So We Praise

2 Chronicles 5:7-14

The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and covered the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends, extending from the ark, could be seen from in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. 10 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.

11 The priests then withdrew from the Holy Place. All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves, regardless of their divisions. 12 All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. 13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:

“He is good;
    his love endures forever.”

Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.

This passage is a whole meal so chew slowly; you will want to savor each bite. The Holy Spirit has definitely been peeling back the layers of praise lately, and I find myself back where it all started…at His feet.

When I went to FaithWalk many years ago, my experience could easily be summed up by the phrase, “At His Feet.” Every song, every lesson, and every prayer reflected this common theme – for me at least. His presence was real and filled the room that weekend! Something I’ll never forget. However, we often allow the distractions of this world to pull us away from such encounters.

When I read this passage in 2 Chronicles this week, I was brought all the way back to my FaithWalk retreat. In this passage, the people were celebrating the return of the Ark of the Covenant, which had been placed into the inner sanctuary of the Temple -the Most Holy Place – after the Temple was built by King Solomon.

Specifically, the Levites who were musicians celebrated with instruments and praised God with these words: “He is good! His faithful love endures forever!” And then…

The glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God. When the people lifted their voices to praise God, He filled the Temple. Oh…we must get this!

We can spend a lot of time discussing Old Testament and New Testament, but I want you to get one golden revelation – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 

As a believer of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes down and fills YOUR temple. God does not change and neither does His power. We cannot miss this. As believers, raising our voices in praise fills “up” the temple!

Thank the Lord that He lives in us. Yet how many simply take this for granted? The enemy wants us to forget! I want to end by sharing one major difference we have that the priests in the Old Testament didn’t have. As it states in 2 Chronicles 5:14, “The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God.” Now that God indwells inside our heart [temple], we are able to continue our celebration and praise. May your praise never cease and may the Holy Spirit continue to fill you completely.

~When you feel defeated, praise and fill the temple.

~When you’re all alone, praise and fill the temple.

~When you have nowhere to go, praise and fill the temple.

~When your friends abandon you, praise and fill the temple.

~When life continues to throw punches, praise and fill the temple.

~When the enemy lies to you, praise and fill the temple.

~When storms chase after you, praise and fill the temple.

~When God releases His storehouses of blessings, praise and fill the temple.

~When Jesus heals you, praise and fill the temple.

~When salvation spreads throughout your community, praise and fill the temple.

~When demons flee by the powerful name of Jesus Christ, praise and fill the temple.

~When deliverance comes to the oppressed, praise and fill the temple.

~When chains break, praise and fill the temple.

~When encouraging words lift a broken soul, praise and fill the temple.

~When tongues of fire fill the air, praise and fill the temple.

Challenge: Let us all lift our voices and praise: “He is good! His faithful love endures forever!” Then, may the Holy Spirit fill YOUR temple, daily.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

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It’s Not Me

Romans 15:2

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

No one really wants to talk about the hard stuff. It’s true. It’s safer on the surface where the nerve endings are just out of reach. But what happens when you are bruised, pierced, or cut? The flesh encourages you to do one of two things: fight or flight. Sadly, both of these responses can lead to unhealthy spiritual consequences. Fighting leads to anger and retreating leads to bitterness.

Operating in the Spirit shatters these physiological responses.

~Praying for your enemies shatters demonic strongholds.

~Encouraging those who scoff you testifies of God’s love.

~Giving more to those who take from you opens the storehouses of blessings.

~Rejoicing in your neighbor’s success even when you are struggling ignites inner revival.

It’s not about you! Whew! Now that we got that out of the way, let’s really dig in. You are born into this world internally focused instead of eternally focused. The enemy of this world wants nothing more than to keep your eyes inwardly focused. However, Hebrews 12:2 instructs us to fix our eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. When you do this, you cannot help but to encourage others, even when it hurts!

