Welcome! We're glad you joined us for ToGather. May today's time of worship in song, praise, Communion, and Scripture 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 in Word and Song:
Let's begin by praising Jesus with Chris Tomlin in the classic song, "Jesus Messiah":
We live in the joy of Resurrection Sunday. Death is defeated because the Lord Jesus not only was raised, but he now lives! Let's praise Jesus with this confession of faith the apostle Paul shared with Timothy:
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.
...If we died with him,(2 Timothy 2:8, 11-12).
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
Because of Jesus' victory over death, nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8:32-39). Let's join the Zoe Group in singing Matt Redman's song, "Never Once," as we declare this encouraging truth:
Sharing in Communion:
We prepare our hearts for sharing the Lord's Supper by singing "Mighty Cross" with Elevation Worship:
What's the greatest gift you have ever given? Byron Ware shares this Communion reflection to help us understand how to recognize what makes a gift a great one. He also reminds us that we have been given the greatest gift of all, life in "Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us" (Romans 8:34).
Focusing on the Scriptures:
As followers of Christ, are we to be pitied, or should we live confidently and courageously?
We decide in which category we will live our lives as followers of Jesus. Will we take up our cross daily and follow Jesus because we know this life is nothing compared to the next (Luke 9:23; Romans 8:18)? Will we live with confidence that the resurrection of Jesus ensures our own resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-58)?
Too often today, those of us who are Western Christians have settled for a soft brand of faith. We don't feel that much is expected of us. Instead, we assume Jesus will bring us what we want and ensure we have life easy and without problems. If we don't get what we want from Jesus, we are disappointed and angry with God for letting us down.
In the process, we mold Jesus' call to follow him into an expectation that he will give us what we think is best and make our lives easy for us now. We have changed our pursuit from living for Jesus so that we can enter eternal glory to acquiring the bright and sparkling trinkets of this world — mere stuff that soon decays and cannot ever fully satisfy. If we are not careful, we will lose the "not yet" message of the gospel. Yes, our life in Christ begins now, but our home and our Kingdom are not of this world (John 18:36; Philippians 3:20-21).
In some of the world's most dangerous places to be a follower of Jesus, the church is exploding with growth because those believers are passionate disciples of Jesus. They obey. They risk. The serve. They suffer. They pick up the cross because they believe that the tomb is empty — that Jesus lives and is coming back for them. They are convinced that this world is not their home, and they are looking for a heavenly home built for them by God (Hebrews 11:13-16).
One Iranian sister in Christ was able to come to the U.S. She arrived and was soon troubled. She enjoyed life so much that she realized she was growing spiritually sleepy and losing her passion. She and her family moved back to Iran and danger so they could reawaken to the call of Christ to reach the lost among their people and live passionately for the life that is yet to come.
Let this quote from "Sheep Among Wolves Volume II" challenge your heart to awaken to the truth and power of the resurrection to save us from the lethargy of our dying religion in the West:
They have put their trust in the "not yet" — their heavenly home — so they can live confidently and courageously in the "already" — the broken and dangerous world of today. These persecuted believers are convinced that the resurrection of Jesus is true, so they trust that the best of life will be their life with Jesus after the resurrection. They aren't expecting life on earth, now, to be easy.
These believers, like so many disciples before them, live in this world with urgency. They choose to follow Jesus despite their culture's opposition to them and hostility toward them. They are not trying to soften the clear moral and missional calls of the New Testament even though that softening would make their lives easier and more socially acceptable. They know that real disciples obey Jesus (Matthew 7:21-29, 28:18-20; Luke 11:28; John 8:31, 51, 14:19-23). They believe in the resurrection of Jesus and live in anticipation of the "not yet" glory that awaits them with his return.
Paul said it this way in our Verse of the Day:
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:19).
But Jesus rose from the dead! Our faith is not in vain. We are not people to be pitied, but people who choose to live confidently and courageously because we know that our future is secure in Christ (Colossians 3:1-4). Let's sing this truth with Elevation Worship as they lead us in the song, "Resurrecting":
Phil challenges us in today's ToGather message to live confidently and courageously because our Lord is alive and calling us to follow him. The Lord asks us to join his mission to awaken the world to what is truly life (2 Corinthians 5:4). We believe in Jesus' resurrection, so we confess:
For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him (Romans 6:9).
(Read further in Romans 6:9-7:4 to see some of what Paul said about the implications of Jesus' resurrection for us.)
He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again (2 Corinthians 5:15).
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me [Paul] his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:7-10).
Let's join Phil as he invites us to invest our lives in the one who has mastered death and brought "life and immortality to light":
Closing with Song and Praise:
Jesus is the "King of Kings" and our victor over sin and death. Let's declare this truth as we are led in song by Hillsong Worship:
We close our time of ToGather worship by confessing our hope through the following promise adapted from the apostle Paul:
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in [us], he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to [our] mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in [us] (Romans 8:11).
May we live for Jesus confidently and courageously by the power of the Spirit!