Welcome! We're glad you joined us for ToGather. We trust that today's time of worship in song, prayer, Communion, and Scripture will bless you. Whether you are alone or with friends, family, home group, or house church, please know that God's people from all around the world are joining you virtually in worship. (Find out more.)
Today, our focus for ToGather is refusing to step into the snare. What is that snare? It's living in fear of what others may think of us or do to us because we follow Jesus. Our theme is based on our Verse of the Day:
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe (Proverbs 29:25).
Let's begin our shared time of worship with the song, "Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)" by Chris Tomlin. We will use the words of this song to emphasize our theme for today:
Chris uses a name for the LORD, "God of angel armies," in this song. This vital name for God comes from the Hebrew, Adonai Tzva'ot. We translate this name as "Lord Sabaoth" or "Lord of Hosts." The Bible uses this name for God over 225 times to emphasize the LORD's power in and over our world through his creative might and his ability to assemble his creation and angelic beings to aide his people.
We find a great story that shows the reality of God's angel armies in 2 Kings 6:8-23. Elisha reveals this essential truth in the following episode from his ministry:
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?" the servant asked.
"Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
And Elisha prayed, "Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-17).
Our focus today is on our great God, who is our deliverer, our Adonai Tzva'ot. Our God promises to be with us. Even when we seem outnumbered and feel surrounded by those who oppose us, we have greater spiritual forces with us than the evil one can send against us. We should not be afraid to stand with God and for truth. We can resist the snare of fearing the opinions of those opposed to Jesus and aligned against us. With gentleness and respect, we can share the hope we have in Jesus, knowing that our faith and the character of our lives can change the hearts of those who oppose us even if we suffer rejection or persecution for our faith (1 Peter 3:13-16). We know how the story will end, and so we trust in the ultimate victory even though there may be hardship in the interim until the Lord comes. We believe this truth:
Our Scripture-based prayer today arises from the truths in our passage, 2 Kings 6:15-17. Let's pray together:
Sharing the Supper:
In recent weeks, several of our Communion reflections have reminded us of the importance of celebrating the Supper on Sunday, the day of Jesus' victory, in anticipation of the ultimate conquest over evil when he returns. This week, we continue that theme but centered on being God's children and not needing to fear the world or the powers aligned against us. We have allies who are "Stronger," and we will sing this truth led by Hillsong Worship to prepare us for our time of Communion.
We don't have to be slaves to fear because we are children of God. Join Doug Peters as he leads us in a special communion reflection of confident hope because of what Jesus has done for us:
As followers of Jesus, we can sing, "We are Not Afraid (Fearless for You)" led by the Zoe Group:
Searching the Scriptures:
To prepare to hear Phil's message this week, let's join Elevation Worship in the song, "See a Victory":
When we fear what mere mortals think of us, we place our hearts, lives, and freedom in Christ into a snare that will soon entangle, strangle, and destroy us. These are not my words, nor are they some sociological or psychological theory. Proverbs 29:25 teaches us this principle.
This proverb is an aphorism: a short, pithy truism or principle that generally proves true. It is simple and memorable so we can teach this truth to our children and grandchildren. While most cultures have their aphorisms of practical truth — think of the folksy, "A stitch in time saves nine!" — our Verse of the Day aphorism in Proverbs 29:25 is God-endorsed. Unfortunately, most of us have experienced the truth of this proverb, personally: We made the mistake of stepping into the snare! Let's dig deeper into what this proverb means for us as followers of Jesus and listen as Phil shares some strategic ways we can avoid this snare from the evil one:
Concluding with Confidence and Commitment:
Our Scripture-prayer comes from Romans 12:1-2 and is taken from Praying with Paul by Eldon Degge. Eldon is a dear friend and brother who has graduated to be with Jesus, but his wonderful work of putting all of Paul's writings into prayer format can be found on Heartlight.org each day.
Dear Father, all worthy God,
I present my body to you, O Lord, as a living sacrifice. May it be holy and pleasing to you.
Let this be my spiritual act of worship, not done at set times of remembrance, but continuously, moment by moment, day by day, night by night.
Let me not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, which is doomed to pass away. Instead, let me be transformed by the renewing of my mind so that I may be able to test and approve what your holy will for me is — what is good, pleasing, and perfect.
By the authority of Jesus and in his name, I ask for this growth in grace. Amen.
Let's sing the truth of our theme today as we close today's time of worship. We commit to trust in God and his forces aligned with us. We refuse to step into the snare of fearing what others may think of us or do to us. We close with the rousing song, "Trust In You," led by Anthony Brown and Group Therapy. We commit to live faithfully and courageously as we embrace God's future for us!
God bless you as you live for Jesus this week by the power of the Holy Spirit!