We're glad you've joined us for ToGather for May 17, 2020! (What is ToGather?) Below, you will find a guide for home worship with Scriptures, songs, a Communion reflection, and an encouraging video message from Phil Ware about God inviting us to start over and begin life fresh and new. You will also get to meet Fitia, a precious young Christian lady from Madagascar celebrating the ten year anniversary of her coming to Christ. She will give our closing blessing in French and English. We encourage you to open your heart as we worship God!

May God bless you, those you love, and those you want to reach with the grace of Jesus!

The ToGather.church Team

Can I begin my life again fresh and new, but live it better than I did before?

Beginning with Praise:

Let's honor God in worship as the Holy Spirit transforms us to be more like Christ. Our focus this week is on the fresh start God gives us, both when we first come to Christ and subsequently if we need another fresh start. Our Father is with us and will repeatedly bless us with a fresh start in our lives if we ask him. Because we are in Christ, we are the Father's new creation!

Let's begin today with Selah's beautiful rendition of "Before the Throne of God Above," as we sing together of God's great love for us and Jesus' ministry of grace for us at the right hand of God:

Jesus is our faithful friend and brother. He is at the Father's right hand, where he lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:23-25; Romans 8:33-34). Because of Jesus, our faithful friend and brother, we have confidence that our prayers are heard and presented to God by Jesus, who knows our struggles (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Through the intercession of Jesus, we can come boldly into the presence of God and present our requests and our praises, knowing the Creator of the universe hears them. Let's declare who Jesus is for us:

For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
through Christ's blood on the cross.

This promise of forgiveness, you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault (Colossians 1:19-22 NLT).

Jesus' abiding presence with the Father for us means that we can surrender our hearts to him. He invites us to live with the confidence that he is present with us every step of our way. So, let's sing and declare that Jesus Christ is our love, our life, and our Lord, as the Zoe Group leads us in "Christ Above Me":

Can I Get a Fresh Start in My Life?:

To prepare us for the great news that we will hear from God's word today, we are going to sing a song about sin wearing us down and making life feel old and worn. As we confess our weariness, the Holy Spirit will help us anticipate the good news that God longs to give us. Let's praise Jesus as we sing, "Be Lifted High."

Our message today focuses on one central question: "Can I begin my life again fresh and new, but live it better than I did before?"

Our message points us to 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Paul's promise that if we are in Christ, we are a new creation. God gives us a whole new outlook on the world and a fresh future in Christ. This promise of being a new creation isn't just a one-time gift when we first came to Jesus. God longs to bring his freshness to our lives over and over again, as often as we need it.

Certainly, our coming to Christ was a major turning point and a fresh beginning for us. Furthermore, Jesus' continuing love for us means that God's promise for the newness of life is his ongoing promise. Even if we have messed up and wandered away or rebelled against God, the Lord still longs to give us a fresh new start and make us his new creation.

Have your Bible open, and let's receive God's wonderful promise about new life in Christ:

Because of Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection, God blesses us with the opportunity for a new and fresh start. Will we give our lives to honor his love? I surely hope that you will join us in responding to his grace with our commitment to live for him. The Lord has blessed us and longs to continue his blessings as we live for him and share his grace with our broken world. Let's sing of our thanksgiving and commitment with Hillsong Worship with the powerful song, "The Passion":

From a Remembrance of Suffering to a Time of Blessing:

The Lord's Supper isn't limited to a quick remembrance of Jesus' death. As we take the bread, God fashions us into the bodily presence of Jesus in our world, people sent to bless the world as Jesus did (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). As we share Communion today, we are blessed to share as brothers and sisters of Christ. Even though we gather virtually, we share the Lord's Table with brothers and sisters from all over the world. Let's remember Jesus, our coming together to become his body in the world, and our commitment to serve others as he did:

Blessing to Go and Bless:

Fitia, our Verse of the Day French translator from Madagascar, brings us our closing blessing. You will want to be sure to catch her comments in the later part of the video about her ten year anniversary of following Jesus:

Please know that the verses Fitia read from Ephesians 1:16—19 NRSV are our prayer for you:

I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.

Let's close our ToGather today by joining Jenn and Brad Johnson, of Bethel Music, singing the beautiful hymn of confidence, "Mention of Your Name":

God bless you with health and an abiding sense of the Spirit's presence this week!