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

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

Affirmation

John 13:35

35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

family in christ

I’m reading a wonderful book titled Wherever the River Runs by Kelly Minter. In this book, the author reignites her love for Jesus and His people while traveling through Brazil. I am not here to do a book review; however, I do strongly encourage you to pick up a copy and dive into the deep waters of this beautiful book and watch your church walls be turned inside out!

On one hand, I am pained, deeply, by the blinded consciousness of our fellow Christians (me included) who sit comfortably in climate controlled churches yet complain that some new visitor is sitting in OUR spot. Better yet, how in the world could someone place THOSE flowers in the front of the sanctuary because they are simply tacky. Even more, churches have abandoned the only way to worship when they gave up their hymnals.

[Sting a bit?]

After reading this book, I would say more beautiful conviction follows. So let’s dig deeper. As Christians, I am sure we are entitled to go back and express our deepest anger to the coffee barista who failed to not only put the extra shot of expresso in our latte but failed to substitute almond milk for whole milk costing us to lose points on our diet challenge at the exclusive fitness center. Hum, actually, I don’t think that was mentioned in God’s Word as permissible behavior for His children. Do I hear entitlement? Do I sense a pretentious spirit? Do I hear pride?

O.K.! I hear you. The shock factor is over. Yet, the truth is still the same. The revelations from this book have unveiled some very good points about our culture, lifestyle, and Christian walk. The truth is…God wants us to love Him and to love others; the rest falls into place.

For 2019, I am seeking relationships that are purposeful and on point for God’s kingdom. This may look different than your goals. We most certainly are not here to compare. I am seeking opportunities to make an impact by simply listening and doing. This only comes from constant prayer and communion with the Holy Spirit.

My prayer for you is to grow in love, not just fall in love, with your Maker. In that, grow in faith, passion, expectation, love, kindness, patience, peace, and gentleness. Does this mean that you will remain in your four-walls? NO! Does this mean that you won’t explore? NO! How else did Kelly Minter get on a boat in the middle of the Amazon? Does this mean that you are bound by only one building? NO! The hurting are waiting outside.

~The greatest mask remains seated, cloaked, unmoved, and divisive.

~Built, sharpen, grow, develop…THEN BLOOM!

Questions:

Where are you and why?

Where are you going and why?

Who is holding you back?

 

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

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

Refuge

Psalm 18:2

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Refuge

What a year! I took the word challenge at the beginning of the year and decided to pick my one word that I wanted to basically live by for 2018. My word was teachable…[gasp]…yes, some of you are saying, “Why would you pick such a reactionary word almost like asking for patience.” Simply…God said so through my prayer time so rebellion wasn’t an option.

My “word” did not disappoint! I started the year off with a significant health scare that lasted three months. I learned to fully rely on God during this time. My flesh wanted nothing more than to control every bit of my situation down to insurance authorization, or the lack thereof actually, scheduling, appointments, diagnoses, medical plans, and clarification. Yet, all things were out of my control, even knowing if my life was going to change forever or not! Interesting! Actually, no…rather typical for someone who prayed to be teachable I would say. Peace replaced uncertainty.

Instead of detailing an entire year’s worth of teachable moments, I wanted to shed light on one main truth. The main thing I learned by remaining teachable was fully understanding that only God is our refuge. Anxiety and fear manifest when our refuge is anything other than God Almighty. There are literally millions of things that masquerade as a false place of refuge in and around our lives.

Other things that I learned:

~I learned that pleasing those around me instead of keeping my eyes on Christ manifests in the quicksand of disappointment.

~I learned that pride permeates the thickest of spiritual and physical walls and infests all who are lukewarm in His eyes.

~I learned that trust is more subjective than I ever imagined.

~I learned that freedom doesn’t always have to follow a process or pre-planned systematic approach.

~I learned that healing from both physical and spiritual ailments comes to those who are actually willing to carry their brothers and sisters to the feet of Jesus in pure faith.

~I learned that worship is a representation of the heart.

~I learned that greed and envy grow exponentially in the garden of bitterness and discontent.

~I learned that prayer is the strongest weapon yet highly underutilized.

~I learned that criticism weakens spiritual gifts and kills the branch that will evidentially be swept away.

~I learned that placing faith and hope in people will lead to ruin.

~I learned that resting in Christ is more than fulfilling, it’s peaceful and consistent.

~I learned that supernatural encounters are still alive.

~I learned that ministry requires reaching outside your personal boundaries.

~I learned that the enemy is very much at work today, but we hold the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.


I could continue this list because I truly learned a lot as I did try to remain “teachable” this year. In the highs and lows, the one thing that remained the same…Jesus!

My refuge in peace AND storm – Jesus
My refuge in joy AND uncertainty – Jesus
My refuge in contentment AND dissatisfaction – Jesus
Question: What did you learn this year? How did God grow you?Thankful,Christian Armetta

Fraudulent

Jeremiah 23:1-4

23 “How terrible it will be for the leaders of Judah. They are destroying my people. They are making them run in all directions,” says the Lord.

They are responsible for the people. And the Lord, the God of Israel, says to them: “You have made my people run away in all directions. You have forced them away. And you have not taken care of them. So I will punish you for the evil things you have done,” says the Lord. “I sent my people to other countries. But I will gather my people who are left alive. And I will bring them back to their own country. When they are back in their own land, they will have many children. And they will grow in number. I will place new leaders over my people. They will take care of my people. And my people will not be afraid or terrified. None of them will be lost,” says the Lord.

spirituallyblind

[Interpretive]

You lead the masses through your strong arm of influence. The spiritually blind accept your words like an infant desiring nourishment. The cloak of deception blinds the crowd to your splintered tongue. Your followers reach the edge of truth and blindly fall into the valley of deception. Charism, intelligence, and wisdom hide the stench of lies, hypocrisy, and pride. You defile the inner sanctuary and set traps for the weak. The destructive goal cannot be satisfied as ego, control, and fame continue to ignite your passion. The crowd shouts your name; the congregation longs to hear from you, oh deceitful one. Truth cannot be found on your lips as your dark chariot awaits.

Yet, the warriors among you know your name. Their discernment comes from the Lord. The Holy Spirit shields your fiery darts from the elect. Your filth is uncovered and your wicked ways will be made known. The belt of truth girds all the other pieces of our armor. The sword of the Spirit is sharper than anything from your mouth and it pierces even to the division of soul and spirit. Your wicked ways are no match for God’s army and you will face judgement. Your false kingdom will fall. Your hypnotic timbre is nothing but clanging parlance. The secret prayers of the faithful will destroy your weak foundation. You have been identified and your kingdom will be destroy along with you.


I read Jeremiah 23 as part of a daily devotion today, and it really opened my eyes. The Bible makes it very clear that there will be false teachers among you. Yet, are we really spiritually in-tune to recognize these false prophets, leaders, and teachers? It is vital that we keep our eyes on the good Shepherd, Jesus. I strongly encourage you to surround your church leadership teams and bathe them in prayer. I also find it vital to assess the spiritual health of your leaders. Who are you following and why? Be cautious submitting to the authority of a false teacher, one who speaks with honey yet his actions detail venom.

Challenge: Seek truth; open your spiritual eyes; pray without ceasing; guard your heart; and put on the full armor of God as you go out and battle in this deceitful world.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Love Letter in the Sky

Psalm 121:2

My help comes from the Lordthe maker of heaven and earth.

1 Kings 8:23

23 He said: “Lord, God of Israel, there is no god like you. There is no god like you in heaven above or on the earth below. You make agreements with your people because you love them. And you keep your agreements with those who truly follow you.

relentlessly-loves

We stand amazed at Your mighty hand…strong enough to crush the tallest mountain yet delicate enough to paint an evening sky.

~Love Letter in the Sky

The morning sun shouts your praise as the rays produce a miraculous symphony.

~Love Letter in the Sky

The smell of rain ignites choral worship as the wheat fields sway in harmony and agreement.

~Love Letter in the Sky

Your breath alone is strong enough to singe the enemy’s force and the stones cry out, “Great is the Lord!”

~Love Letter in the Sky

Thunder claps and lighting strikes in perfect rhythm announcing your great return.

~Love Letter in the Sky

The sea in glorious humility reflects the sun, moon, and stars as we gaze upon your radiance from both above and below.

~Love Letter in the Sky

Clouds stand at attention in complete solidarity for even they know who controls their movements.

~Love Letter in the Sky

Your church, Your very people grow fruit that only comes from being rooted in the vine, Jesus Christ, whom You gave as a gift from above.

~Love Letter in the Sky

Challenge: This month, take time to thank God for His masterpiece, which includes people like you. He is truly the maker of heaven and earth. For starters, this requires us to be still and know that He is God…be still! This is very hard for many of us. Breathe in His blessings and praise Him for His promises. Never get too busy to miss His love letters spoken directly to you. This could be a sunset, fellowship with friends, etc. Most importantly, do not miss the greatest love letter – His Son Jesus Christ. This love letter was sent to die for your sins…will you open and accept His letter to you?

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

When the King Dreamed

John 6:38-40; 51

38 I came down from heaven to do what God wants me to do. I did not come to do what I want to do. 39 I must not lose even one of those that God has given me, but I must raise them up on the last day. This is what the One who sent me wants me to do. 40 Everyone who sees the Son and believes in him has eternal life. I will raise him up on the last day. This is what my Father wants.”

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh. I will give my flesh so that the people in the world may have life.”

baby jesus

[Narrative]

~When the King dreamed…His eyelids danced with excitement to the rhythm of an unconscious lullaby. Was He dreaming of the angelic choir that He watched joyfully sing God’s praises in Heaven above?

~When the King dreamed…His arms and legs jumped in enthusiastic applause. Was He dreaming of Father God rising from His throne in holy majesty?

~When the King dreamed…His mouth positioned the simplest of smiles in mirror reflection of joy. Was He reminiscing about long walks with the Father on the streets of gold?

The day the King died on a cross, His dreams were revealed…His eyelids danced with excitement for He saw the day I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. His arms and legs jumped with enthusiasm because He saw me following His commands and leading others to Christ. He smiled because He saw me standing next to Him meeting God Almighty when He gets to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

You see, when the King dreamed…He dreamed of meeting you and me because that was the will of the Father. For Jesus came to fulfill His Father’s will. He submitted Himself to the Father and gave us the greatest gift in all of the world – salvation. This Christmas, let us share the real reason why Jesus came and what He was dreaming about!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta