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

Come and Stay Awhile

Jeremiah 31:25 (NIV)

25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

He-Who-Searches-Mind-and-Heart

[Narrative]

The cheers disappear and the chatter is all but gone.

~You light the way.

The silence is deafening and negative emotions begin to take hold.

~You call me into the Holy of Holies.

My soul pours out until it reaches critical emptiness.

~I enter through the torn veil.

My heart breaks as silence fills my ear.

~Your words never return void.

The gift of edification is met with worldly destruction.

~You call out and say, “Come and stay awhile My child.”

The ‘coat of silence’ is heavy and weighing me down.

~”Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”

Do you mind if I rest here for a moment, Lord? It’s hard out there.

~”I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.”


Challenge: I was blessed to hear a sermon on encouragement last night. I’ve learned through personal trial and through teaching that the enemy wants nothing more than to keep Christians busy – so busy that they fail to sharpen one another.

Americans have this mastered perfectly! We do not need any further training; we don’t need the syllabus; we don’t even need the practice test! We already know how to overextend ourselves through work and play to where we forget the “main thing”…making disciples; loving God with all of our heart, mind and soul; and loving our neighbor as ourself. Within this process, there is a great deal of encouragement and edification.

Conversely, when we are focused only on climbing the career ladder, refreshing social media accounts, and making sure our elementary children make it into the major leagues when they grow up [-laugh please-], then we have truly failed. That might be hard to swallow, but we all know it’s true. Living a life filled with the Holy Spirit and on track with Jesus’ ministry means doing exactly what He did when He walked this same dirt thousands of years ago. The first church gives us the best example; they were a body knit together. Can’t you just see it?! Praying, worshiping, eating, sharpening, sharing, helping – Kingdom work!

When you live life together, you can’t help but encourage those around you! So, I encourage you today – look up! First and foremost, let the Holy Spirit fill you up to where you have His rushing waters flow from your spirit onto those around you. Does your family need a refreshing? What about those around you at work? Let the Holy Spirit flood you and those around you. Secondly, be intentional! Make a point to step outside of yourself and encourage those around you. For some, this is super easy. For others, this is foreign and hard. However, the reward flows both ways! Be blessed as you pour out a blessing.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Shout of Faith

Luke 18: 35-43

Jesus Heals a Blind Man

35 Jesus was coming near the city of Jericho. There was a blind man sitting beside the road, begging for money. 36 When he heard the people coming down the road, he asked, “What is happening?”

37 They told him, “Jesus, the one from Nazareth, is coming here.”

38 The blind man cried out, “Jesus, Son of David! Please help me!”

39 The people who were in front, leading the group, told the blind man to be quiet. But the blind man shouted more and more, “Son of David, please help me!”

40 Jesus stopped and said, “Bring the blind man to me!” When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”

He said, “Lord, I want to see again.”

42 Jesus said to him, “Then see! You are healed because you believed.”

43 At once the man was able to see, and he followed Jesus, thanking God. All the people who saw this praised God.

Jesus heals the blind


I would venture to say that you might want to sit down and buckle up for this one. However, I feel as though I don’t want to even give a respectful warning because many out there might need the spiritual jolt. I do know that I have to give an apology. Yes! I’m sorry for being too passive in my past posts. Yet, there is a sense of spiritual urgency, and it is my duty as a Christ follower to speak the truth.

This passage delivers a clear message, and I do not want us to miss it! If you meditate on this prayerfully, you can almost hear the shout of faith deep within your soul! Why? Honestly, because the Holy Spirit does not want to be held inside your vessel unused and surrounded by lukewarm flesh. This is not the nature of our Father in heaven. So why then are we still walking into our sanctuaries sitting oh so pleasantly only to ensure that we do not worship, praise, or [heaven forbid] shout a hallelujah when the message touches our hearts?

Do you honestly believe God can heal you? Do you believe God can bring you out of the valley? [Let me back up]…Do you actually believe God can save you? [Pause!] I really want you to think about that for a moment. You cannot begin to think that God can heal or deliver you or anyone if you do not fully understand how He saves! The transformative power of the Holy Spirit is rich! So if you truly believe in God’s saving grace, then answer this question: How can we [me included] sit in a chair, pew, etc., unmoved, untouched, unaffected when in the presence of God? Hum…are you actually in His presence?

Let’s look at the blind man in the passage above. I have three revelations that we must fully understand dear friends:

  1. When Jesus is in your space, you know something special is about to happen: When the blind man heard the commotion he asked, “What is happening?” He was told that Jesus was near! All too often we go to church not expecting to see Jesus! [Did you catch that?!] I know that hurts to hear but it’s true. I’ll tell you what we do expect – we expect good company; we expect order; we expect good music [that we personally like]; and we expect to hear a good 30 minute message. [checkbox…now where are we going to lunch?] I challenge you to expect to encounter your Savior – each and every time! What does that really look like?
  2. The enemy will try to silence your shout but don’t stop: When the blind man heard that Jesus was near, he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David! Please help me!” The people who were in front, leading the group, told the blind man to be quiet. I will tell you right now that I will not stand before God Almighty and have to answer why I quenched the Holy Spirit especially when it meant that someone in the audience needed to hear it! The religious elect will not silence me nor should they silence you. I will pray boldly; I will praise fiercely; I will sing joyfully; I will shout freely; and I will battle the enemy with Holy Spirit victory! Do not let the “Pharisees” silence your shout of faith.
  3. Shouts of faith prompt an encounter: The blind man shouted more and more, “Son of David, please help me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Bring the blind man to me!” When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”He said, “Lord, I want to see again. Jesus said to him, “Then see! You are healed because you believed.” What would have happened if the blind man would have listened to the “religious” crowd and stopped shouting for Jesus? We can only guess that he would have slumped back down and given up his victory – his healing!

    Dear believers, this passage is your battle cry! Wherever you see yourself right now – SHOUT! God wants to hear from you! Shouts of faith repeatedly produce an encounter with your Savior. Remember, God wants to draw near to you! 


shout to the Lord

Questions:

  1. Have you given up your victory; your healing; your [fill-in-the-blank]?
  2. Have you stopped shouting because the enemy silenced you the first time, or second?
  3. Have you truly experienced an encounter with your Savior?
  4. What or who is preventing you from worshiping, praying, or speaking with Holy Spirit fire?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Returning to Our “First Love”

Jeremiah 24:7

I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Zaman-Algısı-İnsanlarda-Nasıl-Değişiyor


~Time is up and there are no more chances.

~Each scar represents a second hand lost.

~Cogs were designed to kill, steal, and destroy.

~The serpent made you believe hope was lost.

~Traditionalism has choked out truth.

~Legalism turns into apathy.

~Religionism masquerades as king.

~Hypocrites are magnified through stained glass.

~A lukewarm heart lacks a fervent spirit.

~Time is up and there are no more chances.


free-working-together-illustration-vector

~We must return to our “First Love” – Jesus.

~Jesus came to restore man back to God.

~First believers had vigor and values.

~Believers met regularly and prayed.

~Sharing meals and worship strengthened their bond.

~Revival was relational and true.

~The goal was simply to follow Jesus.

~The mission statement: Go make disciples.

~The vision was to follow their “First Love.”

~Their passion increased evangelism.

~There was no tolerance for division.

~”Church” was not meant to be a closed system.

~”Without me, you can do nothing.” – Jesus

~We must return to our “First Love” – Jesus


Challenge: You are not guaranteed tomorrow. In fact, the Word says in James 4:13-17, Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

I strongly encourage you to spend your time doing exactly what Jesus called you to do; don’t waste anymore time: turn away from sin and turn to God; make disciples; live your life focused on Him so much so that others see Him in you. It’s time to evaluate what you are spending your time doing – even the good stuff.

Question: Does your life reflect your “First Love” or…work, traditions, legalism, bondage?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Stand Still

Exodus 14:14

14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

praying by the lake

[Narrative]

The finish line draws near; however, peace is not my prize. As I pick up speed, I notice the ribbon sagging from the weight of this world. It drips with sorrow, lies, hypocrisy, disunity, and pride. The ribbon holders laugh at my stride and posture which once represented faith, hope, and love. A quick look over my shoulder reinforces my deepest fears…I’m on the wrong road.

My foot strikes the ground with discernible force through the activation of every fiber in my body causing me to abruptly stop. Both force and motion propel me to the ground; yet, I refuse to brace the fall. Through slow-motion action, my past replays through my mind just before slamming face-first into the ground…stillness.

