Welcome to ToGather.church! (Find out more about ToGather.)

Opening with Praise in Word and Song:

Let's begin with an older, classic song of praise and worship, "We Praise Thee O God," led and produced by J. Brian Craig:

Let's continue our praise by reading aloud Psalm 34:1-3:

I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

We continue our praise with the combination of two songs, "I Love You Lord/I Exalt Thee," led by Gateway Worship:

Focusing on the Scriptures:

Our message comes from our Verse of the Day for this Sunday:

LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done wonderful things,
things planned long ago.

(Isaiah 25:1)

To prepare our hearts to receive our message and deepen our focus on our Verse of the Day, we sing "Here I Am to Worship" with the Zoe Group:

Phil's message reminds us of the importance of praise. As we lift our voices, eyes, and hearts to "the God of all grace" (1 Peter 5:10), we are also declaring our faith in him, our love for him, and our commitment to live for him:

Sharing The Supper:

To prepare for the Lord's Supper, we sing "He Is Exalted" with Maranatha Music:

Before Jesus was exalted back to the Father's side in glory, he first surrendered his rights and left the Father's side to live as Immanuel, "God with us," here on earth (Matthew 1:23). Jesus shared the challenges we have with this world and our mortal flesh so that he could be a great intercessor and helper for us at the Father's side (Hebrews 2:14-18, 4:14-16). Jesus died as a sinless sacrifice for our sins; then God raised him back to life so we could be made entirely holy (Romans 4:25). He now reigns as the Son of God with power (Romans 1:1-4), and our life is hidden with him until he returns in glory (Colossians 3:1-4). This truth comes from an ancient Christian hymn Paul used to challenge the Philippians, and we use to prepare our hearts, now, to take the Lord's Supper (Philippians 2:5-11):

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used
to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death —
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Let's take the bread of Communion as the body of Christ and hold it in our hands, then pray:

Loving Father, thank you for the gift of Jesus. As we hold this bread in our hands, we are reminded of Jesus' physical body — his willingness to leave heaven and become one of us, to live with us, and die to free us from sin and our fear of death. We remember him and your love that sent him to earth. As the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and fills us with your presence and power, we pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Now, let's share the cup of the Lord as we pray:

Almighty God, we know that there was no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood. [1] We are thankful that Jesus came and willingly gave up his life as a sacrifice for sin — a sacrifice that was once-for-all and would never need to be repeated. [2] We remember this liberating sacrifice as we take this cup. In Jesus' name, we thank you. Amen.

Closing with Praise and Anticipation:

Let's praise God for his "Majesty" as Hallal leads us in our praise:

When things on earth seem bleak and our strength feels small, we can turn to the Revelation of Jesus Christ given to the apostle John while he was in exile on the island of Patmos for his faith (Revelation 1:1-3, 9). John, and many to whom he wrote, knew they would likely face persecution and martyrdom in their future. The passage below describes the worship of the angels and martyrs in heaven and reminds us of the importance of praise in the face of opposition.

We praise God who entered our world in Jesus and faced a brutal and crushing physical power (Rome) that was aided by the distortion of spiritual power (the high priest's family, Sadducees, and Pharisees in Jerusalem). Jesus was murdered — crushed for our iniquities so we could be healed by his stripes and wounds (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). But, Jesus didn't stay dead, did he?! And, his resurrection is our hope and makes our praise so much more than songs to glorify God. Our praise is the bold expression of our faith in God to crush the enemies of all that is good, right, and holy. Please read Revelation 7:9-17, aloud:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

"Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb."

All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.

Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?"

I answered, "Sir, you know."

And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore,

"they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
'Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,'
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
'he will lead them to springs of living water.'
'And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'"

We nearly always include the lyrics with the worship music we select for us to sing in ToGather. After a tough couple of weeks for our world and for many precious people who call Jesus their Lord, we will sing this version without the lyrics on the screen — the words are easy to pick up because they are repeated. As we approach the close of our special time of worship, we sing Bethel Music's "Raise a Hallelujah" with Jonathan and Melissa Helser, who share the backstory of this video — with visual evidence of its power. Our prayer at ToGather is that as we re-enter life, we commit to praise God with our lives — the God who is worthy of our every Hallelujah. Quite frankly, we need to sing this song very sincerely right now as warfare, both physical and spiritual, has left our hearts weary and concerned for God's people in violent and dangerous places:

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21).

Special thanks to The Lumo Project and Free Bible Images for images related to the ministry of Jesus.

[1] Hebrews 9:22.
[2] Hebrews 5:8-9, 7:23-27, 9:12, 25, 10:10.
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