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As we head into the weekend, let us anticipate with joy our Sunday morning worship service! I pray that the Lord will pour out grace into our hearts and minds so that we see His glory and the great privilege it is to meet for His honor, to sing praises to Him, and offer our corporate prayers and worship as His people, and to hear from Him through the preaching of His Word.
 
So, as we think about this coming Lord's Day, I want to remind us that we examine our hearts in preparation; that we evaluate our thoughts, words, and deeds according to the reality of the grace of the gospel that is to produce holiness in us. What we think, say, and do matters just as much on Friday night (or any other time) as it does on Sunday morning at 10:30 am! Let us demonstrate our love for our Lord Jesus through knowing and obeying His Word (John 14:15, 21, 23)!
 
As we have been commanded to love the Lord with our minds ( see Luke 10:27 for one example), it is good that we reflect on the objective Truth of the Word of God in order to do this. This coming Lord's Day, I plan to preach from Romans 9:1-8. Romans chapters 9 - 11 are often read as a unit, and rightfully so. So, in preparation, I encourage you to read these chapters before the Lord's Day if you can. Read them regularly as we work through them in our Sunday morning services. 
 
The following is meant to help you prepare for all of Rom 9 - 11, not just for this coming Sunday! But as we go through this glorious passage over the next few weeks (Lord willing), you can use what follows to help with some background for thinking about the significance of Israel's current unbelief, both during Paul's days and now.
 
The issue that Paul brings up is Israel's unbelief: the rejection of Jesus the Messiah facilitated through the unbelief of their religious (and civil) leadership. The logic of bringing up this topic is easy to follow: how can any follower of Jesus be certain of future glory if the ancient people of God have managed to remove themselves from salvation available only through faith in Christ? Have the promises of God failed? Can the same thing happen to followers of Jesus?
 
Paul answers these questions with the assertion of the sovereignty of God. He basically declares that God's promises have not failed (Rom 9:6), that God has not cast off His people (Rom 11:1), that God is and always has been working everything according to His own purpose and plan (Rom 9:14-18; basically all of Rom 9 - 11 affirms this!).
 
I invite you to consider several passages from the Old Testament in which God makes promises to claims about Israel. My heart is thrilled to see the correspondence of God's prophetic Word to the outworking of history:
 
Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-21; 17:1-21; 22:15-19;
 
Deuteronomy 28; 30:1-10
 
Jeremiah 31:31-40
 
Ezekiel 36:16-36
 
Hosea 3:4-5
 
Hebrews 8:1-13
 
Note particularly how Paul cites Hosea 1:10 and 2:23 in Rom 9:25-26 and Isaiah 10:22-23 in Rom 9:28. If you have a reference  or study Bible, you can look up all of the OT citations to which Paul appeals in Rom 9 - 11. I recommend doing this as we study this passage.
 
It is obvious that Paul is broken-hearted over the unbelief of Israel, and his missionary pattern of going first to the synagogue to preach the gospel there on his arrival in a new place demonstrates his commitment to evangelizing his countrymen according to the flesh. Paul loved his fellow Jews, even in their unbelief. But he took heart that their current state of unbelief was according to God's plan and that eventually, "all Israel will be saved" (Rom 11:26). Surely this is an example for us, in that we should have a desire that our fellow countrymen according to the flesh would be saved, and also that we should see how the salvation of the Jews will be a blessing to the Gentiles (Rom 11:11-15).
 
One other theme that is repeated and, I believe, is crucial to understanding the relationship of ethnic Israel and the Church is the pattern of "not only, but also." I plan for us to read Isaiah 49:5-6 this coming Lord's Day. This pattern is clear in Is 49:6: not only "the tribes of Jacob" and "the preserved of Israel," but also "the nations" are to be recipients of God's salvation. Praise the Lord! This is reflected in the book of Romans in Paul's stated theme of the letter with the phrase "to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Rom 1:16). The same phrase is used in explaining punishment for the evil ones and salvation for those who do good (who are born again and justified) -- "the Jew first and also the Greek" (Rom 2:9, 10). This theme is seen in the Lord Jesus sending of the twelve to the house of Israel and not the Gentiles (Matt 10:5-6) and later commissioning the discipling of the nations (Matt 28:19-20). This is reflected in Paul's declaration of one new man in Christ from the Jews and Gentiles as it is the Gentiles who were far off strangers who needed to be brought near (Eph 2:11-22).
 
