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

See-Through

Lamentations 3:40 – “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.”

Proverbs 15:3 – “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”

See through

[Narrative]

~The crisp button down shirt hides the pain within the heart; yet if I let you see-through would you run away?

~The half smile and dim eyes are the definition of uncertainly; yet if I let you see-through would you question me?

~The recoiled posture marinates into the pot of despair; yet if I let you see-through would you comfort me?

~The questionable behavior alarms the elect; yet if I let you see-through would you gossip instead of protect?

~The heart’s denial battles the soul’s awareness; yet if I let you see-through would you correct me?

~The habits strangle purposeful intent; yet if I let you see-through would you carry me?

~The tongue speaks of what you want to hear only to mask the truth deep within; yet if I let you see-through would you pray for me?

~The talented hands move in unconscious memory as if going through the motions; yet if I let you see-through would you forget about me?

~The reputation fights for balance within the bitter sea of pride and humility; yet if I let you see-through would you call me narcissistic?

~The demons attempt to speak through the pores; yet if I let you see-through would you embrace me?

~The walls write another chapter of strongholds, devastation, and worldly battles; yet if I let you see-through would you call me your friend?

~The eyes tunnel into the spirit of truth which cascades volumes of personal despair but also victory; yet if I let you see through would you hold me accountable?

Dear friends, I speak a great deal on unveiling the truth within our lives. We spend an enormous amount of time packing fear, hurt, and strongholds behind our eyes. John 8:31-32 says truth will set us free. I will always encourage you to actively seek out strong Christian brothers and sisters to share life together. You do not have to live in darkness or face battles alone. To that I say, Satan is a liar!

Challenge: Reach out to a close friend and become actively involved in sharing life together.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Stronghold Isolation

2 Corinthians 10:3-4

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

lonliness

The pew briefly collects the weight of your thoughts while you ponder your sinfulness. Thoughts of divinity overwhelm your senses to where your reflexes engage to mask the hurt welling up inside. Your painful expression makes one last effort to smile during the congregational welcome.

As the choir releases a powerful anthem of praise, your flesh sounds the alarm. You hear, “I’m not worthy.” Spiritual cement appears to paralyze your core. The battle between the forces of good and evil ignite and you feel as though you have already lost. The weapons formed against you continue to tear down your mental defenses as you ponder your past and the physical destruction of your present. The whispers continues, “If they only knew who you really are!” You turn sharply afraid your neighbor can overhear your thoughts.

The discerning hearts surrounding you release prayers of strength and peace. Even though the enemy has convinced you that your sin is greater than your neighbors, warrior angels have already commenced and the battle is the Lords. The enemy continues his attacks as you fight back the tears of disgrace. In a moment of surrender, the veil is lifted and you are surrounded by outstretched arms.

Stronghold isolation is a lie and you now realize that you’re not alone. Chains begin to fall. The congregation through the spirit of acceptance and humility ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse the temple body. As the strongholds release, they are extinguished by the blood of the Lamb. The Lord continues His protection, and the spirit of fear is cut off from your body and you take your first step into true worship and faith.

You awaken prostrate at the altar of forgiveness surrounded by fellow sinners with the same realization – God is sovereign and we are not alone!

Dear brothers and sisters, my greatest challenge is that you build strong accountability groups and share life together. Please know that isolation is Satan’s best weapon.

~Your struggle is not unique…God is all-knowing.

~Your battle is not new…God is all-powerful.

~Your sin is not greater than your neighbors…God is forgiving.

~Your struggle is not against flesh and blood..God is victorious!

Challenge: Release the strongholds that entrap you and know that you’re not alone! Share your story to entrusted Christian brothers and sisters and find freedom in the similarities of life.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Looking Back

Isaiah 43:18-19

18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Plano

~Narrative~

An infant’s cry fills the foyer of an expectant home. New life awaits the season of unknowns. Bustling autos create ambient noise in the neighborhood of possibilities. One’s future is bursting with fill-in-the-blank opportunities. Evening walks through a sun-kissed sky promotes jubilee barks from the family pet. Laughter fills the cup of youth. Fountains erupt from familial exchange…but…change!

Seasons no longer represent the divisions of the year but stages in life. The skyline fades as the years pass. The majestic skyscrapers now become photographs for visitors.  Situational dialect across state lines is no longer relevant but a distant memory. The heartbeat of relativism stretches her arm and grabs my shoulder…I stop…and look back!

The still frame creates a guttural response that cannot be denied. What do I see?…the evil one proclaiming his false kingdom. Matthew 4:8-10 says, “Again, the devil took him [Jesus] 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.’”

The rural road now becomes the blessing. Children laugh and play in the collective land of the protected. The familial song now replaces the fireflies in the field of glory. Glorious solitude paves the road where the sun whispers his secrets to the cornfields. One cannot compare seasons ordained by the Creator Himself. Instead, memories create the foundation for the future.

The passage above teaches us to not dwell on the past. I want to bask in God’s “new thing!” as described in this passage. The challenge is to see what God is up to in your present, which will change your future. No matter where you are (city or town), what is God up to in your life?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Amazing Things

Joshua 3:5

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

Mission Trip

Today we pray for our dear friends and church family in Honduras and Ecuador as they exemplify God’s love by being His hands and feet through missions. Some are participating in a medical mission in Honduras while another is teaching English in Ecuador. Please pray with me that God will be glorified through these encounters. You see, it’s never really about passing out medical supplies or teaching conjugated verbs. The main point is showing Christ’s love through word and deed. 1 John 3:18 says, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”

While reading through the first few chapters of Joshua this morning, the Holy Spirit clearly stopped me when I came to Joshua 3:5 that says, “Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.'” According to Merriam-Webster, this means to wholly dedicate yourself to something of greatest important. It also refers to the act of setting yourself aside and dedicating yourself to God. This passage and definition enlightens me!

In this passage, Joshua challenged the Israelites to consecrate themselves in preparation for the Lord’s goodness. How many of us miss the supernatural because we are too self-absorbed? In this same passage, we know that God did in fact show up in a mighty way. The priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of the people and stepped into the Jordan river expecting the supernatural! As soon as they touched the water’s edge, the waters parted and the people were able to walk across on dry land.

I believe the Word of the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I also believe that if we humble and consecrate ourselves before the Lord, seeking His forgiveness of sin, then we too can walk supernatural riverbeds to reach the lost, hurting, and unloved here in our own towns or even in foreign countries.

So today I have two challenges:

  1. Pray that our dear friends in both Honduras and Ecuador consecrate themselves before the Lord so that they too will be able to walk across dry riverbeds into victory. We pray for salvation, healing, and love to abound.
  2. Pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal where you are failing to step into your own Jordan river. Are you doubting that God will part the waters for you? What is holding you back from believing in His supernatural abilities even today? Stop staring at the river and step! First, consecrate yourselves before the Lord and take the next step – walk across dry lands to what was once thought of as impossible – and bask in the God of possibilities!

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

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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

Starting Over

Isaiah 43:25

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

starting over

I am thankful that God blots out our transgressions and removes them as far as the east is from the west. Yet, I must admit I struggle with the term “starting over.” I was introduced to a Christian song today that speaks of this very concept. Granted, this was a beautiful song. However, I found myself struggling with the very phrase designed to bring about peace…”starting over.”

You see, I don’t want to start over! [pause]…There was a time in my life that I would have given anything to hit the rewind button or at least the RESET! Yet, God’s promise reveals a greater purpose for my pain…to share, to testify, to reveal, and to reclaim.

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want Jesus to use my story of unforgiveness to heal a believer’s bitter soul.

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want Jesus to break the chains of a believer’s self-doubt through my life’s circumstances.

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want Jesus to shine the light on Satan’s lies when he told me I wasn’t good enough or smart enough so that young men and women will know that they too are worthy in His eyes.

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want Jesus to be my witness to the unbeliever who doesn’t see how his life can be any different.

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want to watch the Holy Spirit flood a room full of men as the words of my testimony fill the space…[Did you hear that?…yes, that’s the sound of chains breaking!]

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want Jesus to be heard through the song of a cautious child who learned how to rely on God’s strength in order to stand tall as a Christian leader.

No, I don’t want to start over; instead, I want my prayers from a once tainted tongue to pierce the darkness because Christ goes before me.

You see my friends, I don’t need to start over! I know God has washed me clean. Instead, I want my story to be used to heal others – however God ordains. Listen carefully dear believer, Satan may use those around you or certain circumstances to evoke your oppressive past. Yet, 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

To that I say, “You can’t have my story Satan! God allowed those events to pass through His protective hands so that I may learn to trust Him fully. You won’t suppress any part of my being in your darkness. The truth will shine light on your lies and God’s people WILL be healed!” In Jesus name amen.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Arrow

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
arrow.jpeg
[Narrative] – My prayer for my dear friend K.T.
I thank God in advance for this blessing! Thank you Lord for faith.
“For I will form you in your mother’s womb my child, and you will fly like a mighty arrow to accomplish My will for your life,” says the Lord. The child replies, “But Father, here in heaven, there’s such great peace and wonderment as we revel in your glory.” The Lord replies with great authority, “Yes, my child, but much will be required of you as you walk the earthly sod. You will see My face in the mountains. You will hear the call of Yahweh in the rocks. You will smell the sweet fragrance of salvation in the rain. You will touch my heart when you willingly accept my Son, Jesus, as your own, and you will taste a sweetness greater than honey when you experience true faith without sight.”
The child rests upon God Almighty’s shoulder basking in thought. The Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon the child. As the child rests, two young men approach. “Sleep tight my child; we will await your return with mom and dad,” they state without moving their lips. God’s light of familial connection immediately bonded the three before this child was sent into the womb. The eyes of the Lord pierced forward and addressed His target with perfection. The bow did not shake. As the arrow was drawn closer to His face, He kissed the child with protection. The arrow released with God’s speed…and an infant cry was heard as a mother and father held their precious child.
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I am so thankful for God’s purpose! May we never forget that we came into this world with God’s precision as the master Archer. Be blessed this day! No matter how many times the enemy uses his fiery darts to disrupt your course, God will use all things for His good because He created your course from the very beginning. Praise God!
Thankful,
Christian Armetta

It’s Not Over Yet

Isaiah 41:10

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Psalm 27:1

The LORD is my light and my salvation–so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?

strength

I wanted to share two powerful passages that I received from dear friends this morning. In times of uncertainty, we can be sure of one thing – God is always with us. In fact, I’m not even sure I like the phrase, “In times of uncertainty” anymore…because God is always in control and surefooted. As a child of the King, it truly doesn’t matter what situation we find ourselves in, we can be SURE that (A) it doesn’t surprise God and (B) He has a purpose if we just get out of the way! We are afforded many examples of faithful believers in God’s word that exemplify these very principles.

I have learned a great deal about waiting, being still, careful listening, God’s strength, and human limitations already this year. I genuinely desire for you to also understand God’s “Lamp upon my feet.” You too may be seeing darkened walls inches from your face truly unsure where to turn; yet you STEP! You step in the direction of God’s voice. You do not have to know where you are going – thus FAITH. God’s strength propels you despite inner weakness if you rely on Him. I love the visual in the picture above.

My inner strength has nothing to do with me! It has not one thing to do with any human measurable level. My strength comes from the Lord! I pray that in whatever situation I find myself in God will be glorified. I am reminded of wedding vows that state “…For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” We appear to gloss over the negative yet James 1:2-3 clearly states that trials will come.

“2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”

I pray that we all find God’s strength in the seasons that can be described as “worse, poor, or sick.” As believers, we must be Christ’s example on the mountaintop and in the valley. No matter what…HE IS VICTORIOUS! Stand firm on His solid rock and refuse for Satan to steal your joy wherever you are in this life. Seek Godly counsel from fellow believers and find rest under His wing.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

What Are We Doing?

Psalm 101

I will sing of your love and justice, Lord
    I will praise you with songs.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—
    when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity
    in my own home.
I will refuse to look at
    anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
    I will have nothing to do with them.
I will reject perverse ideas
    and stay away from every evil.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
    I will not endure conceit and pride.

I will search for faithful people
    to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach
    will be allowed to serve me.
I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
    and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
    and free the city of the Lord from their grip.

Stressed Young Woman

I received some devastating news a few days ago. My childhood best friend’s mother passed away unexpectedly. When I saw my friend’s name scroll across the caller I.D., I was initially thrilled. We haven’t spoken in so long now that we live in separate states. I was most certainly not expecting to hear the words, “She’s gone.” I sank. I spent my entire childhood in her home. We lived in the same neighborhood, and both of our families shared life together. She was such a kind woman. During summer breaks, I am certain I became one of her own kids as I spent as much time as I could there. Those memories are priceless!

I was convicted thereafter. I couldn’t help but think, “What are we really doing as Christ-followers here on earth?” I must share the thoughts of my friend as it speaks volumes:

“Do not take a single day for granted. We aren’t promised any time at all here on earth. Make sure people know how you feel about them. Get right with God, and get right with others, or you may lose the opportunity. You may be the only bight spot in someone else’s day, make the most of it!”

This my friends is the answer! We are called to grow closer to God through an intimate relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. We are charged to share this relationship through His gospel with those around us. We most certainly are instructed to quickly forgive in order to prevent Satan from gaining a foothold, and we are always advised to be the salt and light of the world.

I also providentially came across this passage in Psalm today. I encourage you to read it carefully, and meditate on it wholeheartedly. Psalm 101:2 says, “I will be careful to live a blameless life.” How many of us can actually say we strive to live a blameless life? What about living with integrity? Do you protect your eyes from all things vile and vulgar? Are we convicted yet? [YES]

We will miss our dear family friend. Yet, in true encouraging fashion, we are still being reminded to live like Christ through the reflection of her life and to that we say, “Praise God!” I echo my friend’s words. Strive to live a blameless life dear friends. Be the salt and light in a tasteless world.

What impact are you leaving? Better yet…what impact are you LIVING?

In loving memory of Ms. Rita Mann.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta