Tarnished Gifts

Ecclesiastes 3:11

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Spiritual-Gifts-Sermon

Satan is a liar! In fact, he is the father of all lies. John 8:44 says, “…for he is a liar and the father of lies.” I begin with this emphatic statement because I’m tired – tired of watching Satan kill, steal, and destroy in plain sight. I’ve learned recently that we all listen to his lies from time to time. So…we must get real, be honest, and embrace our calling as valiant warriors.

As believers, we ARE gifted! We are given the Holy Spirit to perform supernatural abilities to further God’s kingdom, not ours. However, Satan has done a good job at tarnishing these gifts and making them useless or ineffective at best. It should not be surprising that these gifts frighten the kingdom of darkness. The same God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you and me!

Romans 8:11, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” I quote this Scripture often because frankly we need to be reminded of its power! Satan clearly knows this kind of power because he remembers losing the keys of death that day. Therefore, he is spending an enormous amount of time whispering lies and tarnishing your gifts to make you ineffective for God’s Kingdom.

So what do we do? Be encouraged! You might feel like you are far from God’s grace. You might feel as though your gifts are so broken and tarnished that they cannot be repaired so why try. Speak truth over your situation and allow the Holy Spirit to resurrect your gifts and talents just like He resurrected our Savior. This is what I know – God creates beauty and that includes you – don’t listen to anything else!

Challenge: Place your tarnished gifts and talents at His altar and allow Him to resurrect them to perfection for His purpose!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Driving in Reverse

Hebrews 13:5

5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

living in the present

We’re moving, YES…but in the wrong direction! Wake up! Face forward and drive in the direction God has designed.

-Narrative-

You’ve convinced me that I was destined to be someone that I’m not! My mind scatters into countless pieces of possibilities. I see puzzle pieces floating above with self-defeating labels. My eyes are drawn to the bleeding ink of failure, loser, weak, incompetent, and sinner. These pieces congregate together and begin to fit tightly into one picture – my past. But I’m moving in the right direction, right? “Yes!” says the evil one. “Then why do I feel so defeated by my own desires and passions?” “Keep looking into your rearview mirror and the answers will become clear,” exclaims the author of all lies. The mirror widens as my focus intensifies. I ponder countless life decisions and fall deeper into despair. “If only I had pursued that career,” exclaims the weary one. Satan is now fully in control as your life moves forward but you are driving in reverse.

Dear friends, stay alert! 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The enemy wants more than anything to get into the driver’s seat and convince you to drive in reverse! You cannot use your spiritual talents to impact the Kingdom of God when you are focused on the past and driving in reverse.

Remember – you are exactly where you’re supposed to be because God is ultimately in control. Your struggles and encounters can and will be used for good when you focus on Christ and drive forward! Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Therefore, stop analyzing the past. Tear down the rearview mirror and drive in the direction of Christ. He will use all of you to glorify His name if you surrender the keys!

Question: Does your “Spiritual Gear Selector” say “R – Reverse” or “D – Drive”?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Focus

Matthew 14:25-33

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Jesus walking on water

Faith without fortitudinous is futile! If you fail to remain fully focused on Christ through the entirety of your circumstance, you still sink!

The account of Peter walking on the water teaches us so many lessons. First, I am encouraged that faith is potent enough to produce supernatural occurrences when God is in it! We should truly be thinking far beyond our capabilities and welcome God’s supernatural experiences in our lives for His greater purpose.

Also, I am challenged by Peter’s fall. Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus and focuses on the wind. He becomes instantly afraid and begins to sink. We spend so much time blaming the wind for Peter’s fall when in fact anything other than Jesus would have been enough of a distraction for Peter.

Stay with me for a moment…the ultimate lesson is remaining focused on Christ! It would not have mattered if the scene depicted calm seas, beautiful skies, and cheerful disciples. If Peter would have diverted his focus from Christ, the author of his faith-filled supernatural experience, to anything else, he still would have failed. The result would have been the same – Peter sinking and crying out to the Lord to save him!

Dear friends, stay focused on Christ while in your deepest valleys when the wind is deafening and the darkness is terrifying. Christ is able to produce in you the same faith-filled supernatural experience! Secondly, stay focused on Christ while you are riding high on your mountaintop basking in the sunshine and breathing the air of peace and tranquility.

Focusing on the deafening wind and terrifying darkness will only invite the spirit of fear to reign in your life ultimately preventing freedom and supernatural experiences with your Savior. Focusing on the sunshine and fresh air of peace and tranquility will invite the spirit of apathy and pride. Who is ultimately in control of your valley and mountaintop life experiences? Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world! Therefore, remain focused on Christ at all times and walk confidently to your Savior without fear of sinking.

