Easter…Everyday!

Acts 13:38-39

38 Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.

Easter Jesus

According to Merriam-Webster, Easter is a “Christian church festival that celebrates the return of Jesus Christ to life following his death; also : the Sunday in early spring on which this festival is observed.”

During last week’s choir practice, I looked over at a dear friend who recently lost her son and had a thought, “I wonder what his first Easter in heaven will look like?” God immediately answered that question through the piercing of the Holy Spirit when He said, “The same as it does every day in My presence – freedom, praise, wonderment, majesty, and joy.” I simply smiled and said, “Yes, Lord!”

You see, many of us only celebrate the true meaning of Easter in the literal translation – once a year! The other 364 days we find ourselves in contempt of His great sacrifice as we take our eyes off the cross and gaze upon our misfortunes. Easter, my friends, lives in us every day! We are afforded an opportunity to celebrate this great festival once a year collectively; however, we should individually celebrate God’s greatest gift to humanity each and every day!

I am thankful that every day in God’s presence is a festival of thanksgiving! The greatest news is that we do not have to wait to get to heaven to experience this great joy. The Word tells us that everyone who believes in Jesus is set free from sin:

~Freedom NOW

~Joy NOW

~Praise NOW

~Wonderment NOW

~Majesty NOW

My challenge to you is to live like it’s Easter – every day! Christ came to set the captives FREE! Isaiah 51:22 tells us that “I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again.” PRAISE GOD! This is not a one time a year celebration my dear friends – this is a daily promise! Go forth and proclaim His good news this Easter season…and EVERY DAY!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Starting Over

Isaiah 43:25

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

starting over

I am thankful that God blots out our transgressions and removes them as far as the east is from the west. Yet, I must admit I struggle with the term “starting over.” I was introduced to a Christian song today that speaks of this very concept. Granted, this was a beautiful song. However, I found myself struggling with the very phrase designed to bring about peace…”starting over.”

You see, I don’t want to start over! [pause]…There was a time in my life that I would have given anything to hit the rewind button or at least the RESET! Yet, God’s promise reveals a greater purpose for my pain…to share, to testify, to reveal, and to reclaim.

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want Jesus to use my story of unforgiveness to heal a believer’s bitter soul.

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want Jesus to break the chains of a believer’s self-doubt through my life’s circumstances.

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want Jesus to shine the light on Satan’s lies when he told me I wasn’t good enough or smart enough so that young men and women will know that they too are worthy in His eyes.

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want Jesus to be my witness to the unbeliever who doesn’t see how his life can be any different.

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want to watch the Holy Spirit flood a room full of men as the words of my testimony fill the space…[Did you hear that?…yes, that’s the sound of chains breaking!]

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want Jesus to be heard through the song of a cautious child who learned how to rely on God’s strength in order to stand tall as a Christian leader.

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want my prayers from a once tainted tongue to pierce the darkness because Christ goes before me.

You see my friends, I don’t need to start over! I know God has washed me clean. Instead, I want my story to be used to heal others – however God ordains. Listen carefully dear believer, Satan may use those around you or certain circumstances to evoke your oppressive past. Yet, 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

To that I say, “You can’t have my story Satan! God allowed those events to pass through His protective hands so that I may learn to trust Him fully. You won’t suppress any part of my being in your darkness. The truth will shine light on your lies and God’s people WILL be healed!” In Jesus name amen.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Protection

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

shade

~Prayer~

You meet us in reverent prayer. You welcome us with open arms as we kneel in our prayer closet and also in the center of a community led concert of prayer.

~Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lordthe Maker of heaven and earth.

Your Spirit rebounds purpose as we lift Your name on high. You give meaning to language, and tongues leap with affirmation and praise, “YOU are holy; YOU are worthy!”

~Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lordthe Maker of heaven and earth.

Your people are growing and the enemy is unsettled. The devil prowls around like a lion in our midst. The Spirit of the Lord cannot be shaken for there is only ONE Lion of Judah!

~The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand.

You call out to your servant, Awake my child! The enemy draws near but I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will protect the righteous – those who call Me King.

