We have reached another Streaming Services Sunday! Sunday is a day of rest and worship, to reflect on all the good God has done in your life over the last week, to pray and praise God for protection, peace, prosperity in the week to come. My family and I have spent a lot of time watching different church services over the last ten weeks. We’ve seen some amazing worship sets, heard passionate sermon after sermon. And as much as we enjoyed this time, it was getting to a point where I felt like we were watching too much church, if that is possible. Think about what church is: a place to meet in fellowship, praise and worship in song, then sit and listen to a Pastor or Preacher give you an hour lecture on their perspective of a part of the Bible. Going to a physical church is important because it helps you network, build community of like-minded folks, physically worship and sing to the Creator and the King, and offer you the opportunity to serve in the organization. But listening to service-after-service, is not the best way to optimize your Sunday, your day of rest and restoration. So when you look at this list below, just watch one service, at the most two. If you have a home church, definitely watch those live streams, and if you are going to watch one more service, I always recommend watching Elevation Church. I have been sharing Pastor Steven Furtick’s sermon every week, because there is no one I have heard that preaches a more passionate and on-point word as Pastor Furtick. But after two services, instead of watching more, do something that is a much more important act: turn off the TV, close the laptop, put the desktop to sleep, and open up your Bible. That’s what Sunday’s are for, for you to read God’s Holy Book. The Bible was written for you, for you to read, for you to interpret, for you to understand on your own accord so YOU can take the Word to the next person. That’s how we grow the church. Read, read, read.
Compassion Christian Church, Savannah, GA; 9a, 11a,1p, 3p, 5p, 7p
Elevation Worship, Ballantyne, NC; 9:30a, 11:30a, 2p, 5p, 8p, 10p
Passion City Church, Atlanta, GA; 10a, 1p, 5p, 8p
Transformation Church, Tulsa, OK; 12p
Bayside Community Church, Bradenton, FL; 9:15a, 11:15a
FreshLife Church, MT; (all times are MST): 9a, 11a, 5p
SeaCoast Church, Charleston, SC; 8:30a, 10a, 11:30a, 1p
CoastLife Church, Venice, FL; 9a, 11a
Hillsong Church, NYC; 9a, 11a, 1p, 3p, 5p, 7p
The Belonging Co., Nashville, TN; 10a, 12p, 5p
9Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10“You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”
Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he broped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord. (Acts 13:9-12)
I love how Acts tells the story that finalizes Saul’s conversion to where he is finally known as Paul without any glitz or glamour. It is a quick little aside, included between two commas: “Then Saul, who was also called Paul,”(Acts 13:9). And just like that, through the rest of the Book of Acts, Saul is Paul. I remember the first time I read Acts many years ago, I glossed over this initial name change and found myself reading about this Paul figure a few chapters in and wondering where Paul came from. He seemed like an important guy and his name just appears throughout the last 15 chapters of Acts. So I went back and hunted out the above verses and finally realized that Saul and Paul were one and the same. While changing his name is a minor detail of the conversion of the Christ-hunter turned Christian-Champion, it is the final act of change Saul must go through to be made new in Christ as Paul. The old is washed away and from this moment on Saul is forever known as Paul. But Paul’s past as Saul is not forgotten, as it should not be, because Saul’s story is the most important piece of Paul’s story. Without Saul being so destructive and passionate about destroying Christianity, the significance would not be there for when Jesus stepped in and began this mighty change within Saul’s life. Jesus flipped Saul’s passion like a money-changer’s table in the Temple. And because of that, Paul is able to relate to more Jewish followers and help many of them flip their faith and become followers of Christ.
I think I am correct in saying that for many of us, we live our lives in a Saul-state. Not persecuting Christians, but surely not living up to the expectations Christ has of us to live as Christians. We are too consumed by worldly desires and actions. We focus too much on our worldly careers, we consume our free time with mindless entertainment, we only jump and shout when our favorite sports team wins a game, we lift up celebrities, politicians, or athletes who live in fleshly desires. We need Jesus to step in and blind us to bring us out of Saul and help us walk into being more like Paul.
Well, in 2020, whether it was created by God or man, COVID-19 did just that. COVID shut down the world, taught us all what being essential meant, and gave us all a moment to pause, stay-at-home, spend some time reading the Word of God and studying the most important aspects of living: learning how much God loves us and how to love others as Jesus does. We saw the world begin to heal itself in just a month of humans not destroying the environment by traveling about unnecessarily. In my hometown, just south of the beautiful, historic city of Savannah, GA, we experienced one of the most pleasant two-weeks of May that we have seen in years. If that was due to just one month of less carbon-dioxide being produced by millions of vehicles being off the road, then there is solid hope for the world. This is part of the first commandment from Jesus: Love God. Loving God means loving His creation. Loving God means caring about His creation, and one of His greatest creations was this planet that we have been actively destroying for the last century. Countless generations have ignored the science and common sense doctrine that shows we are causing global warming. Generation after generation has allowed us to be consumed with ruining this world. Soon God will punish these older generations for the sins of their past. We need to be the generation that makes a change, that stands up for our environment before the next virus comes along and destroys all of mankind. This is our world, gifted to us by God. If we can’t take care of it, God is going to take care of all of us, once and for all.
Reading plan: Acts 17
Deeper reading plan: Esther 9, 10
Prayer and meditation: Pray for the sick, pray for the lost and their loved ones. Pray for redemption for this lost world. Pray for a reviving rattle to shake COVID off this planet. Continue to pray for all those in medical professions, grocery stores, supply chain operators, first responders, and the amazing teachers still doing all they can to teach the students they love so much. Pray for all the businesses trying to recover and keep their associates able to provide for their families. Pray that the world reopens without a surge of new COVID outbreaks. And pray that the world has undergone a lasting change and the flame of revival has been lit!
Fitness challenge: Rest!
Praise and worship: In our home state of Georgia, worship centers are still shuttered, so we’ll be streaming more amazing church services today. As always, if you can only watch one service today, make it Elevation Church!