How to Prepare for Sunday Worship June 23rd

On Fridays we’re posting a guide for how to prepare for the upcoming Sunday service. It gives you a chance to read the Bible passage ahead of time, see the song list, and get your mind and heart ready. You can see some of the rationale here.

Shay Roush will preach this Sunday from James 5:13–20, “Do You Pray?” James writes, 13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

These are some challenging, and let’s admit it, strange, words for us about prayer. Our first instinct when we get sick is to call the doctor, not the elders. Maybe even harder, though, is that underneath it, we struggle to believe that prayer makes a difference. Elijah doesn’t seem like a relevant example but rather someone remote or even a fairy tale. This is a great passage, therefore, to search our hearts for what we believe about God and how he works, and an appropriate capstone to our series in James.

As a way of opening us up to the power of prayer, and how to apply James 5, Cheryl Cozette, a member at The Crossing, has agreed to share her story of a health crisis a few years ago:

In late November 2010 the doctor detected, and an ultrasound confirmed, a growth on one of my ovaries. As a precaution, they recommended laparoscopic surgery to remove the growth and both ovaries. A routine surgery, it was scheduled for December 13, 2010. No one seemed concerned about the growth, and the doctor told me, “Nobody in this office thinks you have cancer.” So the surgery was seen as merely a precaution. 

On Sunday, December 12, on the way to church, my husband, Steve, asked me if I had considered having the elders of the church anoint and pray for me as commanded in James 5. I hadn’t—primarily because the surgery was ‘routine,’ and I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. But, as we drove to church, I felt that I should follow both Steve’s lead and the words of the Scripture, and ask the elders to anoint and pray for me.  

Steve made arrangements for us to meet the elders between services in the old prayer room adjacent to the auditorium. As the men prayed, I felt at peace as they prayed for guidance for the doctors, peace for my spirit, healing for my body, and for God’s sovereign will to be done. Surgery the next day went well, the tumor was small, but the pathology report from the surgery was inconclusive, so a more definitive report would be forthcoming. 

On Friday I received word that the tumor was malignant and was one of the most aggressive forms of cancer that exists. This tumor, though virulent, was very small and encapsulated. That fact was a miracle—the first of many I would see during the next 7 months. The recommended treatment was another surgery as soon as I healed from the initial one – and this one major—followed by 6 rounds of chemotherapy. We were in shock. As I processed the news, the words of the prayers of the elders would periodically come to my mind. Additionally, I had just completed a Women’s Bible Study on the Book of Joshua, and words from that study ran through my mind over and over – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” I was fearful and nervous about the unknown, but I was also peaceful and SO thankful that I had asked the elders to pray for me. I knew that my situation and my life were in God’s hands. I had tangibly demonstrated that by following His command, and now I could rest in His sovereignty. I knew He would heal me. I didn’t know if it would be a miraculous healing, healing via medicine and treatment, or even the ultimate healing of receiving a new, fully-restored body through death.  

God was with me through a very difficult surgery and 18 weeks of chemotherapy. He chose to heal me through medical treatment. Throughout each step of the healing process, through complications and unexpected difficulties, I felt God’s peace and grace—for the day and usually not a day early! The recent reminders in this sermon series regarding our lives not being our own have resonated with me as I recall God orchestrating the healing of “his body” that He has given to me. I am also cognizant, in a poignant way, of the fact that my life is indeed “a mist”. I am grateful that God chose to heal me and I cherish each day as His gift to me. I realize that He “. . . works all things according to the counsel of his will so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” This experience distilled the essence of life for me—to be to the praise of his glory.  

Our song list for this Sunday (with links to lyrics and music)

Divine Invitation [lyrics; listen] – Eric Owyoung and Steve Hindalong

In Christ Alone [lyrics; listen] – Stuart Townend and Keith Getty

New song: The Trees Will Clap (based on Isaiah 55) [lyrics and listen] – Andrew Camp, Scott Johnson, Patrick Miller and Greg Wiele

This Breaks My Heart of Stone [lyrics; listen] – words by Charles Wesley; music by Benj Pocta

The Mystery of Faith [lyrics, listen, and free download] – words traditional English liturgy; music by Scott Johnson and David Wilton

The Revelation of Jesus Christ [lyrics and listen] – Cam Huxford

See you Sunday morning.

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