The world was in an accelerating downward spiral of evil, wickedness, and violence, headed from slow decay into rapidly approaching destruction, disaster, and death. The world situation was so horrendous that the Scriptures characterized God's feelings in this way:

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart (Genesis 6:5-6 NLT).

God’s revelation that he was saddened, grieved, and brokenhearted at human sinfulness is as breathtaking as it is evocative. God was grieved at human depravity and what humankind was doing to fellow humans.

What was God's answer? It was a people, a promise, and a plan. God chose to bring the world a great blessing through his people, the descendants of Abram, later known as Abraham. Through these people, God would bless all people of the earth. He promised Abram that he would bless his descendants — the people, give them a homeland, and use them to bless the nations:

The Lord had said to Abram, "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you.

"I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
(Genesis 12:1-3).

To bless, save, and redeem the world, God chose a small group of people to be his plan and the carriers of his promise. Jesus became the ultimate person who fulfilled the promise. And Jesus implemented this same people-centered strategy when he called his disciples — including us — to help redeem the world:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Jesus is the light of God that shines and that darkness cannot extinguish (John 1:5, 9, 8:12, 9:5, 12:46). Jesus chose us, his disciples, to be his light-bearers in this dark world (Matthew 5:14-16). We are his chosen people called to share his light in our dark world and bring people back to God!

This brings us to our Verse of the Day and its significance for us as Jesus' disciples. Our world, nations, and communities are trapped in Satan's destructive cycle of evil, wickedness, and violence. So, how are nations redeemed and turned from this destruction to find light and life to dispel their darkness? How do we raise — exalt — our nations back up to a righteous, compassionate, and faithful existence where God is honored? Our verse today makes the simple truth clear:

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people (Proverbs 14:34 NIV 1984).

And the only way our world will begin to live righteously is for Jesus' disciples to live righteously themselves. They demonstrate God's righteous character, gracious compassion, and faithful, loving justice in their lives. They learn to navigate a world that is selfish, hostile to the righteous, anything but compassionate, and certainly lacking any sense of faithfulness toward loving justice. How? By seeing how Jesus navigated such a world and by following his example (Philippians 2:6-11).

As followers of Jesus, we must recognize that a better world, nation, community, family, and friendship begin with us. We must put our lives where our mouths are. We must demonstrate, with integrity, what we say we value as followers of Jesus.

We hope you will both be blessed and challenged by our worship together and by Phil's message based on our Verse of the Day.

Phil's video message is based on Proverbs 14:34 and challenges us to be Jesus' light-bearers in our world of darkness. Rather than complaining about the evil around us, we commit to getting things right in our own lives and live knowing that we can bring the righteous character, gracious compassion, and faithful, loving justice to our warped and broken world:

Phil's Message for This Week

Let's remember these vital concepts from Phil's message!

First, a question:

What makes a nation the life-giving force God intends for it to be?

To be this life-giving force, our nations need the combined efforts of godly people seeking to demonstrate God's righteous character, gracious compassion, and faithful, loving justice. These three qualities of God are necessary if we are to redeem our world trapped in Satan's darkness and human self-destruction, societal decay, and violent death.

So, we must ask ourselves:

Based on my life:
Is the light of grace dawning, or is the eclipse of godliness by darkness spreading?

A better world begins with my righteous character, gracious compassion, and faithful, loving justice!
When we accept the challenge of being Jesus' light-bearers in our dark world, we commit to living God's character in a world often hostile to God's values. Yet we choose to do it without being overly critical of others or hypocritical in our lifestyles. We work to get the massive plank out of our own eyes before we try getting the speck of sawdust out of the eyes of our neighbors! (Matthew 7:3-5)

Our great resource for being light in our dark world is to look at Jesus. Let's see how he navigated the world of corrupt leaders, religion that had lost its soul, and a world that operated on power, criticism, injustice, and violence.

Full ToGather Worship Video

The full worship video challenges us to open our hearts to God and his call for us to be his blessing to our broken world as we sing songs specially chosen by Demetrius, pray, share the Lord's Supper, and hear Phil's message from God's Scriptures. We pray that the Holy Spirit fills and empowers you as we worship!

This is the song Phil mentioned in his lesson.

Special thanks for the use of images related to Jesus' ministry from The Lumo Project and Free Bible Images for use in both ToGather videos.