Welcome! We're glad you joined us for ToGather. We trust that our special 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.)
Opening with Praise:
We begin today with the song, "Spirit Break Out" as William McDowell and Trinity Anderson lead us to praise God for the gift and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives:
Our prayer of praise comes from an adaptation of John's breathtaking praise in the early part of the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:4-6):
All thanks to the ever-present and perfect Holy Spirit who moves before the throne.
All glory to Jesus, our Messiah, our Savior, death's conqueror, and resurrection's firstborn.
Glory to our Father who reigns over every earthly power and temporary throne.
To God, the Almighty, be praise in this age and the age to come.
Let's continue to praise God together as Elevation Worship leads us in the song, "Yahweh":
Focusing on the Scriptures:
God did not abandon his people when he led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and in the wilderness. He made his presence known among them with the pillar of fire at night and the cloud during the day. God chose to dwell with his people and never abandon them. God came to us in Jesus and lived among us and revealed his presence and dwelled among mortals (John 1:14-18). When Jesus returned to the Father, he sent the Holy Spirit to us so that we would not be alone but indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Father, Son, and Spirit, together as God, make their home with us and choose to reveal themselves to us (John 14:15-23).
The Holy Spirit does many things in our lives as God's children. Today, we want to focus especially on the Holy Spirit's work as our intercessor before God when we pray. So, as we prepare our hearts for Phil's message from the Scriptures, let's sing "Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God" led by Keith & Kristyn Getty:
Prayer can be an incredible blessing for us as God's children. However, prayer can also feel frustrating and bewildering to many who are trying to follow Jesus. (See Phil's article earlier this week for more on how to pray.) Many people who email Phil worry that they don't pray well or have the right words to say. Others have given up praying and trust others to pray for them. When our prayers feel dry and ineffective, what do we do? Where do we turn?
In his message, Phil addresses our struggle with the feeling of ineffective prayer and encourages us as we seek to deepen our prayer relationship with the Lord. What hope is there for us when prayer is dry, hard, and wearisome? Let's have our Bibles open to Romans 8 and invite the Holy Spirit to bring his message to our hearts as Phil focuses on this passage:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).
How do you think the following statement about prayer should change us?
Sharing in Communion:
Many discussions about relationships, conversations, meetings, and worship have emphasized these as virtual events. However, much of our relationship with God is virtual. We believe when we meet together with other believers, the Lord joins us (Matthew 26:29). When we take the Lord's Supper, Jesus promises to be with us virtually, through the Holy Spirit, until he returns for us at the end of time ().
We celebrate the Holy Spirit's guarantee that our prayers are heard by our Abba. That means our prayers are precious and valued by our Father in heaven. The real question then for us is whether we will respond to this gift by offering all of our lives to him (Romans 12:1-2). Or, will we offer the Lord only our prayer time, or our Bible reading time, or our group worship time? Will we invite the Holy Spirit to have his way in transforming us to be more like Jesus each day (2 Corinthians 3:18)?
Our Communion preparation song invites each of us to pray, "Holy Spirit Have Your Way" as Leeland leads us to offer all of ourselves to God:
The Lord's Supper challenges us to remember what Jesus did on the cross to save us. At the same time, we participate in Communion on the day of his victory over death and as we anticipate his coming again for us in glory (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). On that day when Jesus returns for us in his glory, we will be made like him and see him as he truly is (1 John 3:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:42-57). We should respond to this promised future by committing our lives to Jesus as we lively purely for him (1 John 3:3). Phil reminds us in our Communion reflection today that by participating in this Supper, we pledge to let the Spirit of God have his way in us, purify us, and transform us to resemble our Savior more closely:
Closing with Praise and Blessing:
We have been blessed today. We've reminded each other about the Holy Spirit alive inside us. We've sung about God's glory and the glory that awaits us as his children. We have opened the Scriptures and heard the apostle Paul remind us that we have the incredible, divine, and ever-available presence of the Holy Spirit to help us when we pray. Now, let's sing "Holy Spirit Dwell in Me" with the Acapella Group:
Our closing prayer comes from Eldon Degge's adaptation of 2 Corinthians 13:5-14 into prayer:
Help me examine myself and test myself to see whether I am holding to my faith. Please help me to realize that Jesus Christ is in me — unless I should fail the test.
Please help me not to do anything wrong, to do nothing against the truth. Help me stand for Christ and for what is right and true.
Let my life — my attitude and my deeds — show constant improvement. Help me mend my ways, agree with my fellow believers, and live in peace.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ rest upon me. May you, the God of love and peace, be near me. May the fellowship of your Holy Spirit surround me.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Our blessing for each of you is
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14).