Perfect Love

1 John 4:18-19

18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.19 We love because He first loved us.

victory

It has been a long day, but these words circulate through her mind like a broken record, “Is it really over? Do I have the energy to fight for this marriage any longer?” She musters the strength to clock out after a 12 hour nursing shift which only leads to acknowledging bottled up emotions from a broken marriage.

She finds herself driving home in “autopilot” unaware of stop signs and passing emergency vehicles because fear has overwhelmed her senses. The thoughts once implanted deep within her brain have quickly surfaced into a single person dialogue. She thinks, “Why doesn’t he love me like I need to be loved? He’s just so angry all the time! Where did it all go wrong?” Yet, this time she hears a reply, “He doesn’t love you, and you aren’t good enough.” Stunned, she reflexively slams on the breaks yet her feet never move. She is disoriented because her reality doesn’t match her emotions. She quickly pulls over to catch her breath, “Am I having a nervous breakdown?” she thinks. At that very moment fear is born and rapidly growing.

As she enters through the front door of their single story country home, she shuts the door ever so softly hoping not to be noticed. She just can’t find the strength to argue any more. She removes her shoes and slides across the living room floor as anxiety and frustration increase. Her thoughts begin to take control, “Why do I have to act like this in my own home? I’m done with him and living like this!” As she enters the bedroom, her fears quickly multiply as she comes face to face with her husband. “Why are you just standing there?” she says forcefully. “Better yet, don’t answer that. I don’t have the energy to argue with you. Just get out of my way; don’t talk to me, and leave me alone. I’m obviously not good enough for you so why even try!”

As she walks around him, her eyes are unveiled for the first time in months. She sees roses and love notes scattered across the room. Her fear is crippling and attempts to induce confusion. “Wait, um, what is all of this?” she says under her breath hoping not to cry. He takes her hand and begins to speak, “I’ve been praying and God has revealed His perfect love to me. Even more, He has convicted me, and I first want to say I’m sorry.”

At that very moment, perfect love drives out all fear from their home and the Holy Spirit is allowed to begin the healing process. Trust and mutual respect will be restored. Love and generosity replace resentment and bitterness.

God reminds us that His design is perfect. His love is perfect. In fact, He sent His Son to die on a cross to save the entire world out of perfect love and perfect obedience. What a beautiful example for us all! Dear friends, always remember that fear is a spirit, one that we should not welcome and one that is not from our heavenly Father. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Perfect love is so powerful, Christ-centered love, that it drives out fear.

Satan is well aware that He is no match for the Father, but the evil one has convinced you, your family, your relationships, your friends, etc. that bitterness, fear, anger, resentment, and failure are inevitable. Today we say – NO MORE! Under the blood covering of Jesus Christ, we take back our families and relationships as we stand on perfect love! We shall never forget that Jesus Christ is the author of perfect love, and we will thrive on His cornerstone.

Question: Are you in a struggling relationship? How will you use “perfect love” to drive out fear?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Keep Going!

Galatians 6:9

So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.

never give up

Will it ever end? Maybe those words have crossed your mind this week. Between reoccurring natural disasters and the recent attack on innocent lives, there is a lot to mourn. In fact, The Psalmist said it best in Psalm 56:8, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

Is God paying attention? YES!

Does He care? OF COURSE!

Is He still in control? ABSOLUTELY!

What strikes me the most is learning to remain faithful through tragedy. In essence, I yearn to have a “prison like deliverance” similar to Paul and Silas. You see, they chose to pray and sing hymns while in jail…did you catch that? Did they sulk? No, quite the opposite; they were praising God and being powerful examples of Christ in the worst of environments. The best part of the story could arguably be the resultant salvation of the guard and his family…wow! It all started with worship in the midst of tragedy. Please hear me when I say that dear friends…it starts with simply focusing on Christ and humbly worshiping the Creator; the One who is ultimately in control!

You have no idea who is watching you! You are charged with being pillars and examples of the Most High! You have a powerful responsibility to praise during tragedy; start with worship and expect God to always show up! If you believe, the Spirit is willing and able! So, do not get tired of doing good! Keep pressing forward in the faith and making disciples. Remember, you are in the business of Kingdom authority.

P.S. Check out this great blogger who posts inspirational messages on life and faith in God: “Humble Mumblings” by Ali – click here.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Don’t get Sidetracked

Proverbs 4:26-27

26 Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. 27 Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

winding path

Damian storms out of the house well past curfew seeking to fulfill his addiction. His mother cries out in a strong yet depleted voice, “Please stay home my son–not again–let us help you!” Her words reach the front door just as he shuts it closed. She slumps in her chair and offers a prayer similar to the ones before: “Dear Lord, he is my son, and I love him so much. I pray that you will continue to place your watch care over him even though he is not listening or seeking you! Pierce his heart for all things holy and pure, and draw him closer to you each and every day. Above all things, Lord, give us peace, comfort, and direction as we continue to minister to our son. We ask all these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.” Damian wanders a crooked path welcoming destruction. It is almost as if sin and all things evil are attracted to him. His life-choices mimic open gates inviting loss, heartache, ravage, extinction, havoc, rebellion, and downfall. He projects these demons onto his family and those around him out of hate. Yet, through the faithful prayers of his family, church, and friends, he will soon experience deliverance. His tragedies will soon become his testimony. Once bound by addiction, he will lead the masses to acceptance in Christ.

Dear friends, what do you see from this passage in Proverbs? I see preparation, “Mark out a straight path for your feet.” Marking any path takes time, study, practice, and implementation. We cannot expect to succeed in this life by simply wearing Christian-themed T-shirts or slapping a catchy biblical bumper sticker to our cars. While these things are “good”, they do not closely define our Christian walk. I strongly encourage you to dig deep into God’s Word where you can study His principles and practice! Prepare your Christian walk and remain on the straight path – “stay on the safe path.” When you are prepared, you are able to remain focused, keeping your feet far from evil.

Thoughts: Do you find yourself becoming spiritually sidetracked and removing your feet from His safe path? How will you combat this today?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

 

It Won’t Help!

Matthew 6:27

“27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”

The doctor closes the exam door leaving a depleted man and his hopeful spouse to contemplate the plan of care proposed for the next six weeks. The prayerful yet cautious bride finally speaks up. She walks over and grabs her husband’s hand yet it wasn’t the same. The strong hands that once held her while she delivered their three children years ago now appear weak and worn. She gently squeezes in hopes of initiating a powerful return yet his eyes speak a different story – tired and defeated. 

Just as he closes his eyes, she longs for the days of driving with the top down through the Rocky Mountains while singing old country songs, dancing in the kitchen when the kids were all asleep because it was more fun than washing a sink full of dishes, and sitting poolside reading a book and talking about the future. 

She is quickly drawn back to reality when she hears the doctor clear his throat from across the room. She thinks, “When did he come back in? I didn’t hear him enter?” The doctor says, “Have you all given some thought to the plan of care?” She collapses in anxiety as the weight of the world and the hopes for their family crumble around her. “No,” she answers, “We haven’t been able to talk; he’s just too tired.” As the doctor turns to walk away, she manages to grab the corner of his medical coat. He turns his head while his body remains opposed. He says, “Yes, do you have a question?” She embraces him without return and whispers, “I worry about him day and night! I can’t eat or sleep. What do you mean he only has three months to live? I will waste away worrying so you must promise me that he will get better.” 

The doctor who initially appeared to have very little empathy removed a small Bible from his jacket pocket and said, “I too received some bad news today but couldn’t leave my job. You see, my grandmother passed away today, and I will miss her funeral this week. I loved her like a second mother! I cling to the cross and to the hope we have in Christ to keep my feet moving, one step at a time. For the Word tells us that all our worries won’t add a single hour to our lives so I give it all back to Him in full surrender; it’s truly the only thing left I can do.” 

With tear-filled eyes, he hands her the Bible, and he walks away. She gently holds the Word as she sits at the bedside watching her soulmate rest. She opens the Bible and reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11). 

As she closes her eyes to pray she hears her husband whisper, “Dear, what are you doing?” She replies with a reverent heart, “I’m releasing all my worries to God for tomorrow is a new day and we will rejoice for He is good no matter our outcome.” At just that moment, the husband says, “You finally understand my love, and now we can truly live!” 

Thought: Life is filled with stress, disaster, twists, and turns. How will you respond? 

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

The Chase

Ezekiel 34:11-12

“For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.”

reaching

The seeker aimlessly wanders the broken road chasing the things of this world in an attempt to fill a God-shaped hole. The chase is lonely and unfulfilling. At every stop, the wanderer succumbs to the traps devilishly placed to distract him further from the truth.

He cries out, “How can I be fulfilled?” Confusion sets in like a dark cloud with the goal to suffocate any chance of light. Desperation replaces hope. The dark voices multiply and spew words of failure. The seeker can no longer hear the cloud of witnesses offering encouragement as his eyes have been long removed from the cross.

He says, “This journey is entirely too hard.” So, he takes the first step off the path, and he sits. In his vulnerability, the dark powers encroach upon his space in the last efforts to destroy. Yet, in the deepest of spiritual valleys, a burst of light scatters the darkness. For while the seeker was resting, he offered a simple prayer acknowledging his wayward ways; he made a choice to no longer chase the things of this world; instead, his Spirit reached to the Father who was chasing him the entire time.

The embrace between the Father and His child was blinding. All evil was repelled. The Father’s wing enveloped His child which offered security and rest. The seeker was transformed into the select!

bench

I am beyond encouraged by this passage in Ezekiel! Not only does our Savior seek us out, but He RESCUES us when we’ve been scattered by the dark forces! YES! I can truly picture this in my head…God the Father reaching down in a mighty force to rescue the scattered. His mighty right hand is strong, precise, yet tender.

I pray dear friends that you stop chasing the things of this world! This includes chasing people – anything you place before God is an idol. We must be powerful witnesses to His Kingdom. Is it time for a personal purge? What are you chasing or even holding on to that is preventing the Spirit from working fully in your life? God is a rescuer – allow it!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Broken Things

Exodus 4:10-13

10 But Moses replied to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent—either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant—because I am slow and hesitant in speech.” 11 Yahweh said to him, “Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh? 12 Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.” 13 Moses said, “Please, Lord, send someone else.”

Imperfection

B – Bound by human restraints yet freed through His sacrifice

R – Reluctant to submit to His kingdom authority when fear cripples the senses

O – Oppressed in our human limitations yet inexhaustible in the Spirit

K – Kneeling before the throne offering our imperfections as our only sacrifice

E – Exalting the Savior and edifying the believers through spiritual freedom

N – Nail-pierced markings on the Lamb who corrected all of humanity’s iniquities

“Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh?” – Yes, Lord it is YOU! Please forgive our unbelief! What do you see in your “broken things”? First, we see in this passage above that Moses himself was bound by his imperfections. Ah, there we find Satan yet again – convincing you that you are bound by your perceived limitations.

I can completely relate to Moses! Earlier in this passage, Moses battled unbelief and the fear of being perceived as a liar – and possibly fear of being perceived as crazy –  when he stated, “What if they won’t believe me and will not obey me but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” (Exodus 4:1)

God at that very moment provided several miraculous signs that He would bestow upon Moses to convince the Israelites that Yahweh did in fact appear before Moses. Following these miraculous signs, we see the enemy step in through the gate of doubt! This is a powerful lesson my dear friends. God not only gave a directive, which is reason enough to obey, but He also provided signs and wonders to battle against doubt. Yet, Moses’ immediate response was ‘Nope-not me! Send someone else-please-I’m just not good enough and here are the reasons why Lord!’

Wow! Yes, you hear yourself in that same rebuttal don’t you? We all do! What amazes me the most is that God already knew! Father God is the very one who stitched Moses together in the first place. Yahweh intimately knew every part of Moses – his strengths AND weaknesses. Did that stop God from using “broken things”? – resounding NO!

Question: What are your “broken things”? Are you allowing Satan to convince you that these imperfections – from a human’s perspective – prevent you from God’s work? Well my friend, we just exposed one of Satan’s number one mental tactics, and we rebuke these lies in the powerful name of Jesus Christ. The Bible is filled with examples of God using human imperfections to accomplish His purpose. Remember, He is God and you are not!

~You do not have to speak eloquently to move the masses.

~You do not have to recite prayers with fluent semantics to prompt the Spirit.

~You do not have to have a strong stature to take down giants.

I rest on 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Thought: It may be time to stop asking God to remove a personal weakness and instead place it at His altar for service.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta