Fraudulent

Jeremiah 23:1-4

23 “How terrible it will be for the leaders of Judah. They are destroying my people. They are making them run in all directions,” says the Lord.

They are responsible for the people. And the Lord, the God of Israel, says to them: “You have made my people run away in all directions. You have forced them away. And you have not taken care of them. So I will punish you for the evil things you have done,” says the Lord. “I sent my people to other countries. But I will gather my people who are left alive. And I will bring them back to their own country. When they are back in their own land, they will have many children. And they will grow in number. I will place new leaders over my people. They will take care of my people. And my people will not be afraid or terrified. None of them will be lost,” says the Lord.

spirituallyblind

[Interpretive]

You lead the masses through your strong arm of influence. The spiritually blind accept your words like an infant desiring nourishment. The cloak of deception blinds the crowd to your splintered tongue. Your followers reach the edge of truth and blindly fall into the valley of deception. Charism, intelligence, and wisdom hide the stench of lies, hypocrisy, and pride. You defile the inner sanctuary and set traps for the weak. The destructive goal cannot be satisfied as ego, control, and fame continue to ignite your passion. The crowd shouts your name; the congregation longs to hear from you, oh deceitful one. Truth cannot be found on your lips as your dark chariot awaits.

Yet, the warriors among you know your name. Their discernment comes from the Lord. The Holy Spirit shields your fiery darts from the elect. Your filth is uncovered and your wicked ways will be made known. The belt of truth girds all the other pieces of our armor. The sword of the Spirit is sharper than anything from your mouth and it pierces even to the division of soul and spirit. Your wicked ways are no match for God’s army and you will face judgement. Your false kingdom will fall. Your hypnotic timbre is nothing but clanging parlance. The secret prayers of the faithful will destroy your weak foundation. You have been identified and your kingdom will be destroy along with you.


I read Jeremiah 23 as part of a daily devotion today, and it really opened my eyes. The Bible makes it very clear that there will be false teachers among you. Yet, are we really spiritually in-tune to recognize these false prophets, leaders, and teachers? It is vital that we keep our eyes on the good Shepherd, Jesus. I strongly encourage you to surround your church leadership teams and bathe them in prayer. I also find it vital to assess the spiritual health of your leaders. Who are you following and why? Be cautious submitting to the authority of a false teacher, one who speaks with honey yet his actions detail venom.

Challenge: Seek truth; open your spiritual eyes; pray without ceasing; guard your heart; and put on the full armor of God as you go out and battle in this deceitful world.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Love Letter in the Sky

Psalm 121:2

My help comes from the Lordthe maker of heaven and earth.

1 Kings 8:23

23 He said: “Lord, God of Israel, there is no god like you. There is no god like you in heaven above or on the earth below. You make agreements with your people because you love them. And you keep your agreements with those who truly follow you.

relentlessly-loves

We stand amazed at Your mighty hand…strong enough to crush the tallest mountain yet delicate enough to paint an evening sky.

~Love Letter in the Sky

The morning sun shouts your praise as the rays produce a miraculous symphony.

~Love Letter in the Sky

The smell of rain ignites choral worship as the wheat fields sway in harmony and agreement.

~Love Letter in the Sky

Your breath alone is strong enough to singe the enemy’s force and the stones cry out, “Great is the Lord!”

~Love Letter in the Sky

Thunder claps and lighting strikes in perfect rhythm announcing your great return.

~Love Letter in the Sky

The sea in glorious humility reflects the sun, moon, and stars as we gaze upon your radiance from both above and below.

~Love Letter in the Sky

Clouds stand at attention in complete solidarity for even they know who controls their movements.

~Love Letter in the Sky

Your church, Your very people grow fruit that only comes from being rooted in the vine, Jesus Christ, whom You gave as a gift from above.

~Love Letter in the Sky

Challenge: This month, take time to thank God for His masterpiece, which includes people like you. He is truly the maker of heaven and earth. For starters, this requires us to be still and know that He is God…be still! This is very hard for many of us. Breathe in His blessings and praise Him for His promises. Never get too busy to miss His love letters spoken directly to you. This could be a sunset, fellowship with friends, etc. Most importantly, do not miss the greatest love letter – His Son Jesus Christ. This love letter was sent to die for your sins…will you open and accept His letter to you?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Chasing Jesus

Philippians 4:11-13

11 I am telling you this, but it is not because I need anything. I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. 12 I know how to live when I am poor. And I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens. I have learned to be happy when I have enough to eat and when I do not have enough to eat. I have learned to be happy when I have all that I need and when I do not have the things I need. 13 I can do all things through Christ because he gives me strength.

contentment

I am finding more and more passages, lately, pointing us back to true contentment in Christ. I find that chasing after Christ is truly a mirror reflection of The Parable of the Wandering Sheep in Matthew.

Matthew 18:12, “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.”