Question: What are you focused on?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Requirements to Please

Micah 6:6-8

With what shall I come before the Lord
    and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

walk humbly

I’m first in line – yep, that’s me! The one yearning to follow the rules because I’m a rule follower to the core. This trait can be both a strength and a weakness at times. Sadly, there are millions just like me who attempt to apply this trait in pleasing God. However, I’m here to tell you that this is impossible because there is not one worldly thing I can bring to God’s throne worthy enough to receive sanctification; instead, I must bring my heart.

What will it take? Will God be happy if I bring Him ten thousand rams? What if I brought Him one hundred vats of the finest fragrances the earth could supply? Will that be enough? Wait! – I’ve got it! He must like precious elements so I’ll bring Him tons of gold; that most certainly would impress Him, right?

Please forgive my sarcasm. However, do you know what I really envision when we speak of such things? I see God shaking His head and saying these words…

“I created all of those things, and they are obedient to me because even the rocks will cry out if praises are withheld from your tongue. However, there is one thing I created that you must choose to give up yourself – your soul. Whenever that occurs, you no longer live and my Son, Jesus, lives in you. This is the only pleasing sacrifice worthy enough to receive my acceptance. The rams, precious fragrances, and elements are already mine, but you must choose to give me your heart. Without this self-surrender, you remain lost and your worldly gifts are worthless.”

I’m afraid millions of us are churning the sanctification jar

hoping our efforts will turn into acceptance.

Hosea 6:6

“I don’t want your sacrifices—I want your love; I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me.

~God doesn’t want your “rams;” He wants your surrendered love.

~God doesn’t want your money to fulfill a duty; He wants a relationship.

So…Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with Your God. Remember, it’s never about you or the “things” you can bring. It’s all about the one thing you can’t live without – Jesus!

Challenge: What are you offering to God? [Things, rituals, or yourself]

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Wholehearted

1 Samuel 12:24

24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

wholehearted

 

[Narrative]  You attempt to enter the Holy of Holies with tainted heart. The free gift of grace has tarnished your conviction. The temple veil, massive in symbolic separation, now covers your eyes as you walk freely into the inner sanctuary — you are spiritually blind yet see through evil intentions. You bring pride, bitterness, guilt, idolatry, lust, hatred, and fragments from the world with you. At a time where the high priest would have perished immediately, you continue your gait with worldly confidence. You stumble over the Ark of the Covenant; however, you are too distracted by the enemy to notice. When all hope seems lost, you take your last step and reach the mercy seat! There He is – the One who was drawing you in the whole time – God Almighty. Your tongue forms language that fills the sanctuary with praise yet you thought you were asking questions. Angels assist you to your feet from your prostrate position yet you thought you were walking on air. The Father says open your eyes my child yet you just knew you were already seeing new colors. Then…the Son appears. Jesus says, In order to be a child of mine, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me – wholeheartedly – now wake up!

This narrative describes many believers today. We walk into our churches, work settings, and homes with worldly fragments impairing our relationships. More importantly, these fragments are preventing us from being powerful witnesses to the greatness of Jesus Christ. I am calling Satan’s ploy out in plain sight – division! You are on notice evil one. The body of Christ has identified your scheme and we say NO in Jesus name! We will promote unity, love, service, selflessness, humility, self-control, and patience. We will not stand and watch you destroy our churches, families, friends, and communities. Greater is the One who is living inside of me than he who is in the world. AMEN!

Challenge: We must join together in prayer so that the body of Christ may fully unleash God’s power.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

The Road Less Traveled

Exodus 13:17-18

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.

long road

~But I know best! — Sadly, most of us find ourselves in this very situation. We are standing at a crossroads problem solving the quickest and easiest way to get from point A to point B in life. However, God has already gone before us to protect us! Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Why, therefore, do we spend so much precious time “evaluating” a plan that has already been designed for our best spiritual and physical outcome? – Interesting! Why, then, do we fail to spend that time in prayer humbly seeking God’s guidance and will?

This devotion pierced my heart! I want to spend a life full of His purpose – not mine! If this means taking the road less traveled then I’ll pack extra shoes and go. I pray that we all see God’s hand in our current circumstances. We truly don’t have to understand why God has placed us on this particular road. We TRUST that He has gone before us to PROTECT us.

Psalm 100:3, “Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

Challenge: Do you see God on your long road?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

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