[Interpretive]

So I see you, dear friend, with your chin pointed down and a tear-soaked collar. Your eyes glisten from new tears, and they flow in cadence with your heartbeat. You are backed into a corner where the light dissolves into darkness. The rays search for you but you are fading away. Disappointment, resentment, and pain stream through your head like a banner flying high in the air. You watch the inauguration, and the new queen is announced. Her crown sparkles on your tears. You wipe them away, but you cannot escape the sound, “Long live the queen!” You bow in respect and pray, “Lord, bestow your protection, blessings, and wisdom upon her.” You turn around to walk away wondering what’s next for you when the enemy whispers, “It’s not you! You’re not good enough.” But then…you feel a hand on your shoulder. You know instantly as it’s the touch only a queen can give.

You meet eye-to-eye and she says, “Thank you for always showing me kindness and encouragement. You paved the way for this very moment. Thank you for allowing God to use you to plant the seed.” Suddenly, light breaks forth and shatters all forms of darkness.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

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Inside Out

1 Samuel 16:7

But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”

[Interpretive]

You call from the heavens like a burst of light reaching deep within my soul. I listen to your voice and follow your lead; my steps are guided and ordered by your lamp. You sent a spoken seed and dropped it deep within my heart. A warrior stands guard day and night protecting your breath as it sprouts and begins to grow. Your very presence provides the right amount of light activating the cells within; it cannot fail because you spoke it.

However, the enemy can see it growing now, Lord. The evil one fires off darts in hopes of destroying the anointing. I see the fire in his eyes – one, two, three flaming arrows are released before I can blink. The first arrow screams “failure” as it flies through the air. The shield of faith extinguishes the arrow without any trace of residue. The second arrow howls “fear” as it bolts through the air. Yet, the sword of the spirit cuts it down with ease. The third arrow was the largest and fastest in Satan’s bag. He released it and it laughs “rejection” as it soars straight for my soul. Yet, it turned around and headed back to its owner shortly after it was released.

“Lord?,” I asked, “What happened to the third arrow? I saw your helper destroy the first two, but why did the third turn around?” The Lord replied, “My son, rejection is the strongest of all condemning fiery darts. Yet, you are the righteousness of Christ – washed in my blood. The enemy wants nothing more than for you to feel rejected by man in hopes that you would feel rejected by Me…but look at these hands and look at my feet. My blood was poured out for all to bring salvation, atonement, righteousness, justice, favor, grace, mercy, healing, and power. This arrow saw Me in you and had no other choice than to turn around and to be destroyed.”

Challenge:

~May God’s light transform you from the inside out.

~May you truly know how God feels about you each and every day.

~Do not spend all your time trying to win the approval of humans.

~Keep your eyes fixed on Christ and live a transformed life from the inside out.

~Life will definitely throw you some curve balls and disappointments especially after the Holy Spirit drops a word (i.e., seed) into your soul. Take heart and do not be afraid! Be courageous and walk in stride with the Lord as your shepherd. You will see that word come to fruition in a complete and bountiful harvest.

~No matter what your senses are telling you…trust only what God reveals…and remember – you are a child of the King, a warrior, a powerhouse for the Kingdom! Be blessed.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

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Catching Raindrops

1 Chronicles 29:14

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.

[Interpretive Vision]

~Why do I sense raindrops when I pray with opened hands? The return is heavier than I expected, Lord. Each drop filled with expectancy, urgency and gravity. The drops rolling around like marbles along the palm lines from a weary grip.

~Fingertips weak from opening clinched fists where fingernails had turned white from tension. Blood rushing through my hands and tickling my senses while awakening a part that had fallen asleep.

~You demand service, giving and faith, but why the raindrops in return? The wilderness has cracked my skin and caused pain when touched. Yet there’s still water in the desert. The voices are quiet and the storehouses are shut but you send the rain.

~I never knew how hard it was to catch a single drop until I tried. However, I was able to watch it for a season as it danced along before falling to the ground. I tried to give them back to you but I cannot catch them all; there are too many and it’s really heavy, Lord.

