Monthly Archives: May 2021

Praying and Doing

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I’ve thought about how prayer and our responsibility work together for a long time. I first noticed this in the story of David fleeing Jerusalem when Absalom had stole the hearts of the men of Israel. One of the conspirators was Ahithophel, one of David’s wise counselors. As David flees the city, he gets word from someone that Ahithophel is in on this. David immediately prays in (2 Sam. 15:31), “O LORD, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”

I suppose our understanding of prayer stops right there. That’s enough, right? The only addition we might make is to continue to pray the same thing. Certainly being persistent in prayer is right and good and sometimes there’s really nothing else we can do. But when something can be done, is that interfering with prayer? It could be but not always.

Soon after David prays for the counsel of Ahithophel to become foolishness, he meets another one of his wise counselors, Hushi. Here’s what he says to him: (2 Sam. 15:32-34) 32 While David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and dirt on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel.

At the end of 2 Samuel 16, we hear Absalom seeking counsel from Ahithophel. He advises him on how to defeat David the King. Absalom, though hesitant, allows Hushi to be his counselor as well. He asks Hushi what he should do concerning David the King. Here’s how they respond to the two options: (2 Sam. 17:14) 14 And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.”

Why did they choose Hushi’s counsel over Ahithophel’s? Was it because David had prayed? Or was something else going on? Here’s what it says: For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring harm upon Absalom (2 Sam. 17:14b). So what’s the right answer? I think the prayer, the sending of Hushi and what the Lord had ordained work together.

There is some mystery here. There are some ways to answer this. But we know that James says that we do not have because we do not ask. And sometimes we ask for the wrong things. (Jas. 4:2-3) You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

I guess the point is, praying and waiting are not always the right response. We might ask if David’s prayer was answered and did God accomplish his ordained purpose in this? Here’s the answer: (2 Sam. 17:23) 23 When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order and hanged himself, and he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.

What about Absalom? I assume you know how his life ended. But who gets their hair caught in a tree? That seems very ironic. (2 Sam. 18:9) 9 And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on.

As you know, Absalom was struck down and David was restored to the throne. Just consider that prayer and what God ordains are not opposed to one another (though they could be). In this story, they work together. And I’m aware that some will say that God ordained that David pray that way. Sure. I’m on board with that. But it’s not that obvious when David is fleeing the city and life is happening. I don’t think we have to say that. I don’t think David paused in the middle of all of that and acknowledged that God ordained that prayer. I don’t think he knew that at the time. He seems to hold out the possibility that God might do something else. I mean, why did he flee at all if he was certain of Absalom’s defeat?

I think this is how David thought about it: (2 Sam. 15:25-26) 25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place. 26 But if he says, ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.”

Pray and respond. Trust the Lord to do what is right and good. And sometimes that means we participate in that process that was ordained by the Lord.

Sermon Manuscript for Lord’s Day 5/23/2021

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Here is the link to download the manuscript if anyone is interested:

Order of Worship—John 12.20-36 Part 2—The Application


Announcements and Graduate Recognition

Call to Worship

(Ps. 138:1-8) I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise;  2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.  3 On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.  4 All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth,  5 and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD.  6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.  7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.  8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Song—Hymn #5 “How Great is Our God”

Welcome and Pastoral Prayer

Indeed, Lord, you are great! You dwell in unapproachable light! At the sound of your voice, you spoke into existence the heavens and the earth. As the Potter forms the clay, you made all things good. But we are but clay…weak vessels, for sure. We rebelled against your one clear command and fell into sin and death. We hid ourselves among the bushes and attempted to cover our shame. But you found us and clothed us in your mercy. And you made a promise to send a child that would crush the dead of the deceiver.

By your grace, we discover a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins. And by your grace, we sinners are plunged beneath that flood and lose all our guilty stains. Though as vile as the thief on the cross, the blood of the Innocent One washed all our sins away. And yet the wonder of the cross bids us to come and die so that we may truly live.

Oh, that our neighbors would know this good news! Indeed, we are your witnesses to such a great salvation. Give us boldness as we engage those who cross our paths throughout our days to tell them the wondrous story. We are mere beggars telling other beggars where to find bread. May we direct them to the Bread of Life that they may never hunger again.

But one day, our time here will be over and into your presence we will be.

And… When this poor, lisping, stamm’ring tongue
Lies silent in the grave,
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I’ll sing Thy pow’r to save.

“May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of his suffering.”
In Christ’s name we pray, amen.

(A brief bio on William Cowper): We are about to sing a song written by William Cowper. His life is marked with many tragedies and difficulties including what was described as melancholy. This was a result of losing his mother when he was 6 years old. His relationship with his father was terrible. He sent him off to boarding school where he was bullied in awful ways. And then maybe the final straw was a broken relationship with a girl he had fallen in love with. But Cowper’s life was marked by friends who pointed him to Jesus and helped him learn to follow Jesus. From the doctor at the asylum who shared to the gospel with Cowper and left the scriptures for him to read. The Lord also placed John Newton, the slave-trader who repented and believed and eventually wrote Amazing Grace, into his life. Cowper’s life is marked by other believers with whom he lived and depended on for the rest of his life. The point is, are we dying to self to help others to walk by faith like many did with Cowper? We might not be able to write hymns but we can love and encourage those who can.

Song—Hymn #224 “There is a Fountain”

(Phil. 3:7-11)  7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–  10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Song—Hymn #234 “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Sermon—John 12:20-36 “What does it look like to serve and follow Jesus?” (This is a follow up sermon to help us to think and apply the text)

Song—Hymn #534 “Take my life, and Let it Be Consecrated”


(Heb. 12:1-2) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Currently Reading…

Have any of you read this book? I’m about half way through. It’s wrecking me and teaching me some good stuff!

Tell what you think about it.

The Compelling Community: Where God's Power Makes a Church Attractive (9Marks)

Praise the LORD! But why?

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I want you to go get a Post-it note and write on it, “How do I expect God to respond to what I just read?”

Next, turn to Psalm 106 and take the sticky note and place it over verses 44-48 but do not read those verses yet.

Take note of verses 1-5 first. They essentially say, “Praise the LORD!” But verses 6-43 (and that’s a lot of text) paints a very dark and rebellious picture. First, feel the weightiness of 6-43. Think about how they describe you.

Once you’ve done that, look at the sticky note. How do you expect God to respond to what you just read? Now, remove the sticky note. I think you will now understand why this Psalm begins and ends with “Praise the LORD!”

Sermon Manuscript for Lord’s Day 5/16/2021

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Here is the link below to download the Word document if anyone is interested:

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Order of Worship—John 12.20-36


Announcements and Call to Worship

(Rev. 4:8-118 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”  9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,  10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,  11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Song—Hymn #68 “Holy, Holy, Holy”

Welcome and Prayer of Confession and Hope

O Lord, you indeed are holy! The whole earth is full of your glory. We confess that some of our mornings have not been filled with songs to you and we have not treated you as holy. We have found ourselves distracted too easily by worthless things and some good things. In our weakness, please find us. We confess that we have not adored you and have thought of ways to keep our crowns. In your grace Lord, pry our hands loose and may we lay up our treasures in heaven.

We come this morning, by the mercies of God, to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to you. We can only do this as enemies on whom you have poured out your amazing grace so that we would receive the free gift of forgiveness in Christ who paid our penalty. May we offer thanksgivings and praises in worship to you. Let us not be conformed to this world, but we plead for you to transform us by renewing our minds. May we love you with our minds…in how we think…in what we give attention to in our minds…let us take every thought captive…may our minds be guarded by the helmet of salvation.

And now Lord we are about to sing a prayer to you. We ask that you would take our lives and let them be set apart for you. May our hands move at the impulse of your love. Cause us to serve Christ gladly and to follow him no matter the cost. Jesus has bore the cross for us. The penalty has been paid. Now may we take up our cross and follow him. Let us not live this life which is but a vapor with regrets. Our lives are yours. You have bought us with blood of your son. We are yours. Do with us as you please. Make Jesus known through us.

And in name of Jesus, we pray, amen.

Song—Hymn #541 “Take my life, and Let it Be Consecrated”

(Lk. 9:23) “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Song—Hymn #438 “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken”

Sermon—John 12:20-36

Song—Hymn #611 “On Jordon’s Stormy Banks”


(Rev. 22:1-4) Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb  2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.  4 They will see his face

Sermon Manuscript for Lord’s Day 5/9/2021

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Here is the manuscript download if you are interested:

This was the order of worship:

Order of Worship—John 12.12-19


Announcements and Call to Worship

(Ps. 113:1-9) Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!  2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore!  3 From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!  4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!  5 Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high,  6 who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?  7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap,  8 to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.  9 He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!

Song—Hymn #499 “Victory in Jesus”

Mother’s Day Welcome and Pastoral Prayer

(Jn. 15:13)  13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Song—Hymn #152 “No Not One”

Song—Hymn #22 “We Will Glorify”

Sermon—John 12:12-19

Song—Hymn 447 “It is well with my soul”

Benediction: (Jn. 14:27) 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Sermon Manuscript for Lord’s Day 5/2/2021

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Here’s the link to download the manuscript: (I changed the title after saving the document)

What follows is the order of service:

Order of Worship—John 12.1-11


Announcements and Call to Worship (Psalm 145:1-3)

(Ps. 145:1-3) I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.  2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.  3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

Song—Hymn #28 “To God be the Glory”

Song—Hymn #3 “Worthy of Worship”

Welcome and Pastoral Prayer

Scripture Reading—Colossians 1:13-14

(Col. 1:13-14) He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Song—Hymn #439 “Jesus, I Come”

Sermon—John 12:1-11

Song—Hymn #420 “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy”

The Lord’s Supper

(Lk. 22:17-20) 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.  18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

  • (2 Tim. 2:8-9)  8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David
  • Remember (Eph. 2:8-10)  8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Song—Hymn #668 “Doxology”

Benediction— (Jn. 6:32-35)  32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”  35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.