Persecuted

Matthew 5:10

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

aln-chr


To be fully transparent, I do not want to relive the last six months of my life. I had no idea that Satan’s enemy army was slowly eroding my spiritual life until it was too late. I’m sure many of you can empathize fully.

You see, the attack was completely different than the ones I was used to in the past; are we surprised? [NO!] Yet, it still took me by surprise. I say this because I’ve learned how to fight the enemy with the Sword of Truth-God’s Word-head on and fully claim authority in the name of Jesus Christ. However, if I didn’t know that I was actually under attack, how was I supposed to fight? [Sigh!] [Tears!]

Yes, this is when you wake up in the valley – alone! dark! fearful! However, one thing remained the same…God never abandoned me. God didn’t even have to find me because He followed me there in the first place with His hand of protection.

During this time, I was reading my Bible, praying, and learning from others daily. Yet, I was in the deepest spiritual battle of my life. I was pouring every ounce of my being onto a “table” made up of spiritual quicksand. I couldn’t rebound joy fast enough. I couldn’t receive peace soon enough. I couldn’t see encouragement quick enough. I couldn’t feel the all-consuming fire firmly enough.

In fact, this “table” had one purpose:

~To kill my spirit of edification.

~To steal my spirit of hope.

~To destroy my spirit of connectivity.

As light began to impale this strong enemy, I found myself charging out of the valley. Naturally, the enemy knew he and his toxic friends could not hide for long. I expanded my community and the prayers helped me mount up with wings of eagles. Yet the enemy wasn’t done. As I reached for the last step onto solid ground, the dagger of persecution sliced through the thickest of spiritual vines and branches releasing an avalanche of emotion.

Sadly, I learned of another vicious and cunning attack of the enemy in the form of persecution. You might be thinking to yourself, “This isn’t new at all!” For me, this attack came in the form of relational persecution. As believers, we tend to think of persecution as being harassed, attacked or even killed for one’s belief in Jesus Christ, and this is correct. Yet, there are other forms, and Satan knows them just as well. D

uring my recent experience, I honestly did not expect to receive ill-treatment from inside the religious community…yet again…why am I not surprised? The enemy strategically placed traps in the form of lies, fear, anger, confusion, bitterness, and jealously. It makes perfect sense! How else can Satan get to you if not through tiny cracks in your defense system; this being your very own community.

The best part of the story is this – God’s promises are yes and amen! 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

God’s promises remain constant!

~They were effective for the first church and first believers.

~They are effective in our present darkness.

~They will forevermore be effective for believers to come!

Therefore, I rebuke the lies of the enemy and say, “No, devil not today!” I am spiritually stronger today than I have been in many years. I acknowledge that the battle is the Lord’s and He is already victorious. Many will abandon me; most will turn their backs. Some have gossiped, and some have ridiculed. Some will test while others will mock. Some will scorn; some will lash out. Some have discussed while others aren’t concerned. Some will judge.

Nevertheless, my purpose is to please God and be the best disciple I spiritually can be! I refuse to go backwards. The sun “SON” is rising on the horizon, and I am not going to miss the brilliant display! I chase after my Savior Jesus Christ! He is speaking, and I refuse to miss the call.

Question: What revelation has God shown you lately?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Conquerors

Romans 8:31-39

More Than Conquerors

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


More+than+Conquerors

I have taken a different approach this Christmas season. I see things with renewed eyes this year. I am beyond thankful for the sweet nativity scene. However, my mind races with the purpose of Jesus’ miraculous entrance. He came to set the captives free! He came to fulfill the Father’s will. He left His place on high to be born in the lowly of places to save the world. What’s more, He came to give victory over the enemy.

My sister and I belly laugh when we reminisce over singing “Good Things Come in Small Packages – As Tiny as a Baby Boy” as part of the Living Christmas Tree performance many decades ago as small children. The funniest part is that we still know every word of the song. I still think about those words and it takes my breath away. God, in all His fullness, was wrapped up and held tightly; the Savior of the world came as a tiny package. It just blows my mind. This reminds me of faith. It truly only takes a little to do a lot.

These truths give me such confidence as I look forward to 2019. Just as the passage above says, “31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Remember, Jesus left His place on high to follow His Father’s will knowing He would give His life to save the world. The manger scene takes on a whole new meaning.

I am more than a conqueror because Jesus came to save me [and you!]. He is sitting at the right hand of the Father and interceding for us. What a beautiful sight. As I’ve written before, 2018 was a tough year. Not as tough as most and maybe tougher than some. I for one do not compare my life with others. All to say, I’ve gone through an interesting refining process. I have had to learn to rely solely on Christ.

I have seen many near to me sit at the table of pride, greed, envy, gossip, disunity, division, and anger and fill their bellies through gluttonous intent. I have felt spiritual death at times and loneliness to an extreme. These spiritual attacks were relentless. This is why I love this passage above. Specifically in verses 36-37 it says, “As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

As we enjoy this Christmas time thinking about Jesus’ birth, I pray that you think about the whole story. Think about the reason He came and how He wants you to be part of the story. As believers, encourage those around you. Be mindful when your friends and neighbors are going through difficult times. Be the hands and feet of Jesus. This sometimes means simply being present; you do not always have to have a word.

The devotion I read this morning by Joyce Meyer explains this very well. She says, “We don’t have to feel the pressure to give answers or advice that we don’t have. We help people who are hurting immensely when we don’t ‘forget’ them in their pain, especially if what they are going through takes a while to get through.”

Challenge:

  1. What is your part in the Christmas story?
  2. What are you still battling instead of giving to God?
  3. Do you believe that you are more than a conqueror?
  4. Encourage those around you which may mean just being present because just as Joyce Meyer says, “We help people who are hurting immensely when we don’t ‘forget’ them in their pain, especially if what they are going through takes a while to get through.”

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

Judging Others

Matthew 7:1-5

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

judgement

The tongue brings forth both praise and condemnation almost within the same breath. We’ve all heard the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” However, I want to take this a step further by saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, ask God to reveal your own plank so the Master Surgeon can skillfully remove this evil from your body.”

James 3:8-9, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.”

Yes, I’ve heard it all! You say, “But her sin is greater than mine!” “She went down a dark road and ruined many lives.” “He lives in sin yet comes to church like nothing is wrong.” The list is endless! Yet, the mirror image of your condemnation tarnishes your very own appearance.

The stumbling block verbally created by linguistically simple phrases blocks spiritual progress in the body of Christ. In other words, it doesn’t take much effort and much movement within the mouth to destroy not just one person but an entire assembly through relentless gossip, judgement, and hate.

~Venom projects into the body of Christ with such articulate morphology of evil overtones.

~Charisma masks the hatred under the skin in order to draw others into the stumbling block of defeat.

~A critical spirit takes residence within the laryngeal vestibule.

~Speech is filtered now through evil intentions.

~What can break this type of stronghold? The NAME OF JESUS!

Philippians 2:9-11

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Dear believers, we come together and ask that God pierce us all against such sinfulness masquerading as concern for others. The simple truth is…you are gossiping and holding the body of Christ hostage with your entangled words. No one is immune to the simplicity of this mighty sin. Therefore, if you truly have nothing nice to say, I ask that the Holy Spirit humble you at that very moment. Seek His face in order that your words may be uplifting and beneficial to those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Question: Have you allowed your tongue to produce venomous condemnation or fruitful edification?

Challenge: Ask God to place a spiritual mirror in your face at the very moment you feel the desire to condemn others?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Battlefield of the Mind

Ephesians 5:20

“Giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

light and darkness

You lurk outside my prayers waiting to distract. Your slithering approach gives you away. Yet, your goal was accomplished – eyes off the cross. The Holy Spirit announces your purpose, and you cannot hide – so – you strike! You lurch forward and fangs appear with discernible purpose to kill and destroy. However, there will be no flinching for fear is silent in the presence of God. There is utmost protection under the shadow of the Almighty! Warrior angles encircle the darkness and eradicate evil’s purpose – God remains fully in control and at the center of it all!

Dear friends, negative speech masquerades as a viper. Ephesians 4:29 says, “No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.” There are multiple problems with a negative tongue. First and foremost it is not God-honoring and does not represent the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Secondly, it strikes spiritual venom in the minds and hearts of those listening to you.

I beseech you dear friends to remove negative speech from your lips. Seek God’s protection over your words and fully represent the characteristics of Christ in your mission fields (e.g., work, school, home, etc.). Seek to build others up instead of tearing them down. Avoid entangling others by spewing negative speech out of anger, bitterness, jealously, and pride! Most certainly, please do not be a stumbling block to those around you.

Challenge: Avoid negative speech and gossip. Commit to these verses and build others up!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Blaze

James 3:2-6

Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

flame

We’ve all been there…with just seconds separating the two episodes, both edifying words and destructive gossip inhabit the same space—your tongue! We have all seen the destructive power of the tongue. Sadly, many of us have been the “lingual pyromaniacs” before!

We know from science and psychology that pyromania is an impulse control disorder where an individual cannot control the urge to start fires. However, I am here today to shed light on the truth that many of us have the same impulse control disorder when it comes to controlling the tongue.

Many of us are never fully aware of how our words catastrophically impact others, situations, events, etc. We simply express negative thoughts, hurtful gossip, and wrongful lies without ever thinking of the whole impact; in fact, we feel somewhat reinforced when we are able to spread information to others, even falsely. This is true sin-nature.

Just as the passage above denotes, your “tiny spark” of negativity and gossip has great potential to set an entire “forest on fire.” To be fully transparent, I was a witness to this exact phenomenon recently. I was approached by a friend who “heard some gossip” about a local leader. These defamatory words were being shared in rapid transformation between multiple parties creating a “forest fire” of lies, hate, gossip, and division! Sadly, the information presented was not even worth sharing, repeating, engaging, etc. However, the devil used just the right people at just the right time to create a fire storm in order to destroy a leader…for what…gossip!

Let’s be real…Does the instigator know that he or she created such a mess? Honestly, probably not but that’s the point! Most of us are never fully aware. I am here to tell you that the impact is always great! Do not assume that impact is proportionate with volume. Meaning, “If I share this hateful speech, negative thought, or wrongful gossip with just one other person and it ‘stops’ there, then it won’t be so bad!” —WRONG.

The damage is done when the language leaves your mouth and travels through the atmosphere awaiting the acoustic clearing into another’s mind. Satan is granted permission to use your “spark” and create a firestorm of destruction. Dear friends, do NOT be used by the evil forces surrounding us. For starters, I strongly want to encourage each of us to focus on the cross, mind our manners, and stop thinking so piously of ourselves.

You may find that you have so much to say about others because you find yourself so important. You begin to find peace and stillness in speech when you humble yourself before the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and make you keenly aware of such sin; repent and allow the Spirit to feed you correctly. If you find that you are instigating such hurtful speech, I encourage you to extinguish such behavior through prayer and worship. Use your speech to glorify the Father, which gives you less time to focus on yourself and what other’s are doing or not doing to your satisfaction. As God is faithful to forgive, I implore you to seek forgiveness from those you have hurt as well.

Question: How are you using your words lately?…[edification or destruction]

Thankful,

Christian Armetta