Less and Less

John 3:30

30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

ladder of success

I just love the running community. This weekend we are celebrating the Beauregard Watermelon Festival here in Beauregard Parish. All the area runners come out in support of the Beauregard Christian Women’s Job Corp to run the local 5K. It is notorious for being hot, fast, and fun. This year did not disappoint.

We all love the competition and seeing who will place year after year; however, the goal is simply to finish which is an accomplishment in and of itself. After the award medals were placed around the winners’ necks and celebratory chatter died down, I couldn’t help but think about our Christian walk.

We spend our entire lives climbing the ladder of success in all aspects of our lives not just professionally. Our society teaches us to climb as high as we can. Some worldly philosophies would even support jostling your competition just to surpass him or her. Don’t get me wrong, I love races and winning medals, but when it comes to our walk with God, I want us to consider this verse in John that says, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”

As we elevate Christ, we become less important [pridefully speaking]. You see, it truly isn’t about you or me – are you shocked? Of course you’re not! Matthew 20:28 also says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Yes, God incarnate came to serve others and to give his life for many who would spit on him, punch him, beat him, curse him, and nail him to a tree. Sadly, we are still doing that today. Even as believers, we abuse grace for recurrent sin. Instead of elevating Christ, we continue to lose focus on the prize – being a powerful witness. You can’t be a witness when you are too busy jostling people off your spiritual ladder.

I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to dig deep within your soul. Flip your ladder upside down. While the world is climbing a ladder that will rust and fade away, spend time working your way off the pride ladder. Let God change the rungs so when you step back on, you step on the rung of mercy, then grace, then peace, then patience, then kindness, then thankfulness. Before long, you are at the top…however, the world will see only Christ in you as you are elevated high like a bright light. Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” So I’m going to keep climbing but in the fruits of the Spirit and not flesh so that Jesus will become greater and greater, and I will become less and less.

Question: What do people see at the top of your ladder? Personal Pride or Christ Himself

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Immeasurably More

Ephesians 3:20

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

By Faith

[Narrative by Christian Armetta]

My ears spontaneously dim the environmental noise echoing from the crowded whispers. The hairs on my arm instinctively respond to a spiritual call. The Holy Spirit widens my narrow pupils and indescribable colors appear to dance above the beloved.

A spiritual magnet is released from the pastor’s breath as he proclaims a healing service. Legalism and traditionalism announce their rightful place at the center of the aisle. Who would dare attempt to pass through their narrow vestibule to get to the wounded sitting behind them?

Without further thought, the chosen spring up and confidently draw near. Each step is protected as angels dress the warriors with the armor of God. An army presses while eyes are unveiled to the spiritual readiness from the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. 

In tandem, the forces of legalism and traditionalism link arms creating a barrier in the resounding prayer. The army draws strength from the Almighty as light pierces the darkness. Outstretched hands release a guttural cry that only the Holy Spirit can discern. Voices marinate in God’s cleansing basin at the altar of faith. Oil now drips from each brow of the anointed.

The enemy, sensing defeat, calls forth the fallen and chains begin to separate the healing light. Through unconscious tongue and endless petition, Christ steps forward and breaks the chain of darkness! Healing light flows through the prayers into the depths of physical matter. As the prayers begin to calm and flutter into the Holy of Holies, the body of Christ strengthens under the obedience of the chosen.

Faith wins!

[We continue to pray for our brother in Christ and his family this day and every day.]

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

————————-

In collaboration with my dear friend Ms. Rita Harris, please continue reading her words below:

Question: “Why do we go to the Lord God Almighty in prayer with limited expectations when He is an unlimited God?”

Let’s think about it! When’s the last time you asked your spouse, a friend, a co-worker for a few bucks? First of all, you go to them because you believe they have it and secondly, you trust that if they have it, they’ll give it to you, right? We dare not ask for more than they could give…because we realize most of the people we know are limited in the amount that they can give us.

