Wilderness Warrior

Matthew 4:8-11

Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

surrender to Jesus

If those without spiritual authority are forced to bow to the Messiah, then what’s stopping you? Pride! This passage above is everything! I would love to dissect every piece of Matthew 4:1-11 but I’m especially pierced by these verses above.

When Satan failed two other times in this passage, he decided to pull out all the stops…so he thought. He made another fatal mistake! He lifted Jesus above the worldly kingdoms and offered them as a reward for worshiping Lucifer himself. However, My King knew something the devil has failed to understand to this date. The only way to true worship is not elevating ourselves above anything…but on our faces in pure submission and obedience to the one and only King.

I would like to think that Jesus looked around at all those worldly kingdoms and saw dust, rust, and decay while Satan tried to paint over them with shimmer and glitter; Jesus knew and saw right through it!

My Jesus might have even thought, “I might be hungry and we’ve been out here for a really long time, but I’m never trading my Father’s house for these things!” For it also says in Matthew 21 that Jesus calls His Father’s house a “house of prayer.” Jesus was not interested in these earthy buildings no matter how pretty or tall! He clearly showed us that the Father’s house is made up of prayerful worship not fancy things this world can offer.

Matthew 6:19-20 even says, “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.” 

However, this ploy is still working today! Satan continues to pick us up and show us our own kingdoms and ask us the same question! Why then are you contemplating the answer? Your response should be that of Jesus’, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Ah! and then…Read, Set, Go! Then ministering angels flooded the land to attend to Him! Why wouldn’t Father God do the same for His inherited children?

Remember, you are a co-heir, worthy, purposed, loved, friend of God, child of God, justified, redeemed, set free, accepted, saint, made new, sealed, seated, chosen. Our Wilderness Warrior, King Jesus, knew the answers to defending the biggest enemy and we should be paying attention!

Our flesh and this world will always attempt to lift you off your feet; it’s “prettier” up there, right?! Wrong! It is an atmospheric mirage. The only place to receive true peace and freedom is bowing before, head down, the one and only King Jesus. The greater the submission, the deeper the relationship. 


[Interpretive Message]

holy spirit coming down

You press my spirit but the flesh taunts your gesture. You never give up and patiently await my submission. Days may pass but you walk in step wishing to hold my hand. You reach for my face but something else has caught my eye. The second hand ticking at my wrist tightens the worldly shackles. Worldly position has only increased deadlines and personal responsibilities which appear to mimic pack mentality as it laughs in unison. It hurls insults of which it learned from listening to the world, “You’re a loser! You’ll never win! You aren’t as smart as him/her! Your spiritual gifts aren’t as useful and supernatural as hers. Why do you even try?” The lure of these worldly kingdoms begin to elevate my heels as my thoughts take me higher and higher.

But then…the Word of the living God floods through like a rushing army. Taking every thought captive through the Sword of the Spirit centers me and peace lace my stance. My eyes are unveiled and I see arrows bending under the force that surrounds me. The heavens are opened and my knees buckle. Warrior angels stream out with weapons of song, truth, and praise. A battle ensues but my face in planted firmly in the ground. Prayer and worship have replaced egocentrism. This world along with religionism is not my master and feathers have slowly fallen to shield me. As my face melts deeper into the ground, I feel His touch and He says, “Welcome! I’ve been waiting for this moment.”


Challenge: Dear believers, the enemy has no choice than to fall down and worship the King. You hold spiritual authority by housing the Holy Spirit in your body but have failed to truly worship by doing the same. What is stopping you? It’s time to get on your face daily. Ask the Holy Spirit to free you from the things that keep your nose in the air and your heels elevated: pride, envy, untamed tongue, lust, anger, revenge, unforgiveness, idolatry.

Note: Please seek and purchase the book How to Worship a King by Zach Neese.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Red Light, Green Light

Numbers 9: 15-23

The Cloud Above the Tabernacle

15 On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. 16 That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. 18 At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. 19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. 20 Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. 22 Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. 23 At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.

When God Moves

I used to love playing the game red light, green light as a child. The rules are simple but it brings such joy and laughter. You only need a large space to run in, and you simply listen to the leader on the other side of the field call out commands. When you hear green light, you move quickly in the direction of the leader. However, whenever red light is called out, you must quickly stop in your tracks. Anyone seen moving after red light is called is out of the game. The goal is to get from one end of the field to the other end where the leader is without being called out because you continued to move when red light was called out.

I love when the Holy Spirit brings up a childhood memory when reading the Word of God. This week, a daily devotion centered around Numbers 9. I immediately saw myself running on a field playing red light, green light; I laughed. The main idea always centers around focusing and listening only to God. If we can’t see this from even a simple childhood game, then we are truly missing the big idea. Matthew 18:3 says, “And he said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I become so exhausted with the devil’s schemes that pull us away from both keeping our eyes focused on God and listening for His commands. Many of us wait for obvious deceptions or roadblocks, but I’m here to tell you that the evil one is really good at subtle twists of truth that you must always stay on guard. The enemy is even skilled at using those closest to you to accomplish his evil purpose.

I am participating in a weekly lifegroup that is studying Seedtime and Harvest by Charles Capps; I strongly encourage you to look this up and dig into these words. One thing that Charles said affirms Satan’s ploy to falsely mimic the very truth of God. This next paragraph is taken from Seedtime and Harvest by Charles Capps on page 17:

James said, “If any man seems to be religious, what he believes will be in vain if he doesn’t watch what he speaks.” There are many that seem to be religious, but they don’t bridle their tongues. They speak all sorts of things that destroy their faith and deceive their hearts…What they believed in the beginning will disappear because faith cometh by hearing. Fear also comes the same way. If you pray one thing and say another, your saying will nullify your praying.”

Stop the press! Wow! You see, the only way Satan can get you distracted to where you stop listening to the commands of the Father is to falsely mimic the Father’s truths.

~Instead of standing on God’s promises, you trade your security for fear.

~Instead of claiming your healing, you settle for a broken body due to years of bitterness and unforgiveness.

~Instead of stepping out in faith, you watch your blessings pass you by due to personal control.

The list is endless. God is standing at the finish line telling us when to move and when to stay, but we can’t hear Him! Sadly, it’s because we are listening to those around us tell us that we gave up! Others will claim that you let Satan win. These are lies from the enemy all because you found your true calling by following the Holy Spirit’s fire. Do not fear for Psalm 23:5 says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

I am here to tell you that the only voice you need to be listening to is that of the Holy Spirit. When His fire leaves the camp and yells “green light,” you best go! When His fire settles down for a night or even years and says, “red light,” you most certainly camp out and worship the Almighty wherever you are. The voice of the enemy in the form of “religious” men and women are noise in the presence of the King. We cannot grow weary for following the Lord’s commands and moving when He says move, speaking when He says speak, and following His ways wherever we go!

Dear believers, take up your cross daily and listen intently on the Father.  Watch for the Holy Spirit’s fire and move with it.  Do not be caught moving in the direction of Satan’s false speakers. Remember James 1:26, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

Finally, don’t forget that those standing on the sideline of the game will be the very ones to taunt you and attempt to distract you to get you out! These sideline thieves will be friends, relatives, coworkers – anyone can be used. Never grow weary running your spiritual race. When in doubt, always ask yourself, “Would God say that?” In fact, you should always reference it back to His Word.

Challenge: Put on your spiritual shoes, line up, and get ready to win your spiritual red light, green light. God is on your side, but you must listen to Him alone.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Words & Worship

Psalm 19:14

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

sky praise

I just love this passage! God draws me to this verse when my thoughts do not match His and when my words begin to get out of line. This is so important to me that a dear friend from college framed this verse for me decades ago as a graduation gift; it remains on my desk at work to this day.