~As I closed my hands and focused on the rain, the Lord spoke, “You’re not catching weighted raindrops my son…”

“You’re catching the water I washed my hands in while I prayed a blessing before a meal now pouring over you.”

“You’re catching the water I turned into wine, drawing you into new wineskins, pouring over you.”

“You’re catching the waves I told to ‘be still’ and who knows my name now pouring over you.”

“You’re catching the sweat from my brow when the soldiers beat me now pouring over you.”

“You’re catching the water when they pierced my side now pouring over you.”

“You’re catching the oil from my anointing as I sing over you in the presence of my Father as we await your arrival.”

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

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Aftermath

Psalm 119:105

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

The Living Bible translation: 105 Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me and keep me from stumbling.

I must say…reading the Bible in complete darkness while juggling a flashlight in hand might be my new favorite thing! Let’s start from the beginning. I live in southwest Louisiana where our entire community was not simply smacked but rather steam-rolled by hurricane Laura one week ago. While many were sleeping or carrying on with their day-to-day activities across the globe, the residents of southwest Louisiana were witnessing deep-rooted trees with long history slowly falling to the ground and some on top of homes in the middle of the night. The moonlight struck the fierce winds in almost a strobe-like cadence. The sights were both frightening and hypnotizing. Hundreds of thousands are now left with complete destruction: electricity, water, shelter, and food.

So…I sit here, in the middle of my kitchen, reading my Bible where the flashlight leads. I started reading The One Year Bible many months ago; yet, things are different now. I’ve lost the conveniences of lights, air-conditioning, resources, and time. The only thing I can hear is the roar of generators as the darkness battles against all the senses. Based on our recent events, the Bible has become more real to me than anything else in my life. My most recent reading passage brought me across Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” I literally broke down!

You see, I could only read as the flashlight led. I needed to see this – we all do. So many promises rushed into my mind blanketing my thoughts like a warm embrace. What overwhelmed me the most was basking in the Word as it “came to light.” Normally when we read, our brains are able to anticipate words (i.e., language) and look ahead for comprehension and contextual clues if you will. This is how we put sentences and paragraphs together for understanding.

Yet, while reading in complete darkness with a flashlight, I realized this was much harder. I simply couldn’t look ahead; I couldn’t anticipate what was next. I had to rely on what I could see in that very moment – Ah! What life application! Psalm 119:105 says it very clearly, “Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me and keep me from stumbling.” It IS that simple. While I finished reading for that evening, I was also reminded that while things around me/us appear to be in utter chaos, God is truly in control! He is truly with us. The loss of my conveniences do not compare to those around the world.

~I’m reminded of families in southeast Asia learning to read while sitting on dirt floors just wishing they had indoor plumbing and electricity.

~I’m reminded of African children walking miles to school while carrying water to and from struggling to survive.

~I’m reminded of missionaries in war-torn Middle Eastern countries sacrificing their lives to bring the Good News to a thirsty population.

~I’m reminded of the small communities along the Amazon River who fight flood waters seasonally and have to rebuild often.

I know we do not have to look very far to be reminded of our many blessings. However, as we rebuild in southwest Louisiana, I do pray that we never forget that God is with us just as it was illuminated in Joshua 1:9. We will rebuild stronger than before because God is our Banner – Jehovah Nissi – and our cornerstone. May God bless those who have lost so much and are dealing with the aftermath. May He open our eyes to the hurting and may God be glorified in the serving.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

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Trial by Senses

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

fire and water

[Interpretive Narrative]

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil [Psalm 23:4]. Yet the shivers down my spine cry for attention. Death. Pain. Heartache. Disease. You are Jehovah-Rapha, the God who heals, but standing on faith often feels like the hardest battle of all.

~When you feel like you’re drowning, the enemy falsely has you under water because my God has placed my feet on dry ground. Faith gives you the courage to take your next step while you see a wall of water on your left and right. God didn’t say you wouldn’t smell the sea as you pass, but He promised that the water wouldn’t overtake you.

~When you feel the intense heat and pressure, the enemy falsely has you under his grip because my God has placed another in the fire next to me. He is there to protect me under His mighty wing and bring me to safety for His glory. God didn’t say you wouldn’t smell the fire but you surely would not get burned.

~When you feel weighted down and hopeless, the enemy falsely has you in spiritual paralysis and without prayer because my God tells me that if I abide in Him and if His word abides in me, then anything I ask of Him will be done. God didn’t say that the stones would just fall from the sky, you have to pick them up and sling them toward your enemy.

~When you feel weak and overcome with fear, the enemy falsely has you in his pit of despair because my God tells me that He has not given me a spirit of fear but of power, love, and sound mind. God didn’t say you wouldn’t see the lions circling but he promised to shut their mouths in your presence.


Dear believers, please be in prayer for those who are suffering during this time and for those undergoing health issues of all sorts. We are surrounded, and for some of us, personally impacted by crises. I truly believe that Satan’s biggest weapon is manipulating our emotions and senses. Faith rises above and breaks these manipulations. Always remember to walk by faith and not by sight. May Jehovah-Rapha heal you wherever you are in the powerful name of Jesus Christ.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Keeping Pace

Fighting With Faith

Exodus 14:10-14

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Spiritual-Warefare

You get exactly what you see! Human eyes downloading the impossible. We cannot be too quick to judge the Israelites! Why? I’ve been there too. Your greatest fear chasing you down, and it’s breathing down your neck. You turn around and your human eyes are filled with despair, turmoil, anger, resentment, sadness, regret, and doom…it’s over.

A worldview through the lens of the soul will lead you to filter through your human mind, will, and emotions. The enemy you hear marching around the corner travels across the synapse of fear. This, my friend, is bondage.

A worldview through the lens of the Holy Spirit inside of you will lead you to filter through power and truth. The enemy you hear marching around the corner is nothing but an opportunity for God Almighty to fight for you; you need only to be still.

~When your back is up against the wall and you are truly trapped, be still.

~When you are out of answers and the world feels heavy, let the Lord fight for you.

~When the enemy marches insight and you hear their drums, stand firm and watch a miracle unfold before you.

~When the impossible laughs in your face, don’t blink because the waters open up and you’ll walk untouched as your enemy drowns.

Dear believers, we are more like the Israelites in this passage than we think. Many of you are facing battles or decisions that seem impossible. Some of you are wiping the spit off your face from the enemy shouting at you even now. Still, there are those few who believe the lie that it would be easier to just “turn back.” Oh dear brother and sister…faith!

I pray that you feel empowered today, even now, as you read this message to stand still as you face your enemy; let the Lord fight for you, and expect the impossible! May you be filled with the Holy Spirit and submit all authority of your soul and flesh under His power and truth. Live with eyes wide open and filtered through a spiritual lens. See everything through the promises of God. Surrender your mind, will, and emotions daily to the authority of the mighty Savior who lives inside of you and be lead by the Spirit. Smile knowing your back is never up against a wall when the Lord is your Shepherd. He will make a way and He is even able to create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Therefore,  shout a hallelujah!…smile!…and sing!…in the the presence of your enemy knowing God has made a way where there is none! I am asking, even now, that you stand up, be still, and praise Him for making a way! Do you believe?

~Do you believe you will walk on dry land?

~Do you believe He will create rivers in the dry wasteland?

~Do you believe He can heal with just a word?

~Do you believe His name is that powerful?

~Do you believe your enemy will watch you prevail?

~Do you believe you will be delivered?

BE STILL…AND LET THE LORD FIGHT FOR YOU!

Challenge: It’s time for a spiritual adjustment! Spirit – Soul – Flesh. May you be filled, daily, with the Holy Spirit and submit to His control.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Foundation Shaking Faith

Acts 16:16-34

Paul and Silas in Prison

16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

Holy Spirit Fire

~When chaos sounds his battle cry…sing songs of praise!

~When lies leap…pray!

~When bruised and beaten for believing…be still!

Oh this passage. This is truly one of my most favorite passages in the Bible. There are just so many lessons in this passage. Yet, I simply want to focus on the impact! – ground zero, foundation shaking, earth shifting, earthquake splitting – impact! You see, Paul and Silas were not complaining to each other about their unfair punishment. No, that’s not what you read. They didn’t use this time to validate the obvious – lies, torture, battered, and bruised. Instead, they exemplified what every Christian is called to do – consider it pure joy when you face various trials for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Following being beaten and chained…they prayed and sang.

But the impact…oh the ears that hear! Thank you Lord for speaking in such a time as this. Paul and Silas were not alone; their songs did not reverberate against cold stone walls and fall dead to the ground. No! These hymns penetrated earthly material like an arrow through a leaf! God’s truth dancing on the notes of hymns entered into the ears of the other prisoners. Nothing can stop a heart full of faith and truth, and nothing can stop holy spirit fire and power.

As their prayers and hymns filled the atmosphere, the foundation itself could no longer remain silent as it shook violently through the mighty hand of God…chain breaking, wall shaking, foundation swaying – FAITH. What happens next further intensifies the integrity of these believers – they stayed! Wait! Yes…they stayed! In fact, when the jailer woke up, he thought the prisoners had escaped and he was about to kill himself – but wait! “Don’t harm yourself,” Paul said, “We are all here!”

Be still…the true testament of peace is when you don’t run out of fear just because you see one opening…[pause]…that is speaking to someone even now. Can’t you just feel the blanket of peace as Paul and Silas prayed and sang those hymns? Broken chains and an opened door did not mean they were free to run – they were mission-minded which allowed them to be still and witness to the jailer. This act of faith resulted in an entire family receiving Jesus that night and being baptized, and don’t ever miss this…”he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.” A man just moments prior on the verge of suicide, lost without God, now filled with the joy of the Lord because two men who didn’t look at their pain, bruises, hurt, or situation; instead, they prayed, sang…and stayed!

Challenge: What doors are you running through without first being still and letting God do the impossible? This week, I challenge you to be mission-minded wherever you are! Sometimes we are seeking a quick exit when God just wants to shake the foundation you’re already on! I also encourage you to speak life in your marketplace of life. Don’t forget to pray and sing instead of grumble and complain for you never know who’s listening! May God Almighty be glorified in everything we do in word or deed.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

In Your Wake

Mark 6:56

56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

water ripples

Ripples…look how beautiful! One tiny action sets a rhythmic and powerful reaction into motion. I can honestly get lost in this picture alone. The raindrops can represent so many things! What do you see?

I see tears from a worried soul. Her future, once filled with decades of yellows, pinks, and reds, have turned to uncertain gray. The enemy eagerly walks between the ripples as he names each one: fear, anxiety, anger, and regret. 

I also see sweat drops from the brow of a worker. He tirelessly plows and tends his field for he knows you reap what you sow. He never gives up and his relentless attention to detail brings him great prosperity. His eyes dance across the ripples as they speak back to him: faith, hope, love, kindness, and goodness.

I see the first drops of a morning rain. Water that cleanses division. These drops gather together in one body as it fully understands the body of Christ – “If one suffers, we all suffer; if one is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it.” These ripples speak in one accord: love God, love people, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you. 

As I read the passage above in Mark, I envision Jesus leaving a massive wake of spiritual blessings behind Him everywhere He went. He embodied the fullness of God yet He was also fully man. The ripples He left behind continue to shatter the darkness today. The day my Jesus died to take away the sins of the entire world, was the very day that the largest spiritual wake was formed. Jesus spilled His blood which caused the biggest wake in spiritual history and all of eternity. 

Challenge: In times of uncertainty and strife, may we hold on to the ripples of our Savior and make our own! Be the agent of change through Christ’s love in a world that knows only darkness. God bless you.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta