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

It’s Me

Matthew 25:31-33, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Matthew 25:37-43“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

walking with jesus

I recently watched a video where a pastor dressed as a homeless man and sat in front of his church to assess his members’ reactions. I’m not here to give an expository on that one video; rather, I am here to shed light on a very dark secret even within devout Christians…our eyes and hearts look a lot like everyone else in the world when we are faced with things that make us uncomfortable, things that are different, things that challenge our religionism, and things that challenge our rule system.

I’m here to tell you…you’re missing the point! Jesus is in our midst and we are too concerned for our own comfort and religious rules to even see Him! I am pleased to know that the majority of the church members in that video did in fact respond with the love of Christ to the “helpless” man. What about you?

Naturally, my mind goes in both directions. “I need to help this homeless man because I know that’s what Jesus would do, but what if he asks me for my jacket and money? I really like this jacket. I’ve only worn it twice and I get a lot of complements on the tailoring and color. This homeless man doesn’t need an expensive jacket, and I honestly don’t think he needs my money because he will just abuse it.” Sounds insane, right?!

Hum, this example might be an exaggerated stretch for dramatic intentions. Yet, we act this out every single day. Does it have to be an example of a homeless man? What about failing to help a stranger change a flat tire in the rain on your way to church…yes, that actually happened to me. When did religionism and legalism become the two chains that keep us from actually living like Jesus?

Dear friends, you’re missing your Savior each and every day.

~He’s at the food bank and soup kitchens feeding those who only eat when food is available that week, but I can’t volunteer because of all my committee responsibilities.

~He’s on the side of the road in the pouring down rain comforting the young man trying to change a flat tire, but I really don’t want to get soaked before church.

~He’s at the altar of your church when a teenager submits to the Holy Spirit and walks to the front to claim the mercy seat of forgiveness and grace, but everyone knows we finish at noon so we really need to wrap this up so we can go home.

~He’s at the grocery store when the lines are so long that you want to send a complaint to administration for inconveniencing you because we all know our time is more precious than waiting for anything.

~He’s at the drive-thru window where a young worker is trying to make enough cash to help pay the bills so the water doesn’t get turned off the next day, but she was rude to me so I will do everything in my power to get her fired.

~He’s in your office when a co-worker asks you how you remain joyful and hopeful no matter life’s trials, but a report is due so you brush him off.

I’m afraid that we are all missing it…better yet…we are missing Jesus right in front of us. I’m here to tell you, it’s not about checking off boxes in your life, in your church, in your home. It’s not!  It’s about being filled with the Holy Spirit where you can only see through His eyes in all your environments. I can tell you that I’m done checking off spiritual boxes. My Father did not send His one and only Son for me to waste any more time…the gift of salvation is absolutely just too precious to…miss the point. I encourage you to pray for renewed eyes, renewed spirit, and renewed hope that you were placed on this earth for a great purpose, not just a task, a great purpose.

So…keep your eyes open. Take off the blindfold. What do you see now?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Deafening Silence

Zephaniah 3:17

17 “The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

silence

 

One thing I’ve never claimed to be is a theologian…and I’m o.k. with that! God and I have awesome talks and the Holy Spirit reveals such amazing truths through the Word, which is alive! I came across this passage today at just the right time and wanted to share some thoughts.

I’ve always known that God is with me. I truly do not doubt His magnificent presence in and around me. But…truth be told…the silence can be deafening. Some times I wonder as I sit unmoved on the Potter’s wheel, “Lord, what will you make of me today?…Lord?! Do you hear me?” I find myself sitting on the Master’s wheel waiting to hear His foot press against the pedal igniting the spinning wheel. I yearn to feel the breath that sparked life into man upon my heart as it brings comfort. I anticipate the Potter’s skillful hands shaping a vessel requiring painful trimming at times but the result is priceless in the end.

I sit and ask, “Lord, do you want me to be a basin today? I’ll take the dirt from those around me as long as you give me strength to help me impart the cleansing power of encouragement. Wait, maybe a cup, Lord. Fill me up and allow me to overflow your love onto those around me. Hum, let me think…a vase! Yes, Lord, I am willing to be an open container where you are glorified and shown for all to see.”

Yet, I wait! You see, I’ve been those things before. I know how to operate easily in the world of “basins, cups, and vases.” In the deafening silence, I have found myself begging God to build me into something familiar…something I could easily control to gain peace…ah…not Godly peace but worldly peace. That’s where we all fail.

So the question truly remains, “Do we/I really trust the Potter’s hand?” Based on the passage above, I want to change my perspective and I ask that you do the same! Let us bask in knowing that God is always with us because His Spirit lives in us. I will rest in knowing that my God may show His love in quiet times and also rejoice over me with shouts of joy.

I encourage you to always remember that there is no greater love than God sending His only Son, Jesus, to die for us while we were still sinners. Therefore, even in the deafening silence, I know I am loved. Stay on the wheel my dear friends! The greatest deception from our enemy is to make you believe that God is finished with you. Don’t ever believe that your wheel is not moving…what will He make of you now?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Backwards Living

Matthew 20:16

16 So those who are last will be first and the first will be last.

backwards

Question: Do your fruits match the God you say you love and follow? Trust me, your fruits will identify a “god” but do they point to the One and Only?

Recently, God reminded me of a very valuable lesson on what it means to be a true Christ follower – backwards living. The question then becomes…backwards from what standard? Yes, this is where comprehension and spirituality collide. The world is very clear and even persuasive in reinforcing walking in the flesh. This worldly forward progressive approach to life is not only wrong but deadly.

Living in the flesh only increases your spiritual void. Decay chips away at your mind, body, and soul causing you to make decisions based on fleshly impulse. These worldly vices tarnish everything it touches. Pride, greed, lust, envy, anger are only a few examples of rotten fruits that Satan has masqueraded as not only beautiful but valuable in this earthly kingdom.

So what does it really means to walk with Christ daily? For me, this means making a conscious decision each and every day to walk against the worldly grain. This means intentionally turning around from what the world says is correct and follow Jesus staying close in His shadow. As you begin to weave your way through the crowd, you are giving the Holy Spirit full permission to prune these worldly fruits and to fertilize your spirit in order to produce all things worthy of being a Christ follower. Humility, selflessness, love, peace, patience begin to sprout in places that once produced idols.

I encourage you to take a hard look at where you are walking. What fruits are you leaving behind wherever you go and whatever you say? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment and wisdom to quickly identify worldly vices and turn away with confidence that can only come from God Almighty as He alone gives strength.

As you pray today, mediate on these verses that show us how “backwards living” is actually the correct path to living in freedom.

1 Corinthians 7:22

22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave.

Matthew 20:16

16 So those who are last will be first and the first will be last.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Matthew 16:25

25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

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

Sweet and Sour

Romans 12:1

A Living Sacrifice

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

 

suit and tie

vs.

worshiping at the altar

The altar of forgiveness and strength announces Christ’s longing heart.

~But my suit and tie stand at attention.

The groanings from the Holy Spirit pave the way through bended knee.

~But my suit and tie whisper lies to reinforce my pride.

Humility encircles the chosen one through obedient surrender.

~But my suit and tie prevent an outstretched arm.

Worship fills the atmosphere leading the spiritual charge against the enemy.

~But my suit and tie grip my praise.

The Holy Spirit breathes life into the broken through spirit and truth.

~But my suit and tie blind my discernment.

Prayer warriors prepare the table for the King.

~But my suit and tie exude criticism impaling the spirit of the meek.

The Almighty welcomes the sacrificial offerings of praise and prayer.

~But my suit and tie cause spiritual warfare between my head and heart.

Childlike faith is shown through a believer’s embrace.

~But my suit and tie produce dispassionate vibrations.

Testimonies produced under God’s wing create revival.

~But my suit and tie stifle His calling.

Shouts of praise from the elect bathe the passage into the Holy of Holies.

~But my suit and tie block the entrance.

————————————————–

Challenge: My prayer is that God completely overwhelms you with His all encompassing presence. May you surrender control, pride, rituals, and legalistic ideology and bask in His love for you.

Question: What prevents you from surrendering at God’s altar?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Unshackled Faith

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

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. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

unshackled

The weapons of this world strengthen the links that bind them. What started with one cuff now stretches to the length of your despair. Mental fatigue breaks down the spiritual force within you. Where does your help come from? Psalm 121 flickers within your mind but the weight of the world snuffs out your freedom.

The chains build strength and taunt your insecurities. Strongholds, once suppressed with the fragile strands of human power, now announce their false reign over you. Fear, helplessness, and loneliness now replace faith, hope, and love. The fiery darts of the enemy have increased in accuracy and you are losing strength. Isolation fuels spiritual bondage.

The Holy Spirit reminds you that you are a child of God and fight on this side of victory because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. Suddenly, you hear the prayers of mighty warriors in a concert meant for the King. As you begin to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ, light flashes around you and truth is revealed.

The demon of altered perception is commanded to remove his hands from your ears. Instantly, you hear God’s voice – “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:26]

The demon of altered reality if commanded to remove his hands from your mind. Instantly, mental clarity replaces fear and anxiety – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” [Proverbs 3:5-6]

As you submit fully to God, you humbly cry out for His help. Promises from above begin to assemble protective armor for the warfare. The command to resist the devil and he will flee charges the atmosphere. Demons scatter aimlessly. The wind created from angelic wings above prevent further demonic damage. Prayers are now uninhibited and the smell of victory fills the altar of grace.

Challenge: Where does your help come from?

mountains

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

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