I am reminded of a very important truth each day when I walk into my office and see this verse staring right back at me. First, my words and thoughts must line up with the God I say I love. As a believer, we are most certainly called to a higher standard. This means that my thoughts – the things I meditate on – must truly be God-honoring. Secondly, my words have eternal impact; they can speak life or death. I must make sure that the words that spring forth are filled and laced with love so that others may be drawn to the Father instead of repelled.

Sadly, some of us appear to understand how to worship the King but fail to love his brother or sister with our words and thoughts out of the same mouth and heart. We are good at raising our hands in worship and lifting our voices but gossip taints the entrance to the throne room. We are good at saying eloquent prayers but the outline of our hearts are burning with bitterness and a haughty spirit. We are good at asking for personal forgiveness while we continue to accuse and imprison our neighbors.

The problem is…this doesn’t match! This is a heart problem. James 3:10 says, “Praises and curses come from the same mouth! My brothers, this should not happen.” This pains me greatly especially when it comes from fellows believers.

Often times, we are looking for attacks to originate from the other side of the battlefield; however, do not be surprised when the fiery darts come from your own camp…aimed right at your back. This is why it is so important to pray a hedge of protection around you along with Psalm 91. Specifically verse 5 says, “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day.”

This is also why it is very important to be a part of a community that you can trust and who will always go to battle for you; life groups are a great way to build this kind of true support. I encourage you to find a group that you can build strong relationships, take off those masks, and build chords of trust. Trust is critical when it comes to the foundation of these groups. Gossip and failure to hold confidence have the potential to create lifelong relational fractures. Spiritual integrity is paramount. 

Finally, I strongly encourage you to always filter your thoughts and words through the Holy Spirit. May you think and speak encouragement and never gossip. May you marinate your words and thoughts with love instead of bitterness and revenge. May you walk in humility and dance in the freedom that being a true servant provides. May you marry true acts and words of worship with your daily life so that freedom may spring forth around you.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Mirror Neurons

2 Corinthians 3:18

18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.

jesus_in_our_eyes

I had the opportunity to speak to a group in our community this week on memory strategies. This presentation always starts with a fun lecture on neuroanatomy. Every time I prepare for this presentation, I see God’s fingerprints all over the complexities of the human brain; it truly takes my breath away. God’s handiwork over the human body is truly speechless. I thoroughly enjoy studying and sharing this knowledge with my patients and the community around me.

Also during this week, I was listening to a podcast by Rick Warren who mentioned “mirror neurons.” I thought, “What irony!!” This occurred on the same day that I gave my presentation on neuroanatomy, memory function, and nerve health. The Holy Spirit was prompting me to pay attention and I knew there was obviously a lesson in all of it. When the Creator whispers, you must listen. The life lesson I learned was far-reaching and I most certainly had to share!

You see, mirror neurons respond to actions that we see in others. [STOP!] Let that soak in for a moment. We are truly hardwired by God Himself to nearly imitate or at least emulate the things closest to us and especially the things we focus on. This is why it is so critical to focus on God!

There’s a reason why Hebrews tells us to fix our eyes on Christ…

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

AH! fixing your eyes on the things of this world will truly make you mirror those exact things! Your brain can’t help it so you must avoid it!

~When you fix your eyes on materialism, your mirror neurons can’t help but reflect the filth of this world through your actions and speech to others. You lose empathy, wisdom, discernment and compassion for others. You only see things that falsely fill your personal “want tank.” Egocentrism becomes your idol and you sacrifice those you once held dear for the things of this world. You are consumed by this world which prevents you from being transformed by the renewing of your mind.

~When you fix your eyes on pride, your mirror neurons can’t help but reflect the evil through your tone and discord ensues. You speak critically of others and lose the type of love Christ demands that we show to all. You see yourself as the Queen of your world; however, your empire is built on human praise that will eventually fall. Your eyes are veiled and you miss the pain all around you. Hurting souls are crying out but the “I” in your ear is deafening. Your worship is tainted as it is filtered through unthankfulness, anger, bitterness, hypocrisy, control, fear, obsession, and envy.

~When you fix your eyes on gossip, your mirror neurons can’t help but reflect the power of death in your tongue for Proverbs 18:21 confirms this very truth. In fact, this verse also states that you will ‘mirror’ (eat) the fruits of your speech. Your false empowerment is also temporary as this too shall fall. The darkest side of your tongue becomes your weapon of choice. Edification is replaced with condemnation. The black hole inside of you vacuums light around you. You are incapable of speaking love and disunity grows around you until spiritual suffocation is complete.

BUT GOD…!

~When you fix your eyes on Jesus, your mirror neurons can’t help but worship! You and all of creation can’t help but sing praises to the King. Your entire body comes into alignment with the perfection of Christ. You desire all things pure and holy. Your fruits sprout and grow in the fertilizer of the King. There is no doubt that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control flow from His endless river onto all those around you.

This is why it’s so important to put on the full armor of God each and every day. Ask the Father in heaven to dress you as you would your child. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus. The only way to do that is to focus on Him in turn mirroring His every action.

It’s “spiritual neurology” my friends! Your brain is hardwired to mirror the very things you place in front of you. If it’s worldly, you will look like it, talk like it and vomit evil like it. If it’s of God, you will shine like it, love like it and speak life like it. I challenge you to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these things to you during your prayer time. Allow the Holy Spirit to surgically remove these evils in your life so that you may reflect His holiness.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Sacrificial Community

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Friends and Family Give Strength

Two people are better than one.
    They get more done by working together.
10 If one person falls,
    the other can help him up.
But it is bad for the person who is alone when he falls.
    No one is there to help him.
11 If two lie down together, they will be warm.
    But a person alone will not be warm.
12 An enemy might defeat one person,
    but two people together can defend themselves.
A rope that has three parts wrapped together
    is hard to break.

side huge and love

I’m going through a video series with a small group currently that has both reinforced and challenged our way of Christian living. I am only on video number two and it has completely wrecked me! The speaker, Lisa Harper, made sharp statements that spoke directly to my soul. [Side note] Lisa is a powerful warrior and anointed by the Holy Spirit; I encourage you to look her up.

Lisa reinforced the need for community. I speak about this as much as I speak about spiritual warfare. Honestly, they go hand-in-hand! She said, “We need community. We need to surround ourselves with Jesus loving friends. Those watching the video with you will be the first ones to dive in front of you and take a bullet the next time the enemy fires a round of temptation your way. It would be a good idea to give them a hug.”

This struck me to tears. I know this deeply, but it also reinforced a common theme – sacrificial community. As believers, we have heard this topic of “doing life together” plenty of times. Yet, have you truly thought about your sacrificial responsibility? What a beautiful reminder from Lisa Harper this morning. True community makes an effort, a point and a sacrifice for an intentional relationship. You cannot “take a bullet” for someone if you aren’t sacrificing for others.

We know Satan is out there seeking someone to devour. This is where Ecclesiastes 4:12 hits home for me! 12 An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves. The only way you can defend together is if you are actually together. I truly believe we’ve missed the point as the body of Christ. I’m not interested in Sunday morning hellos, masked smiles, and overly used excuses – no! True community means sacrifice.

I’m here to challenge your current way of thinking. Actually, I’m here to sharpen you. May the Holy Spirit melt your heart into seeking sacrificial relationships. Earnestly seek the guidance from the Holy Spirit this week and put on sacrificial, relational glasses. If you spend a lot of time saying “I/We” then I challenge you to lay these thoughts at the Father’s altar of forgiveness. Sometimes we confuse many things of this world with the largest root of pride. However, pride sprouts the tiniest buds that are meant to deceive and destroy everything around you.

Question: What do you need to sacrifice in order to pour life into those around you?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta