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

Backwards Living

Matthew 20:16

16 So those who are last will be first and the first will be last.

backwards

Question: Do your fruits match the God you say you love and follow? Trust me, your fruits will identify a “god” but do they point to the One and Only?

Recently, God reminded me of a very valuable lesson on what it means to be a true Christ follower – backwards living. The question then becomes…backwards from what standard? Yes, this is where comprehension and spirituality collide. The world is very clear and even persuasive in reinforcing walking in the flesh. This worldly forward progressive approach to life is not only wrong but deadly.

Living in the flesh only increases your spiritual void. Decay chips away at your mind, body, and soul causing you to make decisions based on fleshly impulse. These worldly vices tarnish everything it touches. Pride, greed, lust, envy, anger are only a few examples of rotten fruits that Satan has masqueraded as not only beautiful but valuable in this earthly kingdom.

So what does it really means to walk with Christ daily? For me, this means making a conscious decision each and every day to walk against the worldly grain. This means intentionally turning around from what the world says is correct and follow Jesus staying close in His shadow. As you begin to weave your way through the crowd, you are giving the Holy Spirit full permission to prune these worldly fruits and to fertilize your spirit in order to produce all things worthy of being a Christ follower. Humility, selflessness, love, peace, patience begin to sprout in places that once produced idols.

I encourage you to take a hard look at where you are walking. What fruits are you leaving behind wherever you go and whatever you say? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment and wisdom to quickly identify worldly vices and turn away with confidence that can only come from God Almighty as He alone gives strength.

As you pray today, mediate on these verses that show us how “backwards living” is actually the correct path to living in freedom.

1 Corinthians 7:22

22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave.

Matthew 20:16

16 So those who are last will be first and the first will be last.

2 Corinthians 12:9

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.

Matthew 16:25

25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Revive

2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if My people who are called by My name put away their pride and pray, and look for My face, and turn from their sinful ways, then I will hear from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

revive

Venom drips from the mouths of the deceitful – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Worldly fruits are ripe for the picking in the garden of pride – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Apathy slithers across the aisle and blots out flickering lights – REVIVE US OH LORD!

The dragon’s forked tongue paralyzes the weak – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Strongholds multiple in the assembly of discontent – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Melodious worship is drowned out by traditionalism – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Giants will fall with one stone and Holy Spirit guidance – YOU ARE WORTHY!

The dragon is defeated by the sword of truth – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Venom soaked cloth is washed away by the blood of the Lamb – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Strongholds flee at the faintest breath of the Almighty God – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Dry bones awaken with a renewed spiritual nourishment – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Mountains will fall into the sea from the sound of the faithful – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Dear friends,

I am encouraged because my God is victorious. I encourage you to remain in the shadow of the cross. Remember, our Savior, Jesus Christ, is ALIVE! Keep your eyes firmly planted on Him.

When surrounded by crashing waves, keep singing because the waves will hush in the spiritual lullaby.

When surrounded by the spirit of negativity, keep praising because peace is a strong spiritual weapon.

When surrounded by apathy and discontent, keep praying because evil cannot stand in the presence of the Almighty God.

When surrounded by crushing mountains, keep believing because faith as small as a mustard seed is strong enough to move mountains.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Name Tag

John 10:14

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—

My name is

Hello, my name is…well…that all depends. Satan wants you to believe that you are forgotten, a mistake, and a loser. However, God turns the forgotten into the forgiven. He transforms a mistake into a masterpiece, and the Almighty changes the loser into life everlasting.

Names are truly important. They can even shape your character and future. We know all too well that children live up to the names they are called. Insulting names (e.g., dumb, loser, disappointment, etc.) create long-lasting negative implications. Reinforcing names (e.g., blessing, loved, valued, etc.) unlock a world of possibilities. Research already confirms these truths. Therefore, why do we listen to Satan’s lies as adults?

~Hello my name is mistake…God doesn’t want me. I’m too much of a screwup to be loved by Him or anyone else.

~Hello my name is forgotten…No one notices me. I’m living in this world alone. The silence is deafening. I’m a ghost to those around me. It’s not worth it.

~Hello my name is regret…I can’t be forgiven for the things I’ve done. I’m too evil, and I’ve done too many bad things.

~Hello my name is loser…I can’t catch a break. I lose everything that’s important to me. I’m being punished daily.

~Hello my name is tortured…my demons won’t go away. I don’t have the strength to fight anymore.

Do any of these names sound familiar? Some of you might be wearing one or more of these name tags right now. However, Romans 8:17 tells a different story, “Now if we are children, we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with the Messiah—if, in fact, we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

~Hello my name is saved…I was once lost but I found grace and chose salvation.

~Hello my name is blessed…My worth is not found in worldly treasures but in God’s freedom.

~Hello my name is forgiven…nothing in this world can separate me from the love of God.

Question: What name tag are you wearing right now? How can you replace your negative name tag with God’s name tag designed for you?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

What If

Psalm 71:15

My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long—though I know not how to relate them all.

testimony

[Narrative]

~I will tell of your righteous deeds and your saving acts! Dear friends, you have a story to tell of God’s saving grace…so tell it – your testimony will save others! You ALL have a story!

~You tried to steal my joy and pin me against the wall with an angry fist. Yet, your testimony releases Satan’s control.

~The demon of destruction tried to kill my innocence as my cries absorbed into the wall. Yet, your testimony releases Satan’s control.

~Selfishness and pride consume my thoughts. Yet, your testimony releases Satan’s control.

~Worldly absorption is my pillow when I rest. Yet, your testimony releases Satan’s control.

~Fulfilling every spark of the flesh is your goal. Yet, your testimony releases Satan’s control.

~Substance abuse masquerades as a safety net. Yet, your testimony releases Satan’s control.

~Perpetual lies create a false sense of security. Yet, your testimony releases Satan’s control.

~Personal accomplishments identify themselves as idols. Yet, your testimony releases Satan’s control.

~Failure repeatedly laughs at you as a way to strengthen your chains. Yet, your testimony releases Satan’s control.

~Habitual sin scoffs at your attempt to sacrifice it at the altar. Yet, your testimony releases Satan’s control.

~Spiritual apathy resembles a puppeteer. Yet, your testimony releases Satan’s control.

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My dear friends, you all have a story to tell. Your testimony sheds light in the darkness places. Do not be afraid to speak God’s truth because your message will change lives.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Sweet and Sour

Romans 12:1

A Living Sacrifice

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

 

suit and tie

vs.

worshiping at the altar

The altar of forgiveness and strength announces Christ’s longing heart.

~But my suit and tie stand at attention.

The groanings from the Holy Spirit pave the way through bended knee.

~But my suit and tie whisper lies to reinforce my pride.

Humility encircles the chosen one through obedient surrender.

~But my suit and tie prevent an outstretched arm.

Worship fills the atmosphere leading the spiritual charge against the enemy.

~But my suit and tie grip my praise.

The Holy Spirit breathes life into the broken through spirit and truth.

~But my suit and tie blind my discernment.

Prayer warriors prepare the table for the King.

~But my suit and tie exude criticism impaling the spirit of the meek.

The Almighty welcomes the sacrificial offerings of praise and prayer.

~But my suit and tie cause spiritual warfare between my head and heart.

Childlike faith is shown through a believer’s embrace.

~But my suit and tie produce dispassionate vibrations.

Testimonies produced under God’s wing create revival.

~But my suit and tie stifle His calling.

Shouts of praise from the elect bathe the passage into the Holy of Holies.

~But my suit and tie block the entrance.

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Challenge: My prayer is that God completely overwhelms you with His all encompassing presence. May you surrender control, pride, rituals, and legalistic ideology and bask in His love for you.

Question: What prevents you from surrendering at God’s altar?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Perspective

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

worry

Attempting to control one’s life is a fundamental misstep in the practice of faith…and yes, I’m speaking from experience! God’s Word bathes us in His love and faithfulness; yet, we continue to rely on our own understanding thereby causing extreme anxiety and pain. At times, this life is filled with pitfalls and heartache, some more than others, yet God is ultimately in control!

There are multiple passages directing, not suggesting, that we focus on the cross. Here in this passage we read, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” These “things” do not imply or even suggest worldly possessions to make us happier as that goes against God’s character. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t beak in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

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~Faith is a practice. Practice takes discipline. Discipline is a mindset. 

Therefore, let us have the mind of Christ and relinquish control today!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

So I’ll Wait…

Psalm 27:14

Wait for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait for the LORD. 

waiting

Lessons while I learn to wait!

W – Worship God Almighty because He alone is worthy

A – Armor of God is firmly in place to prevent the enemy from attacking my mind

I – Intercession from the Holy Spirit as He groans in my absent language

T – Truth is my foundation as I rebuke the lies of Satan

Adding to my 2018 spiritual goals:

  1. Discernment
  2. Teachable Spirit
  3. Waiting on the Lord

These all have a common theme – relinquishing control and allowing Christ to have His way! What are you learning early on this year?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta