Welcome to this week's ToGather.church! What a great gift God has given us in music and singing. Our Verse of the Day, from Psalm 95:1-2, introduces us to our theme of singing with joy to the LORD:

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
     let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
     and extol him with music and song.

Nothing stirs the hearts of God's people to action, hope, passion, and praise quite like the Spirit filling us as we sing (Ephesians 5:17-20). In the early church, singing wasn't just praise directed toward God. Christian songs invited believers to speak to each other and teach one another with wisdom in songs, hymns, and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:16-17). James, Jesus' half-brother, shared a similar thought as he addressed followers of Jesus centuries after Psalm 95 was written:

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise (James 5:13).

We have such a great reservoir of songs in Scripture. They invite us to speak to God from all the different tangents, orbits, pressures, situations, and experiences we have in our lives. Our verse centers us on joyful singing, extolling (praising and exalting) God for who he is and what he has done, and giving thanks with music and song. However, the gift of singing isn't just for praising God, giving thanks, and shouting joyful songs. The 150 Psalms in our Bible give us examples of words to sing out in so many varied life situations. Singing has sustained God's people over the years through victory, sorrow, defeat, loss, grief, remembering, and anticipating God's work in the future. We hope you are blessed as this week's ToGather.church invites us to keep on singing!

Phil's Message for This Week

Phil's video message reminds us that God's people sang for many different reasons. They addressed God with songs of praise, lament, thanksgiving, and remembrance. They spoke to each other in song to encourage, remind each other of God's faithfulness, teach the truth of God, anticipate God's promised future, and stir each other up to live for Jesus. Please open your heart to the message today as Phil leads us to think about the great blessing we have in music and song.

The words of songs are important. We are to speak to one another using words the Spirit gives us based on the story and wisdom of Scripture (Colossians 3:16-17). Yet the music and song God gives us in worship are so much more than words. They convey emotion. They invite us to participate and blend our voices into one rich sound propelled by the Holy Spirit. Songs open worship to our emotions and express the deep things of our hearts that words can't fully verbalize. Songs connect us and unite us as they touch us.

Don't fear not singing well. You are invited to make a joyful noise to the Lord (Psalm 98:4-6 ESV, Psalm 100:1-2 ESV)!

Don't give up because times are hard. Songs have sustained God's people through dark times. Expose your heart and mind to the Psalms.

Don't worry that you don't have good words to sing. Find inspired words of holy songs in the Psalms that allow you to express your heart and emotions to God.

Don't let any possible fear of being physically demonstrative restrain your worship. Let the Psalms open you to worship expressively and authentically, using your emotions, times of silence, choice of words, and physical posture to shape your worship as the Psalms invite us to do.

Most of all, we should realize that God gave us songs as a gift. We should keep singing to God from our hearts no matter where the circumstances of our lives lead us.

Full ToGather Worship Video

Our full worship video today emphasizes songs — more of them than usual, and Demetrius carefully chose them for us. These songs can lead us to open our hearts to God and his majesty as we sing, share the Lord's Supper, hear Phil's lesson, and share a closing blessing. We pray the Holy Spirit fills and empowers us all as we worship!

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.