Finally, it is needful to note  that Romans 9 - 11 involves doctrine that has been the subject of controversy and contention. Two issues especially have been involved: the sovereignty of God in salvation, and the place of ethnic Israel in God's prophetic plan.
 
Personally, I experienced a huge crisis in my spiritual life over the first of those issues. For the first 10 years or more of my life after professing faith in Christ, I did not believe in "the doctrines of grace." I believed that God is sovereign, but that it is ultimately up to man whether or not he will agree for God to save him. I see now how inconsistent such a view was! I fought for weeks if not months when I first was confronted with the truth of Romans 9 - 11 concerning God's sovereign grace in salvation. Ultimately, I yielded to Scripture, because I did indeed have more loyalty to the Word of God than to my own preferences (and that, of course, is due to the grace of God--not my decision!). So, as the Lord grants me strength, I hope to make the truth of God's sovereignty clear in my preaching of Romans 9 - 11. Still, I hope to speak the truth in love! And as I was shown patience by the Lord and others, I want to show patience. 
 
The second issue, the place of ethnic Israel in God's plan, has not previously been much of a source of controversy in my life. Most of the Christians with whom I interacted held the basic view that God was not finished with Israel and that they would one day come to the Messiah, Jesus. I rejoice that we seem to have very little controversy among us over the doctrines of grace. Yet, it is clear to me that we have a spectrum of beliefs among us concerning the place of Israel in God's future plan, at least in terms of how that future is worked out on God's calendar.
 
The DRBC Statement of Faith does not include a specific description of the doctrine of the end times (eschatology). So, it is not required that everyone agree with me in order to be a member, of course!. However, that doesn't mean that I don't have a position on the topic. I certainly do. I believe in a literal 1,000 year earthly reign of the Lord Jesus Christ on the earth. I believe that ethnic Israel will one day come as a people to faith in Jesus the Messiah as God applies grace through the New Covenant to them. I have no desire to be loyal to a theological "camp" or position, but I have identified lots within Historic Premillennialism and Progressive Dispenationalism that I affirm. 
 
I believe that God sent me to plant DRBC here in St. George. I feel the weight of responsibility for preaching and teaching in such a formal setting as our church (James 3:1). I can do nothing but preach what I believe is true. I am aware that many preachers and many Christians who have produced much fruit in the kingdom do not share my view. I am aware that I am not infallible. So, I want to have patience with anyone who does not agree with me. At the same time, I ask that you pray for me to preach the Word! And to preach it with conviction. To the glory of God, this is what I have set my heart and my mind to do!
 
Let us love one another! Let us pray for one another! And let us join with the Apostle John in the last recorded prayer in Scripture: "Come, Lord Jesus!"

 

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It was a blessing to meet together for worship and to hear the Lord's Word on the topic of motherhood, womanhood, marriage, and family. We must remember that, as the Lord's purchased people, our responsibility is not to find a way to fit with the ever-changing ideas of the fallen culture around us, but simply to hear what God has said in His Word and to demonstrate our love for Him through our obedience, no matter the consequences! And we need to be always ready to help and support one another as this becomes more and more difficult. Our church must truly be a family. Whatever challenges we face, let us face them together. Let us encourage each other to love the Lord in obedience to His Word and in caring for His people.
 
This coming Lord's Day we have a membership class scheduled for 2 pm. We plan to cover the DRBC Constitution concerning how we make decisions together, and also to review the Statement of Faith to make sure everyone knows what we believe. Everyone who is interested in membership at DRBC is encouraged to attend.
 
Sword School this coming Lord's Day will be questions 40 - 43. Remember the Scripture references that go with each question/answer. Sword Schoolers are encouraged to memorize at least one of the verses that go along with the questions and answers. You can see the catechism here.
 
I encourage you to continue to be in prayer for our congregation as we seek the Lord's will together concerning David Bernstein's potential service to our congregation as an Elder. May the Lord guide us to His will for His glory and for the blessing of His people! May the Lord call men according to His purposes to serve His people. Remember that the date for the congregational vote on this matter (by secret ballot, though I am planning to sign my ballot) is Sunday, May 31 during the service.
 
We also have a business meeting scheduled for June 7 for a budget report, the affirmation of messengers to the SBC meeting in Columbus, OH, and the consideration of those interested in becoming members.
 
I praise the Lord for the opportunity to serve as Pastor-Teacher at DRBC! Thank you for your fellowship in the gospel! May the Lord give us boldness to make the gospel clear!
 
Soli Deo Gloria!
Here are key points from 1 Timothy 2:8-15 . . . 
 
1. Men should lift up holy hands in prayer (v 8). Holiness and unity should characterize our prayer.
2. Male headship at home and in the church; means that ladies are to be submissive (v 9-15)
--Priority of good works over outward appearance for the ladies (v 9-10); see Titus 2:3-5. Major spiritual warfare.
--Position of submission (v 11-14); This is a role, not a value assessment or assignment. Paul cites creation and Eve's role in the Fall to support his argument. See 1 Cor 11:3--if Christ submits to God, certainly it is appropriate that men and women also be submissive (husbands to Christ, wives to husbands).
--Value of womanhood exemplified (but not exhausted) in motherhood (v 15); motherhood is obviously crucial for the continuation of humanity! In 1 Cor 7:8, Paul indicates that it is a good thing for a widow or unmarried person to remain unattached in order to give undivided attention to serving the Lord. However, marriage is instituted by God and according to Gen 2:18 and Gen 2:24 (cited by the Lord Jesus in Matt 19:4-5; Mark 10:6-9), marriage is by definition a union of a male and a female. This cannot be redefined--it is inherent. We must determine that we will yield to God's revealed purposes for gender roles rather than to defy God based on sinful passion or to compromise for perceived safety. 
--Verse 15 connects the general redemption of womanhood through childbirth to the specific redemption that involves faith, love (agape), holiness (sanctification) with self-control. It is crucial that we keep every moral issue connected to sinful man's need for the gospel in order to be saved.
 
Application Questions
1. When did you last pray?
2. Was your posture and attitude characterized by holiness and unity with other believers?
3. Are you offended by the idea of male headship at home and in the church?
4. Eve was created to be a helper/companion suitable for Adam. What does this imply about heterosexual relationships in comparison with homosexual relationships? Can a homosexual relationship provide what God intended for Adam when He created Eve?
5. Can people get to heaven by being good people who support "traditional marriage," or must they trust Christ for salvation?
6. Was homosexuality an issue in Paul's lifetime? After Christ claimed him on the Damascus Road, how did Paul spend his remaining years? What are the implications for our priorities as a church?
7. Are you willing to suffer persecution because of allegiance to God and His Word? If so, who should get the ultimate credit for that?
 
Everyone is invited to participate in small groups at DRBC, where discussion over these and other gospel issues occur!
 
Soli Deo Gloria!

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What a blessing to be encouraged by the Word of God as we go through Paul's Epistle to the Romans together! No condemnation in Christ! No separation from the love of God in Christ! Our path to future glory is a path of suffering in this sin-fallen world, but the suffering here is not worth comparing to the glory to come! Soli Deo Gloria!
 
I look forward to moving ahead in Romans to see how Paul answers the question, "What about unbelieving Israel?" The answer is utterly encouraging, as Paul demonstrates that God is sovereign over belief and unbelief--an amazing, God-centered, Christ-exalting Truth, that grants wonderul assurance to believers! 
 
But first, this coming Sunday is Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day! It is a great opportunity to look at what God says about motherhood and the family. Our culture is arrogantly attempting to redefine marriage, an institution created directly by God, and inherently foundational to society. Sinners may try to live as if it possible to redefine something that God has defined, but in reality this is impossible. Let the church of God be unwavering in our commitment to know God's will as revealed in His Word, and to live it out, no matter the cost. This is true for marriage, motherhood, manhood, womanhood, the family, and everything else! Good passages to reflect on as we move into the weekend would include Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25; Exodus 20:12; Proverbs 31:10-31; Matthew 19:1-15; Ephesians 5:22-6:4; and 1 Peter 3:1-7. Lord willing, I plan to preach from 1 Timothy 2:9-15, on the inherent role/value of motherhood within the family.
 
I was recently reminded in conversation of a general truth regarding preparation for worship, which is stated in Ecclesiastes 5:1-2:
 
[1] Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. [2]  Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
 
This is wonderful and appropriate instruction as we redeemed creatures assemble to worship our Mighty Creator, Who is Holy, Holy, Holy! Let us assemble with our hearts ready and reverent to celebrate Who our God is, and Who we are before Him because of His grace!
 
For those interested in becoming members, we are holding another membership class on Sunday, May 17, 2:00 - 3:30. We will cover the DRBC Constitution and review the highlights of the SOF. I have tried to email everyone who needs one an attachment with this document. Let me know if you need a copy of it. It is best if everyone prints and brings a copy of the DRBC Constitution to that meeting.
 
Also, we plan to have a business meeting on Sunday, June 7, which would include affirmation of new members, budget report, and election of messengers to the SBC meeting on June 16-17 in Columbus, OH. Stay tuned for the time of that meeting.
 
If you haven't already done so, please make sure Michael Klos has your contact info for our DRBC Directory
 
Let's be in prayer for our congregation as we continue in the process of adding an elder to help lead DRBC. Pray for David and Aurora Bernstein, particularly David as he has the responsibility of examining his own heart and life in this matter. And pray for me as I have the responsibility of leading our church to affirm him in leadership, if he is indeed called and qualified. Remember, our vote on May 31 is not a general election, determining how many people think they would like David to serve our church in this way. What we are doing is answering the question, "Is this man biblically qualified and demonstrating the call of God on his life to this service?"
 
Forgive me for not getting this info out earlier this week, but our Sword School questions this week are scheduled to be questions 37-39. I praise the Lord for the worship and instruction going on in homes in our congregation!
 
I look forward to our worship together on this coming Lord's Day!
 
Soli Deo Gloria!

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I hope you are rejoicing in the certainty of your sanctification--that your future is that you will be finally conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus, God the Son! The truth found in Romans 8:28-30 provides encouragement that is fundamental for believers! No matter what is happening in this fallen world, we know that God is sovereign! He is in control! He will accomplish all of purpose (Isaiah 49:10)! And that includes that all of His people be conformed to the image of His Son for eternity in future glory!
 
Yet, we still find ourselves living in this sin-fallen world. It is full of God-haters. It is full of sinners in rebellion against their Creator just like all of us would be if not for the saving grace of God. This is exemplified in our society as our Supreme Court has heard arguments today regarding the constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples. If the Supreme Court decides against the definition of marriage from the beginning of human history, and rules that the US Constitution bestows the right to marry on same-sex couples, then the followers of Christ will find ourselves in a position that we are already familiar with: the law of the land is in direct conflict with the Word of God--the Bible. This is already the case regarding abortion. A redefinition of marriage regarding constitutional rights will make our convictions more distinct from what is becoming a societal norm.
 
We are gathering tonight at 7pm at the church building to pray over this issue. We need to pray for our leaders, particularly the Justices of the Supreme Court, that God would grant wisdom and mercy so that they don't lead us into institutionalized wickedness with all of the negative consequences--both temporal and eternal--that is entailed. But we also need to praise God for the opportunity to speak Truth against an increasingly distinct cultural backdrop. No matter what happens in this Supreme Court decision, God is still God, we are still His people, and the Great Commandment and the Great Commission are still intact! The history of Christianity is a history of our brothers and sisters obeying the Lord, boldly making the gospel clear among hostile unbelievers. Let us be true to our calling regardless of how we are received in our culture! And I must join the Apostle John's prayer, "Come quickly, Lord!"
 
I want to say "thank you" once again to Julie and Jimmy D'Anella and all of you who worked at the Relay for Life event this past weekend. It was good exposure for our church, and I got to share a gospel witness with one young man. May the Lord take our labor and use it for His glory!
 
Let's remember to pray for Collin Day as he prepares for his move to St. George to serve as a pastoral ministry/church planting intern for the churches of the CCBA. He and his fiancee, Kallie Francis, are to be married in June, go on their honeymoon, and then join us here in St. George! May the Lord use this time in their lives for His glory and for their blessing! Also, pray for Kallie as she will be in town next week for an interview for a nursing residency at Dixie Regional. May the Lord grant her favor during this interview, and may His will be done.
 
This Saturday, May 2 at 2 pm there will be a baby shower at the DRBC building for Whitley and Zack Wilson, as we await Matthew's arrival! May the Lord bless this family and use them for His glory!
 
Remember that we are trying to get our church directory finished up. See Michael Klos at our Sunday meeting to make sure your info is in the directory, and also to have your picture taken.
 
Our offering on April 26 was $1220.04, making our undesignated receipts for April $7650.65. We need $7578.74 monthly ($1748.94 weekly) to meet our 2015 budget. Praise the Lord!
 
Sword School this week will be questions 34-36. Find those questions here. Each of the questions is followed with Scripture references. Let's memorize one of those verses so that we are hiding His Word in our hearts!
 
Soli Deo Gloria!