Deception

Galatians 6:7-10

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Spiritually Blinded
Spiritually Blinded Photo by Rachel Clare

[Narrative]

You walk through refracted stained glass while admiring the consonant intervals being played by anointed hands. Your God-given gift of worship leaps from your resonant chambers, which had been carefully stitched together by the Creator Himself. The atmosphere of omnipotence and omniscience silences Satan’s lies that begin to form; yet you refuse to resist the devil due to unrelenting pride. Selfish motives begin to float across the sanctuary attaching to innocent believers like the morning dew. The door has been opened and in walks Satan himself…surprised? We shouldn’t be!

The battle for the mind ensues. As Satan continues to convince you that you alone are worthy, your voice strengthens with the power of darkness. Before long, Satan has taught you how to masterfully unwind the Treble clef into a whip used to battle your ministers. What was once used for God’s service has now been altered to destroy His servants. As you continue to spew death from your tongue your arm lurches forward preparing a lasting wound from your tainted whip…until!

You are stopped in mid-strike! The abrupt cessation of movement slants Satan’s blindfold from your eyes. With crescent sight, you see a heavenly host extinguishing multiple flames. With forgiveness in your tears, you cry out to the Lord – the One who came to set the captives free! God’s mercy and grace consume your spirit. The altar welcomes your release as you exchange your chains for a crown.

Before turning back, you feel a burning within your hand. The Treble clef that Satan had transformed into a whip has returned to its natural position. Your hand raises which releases a song of freedom into the atmosphere allowing the ground to shake within the sanctuary. Your eyes are unveiled and you see angels carrying musical notes to the Savior. Pride has been destroyed and your heart of worship has been restored!

Question: What does your heart of worship look like? A mangled Treble clef in the shape of a whip used to battle ministers or a heart full of praise that glorifies God alone in humble spirit.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Scales

Luke 24:13-35 [Read Entire Passage]

The Walk to Emmaus

35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread.

Recently, I was blessed to share this personal revelation at church. I am thankful for my pastor and the truth he preaches. His words are sprouting new spiritual growth within many whom the Holy Spirit has prepared. It is time that we see the body of Christ as community minded and not consumers. Are you ready to make the change?

Let’s think about this passage for a moment. If the two men who were walking and discussing the recent events of Jesus’ death were consumers, they would have failed to commune in conversation with the stranger (i.e., Jesus) on the road to Emmaus. Why? In our current culture, we don’t want to be bothered. It’s easier to go through the self check-out line instead of actually talking to a cashier. Satan has convinced even the strongest believers that life is an inconvenience. Don’t get me wrong! I love a quick self check-out register; however, aren’t we missing the bigger picture here? What encounters are we missing by frankly running away from people? My dear friend Mrs. Rita has also opened my eyes to this very practice.

Sadly, we simply don’t want to be bothered. We are too absorbed into our own lives that we miss heavenly encounters on our daily road. As consumers, these two men on the road to Emmaus would have ignored the stranger walking the same path because he was not originally part of their group. As community minded, we should see others as an opportunity to share, anytime and anywhere.

As the men approached the village, Jesus continued to walk acting as if He were going on to his final destination. However, the two men begged Him to stay for the evening because it was getting late. As consumers, the two men would have never even had a thought to ask Jesus to stay with them. This would have been too much of an inconvenience. As community minded, these men sought to impart compassion and hospitality which ended up being a life changing blessing. How often do we let heaven’s blessings continue to walk away because we are consuming instead of being aware?

My greatest personal revelation comes from the verb acted. 28 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, 29 but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. 

My dear friends, we are missing it! This quick pragmatic exchange resulted in a personal encounter with the Savior of the world! What would have happened if these two men were more concerned with self-preservation? What if they thought, “This stranger is nice but we have come to our destination and we just don’t have any more food or enough space to let him stay so he’s on his own.” What if these two men truly had these selfish thoughts?

Better yet, how many times have you let Jesus continue to walk when He just wanted to come in and stay? [Pause]…me, sadly, too many times.

30 As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them.31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!”

As consumers, these two men would have missed the biggest blessing of their lives. As community minded believers, they witnessed the power of God before them, shared their word of testimony, and that word continues to be shared today over 2,000 years later! A single encounter with Jesus can and will alter life forever!

I simply want us to get it. The road to Emmaus is our road. It’s your highway that cuts through the heart of your city. It’s the back roads of the hill country. It’s the hallway you walk down at your job. What and who are you missing by failing to commune in love while you walk these roads? How many angels do we fail to entertain because we are simply self-absorbed? What blessings are you failing to impart onto others because you simply are too busy to see the need around you?

I encourage you to be community minded (as my pastor would say) and not consumers. As Christ-followers, we should blow God’s presence out in complete oscillation around us.

Challenge: Pray that God removes the scales from your eyes so you can truly see.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Shelter

Psalm 121

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

FullSizeRender

[Narrative]

Lungs ache for the pure breath of serenity. The unpredictable road is littered with distractions, failures, disappointments, and traps. The evil one unleashes his army along the path to draw you into the wilderness.

Through the parade of evil intentions, you look up to the mountains and cry out, “Does my help come from there?” A still small voice breaks through the atmosphere of despair and proclaims, “Your help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!”

The announcement alone shakes the foundation of the earth. Rocks cry out, “You are worthy!” The quake removes scales from your eyes. What you once viewed as beautiful, enticing, and acceptable now stand before you in the form of serpents and dragons. These monstrous beings have been identified and can no longer stand under the weight of God’s proclamation. Although rebellious, they fall to their knees and bow their heads!

Through complete permeability, these evil beings release unrelenting fear into your mind. However, your spirit proclaims 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

The rolling thunder and darkened clouds announce the second wave of attacks. The evil one gathered his very best to steal, kill, and destroy. Anxiety-ridden, your spiritual ears begin to hear the drums of warfare instead of angelic psalm. Your eyes begin to see elements of destruction instead of Jehovah Shalom.

In humble submission, you lay prostrate before the Lord. Immediately, silence falls upon the earth. Without peering up, your spiritual eyes are overwhelmed with wide-angle vision. The One who promises to watch over you like a shade has halted an entire force with His outstretched arms. He has silenced the noise. He has obliterated the prince of confusion with just His presence. With unimaginable authority He speaks…”I, the Lord of heaven and earth, keep my flock from harm. I, the Lord of heaven’s armies, watch over them wherever they go now and forever.”

Dear believer, live in peace today – everyday! In this life, we most certainly will experience pain, suffering, and consequences of disobedience. However, God’s promises never change. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Humble yourself this moment and pray that God overwhelms you with His perfect characteristics each and every day as you walk your life’s road.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

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