Pastor's Devotional

  1. 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 Statesor 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 21stcentury! 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 Americafalls 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

  2. 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. Smyrnawas a heavily persecuted church and it was commended for being rich in its faith and truth. Philadelphiawas 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 Philadelphiafound 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 Churchsometimes 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 Ephesusor a Laodiceain 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


  3. 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 
  4. 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
  5. For Such A Time As THis
    4/12/17

     For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

    Dear Congregation,

                I will admit that when I come to the Book of Esther in my regular Bible reading, I am always tempted to skim through it really fast or perhaps even skip portions of it. Not because it is boring or because it is irrelevant, but because it is a story that I remember well. Being an account in history and not one that ever mentions the name of God, I foolishly deceive myself into disinterest.

                However, this week I took my time with it and absorbed it in a way I have not done for some years. I was struck once again with the truth of God’s sovereignty over all events and actions for His own glory. God is never mentioned as I have already stated, but everything happens at just the right time. Vashti refuses the king at just the right time. Mordecai aids the king at just the right time. Mordecai’s reward is overlooked by the king until just the right time. The king cannot sleep at just the right time. Haman is discovered at just the right time. Esther acts at just the right time. There is no coincidence here. This account does not have to mention God for him to be seen. Secular history does not have to mention God for his hand to be seen and His actions noted. The non believer even recognizes the eerie way that events very often come together for good or evil. In suppression of the truth, a non believer may make up something like karma, or luck, or the stars, or the universe. But Esther shows that all through History God’s covenant is unbreakable and His plan for all history will not be thwarted by mere humanity. If Esther did not fulfill God’s will, deliverance would come from someplace else. God wins.

                As we head into Resurrection Sunday, lets remember all the events that led up to that point. It started in the Garden of Eden and was foretold through millennia until the Lord Jesus was born at just the right time and died and rose again at just the right time. You have been saved at just the right time, live in just the right time in history for God to use you best. May we continue to live with assurance that God will move history to bring all His future promises to fulfillment. Christ in you for such a time as this and your salvation for such a time as this.
    In Christ,
    Pastor Basile