Rotten Fruits

Acts 17:5-8; 10-13

But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some scoundrels from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. Attacking Jason’s house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly. When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, and Jason has received them as guests! They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king—Jesus!” The Jews stirred up the crowd and the city officials who heard these things. 

10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea. On arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica found out that God’s message had been proclaimed by Paul at Berea, they came there too, agitating and disturbing the crowds.

selfish

Our society has appeared to master the phrase, “It’s all about me.” After reading this passage, I was struck mostly by the fruits of the flesh as demonstrated in the form of jealousy, hatred, pride, and rebellion. Not only do we see an overt demonstration of rebuking the truth, we see an all out war to destroy those who were transformed and called to speak the truth according to God’s command.

I do not want us to overlook the evil properties in the “simple” word – jealously. Acts 17:5 clearly states, “But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some scoundrels from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city.” The dark truth behind such a common word remains worldly and not of Christ.

Jealousy was not afraid to be mentioned but ‘he’ rarely travels alone. He was flanked by a rather stout support system in pride, rebellion, resentment, hatred, and death. You see, the unbelievers could have simply rejected the gospel and moved on with their lives. Yet, this is not what we read. Not only did they reject God’s message and messengers, the evil rulers and principalities of this dark world easily influenced these “religious followers” to destroy any word of Christ through riots and mobs. The fruits of the flesh were so strong that these influenced souls were persuaded to follow Paul and Silas to Berea once they heard of many coming to Christ. This my friends, is what one would call a purposeful intent to destroy.

I am afraid to say that we continue to experience this today. Even more, I am saddened to say that many whom we call religious followers are the very ones inciting rebellion of the truth. This masquerades in the form of legalism and traditionalism. We may not see spiritual riots in the rural streets of America (yet) as we note in this passage; however, we see the work of the evil one in similar ways. There remains a war across the various denominations as outlined by the evil rulers of this world. We continue to argue over hermeneutics all while the lost remain lost. Jesus continues to says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

I pray that we do not miss the truth! First and foremost, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2) Ask God to unveil your eyes to your fleshly fruits and strip them away. May we all unite as believers to the true gospel of Christ and draw others to Him. “12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)

Outside of this spiritual revelation, I am always giving God the glory for the victories in Christ. No matter how much the evil rulers and principalities tried to destroy God’s message, Acts 17:12 says, “Many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men.” Genesis 50:20 says, “20 You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.” Praise God that He is the ultimate winner – He is victorious, holds the keys, and reigns supreme. 

Question: Do you find yourself inciting “religious riots” or drawing others to Christ?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Audience

Acts 16:25-30

25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

listening

For starters, I’m highly impressed that Paul and Silas were still awake at midnight. I would have been in my third dream by then. Secondly, I’m even more impressed that they were having an all out worship service in the middle of their prison cell at this hour…all joking aside…we can learn some valuable lessons in this passage.

I was touched to the core after reading this passage today. During seasons of trials, our human nature tends to offer security in self-pity and seclusion. However, we see both Paul and Silas doing quite the opposite – praising during their storm. Not only were they beaten with rods and imprisoned unfairly, they were also chained within the inner prison and guarded fiercely. I cannot fathom – honestly.

Yet, we are given a beautiful example of giving God the glory in all our circumstances – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here, not only do we learn how to praise during the storms of life, we also learn a very valuable lesson in being Christ-like examples. In the passage above, we see that Paul and Silas were praying and singing…”and the prisoners were listening to them.” How many times do those around us listen to our complaints instead of words of praise when we are in valley? [Convicted-yes I am] 

Paul and Silas demonstrated one of God’s greatest promises – He works all things for good for those who love Him.

In the midst of their storm, they praised!

In the midst of their storm, people listened!

In the midst of their storm, God arrived!

In the midst of their storm, they ministered!

In the midst of their storm, people were saved!

I have been challenged to be this kind of disciple for Christ. We do NOT want to miss an opportunity to minister, share, and deliver through our Savior Jesus Christ. May God receive all the honor and praise while we are on the mountaintops and while we are in the valleys. The lesson remains the same – people are always watching and listening. Our actions and words should remain consistent – always pointing to Christ.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Teamwork

James 5:16

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

prayer for one another

“You can’t possibly tell anyone!” says the evil one. “You know what they will think of you if you tell them the truth,” the deceiver continues. The brokenhearted one sits in silence as he contemplates his actions. The pretender wraps his devious intentions into the weary one’s emotions. The poisonous gestures seep from the evil one’s nature. He strategically encircles the vulnerable soul. He leans in and whispers with heated breath, “You’re not who you think you are! You are a hypocrite, slanderer, gossip, and most certainly — lost!” The injured one slumps in his chair in a form of acknowledgement. He surrenders, “I guess you’re right.”

Dear friends, this might be your story. If not, it is most certainly the story of someone around you! As brothers and sisters in Christ, we cannot stand for this. We must fight for each other. The passage above says we need to confess our sins to one another. Why is this? I am far from a biblical scholar. However, I know two spiritual facts from this passage. First, chains break when sin is confessed. Secondly, evil scatters when the prayer of a righteous believer covers you.

Do not listen to the lies of the evil one any longer. You are a son and daughter of the King. You, my friend, are victorious over the evil one in the powerful name of Jesus Christ. Therefore, let us come together in unity with the Holy Spirit to confess our sins, grow in Christ’s likeness, and bask in His forgiveness.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

True Life

Ephesians 2:1-10

From Death to Life

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

looking to heaven

There are so many awesome principles, promises, and proclamations in this passage. For starters, “You are saved by grace!” I cannot tell you how peaceful that promise resounds in the ears of a perfectionist like me. In life, my greatest peace comes when I know I have reached the “end of me.” Sadly, I think I’m playing the spiritual control game very well – only to recognize too late that God is in control the entire time; therefore, I am only battling myself through the deception of the evil one. God simple says, “Let go my child. It is a lot easier on my side!” He’s always right!

The greatest lesson I continue to learn in reading God’s word is the overt evidence of spiritual war. We clearly read in the beginning of this passage that there is a ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, which is the same spirit working in the disobedient. This is the same ruler who entices us to walk in the ways of the world and not of Christ. But — praise God — Jesus took our place even while we were dead in sin.

We should, therefore, spend our time on this earth worshiping the one true King and sharing His love to the ends of the world. In fact, this passage says that we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

“We are His creation…” [pause] – Naturally, the ruler of this earthly world would do everything in his power to destroy God’s handiwork. In fact, he prowls around with this as his main goal – to destroy God’s people, deceiving us to follow the ways of the world. I am thankful that I submit to God’s free gift of grace. There is absolutely nothing I can do to “make-up” for being a sinner. God only demands acceptance by faith. The ruler of this world has lost! Yet, he will continue to deceive and battle God’s people. Do not allow the evil one to deceive you into legalism and traditionalism.

This passage, along with many others, clearly shows the invisible war. Dear friends, I pray that God unveils your eyes to the spiritual battles that compete for your devotion. As believers, we are no longer slaves to sin. We are alive in Christ! Are you alive in Christ? What do you need to release today?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Things Above

Colossians 3:1-11

Living as Those Made Alive in Christ

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

walking in freedom

I’m walking in a minefield of worldly intentions! Each step marred with the grasps of evildoers. Jealousy, pride, and unforgiveness appear to cushion my gait one step at a time attempting to regain my focus away from Christ. The veil is lifted and the sense of sure-footedness is in fact deception. The pillow of lies masks the reality of treading on bones and nails – death! The environment quickly unravels into spiritual war.

The Holy Spirit assists me in tightly securing my feet with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Laced with authority and a readiness that is strengthened through Christ’s promise, dry bones are made alive again. The deceived now becomes the warrior. As I set my gaze firmly on the cross, the things of this world begin to cascade off my joints freeing a once frozen soul. Spiritual freedom abounds and Christ is gloried throughout the land.

Dear friends, I strongly encourage you to read and meditate on this passage. How does this passage speak to you? Does the world still have a stronghold in your life? Most of us would say, “Absolutely not!” However, if we truly dissected our daily lives, most of us would find many examples of worldly living. In fact, we would find more than fragments of this world embedding into our soul, we would find large pieces that represent such things mentioned in this passage: evil desires, rage, greed, and filthy language to name a few.

Does this make us bad? Actually, this makes us a sinner in need of Christ’s redemption! We must take off the mask of deception. As believers, we must still take up our cross daily. We make choices every single day. These choices not only impact our witness but they either build up or tear down the temple of God. I encourage you to evaluate what you give permission into your life. Rebuke the excuses and set your feet firmly on the Rock!

Question: Is there anything in your life that you need to release to Christ?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Salty

Matthew 5:13

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

salt and light

I had a dear friend return from a mission trip in Peru. Days after her return, these words rang loud and clear as she exclaimed, “I cannot readjust to the ‘luxury’ of this life we have!” This is someone who is describing living in a rural town lacking many amenities. Yet, my friend had an encounter. She saw the face of true poverty and need, and God melted her heart instantly. She used her spiritual gifts in a mighty way. She was uninhibited because she was set free! She tasted God’s presence and it wasn’t about the things of this life. Instead, it was about being His example.

The things we often complain about are in fact bathed in richness when we look at them through God’s eyes. This is exactly what happened to my friend. Her eyes were unveiled to a believer’s real purpose on this earth – to be the salt and light wherever we are.

You do not have to travel to a third world country to be needed nor do you have to travel very far to see the blessings around you. No matter where you are, you have a purpose. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I pray that we see His plans unfold through our lives as we touch those around us.

I am afraid that these “luxuries” have masked our perceptual reality. Everything is relative and Satan knows how to deceive us with this very thing. You may be looking at your neighbor who just purchased an expensive car and think, “That’s the example of luxury.” Yet, there is someone looking at you saying the same thing because you simply have running water, indoor plumbing, and electricity [think about it].

Satan has done a good job distracting you from the main thing – being the hands and feet of Christ – being salty. We spend an exorbitant amount of time comparing ourselves to others and to that I say -“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16:23).

Today, as we celebrate Thanksgiving. I am beyond thankful to my family and friends. Above all things, I am thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who died on a cross to take away my sins. Even more, he walked out of His tomb three days later holding the keys to life and death – victoriously! There is no greater story! I pray we remain focused on Christ in order to be salt and light to those around us. You lose your saltiness and flavor when you start focusing on yourself and listening to the lies of the devil. Give thanks to the Lord for His faithfulness and mercy in forgiving us. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

Question: Are you salty for Christ?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Full-Bodied Flavor

Revelation 3:15-22

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne,just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

tea

According to Merriam-Webster, full-bodied means, “The general impression of substantial weight and rich texture; having importance, significance, or meaningfulness.” There is great significance in this definition when it applies to Christianity…in fact, the Bible says so!

My friends Sarah F. and Catherine P. have reignited my love for hot tea. There is nothing like sipping hot tea to reinvigorate your senses especially during the 3:00 p.m. slump. When brewed properly, one receives the full-bodied flavors in tasting notes such as sweet, nutty, citrusy, fruity, and malty just to name a few. Now granted…this is not a blog on tips for preparing tea; yet, there are amazing parallels between brewing tea and your Christian walk.

As believers, we have such potential. In fact, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave lives in you and me. Romans 8:11 says, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” To that I say, we have more than “just potential”…we have an unimaginable destiny in Christ!

When you buy a box of tea, the teabag has such great potential. It has the ability to transform water into full-bodied flavor that changes the palate of the receiver. However, if the tea remains in the box (i.e., dark) then it will slowly waste away until expiration – unused, untouched – failing to reach its full potential as originally designed by the maker.

Some of us actually want to use the tea. We get it out of the box; we see the potential but we fail to heat up the water to the right temperature, and the tea sits in a lukewarm bath failing to extract all its rich benefits into the vessel. The tea is described as flat, tasteless, and thus spit-out. The receiver’s desire fades and thus remains untouched.

Then, there are those connoisseurs that have studied and prepared. They are masters at extracting the bull-bodied flavor of every type of tea. They know exactly what to expect because they are trained. They are bold in their approach because they know what works. They take every opportunity to talk about it even with people who have never even tried it before because they cannot contain their excitement. They describe how rich and satisfying it can be when completed properly, at just the right temperature, to extract all the right flavors.

Are we still talking about tea? I would say NO. In fact, we never were. This mimics our Christian walk perfectly. I encourage you this day to be a connoisseur of Christ. Study the Word and be bold in the faith. Take up your cross and crucify the flesh. Mark 12:30-31 says, “30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Friends, you cannot be lukewarm and follow these commands. If you present as lukewarm, then you are not giving your “all” as described in this passage. You are missing your unimaginable potential as designed by the Maker. I pray that God tastes and smells the sweet notes from our full-bodied flavor as we present our lives as a living sacrifice for Him!

[This blog was inspired by my friend Catherine Pabon who shared this word with me. Thank you Catherine.]

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Lens

Isaiah 1:18-20

18 “Come now, let’s settle this,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
    I will make them as white as wool.
19 If you will only obey me,
    you will have plenty to eat.
20 But if you turn away and refuse to listen,
    you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

God's eyes

Obedience through faith allows freedom from sin. Only the Father can transform crimson into white. There is no magic involved for only Satan is the author of deception. This transformation occurs through the lens of God’s Son Jesus Christ. As the Father looks upon His children, He sees purity because His lens (i.e., Jesus) is perfection and sanctification. We should walk in victory daily knowing that God has removed this burden of guilt and shame.

Psalm 103:12, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

Psalm 32:1-2, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.

Therefore, resist the devil in Jesus name and he will flee from you so says the Lord (James 4:7). Satan is well aware that your mind is the battlefield. Remain strong, stand firm, and shelter in the Most High. “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

When you begin to feel ashamed, silenced, and restrained by the thoughts of your past transgressions, use the Sword of the Spirit to claim your victory over the evil one and walk in triumph for your Father in heaven sees you beautifully cleansed through the lens of His Son as white as snow!

Question: Do you struggle with forgiving yourself? Release the evil spirits of guilt and shame by calling out to the Lord. He will rescue you.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Hide and Seek

Proverbs 8:17-21

17 “I love all who love me.
    Those who search will surely find me.
18 I have riches and honor,
    as well as enduring wealth and justice.
19 My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold,
    my wages better than sterling silver!
20 I walk in righteousness,
    in paths of justice.
21 Those who love me inherit wealth.
    I will fill their treasuries.

hide and seek

“Ready or not, here I come!” This phrase was often heard throughout our neighborhood as we all loved to play hide-and-seek. It was not uncommon to rush over to a friend’s house after school or spend countless hours during the summer break playing such games. Yet, God most certainly pierced my heart today relating His character to this game.

By definition, hide-and-seek involves a group of kids hiding while one person is designated to find them. The game starts off with the seeker counting with his/her eyes closed while countless children run purposefully to conceal their location within the environment. After announcing, “Ready or not, here I come!” the seeker sets out to find the camouflaged participants. The winner is usually the child who is found last…meaning, he did a superb job at hiding.

In reading through Proverbs 8 today, God taught me a simple and even humbling lesson concerning hide-and-seek. My Father loves those who love Him. He is the God of love and light. He wants to be found! Proverbs 8:17 clearly states, “I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me.” Yes and Amen!

Dear friends, can’t you see it now? During the game of hide-and-seek, God is the one standing right in the middle of the field shouting, “I’m right here! I’m so glad you were seeking me! There is no need to look any further. Come and rest in my shadow.” What a true blessing. [Yes, He didn’t follow the rules of the game but PRAISE GOD!…that’s the point.]

Honestly, this is one of the most peaceful messages I could ever hear. God wants to be found! There may be times when He appears quiet, but “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I am beyond thankful that I serve a God that wants to be found. Why do we make it so hard? “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20). Again, Father God announces Himself in order to be known, “Here I am!” We are undeserving of such attention.

False religions will teach you that you must work to find God or ‘a god.’ The lost spend their time here on earth playing hide-and-seek with the devil! He pulls you away deeper and deeper by confusing you. Some believe their great works will open the last door which will reveal their god when in fact deception stares right back at them. The devil is the author of lies. In the game of hide-and-seek, the one and true God is out in the middle calling for you, “Here I am!” You just have to seek, He will reveal!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Wonderment

Acts 4:31

31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.

Holy Spirit

We breathe you in like a mighty rushing wind. You are all powerful, mighty Father. Your people await your presence with hearts ablaze. Fear and doubt tremble at your name. Traditionalism and Ritualism flee at just the sound of your presence. Your church is ripe for the picking. Unleash your best gifts upon your people….Holy Spirit you are welcome in this place.

Prayer warriors have been called to the front line. The invisible war rages on. Legions upon legions of warrior angels amass in clear understanding and authority from the One whose name is above all names. Principalities strategically orchestrate their assault on God’s people.

Unfamiliar and unaware, the body of Christ blindly expects the ordinary. Worship rolls off their tongues out of traditional obligation…until…”the meeting place shook.” The spiritual realm severs the line between human reality and spiritual awareness. The fiercest battle ensues. Satan has been notified; the territorial demons have moved in to arrest the Godly movement.

With a rushing mighty wind and thundering foundation, the breath of the Holy Spirit washes over the community. The faces of the believers turn from unenlightened to kissed by the Spirit. All existence of evil vanishes. Although physical darkness encircles the believers, spiritual darkness flees while individual revival sparks the light. The altar fills with renewed hope, faith, awareness, prayer, and worship.

Lesson = What was meant for evil was transformed into spiritual empowerment through the Holy Spirit…never underestimate the power of prayer and always expect the unexpected!

Acts 4:31, “After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.”

Question: Do you expect your meeting place to shake with the presence of the Holy Spirit? — I DO! Dear believers, come into His presence with such faith and expectation for He can do far more than we can ever imagine…all for His glory, Amen.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta