wet and the night is still dark. Be of good cheer because He is here! He is with us! We have no need to be afraid for the Lord is powerful to save us and keep us.

              Through your daily struggles, think on this reality. Christ Jesus is with you. He has come, died for you, is risen, and has sent the comforter to be with you. He is ruling and reigning and all is in His hands. Though all else fall away and be lost, you still have Him! As a church may we know the good success of Joshua 1:8 through our meditating on, speaking, and obeying the Word of God. The Word, which tells us of Christ and to be of Good cheer no matter the temporary outward appearance of things. If we have His Word and His presence there is no need to fear though all the world be against us, for greater is the One who is with us than he that is in the world. Be encouraged Christian! You have eternal security, a lasting mission, a powerful comforting Lord, one who will never leave you or forsake you or His church!
    In Christ,
    Pastor Basile

  2. Real Peace

    My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. John 14:27

    Dear Congregation,
           A great study may be done on this verse in its entirety, but my devotional thoughts for you this week are quite simple. Christ has given us His peace, and His peace is nothing like the peace the world can give. It strikes me that the world’s peace is only an absence of something. There is peace when there is no war, noise, strife, worry, toil, etc. The best peace the world can provide is merely an absence of some negative element that may be registered by the senses. Not only is the world’s peace one dimensional this way, but it is always temporary. Anything that may cease may just as easily be able to start up again the next day. Your sleep may be peaceful, but your alarm in the morning ends it and your annoying New Jersey commute is only a few minutes away again. The world’s peace is hollow and temporary.
              Christ provides those who trust in Him with His own peace. We may understand that this same peace is one that passes all understanding as Philippians tells us. However, since it is a given peace from God it has an active nature. It is not merely an absence of something negative; it has the power to effect change. Think of Christ’s peace given to you as the same peace that calmed the raging storm on the Sea of Galilee.  The Lord Jesus actively did that. I suggest that he does that with all of us who are His. Peace, be still! Be still and know that He is God! I am thankful for the given peace that comes with my salvation. It certainly takes the worry and insecurity of my soul and eternal state away, but it also gives me an active assurance and mission for my life. We proclaim His Gospel of peace and we can also rest in His activity to bring it to effect. This is a wonderful peaceful truth. Additionally the peace that our savior gives actively calms the burdens and stresses of this earthly life. I do not have to work to create peace, Christ has given it!
              If this peace seems too far out of reach and does not seem present in your life right now, I suggest you pray for it and also consider how powerful and capable your Lord is to handle everything. As He becomes your greatest reality, the trials and tribulations diminish in stature and lose their teeth. He has given you an everlasting peace! You may not understand it here but it is real and it is active. Do not look for peace in a vacation or a good meal or a long nap or a medical cure. Look for peace in your Savior, His Word, His promises, and His action!
    In Christ,
    Pastor Basile

  3. Finding Life

    He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:39

    Dear Congregation,
          As is typical of these devotionals the verse above is familiar. Yet though familiar it is a verse in which we too often avoid the application and its reaches. First it is important to remember that the Lord is not talking about the physical body here The Lord is not telling his audience to kill themselves for His sake. Preservation of life is precious. He is speaking about the purpose, meaning, goals, actions, affections, and soul of life. The essence of a life summed up if you will. With that in mind consider the ramifications.
              He who finds His life will lose it. We live in a day where much is made of personal identity. Do not be deceived into thinking that this is a new movement or concept. Identity without God was presented in the garden, it existed at Babelwhen the tower was being constructed. To be Greek, Roman, French, English, American or anything else has always been an option. Likewise ability to identify with family, gender, trade, vocation, occupation, ethnicity, religion, politics, music style, movie fandom, school, or philosophy and more has always been available. The Lord Jesus boldly teaches that anyone who makes any of these things or anything else in creation the purpose and essence of their life will lose that life. None of these things are eternal. None of these things are alive. None of these things have living power. None of these things can atone for sin. None of these things can save a soul. Your life in people, places, things, and ideas will not only come to an end, but that life will be found without any real merit before a righteous God on the day of judgment. Even the Christian must be careful that she does not identify more with the pride of her gifts, service, and ministry than with her Lord Himself. If you have found your life in and are satisfied with something on earth, heed the warning of Christ Jesus.
              He who loses his life for My sake will find it. The person who dismisses all earthly identity to identify with Christ first and foremost will find all the things in creation and more, in eternity in abundance. Christ does not dismiss all the identities of the world, He redeems and fulfills them. They are nothing without Him they are everything in Him. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you! Make the Lord Jesus your way your truth and your life and you will be able to explore the deep riches of all creation’s varieties with safety, direction, and confidence. Give up temporary earthly identity and you will find light ant life in the one who designed all. In Christ all things become new because we have died to ourselves and have sought His glory. Do not worry about where you fit and what your future holds, give all of that into the hands of the savior and commit your ways to Him. His Word will guide you and direct you. You will know that your life cannot be lost or wasted because He owns it and none can pluck you from His hand. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, trust Him for all, Live your life for Him, seek Him daily, walk closely with Him and find life in who He is and what He provides. Everything else passes away, but He has promised He will never leave you or forsake you!
    In Christ,
    Pastor Basile
             

  4. Hold Fast

    But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. Revelation 2:25

    Dear Congregation,
          The visible church on earth has for many centuries been titled the Church Militant. The term carries with it a sense of action, a movement for a cause, a passion for something that must be done. This is a helpful thought for us as the Scripture often puts the Christian life in militaristic terms. We are told to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ, to fight the good fight of faith, and to make sure we have our spiritual armor on. Our faith is one that requires us to go on the offensive. We all value evangelism and mission. We all should want to be part of that work and should daily seek out how we as members of the Body of Christ can participate in that calling. And yet, it is worthy to remember that unless what we are fighting for is kept true and pure, there is no point to offensive mission at all.
              The above verse is spoken by our Lord to His church in Thyatira. It is a congregation that has love, service, faith, and patience, but has been led astray by false teaching. God’s message has been twisted. Because of this the faithful among them are burdened and have a fight on their hands that seems too much to handle. To them the Lord says hold fast what you have. How encouraging these words still are to a church in our own century. It is easy for a faithful Christian to despair at the work that must be done. The unbelief, apathy, cruelty, ignorance, and falsehood often seem more than any congregation can handle. Yet, when truth and righteousness are held up, kindled, and cherished, this may have an effect on the strength of a church greater than all the offensive campaigns that can be devised. In holding fast we are exercising faith and reliance on our great commander. In holding fast we are displaying an obedience to the One who uses us in His plans of action. In holding fast we are recognizing the peace that passes all understanding keeping our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Holding fast does not negate evangelism or mission, in fact it deepens its quality.
              If you feel overwhelmed by the problems in the news, distresses in your family, uncertainty with your health, or lack of faith amongst your loved ones, hold fast. The verse above also reminds us that He is coming and the mission He has given us will be completed. The verse twenty six tells the church that the faithful will have power over the nations. Your allegiance to Christ is right. Your actions for His kingdom are not in vain. Your zeal for orthodoxy brings great reward. Occupy till He comes. Redeem the time, for the days are evil. Hold fast in your love for Christ, His Gospel, His church, His coming. He eternally holds fast for us. He has won and will see you through in that victory.
    Hold Fast In Christ,
    Pastor Basile


  5. His Divine Power

    Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. II Peter 1:2-3

    Dear Congregation,
           These words of the apostle are precious and encouraging. You can never go wrong praying for, relying upon, meditating on, humbling your self with, studying, seeking, or remembering the divine power of God. In fact we are told that all things that pertain unto life and godliness are given to us by divine power. Superheroes, fictional characters with magic powers like Harry Potter, Gandalf, and the Jedi, are all very popular in our culture. The non Christian craves a godlike power of some sort because the non Christian is empty and alone. She goes through the day with all of life’s problems being her sole responsibility to fix and deal with. She imagines a better world where a spell or the movement of her hands can fix things and make things better. The fantasy is of coarse only that. However, you, Christian have been gifted by the divine power of God almighty. Consider your gifts.
              All things that pertain to life and godliness. You have eternal life because of the divine power of God; you will never die, will never know judgment or hell, and can never be harmed by failure. God gave you that. In addition, you have been equipped to live a life outside of yourself and your needs, to keep your affections on Christ and His kingdom. Every scrap of Christ like virtue and character that you display and grow into is also gifted to you by His hand so that you can have a life of Biblical success and peace. How marvelous that we do not have to be powerful because our Lord’s power is all sufficient.
              Perhaps this just seems too optimistic, too unrealistic? You believe, but you are not harnessing this divine power enough to delight in the above paragraph. Take note that the passage uses the word knowledge twice. The divine power is harnessed by our knowledge of God. That is, both our mental understanding and our relational bond. We will not appreciate the divine power unless we know the One who gives it. Knowing God is all important! Reformed Presbyterians value preaching, instruction, theology, and proper attention to detail because God’s Word tells us to do so. Without a study of Him there can be no relational passion. How can you truly delight in someone you only casually know? We need to be reading, studying, and meditating on the Word as the Psalmist commends in 1:1-2. Without that knowledge, the divine power that gives us everything else will appear weak and anemic. Take time to learn, read, talk, study, apply, and then His power will give you the love and passion to rejoice, share, serve, love, and delight in one another as you delight in Him. Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. The power behind all the Universe is intimately acquainted with you and your struggles. Learn of Him, walk with Him, and you will know His rest, peace, and power.
    In Christ,
    Pastor Basile