God’s Word says, in Ephesians 3:20, “Now unto him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

This power is the Witness, Holy Spirit, who bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. As children, we are heirs, coheirs with Christ!

Therefore, we CAN expect that the impossible is made possible in Christ alone! Let’s begin taking Him at His Word. Let’s begin to exercise our faith in the ONLY One who is faithful!

Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Much love and blessings,

Rita

Timing is Everything

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.

blueberry tree

How does God teach us about His perfect timing through an episode of picking blueberries?

I must admit, my wife, Aimee, is better at picking blueberries than I am because she definitely has more patience. Recently, Aimee made a profound statement while we were out picking blueberries in the backyard. She said, “Isn’t it amazing how God turns the blueberries ripe in phases! If all the blueberries were to turn ripe at the same time, many of them would spoil. His timing is perfect.” This application should most certainly resonate with your spirit.

God has graciously gifted human beings with the ability to organize, sequence, problem-solve and reason life’s most difficult tasks. This is what separates humans from other animals. Yet the Bible makes it very clear that we cannot even fathom what God has done from beginning to end. God’s ways are far beyond our understanding, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

To some, this is a great challenge because you strive to stay in complete control. Stress and depression appear to sneak in during these times because frankly we are losing the grip on our circumstances or environment altogether. We take the reins from God and say, “I’ve got this Lord. You obviously need some help.” Then…disaster strikes because we failed to wait on the Lord.

~Why is it so hard to wait on God’s perfect timing?

~Why can we understand how seasons change and fruit ripens in God’s timing, yet we cannot accept spiritual delays in our own lives?

Sadly, our current society teaches us that waiting on anything means you aren’t trying hard enough. One example includes making purchases you cannot afford. What happened to saving up money and spending it wisely? Oh yes, I know…the American dream has warped into the “no need to wait when you can have it now” dream. This type of thinking tarnishes not only finances but also relationships. We see all through God’s word that His timing is perfect. We should wait on the Lord.

Psalm 27:14, “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.”

I encourage you this day to look around you. Look for God’s beautiful examples of His perfect timing. Yes, remember timing is everything; however, God’s perfect timing is paramount to your joy, peace, patience, and even happiness. We find such freedom when we place the reins back in God’s hands.

Question: What are you trying to control?

Challenge: Wait on the Lord and bask in His freedom.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Judging Others

Matthew 7:1-5

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

judgement

The tongue brings forth both praise and condemnation almost within the same breath. We’ve all heard the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” However, I want to take this a step further by saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, ask God to reveal your own plank so the Master Surgeon can skillfully remove this evil from your body.”

James 3:8-9, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.”

Yes, I’ve heard it all! You say, “But her sin is greater than mine!” “She went down a dark road and ruined many lives.” “He lives in sin yet comes to church like nothing is wrong.” The list is endless! Yet, the mirror image of your condemnation tarnishes your very own appearance.

The stumbling block verbally created by linguistically simple phrases blocks spiritual progress in the body of Christ. In other words, it doesn’t take much effort and much movement within the mouth to destroy not just one person but an entire assembly through relentless gossip, judgement, and hate.

~Venom projects into the body of Christ with such articulate morphology of evil overtones.

~Charisma masks the hatred under the skin in order to draw others into the stumbling block of defeat.

~A critical spirit takes residence within the laryngeal vestibule.

~Speech is filtered now through evil intentions.

~What can break this type of stronghold? The NAME OF JESUS!

Philippians 2:9-11

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Dear believers, we come together and ask that God pierce us all against such sinfulness masquerading as concern for others. The simple truth is…you are gossiping and holding the body of Christ hostage with your entangled words. No one is immune to the simplicity of this mighty sin. Therefore, if you truly have nothing nice to say, I ask that the Holy Spirit humble you at that very moment. Seek His face in order that your words may be uplifting and beneficial to those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Question: Have you allowed your tongue to produce venomous condemnation or fruitful edification?

Challenge: Ask God to place a spiritual mirror in your face at the very moment you feel the desire to condemn others?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

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