So what does this all mean. In the same way that the shepherd finds happiness chasing after the one, we cannot find true contentment unless we are chasing after the only ONE.

When you are walking unveiled and on purpose, do not be surprised when those around you attempt to correct you. I’ve heard, “You’re chasing after people, a thing, a group, a friend, a pastor, a movement, [fill-in-the-blank].” First and foremost, chasing after things of this world will only result in chains, heartbreak, bondage, death, and destruction. However, chasing after the “things” above will offer peace as a weapon, restoration as a tool, and contentment as a promise. It is very important to understand the difference.

So, no…I don’t chase after people or one single person because they make me feel special or build my personal pride. No, I don’t chase after organizations or groups just because they claim to offer personal satisfaction. I chase after one thing – Christ alone.

This may look different to you. I may worship differently than you. I may pray differently than you. I may actually attend different churches to experience different fellowship. The one thing it is not – chasing after people or things. It is also most certainly not chasing after things of this world. Just as the passage above directs us, I am learning to be truly content.

How would you continue these comparisons with your life? Peace vs. Worry; Contentment vs. Envy; Calm vs. Anger; Freedom vs. Control; Full vs. Empty; Cherished vs. Burdened;  Quality vs. Selfish.

Challenge: Dear friends, stop comparing your life to those around you. Stop judging those you claim to love. Live in true contentment with Christ. Find yourself chasing after Him!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

When the King Dreamed

John 6:38-40; 51

38 I came down from heaven to do what God wants me to do. I did not come to do what I want to do. 39 I must not lose even one of those that God has given me, but I must raise them up on the last day. This is what the One who sent me wants me to do. 40 Everyone who sees the Son and believes in him has eternal life. I will raise him up on the last day. This is what my Father wants.”

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh. I will give my flesh so that the people in the world may have life.”

baby jesus

[Narrative]

~When the King dreamed…His eyelids danced with excitement to the rhythm of an unconscious lullaby. Was He dreaming of the angelic choir that He watched joyfully sing God’s praises in Heaven above?

~When the King dreamed…His arms and legs jumped in enthusiastic applause. Was He dreaming of Father God rising from His throne in holy majesty?

~When the King dreamed…His mouth positioned the simplest of smiles in mirror reflection of joy. Was He reminiscing about long walks with the Father on the streets of gold?

The day the King died on a cross, His dreams were revealed…His eyelids danced with excitement for He saw the day I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. His arms and legs jumped with enthusiasm because He saw me following His commands and leading others to Christ. He smiled because He saw me standing next to Him meeting God Almighty when He gets to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

You see, when the King dreamed…He dreamed of meeting you and me because that was the will of the Father. For Jesus came to fulfill His Father’s will. He submitted Himself to the Father and gave us the greatest gift in all of the world – salvation. This Christmas, let us share the real reason why Jesus came and what He was dreaming about!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Still Standing

Ephesians 6:10-18

Wear the Full Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his great power. 11 Wear the full armor of God. Wear God’s armor so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks. 12 Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world. 13 That is why you need to get God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing. 14 So stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist. And on your chest wear the protection of right living. 15 And on your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong. 16 And also use the shield of faith. With that you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One. 17 Accept God’s salvation to be your helmet. And take the sword of the Spirit—that sword is the teaching of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times. Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready. Never give up. Always pray for all God’s people.

armor of god

I’m reading a devotion via the Bible app with some friends called “Spirit Wars: An 8-Day Devotional” by Kris Vallotton. If you have an opportunity to check this devotion out, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Today’s message was based on this well-known passage…[pause]…yes, well-known, but how many of us actually do this each and every day?

These words are bold commands, not suggestions: Be Strong, Wear, Fight, Get God’s Armor, Stand Strong, Use, Stop, Accept, Take, Pray, Do This, etc. Sadly, we fail to do these very things each day. Satan wants you busy; he wants you distracted. The enemy most certainly wants nothing more than you to wake up late, fail to spend time in the word, avoid prayer because you don’t have time, and forget to put on your armor. This is where accountability and spiritual maturity come into play. You must exercise these practices in order to build spiritual strength in the same way we build physical strength. Also, you must have an accountability partner or team that will help you stay on track. Remember, two are better than one!

What I love about reading the Word is that it is alive and personal. The Holy Spirit touches each person in a unique and special way through the same Scripture. While reading this passage today, I was struck with this simple yet powerful statement in verse 13, “That is why you need to get God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.”

Let me share two quick revelations here. First of all, I looked up the translation/version and it comes from the International Children’s Bible (ICB). I literally laughed and smiled upon that revelation. I thought to myself, “No wonder I understood it so well; it’s the children’s bible.”

In all seriousness, I truly think we, as adults, miss the point. We try to use years of experience and dress it up as wisdom. We try to analyze things that are simply out of our ability or authority. We should really take a hard look at Matthew 18:3 where Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you change and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” This requires humility, submission, and dying to self. Therefore, I don’t mind one bit reading passages from the Children’s Bible, and I most certainly never get tired of the Holy Spirit speaking directly to me however He chooses.

The second personal revelation I gleaned from this specific verse came from the words whole fight. I almost fell out of my chair reading this translation. How many times do we get right in the middle of the fight and throw our hands up? This is why I love this translation. If you are prepared [key point that my friend Sarah F. beautifully spoke about this morning], then you will still be standing when the fight is over! I hear a promise! I’m starting to learn that many of us  falter during life’s storms [“day of evil”] because we were truly never prepared. We are relying on our own personal strength. This will result in failure 100% of the time.

Think about Paul and Silas for a moment. What if they threw their hands up in the middle of their storm, specifically, the middle of the prison? Let’s look at the passage in Acts 16

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?”

I am overwhelmed by this passage! What could have happened? I will tell you…Paul and Silas would have sat in their prison cell, crying and complaining. In other words, there would have been a lot of “Woe is me!” This would have also been heard by the fellow prisoners which would have been a negative witness. Yet, THIS IS NOT THE STORY! Praise God!! In the middle of their storm [“day of evil”] they were praying and singing hymns. Other prisoners were listening. What happens next is miraculous…still standing firm on faith following the storm and others were saved. How many times do we miss such miraculous works because we don’t have this type of spiritual perseverance?

Therefore, I encourage you to start today; start preparing today. The Word is your personal study guide. You do not need to look any further. Spend time reading and praying today. Ask a friend or a group of friends to encircle you for accountability. Finally, put on the full armor of God each and every day. Remember…Satan doesn’t take a vacation! Therefore, you must dress yourself in God’s protection every day. Then, and only then, will you be able to stand firm through the whole fight!

Challenge: Be the example God desires of you. Stand firm through the whole fight so others will know that you are different. Pray and sing hymns during your “day of evil” and watch others come to know Christ because of your faithful witness.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

It’s Me

Matthew 25:31-33, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Matthew 25:37-43“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

walking with jesus

I recently watched a video where a pastor dressed as a homeless man and sat in front of his church to assess his members’ reactions. I’m not here to give an expository on that one video; rather, I am here to shed light on a very dark secret even within devout Christians…our eyes and hearts look a lot like everyone else in the world when we are faced with things that make us uncomfortable, things that are different, things that challenge our religionism, and things that challenge our rule system.

I’m here to tell you…you’re missing the point! Jesus is in our midst and we are too concerned for our own comfort and religious rules to even see Him! I am pleased to know that the majority of the church members in that video did in fact respond with the love of Christ to the “helpless” man. What about you?

Naturally, my mind goes in both directions. “I need to help this homeless man because I know that’s what Jesus would do, but what if he asks me for my jacket and money? I really like this jacket. I’ve only worn it twice and I get a lot of complements on the tailoring and color. This homeless man doesn’t need an expensive jacket, and I honestly don’t think he needs my money because he will just abuse it.” Sounds insane, right?!

Hum, this example might be an exaggerated stretch for dramatic intentions. Yet, we act this out every single day. Does it have to be an example of a homeless man? What about failing to help a stranger change a flat tire in the rain on your way to church…yes, that actually happened to me. When did religionism and legalism become the two chains that keep us from actually living like Jesus?

Dear friends, you’re missing your Savior each and every day.

~He’s at the food bank and soup kitchens feeding those who only eat when food is available that week, but I can’t volunteer because of all my committee responsibilities.

~He’s on the side of the road in the pouring down rain comforting the young man trying to change a flat tire, but I really don’t want to get soaked before church.

~He’s at the altar of your church when a teenager submits to the Holy Spirit and walks to the front to claim the mercy seat of forgiveness and grace, but everyone knows we finish at noon so we really need to wrap this up so we can go home.

~He’s at the grocery store when the lines are so long that you want to send a complaint to administration for inconveniencing you because we all know our time is more precious than waiting for anything.

~He’s at the drive-thru window where a young worker is trying to make enough cash to help pay the bills so the water doesn’t get turned off the next day, but she was rude to me so I will do everything in my power to get her fired.

~He’s in your office when a co-worker asks you how you remain joyful and hopeful no matter life’s trials, but a report is due so you brush him off.

I’m afraid that we are all missing it…better yet…we are missing Jesus right in front of us. I’m here to tell you, it’s not about checking off boxes in your life, in your church, in your home. It’s not!  It’s about being filled with the Holy Spirit where you can only see through His eyes in all your environments. I can tell you that I’m done checking off spiritual boxes. My Father did not send His one and only Son for me to waste any more time…the gift of salvation is absolutely just too precious to…miss the point. I encourage you to pray for renewed eyes, renewed spirit, and renewed hope that you were placed on this earth for a great purpose, not just a task, a great purpose.

So…keep your eyes open. Take off the blindfold. What do you see now?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta