Runaway

Matthew 26:36-46

Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

goodbye

I recently read a wonderful devotion covering this passage that made me literally stop in my tracks. Jesus was in true agony! He knew what was coming; He felt every bit of urgency, pain, sorrow, and a million other emotions the night before His crucifixion. We can honestly say He dreaded the cross, but He loved us too much to allow selfishness to take over. In fact, that would have been flat out impossible!

Look at His response in verse 53, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

 

The one thing that Jesus asked during his most desperate time of need was for His disciples to stay near and pray. However, these men could not stay awake. Jesus said to Peter, “You men could not stay awake with me for one hour?” This should pierce us all! Jesus explains why He wants and honestly needs them to stay awake but when He returns for the second time, He finds them asleep again. 

The point:

Jesus was fully man, and He was also fully God (Colossians 2:9). Jesus showed us through His own life here on the earth that we will experience trials and even anguish in this life. It is important to have people praying around you. However, we battle the flesh that keeps us bound in selfishness, self-pity, pride, bitterness, jealousy, greed, and anger. These oppressive forces block your blessings from reaching any further than your own thoughts.

Soon after Jesus’ arrest, the disciples deserted Him and fled (v. 56)…[pause]…we no longer have to wonder why Jesus strongly encouraged these men to stay awake and pray [v. 41 The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.] In His most desperate time, they fled; He was alone.

The solution:

~Pray hard and honestly.

~Pray with others and don’t fail them in their time of need; humble yourself.

~Pray even when you don’t want to; let go of the rebellion.

~Pray until you have nothing else to say; the Holy Spirit is still praying on your behalf.

~Pray until it hurts; God catches all your tears.

~Pray even when the world grows silent; God is always listening.

~Pray when others sleep; God is stretching your dependence.

~Pray when you see them run away; He will bring more back to you.

 

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Reaching

Acts 17:27

27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

Reaching

[Interpretative Journaling]

I hear you forming; I see you in the distance. Your winds brush against the back of my neck in a taunting manner; trust me I know you’re there. Chaos grabs disunity and forms a funnel cloud of spiritual proportion.

As you approach, you are not very quiet. In fact, your roaring entrance has silenced everything and everyone around me; that doesn’t scare me. I stare at you because I know who you are; I’m unmoved. Lightening strikes the earth below. The ground practically crumbles underneath my feet as stability is wiped away.

As you swirl even closer, you gain even more strength by oppressing the souls of those whom I love. I’m still staring at you. You race toward me as you destroy everything in your path, but be prepared when you get really close. I know who you are; I’m unmoved.

tornado

Psalm 16:8 I keep my eyes always on the LordWith him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

~You failed to see the King in me!

~Reinforcing arms come from afar.

~The horn sounds for His army.

~Even foreign tribes have promised to protect me.

~What was once familiar has fallen behind.

~The call from mighty warriors rip through your core.

~Affirming visions spanning across the globe dismantle your evil intentions.

~In unity, we reach out to our Savior to ultimately destroy you.

~Never forget that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.

~When you see me again, you’ll remember that I don’t back down because my father is the King.

lion

Proverbs 30:30, “A lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing.”

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

 

Interpersonal Engagement

Job 2:11-13

11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Engagement

During a recent quiet time, this passage popped up and it truly made me stop and think. Most of us know the story of Job, but we honestly fail to give more than five seconds of credit to his friends for their initial reaction to Job’s suffering. Let’s all understand that when these three friends heard about Job’s suffering, they set out from their homes and went to be with Job to offer sympathy and comfort.

What I love about the emotional engagement flow picture is that when Job’s friends saw him from a distance, they transitioned from sympathy to empathy. These friends could barely recognize their dear friend; they began to weep aloud and even tore their robes in complete mourning.

Let’s make a very clear statement: The only way you can move from sympathy to empathy is if you make an intentional step to see someone’s pain.

These men had to literally leave their homes to go visit their friend. Those that know me well know that I speak of encouragement just as much as I speak of spiritual warfare.

Let’s make another very clear statement: If you are seeing from afar then you are not truly seeing at all.

What does this mean? If Job’s friends would have stayed in their homes, they would have never seen Job’s suffering for what it really was and would have never emotionally moved across the interpersonal engagement flow.

Another good example of showing interpersonal engagement is offering your physical presence without saying a word. Often times we feel as though we have to offer immediate advice, suggestions, and personal opinions. Yet, this is not warranted in many situations. We see from this passage that no one said a word for seven days. I love this!

Here’s yet another very clear statement: Sometimes the hearts communicate when the mouths cannot.

Now granted…the moment these friends started talking, things went off course. Just because you have a word does not mean it’s from God nor does it mean it’s good advice. In fact, Job 42:7 says, After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”

Sadly, I know I’ve done this a time or two in my life. In full transparency, I can be too quick to offer advice, and just because it “sounds good” doesn’t mean it’s from God. I won’t get into all the other components of this book. I simply was pierced after reading this passage.

However, I most certainly wanted to challenge you with looking at how you fit on this interpersonal engagement flow. Some fall immediately to pity and never move because of pride, resentment, and judgement while others have a spiritual habit of landing right on compassion every time.

Questions: Where do you land? Do you move by making an effort?

Challenge: Where do you fall typically on the interpersonal engagement flow? How can you make this an exercise this week?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

 

Doors

1 Corinthians 16:9 (NIV)

because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

open door

[Interpretive Journaling Based on a Personal Encounter]

We walked through the door of melodic destiny without recognizing God’s divine plan; it’s funny how a melody can be the master key – capable of unlocking the hardest of doors. The unfamiliar faded with each turn of the “familial knob.” Doors swung open aligning multiple families further reinforcing the body of Christ – the purpose – to sharpen, to edify, to deliver, to train, to correct, and to magnify the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I watched as each member of the familial unit was drawn by the Holy Spirit to various looking doors – some small and crescent, some tall and narrow, some wide and scalloped. As the doors were opened, God revealed one amazing surprise – His purpose remained the same no matter what door He opened. His main goal for going through each door revolved around finding His love, His grace, and His Son. Yes, each door was different, but the purpose was the same.

Each time, the familial unit would gather back and share of their glorious adventures through their doors that day, year after year; they would testify of God’s great work in their lives and even how He turned trials into triumphs. We even saw territories expanded and barriers erased all because God said “turn the knob and do not fear.”

God has continued to bless this familial unit with nearly daily excursions through different doors…until. There’s one particular door that just appeared off in the distance. The knob has a peculiar keyhole that I cannot open. When I look into each members’ eyes, it becomes evident that this knob is special and will require a sacrifice. One cannot turn it without giving something else to God in return; we weep! We place your hand on the knob and the creases in your palm match the keyhole.

We once walked through a spiritually swinging door, but I can’t go through this one. Yet, I see my prayers penetrating with ease! You do not walk alone for the prayers of the unit carry you.

Challenge: God’s kingdom is too vast to get stuck on the wrong side of the door. Take hold and turn the knob. It starts with letting Jesus in!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Reflecting Jesus

2 Corinthians 3:16-18

16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

reflecting jesus


[Narrative]

The law of religion casts a spiritual veil entangling those who call themselves righteous yet remain in darkness. Tear-stained pews welcome the sign of forgiveness and freedom; yet, the face of skepticism reinforces the spirit of fear. Shackles emerge from the stagnant atmosphere where negativity, criticism, and judgment abound. The powers of darkness multiply through generations of apathy while the sheep remain scattered. Disunity provides the appetizer for Satan’s pawns; yet, no one really understands that their souls are his main course. The trumpet sounds and in a dissonant whisper the church hears, “Woe to those who call evil good.”

The angels sing and a war breaks out. The enemy’s handshake encodes rejection and persecution into the deepest creases of your palm, and he doesn’t want to let go. Comfort, satisfaction, and power drift from his breath into a coat of lies. However, Jesus came to set the captives free. The blood flowing from his nail-pierced hands decode the Deceiver’s message, and it now says, “BOUGHT AND SET FREE!” Your religious chains are no more. The veil has been lifted; the shackles are broken. Under the new covenant, all who turn to Jesus have communion with the Savior, and His glory shines upon you. The Word of God reflects the Holy One, and He is seen through your eyes.


Dear friends,

We have this false idea that only the religious leaders during Jesus’ time were the only ones who rejected the Messiah while He was right in front of them. The religious people during this time did not grasp the message even though the Messenger was right in front of them. Why? They had a spiritual veil over their eyes. Honestly, they were blinded by their own rules, religion, and doctrine. Sound familiar? Yes, it actually does. The same thing is happening today. Please do not believe Satan’s lies any longer.

2 Corinthians 3:16 says, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” Praise the Lord! This is a heart change my friends. You can’t work enough for it; you can’t pay enough for it; you can’t do good enough for it. You must turn your heart and trust the Holy One, Jesus Christ. The law only brings bondage; rules only bring bondage; religionism only brings bondage – interesting theme here. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus makes it very clear how Christians are supposed to live; however, if you are trying to follow rules to be found righteous, then you are veiled. Jesus wants you to receive true freedom.

No more legalism! Receive the true gift of freedom so you can see through Jesus’ eyes. Begin to see His ministry, His people, His passions, His sheep. Be filled today with the Holy Spirit and bask in a new life each and every day – one where you are seeking to be a disciple!

Question: What do you see?

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

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