Multiple wounds appear but the origin is suspicious. After careful inspection, my flesh is unharmed but my soul is damaged. Each movement in an attempt to get back on my feet deepens the fragile soul. A prayer is heard and a still small voice whispers from above.

Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I am lifted into the Father’s arms where the shadow of the Almighty soothes my soul. I am taken to a mighty oak tree. The Holy Spirit imparts wisdom and truth while resting under the branches. The shifting shadows and flickering lights force a weary mind to be still and know that He is God for only God could make light dance through the trees. I am whisked away high upon a mountaintop where the snow sings a gospel chorus. I see the Father’s hand effortlessly conducting this melodious symphony bringing praise back into His arms. I am then carried to the seashore where the sand welcomes the tide as if begging to be refreshed. My eyes are unveiled as I observe the Father placing the waves exactly where He pleases. The boulders accept His announcement by clapping the waters together resulting in an eruption of praise.

A gentle stare is interrupted with the warmest of touches. The Father’s hands rest on my shoulders causing me to fall backwards. This fall was most certainly different than the one before. I expected an embrace this time! My soul fell upon His gentle embrace and my faith was restored. As I attempted to look into His face, the blinding light shouts a promise, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

I then awaken on my new road…one with purpose and paved with His will. My eyes remain on the cross as a great cloud of witnesses cheer me on. The fiery darts do not stop; however, they are extinguished by the blood covering of the spotless Lamb. Each step brings new meaning and strengthens my desire to do more for the Kingdom, and praises abound from a heart overjoyed with knowing that I am truly free!

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

Shelter

Psalm 121

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

FullSizeRender

[Narrative]

Lungs ache for the pure breath of serenity. The unpredictable road is littered with distractions, failures, disappointments, and traps. The evil one unleashes his army along the path to draw you into the wilderness.

Through the parade of evil intentions, you look up to the mountains and cry out, “Does my help come from there?” A still small voice breaks through the atmosphere of despair and proclaims, “Your help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!”

The announcement alone shakes the foundation of the earth. Rocks cry out, “You are worthy!” The quake removes scales from your eyes. What you once viewed as beautiful, enticing, and acceptable now stand before you in the form of serpents and dragons. These monstrous beings have been identified and can no longer stand under the weight of God’s proclamation. Although rebellious, they fall to their knees and bow their heads!

Through complete permeability, these evil beings release unrelenting fear into your mind. However, your spirit proclaims 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

The rolling thunder and darkened clouds announce the second wave of attacks. The evil one gathered his very best to steal, kill, and destroy. Anxiety-ridden, your spiritual ears begin to hear the drums of warfare instead of angelic psalm. Your eyes begin to see elements of destruction instead of Jehovah Shalom.

In humble submission, you lay prostrate before the Lord. Immediately, silence falls upon the earth. Without peering up, your spiritual eyes are overwhelmed with wide-angle vision. The One who promises to watch over you like a shade has halted an entire force with His outstretched arms. He has silenced the noise. He has obliterated the prince of confusion with just His presence. With unimaginable authority He speaks…”I, the Lord of heaven and earth, keep my flock from harm. I, the Lord of heaven’s armies, watch over them wherever they go now and forever.”

Dear believer, live in peace today – everyday! In this life, we most certainly will experience pain, suffering, and consequences of disobedience. However, God’s promises never change. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Humble yourself this moment and pray that God overwhelms you with His perfect characteristics each and every day as you walk your life’s road.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Wholehearted

1 Samuel 12:24

24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

wholehearted

 

[Narrative]  You attempt to enter the Holy of Holies with tainted heart. The free gift of grace has tarnished your conviction. The temple veil, massive in symbolic separation, now covers your eyes as you walk freely into the inner sanctuary — you are spiritually blind yet see through evil intentions. You bring pride, bitterness, guilt, idolatry, lust, hatred, and fragments from the world with you. At a time where the high priest would have perished immediately, you continue your gait with worldly confidence. You stumble over the Ark of the Covenant; however, you are too distracted by the enemy to notice. When all hope seems lost, you take your last step and reach the mercy seat! There He is – the One who was drawing you in the whole time – God Almighty. Your tongue forms language that fills the sanctuary with praise yet you thought you were asking questions. Angels assist you to your feet from your prostrate position yet you thought you were walking on air. The Father says open your eyes my child yet you just knew you were already seeing new colors. Then…the Son appears. Jesus says, In order to be a child of mine, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me – wholeheartedly – now wake up!

This narrative describes many believers today. We walk into our churches, work settings, and homes with worldly fragments impairing our relationships. More importantly, these fragments are preventing us from being powerful witnesses to the greatness of Jesus Christ. I am calling Satan’s ploy out in plain sight – division! You are on notice evil one. The body of Christ has identified your scheme and we say NO in Jesus name! We will promote unity, love, service, selflessness, humility, self-control, and patience. We will not stand and watch you destroy our churches, families, friends, and communities. Greater is the One who is living inside of me than he who is in the world. AMEN!

Challenge: We must join together in prayer so that the body of Christ may fully unleash God’s power.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

True Love

John 3:16

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

cross

During the Valentine season, we are bombarded by the world’s view of love: red and pink hearts, Cupid, bows and arrows, roses, balloons, and chocolate. Yet, I was reminded of God’s view of true love while pulling up today’s Bible verse. I am afraid that believers are becoming desensitized to this most powerful verse. I’m also afraid that we fail to meditate on this verse when it comes to mind because we think we truly understand it. I’m here to say that this verse never gets old. In fact, nothing in the Bible is capable of “getting old.” Jesus, the physical manifestation of the Word, is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Therefore, it’s breathes forever and never will die.

This passage above is beyond timely. I encourage you to focus on God’s truth this Valentine’s day. The truth is God loved the world so much that He sent His One and Only Son to take away our sins in order to restore a broken relationship with our Creator. This my friends is true love because He did this while we were still sinners!

~Roses will die yet my God’s true gift of love lives forever.

~Valentine’s day cards will be thrown away yet my God’s true gift of love lives forever.

~Balloons will deflate and fall to the ground yet my God’s true gift of love lives forever.

~Chocolates will spoil and be thrown out yet my God’s true gift of love lives forever.

I am thankful for God’s true love. If you desire such an unfailing love, draw near to Him and He will draw near to you!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Empathy

Psalm 56:8

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

Empathy

PRIDE manifests in many different ways. I recently had an experience with pride that was rooted in fear. You see, the evil one knows our weaknesses, and he also knows how to capitalize on our faults. As I walked into an unfamiliar life situation last week, fear appeared to accompany me. In a moment of weakness, pride sprung forth and stole a kingdom opportunity to “live like Jesus.” The blessing is in the conviction. I am thankful when the Holy Spirit immediately convicts us of our sins. We are then able to humble ourselves before the Lord and seek the Father’s forgiveness. 

~What does pride look like in your life?  

P – Pious 

R – Rebellious

I – Impolite

D – Domineering

E – Egocentric

Pride steals our ability to see others through the eyes of Jesus! Empathy is not just a “psychological” term if you will.  It embodies the life of Jesus as well. Luke 10:27 says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Frankly dear friends, you cannot fully love the Lord and love your neighbor when you are too in love with yourself.

Jesus provides us a beautiful example of empathy and truly “living like Jesus” through the parable of the Good Samaritan. Luke 10:33-35 says, “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.'”

The Samaritan man exemplified the true heart of Jesus – empathy out of love. Empathy has nothing to do with feeling sorry for someone. Empathy, to me, is more of an action emotion. The good Samaritan not only felt compassion (i.e., empathy), he acted! How do you respond when you see your neighbor, friend, stranger, church member, etc. hurting? Do you judge them based on your own values and personal characteristics or do you act out of love?

Over the past several weeks, I have held in tears of the unknown. Yet, the Holy Spirit pierced my heart not long thereafter when He said to me, “I collect your tears!” Please don’t get me wrong…I was not shedding tears out of anxiety or fear for I truly believed God would carry me through my valley. Yet, God quickly reminded me that it is okay to be human!

How did Jesus respond when his dear friend Lazarus died, “Jesus wept.” [John 11:35] It is stated in this passage that those standing around Jesus saw how much he loved his dear friend. Was Jesus crying out of fear, worry, unrighteous anger? Emphatic NO!

I strongly encourage you to allow the Holy Spirit full access to your heart. Demonstrating true empathy when others are hurting can only grow out of humility. Please never forget that pride typically doesn’t stand alone. It loves misery and brings friends along. Therefore, pride sits at the head of the table with jealousy, judgment, anger, and fear.

Question: How do you respond to those around you? [Empathy vs Pride]

Thankful,

Christian Armetta