~The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life;

The prayers of Your people amass warrior angels to guard the innocent. A hedge of protection prevents the spirits of death, envy, and pride from entering.

~Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? Thanks be to God, who give us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Awake, Oh Sleeper!

Ephesians 5:14

“This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'”

Awake

~I see you spirit of insecurity…yet my God says awake, arise and stand behind the cross of security.

~I see you spirit of apathy…yet my God says awake, arise and stand behind My all consuming fire.

~I see you spirit of confusion…yet my God says awake, arise and bask in My awareness.

~I see you spirit of doubt…yet my God says awake, arise and know I give you peace.

~I see you spirit of worthlessness…yet my God says awake, arise and know that My Son says you ARE worthy enough to die for.

~I see you spirit of fear…yet my God says awake, arise and claim power, love, and sound judgment!

~I see you spirit of pride…yet my God says awake, arise and enjoy a life filled with humility.

Oh evil one, you walk in plain sight. I’m calling you out under the authority of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Eyes have been unveiled; chains have been broken; strongholds have returned to dust. You have lost. Mighty men have declared God’s victory and denounced your power in their lives. Collectively, we reclaim the ground you stole as Christ followers. In the true Spirit of the one and only God, we say – be gone in Jesus name.

[Dedicated to FWSL #27 FEARLESS! 2 Timothy 1:7]

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Unshakable

Hebrews 12:25-29

25 Make sure that you do not reject the One who speaks. For if they did not escape when they rejected Him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven. 26 His voice shook the earth at that time, but now He has promised, Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven. 27 This expression, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what is not shaken might remain28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

unshakable

During a summer family vacation several years ago, my son was able to experience recreational gold panning at a local park in Arkansas. He could barely contain his excitement as the anticipation of finding the “world’s largest nugget of gold” filled his imagination. Hours were spent panning that day. Granted, he did not find the world’s largest nugget of gold – or any gold for that matter. Yet, the smile on his face did not change. He remained excited through the anticipation. Not only was it pure entertainment and simple fun, there was a sense of excitement through anticipation. After reading Hebrews chapter 12, I could not help but relate this to God’s character as well.

You see, in order to pan for gold, you place deposits in a large pan which naturally contain rocks, pebbles, sediment, and other debris. You then agitate these deposits with water. Gold will naturally sink to the bottom due to its weight (i.e., higher specific gravity). Deposits with low specific gravity will simply spill out of the pan; these deposits cannot handle the agitation and are tossed aside.

The day will come when God calls the trumpets to sound and heaven and earth will shake; this is a promise. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, proclaimed the good news while on this earth, and His voice shook the earth at that time. Lives were changed and people were saved. Yet, some still rejected Him. He has promised that there will come a day when He will not only shake the earth but also heaven. My prayer is that you do not reject His free gift of grace through salvation. Through His acceptance, we receive “high specific gravity” and therefore will not be shaken when God, the all consuming fire, comes down. We know, as believers, that the Holy Spirit lives within us. Therefore, we cannot be moved as we hold firmly to grace the day both heaven and earth shake.

Thought: In my heart, I truly believe God has the same smile of anticipation as my son had panning for gold that hot summer day. Instead, God is anticipating the return of His children into His arms. As the all consuming fire shakes the earth and heaven, will you still stand or be tossed aside?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

True Love

John 3:16

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

cross

During the Valentine season, we are bombarded by the world’s view of love: red and pink hearts, Cupid, bows and arrows, roses, balloons, and chocolate. Yet, I was reminded of God’s view of true love while pulling up today’s Bible verse. I am afraid that believers are becoming desensitized to this most powerful verse. I’m also afraid that we fail to meditate on this verse when it comes to mind because we think we truly understand it. I’m here to say that this verse never gets old. In fact, nothing in the Bible is capable of “getting old.” Jesus, the physical manifestation of the Word, is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Therefore, it’s breathes forever and never will die.

This passage above is beyond timely. I encourage you to focus on God’s truth this Valentine’s day. The truth is God loved the world so much that He sent His One and Only Son to take away our sins in order to restore a broken relationship with our Creator. This my friends is true love because He did this while we were still sinners!

~Roses will die yet my God’s true gift of love lives forever.

~Valentine’s day cards will be thrown away yet my God’s true gift of love lives forever.

~Balloons will deflate and fall to the ground yet my God’s true gift of love lives forever.

~Chocolates will spoil and be thrown out yet my God’s true gift of love lives forever.

I am thankful for God’s true love. If you desire such an unfailing love, draw near to Him and He will draw near to you!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Arrow

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
arrow.jpeg
[Narrative] – My prayer for my dear friend K.T.
I thank God in advance for this blessing! Thank you Lord for faith.
“For I will form you in your mother’s womb my child, and you will fly like a mighty arrow to accomplish My will for your life,” says the Lord. The child replies, “But Father, here in heaven, there’s such great peace and wonderment as we revel in your glory.” The Lord replies with great authority, “Yes, my child, but much will be required of you as you walk the earthly sod. You will see My face in the mountains. You will hear the call of Yahweh in the rocks. You will smell the sweet fragrance of salvation in the rain. You will touch my heart when you willingly accept my Son, Jesus, as your own, and you will taste a sweetness greater than honey when you experience true faith without sight.”
The child rests upon God Almighty’s shoulder basking in thought. The Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon the child. As the child rests, two young men approach. “Sleep tight my child; we will await your return with mom and dad,” they state without moving their lips. God’s light of familial connection immediately bonded the three before this child was sent into the womb. The eyes of the Lord pierced forward and addressed His target with perfection. The bow did not shake. As the arrow was drawn closer to His face, He kissed the child with protection. The arrow released with God’s speed…and an infant cry was heard as a mother and father held their precious child.
————————————————-
I am so thankful for God’s purpose! May we never forget that we came into this world with God’s precision as the master Archer. Be blessed this day! No matter how many times the enemy uses his fiery darts to disrupt your course, God will use all things for His good because He created your course from the very beginning. Praise God!
Thankful,
Christian Armetta

“The Puzzling Puzzle! Is Christ Divided?”

~Written by my dear friend Ms. Rita Harris~

1 Corinthians 12

Spiritual Gifts

12 Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this. You know that when you were still pagans, you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols. So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

One Body with Many Parts

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:

first are apostles,
second are prophets,
third are teachers,
then those who do miracles,
those who have the gift of healing,
those who can help others,
those who have the gift of leadership,
those who speak in unknown languages.

29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! 31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.

But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.

___________________________________________________________

puzzle

Have you ever picked up a single puzzle piece and said, “What an amazingly beautiful work of art?” Probably not! Most of us realize that the beauty of a puzzle can only be accomplished by putting each piece in its proper place.  As a matter of fact, the designer’s intention when making each part was to ensure that each piece would be joined together to become one awe-inspiring picture of perfection.
Once the pieces are connected and each are in their proper place, a masterpiece appears. Even though each piece has a distinct shape and cut in order to fit into the bigger picture, if they remain in pieces (divided) its beauty cannot be displayed.
The Apostle Paul addressed division in his first letter to the church at Corinth.
He asked if Christ divided? In the High Priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus prayed for unity in the body; He prayed that we would be one even as He and the Father are One.
Even though we are different, we are all part of One body in Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 12, we see that each Christian is a unique part of the body of Christ with different callings, gifts and such. We are called to be united, connected and joined…and when we are, we will clairvoyantly bring Glory to God! The Lord looks at His body and He sees His Beloved Son! This is the most beautiful puzzle ever!
Our challenge is to eradicate division in the Body. Romans 16:17 says to mark them that cause division and avoid them. 2 Timothy 3 says to turn away from those who have a form of godliness and deny the power thereof. Remember, we’re not wrestling against people; we’re fighting the invisible kingdom of Satan. Ephesians 6: 11-12, “Put on the whole Armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.”
“We must endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace! There is One body and One Spirit, just as you were called in One hope of your calling; One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism; One God and Father of All, who is above All and thru All, and in you ALL.” Ephesians 4:3-6
Let’s put on and keep on the Armor of God and do our part so that the Body of Christ will be a brilliant work of Art for all to see!
Much love and blessings,
Rita

Masks

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Masks

~Ashamed NOW Alive

~Worried NOW Worthy

~Insecure NOW Inviting

~Fearful NOW Free

~Bitter NOW Believer

~Stressed NOW Sanctified

~Jealous NOW Joyous

~Cheated NOW Child of the KING!

We all have them. Some are worn, tired, and discolored. Others are adorned with such creativity, beauty, and mystery — MASKS. In full disclosure, it would be a lot easier to talk about the literal interpretation of why people wear physical masks such as for entertainment, protection, performance, or disguise. However, that is not the topic for today’s message. No, we sadly collect and decide to keep emotional masks that are created to hold us down instead of protecting us – key theme in Satan’s deception.

Be empowered by this passage above. God created us for His greater purpose, uniquely. We will never be perfect by human standards (i.e., Who creates those standards in the first place?). Society appears to dictate who is capable of doing great and mighty things. Yet, God makes it very clear that each believer possess the Holy Spirit. The same God that raised Jesus from the grave living in you and me…that makes us MIGHTY…not by our own right but by the virtue of Jesus in us.

You might not be as articulate as a famed orator…neither was Moses.

You might not be mighty in stature and command a room…neither was David.

You might not have the best reputation or clean past…neither did Rahab.

The truth is God can use ALL of us if we simply “get out of His way.” There is no weakness in Father God; therefore, you my dear friend are fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s time to cast your masks into the fire. My new favorite song is most certainly “Fear Is a Liar” by Zach Williams. I strongly encourage you to listen prayerfully and cast your fears into the fire.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Empathy

Psalm 56:8

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

Empathy

PRIDE manifests in many different ways. I recently had an experience with pride that was rooted in fear. You see, the evil one knows our weaknesses, and he also knows how to capitalize on our faults. As I walked into an unfamiliar life situation last week, fear appeared to accompany me. In a moment of weakness, pride sprung forth and stole a kingdom opportunity to “live like Jesus.” The blessing is in the conviction. I am thankful when the Holy Spirit immediately convicts us of our sins. We are then able to humble ourselves before the Lord and seek the Father’s forgiveness. 

~What does pride look like in your life?  

P – Pious 

R – Rebellious

I – Impolite

D – Domineering

E – Egocentric

Pride steals our ability to see others through the eyes of Jesus! Empathy is not just a “psychological” term if you will.  It embodies the life of Jesus as well. Luke 10:27 says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Frankly dear friends, you cannot fully love the Lord and love your neighbor when you are too in love with yourself.

Jesus provides us a beautiful example of empathy and truly “living like Jesus” through the parable of the Good Samaritan. Luke 10:33-35 says, “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.'”

The Samaritan man exemplified the true heart of Jesus – empathy out of love. Empathy has nothing to do with feeling sorry for someone. Empathy, to me, is more of an action emotion. The good Samaritan not only felt compassion (i.e., empathy), he acted! How do you respond when you see your neighbor, friend, stranger, church member, etc. hurting? Do you judge them based on your own values and personal characteristics or do you act out of love?

Over the past several weeks, I have held in tears of the unknown. Yet, the Holy Spirit pierced my heart not long thereafter when He said to me, “I collect your tears!” Please don’t get me wrong…I was not shedding tears out of anxiety or fear for I truly believed God would carry me through my valley. Yet, God quickly reminded me that it is okay to be human!

How did Jesus respond when his dear friend Lazarus died, “Jesus wept.” [John 11:35] It is stated in this passage that those standing around Jesus saw how much he loved his dear friend. Was Jesus crying out of fear, worry, unrighteous anger? Emphatic NO!

I strongly encourage you to allow the Holy Spirit full access to your heart. Demonstrating true empathy when others are hurting can only grow out of humility. Please never forget that pride typically doesn’t stand alone. It loves misery and brings friends along. Therefore, pride sits at the head of the table with jealousy, judgment, anger, and fear.

Question: How do you respond to those around you? [Empathy vs Pride]

Thankful,

Christian Armetta