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

Still Standing

Ephesians 6:10-18

Wear the Full Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his great power. 11 Wear the full armor of God. Wear God’s armor so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks. 12 Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world. 13 That is why you need to get God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing. 14 So stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist. And on your chest wear the protection of right living. 15 And on your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong. 16 And also use the shield of faith. With that you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One. 17 Accept God’s salvation to be your helmet. And take the sword of the Spirit—that sword is the teaching of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times. Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready. Never give up. Always pray for all God’s people.

armor of god

I’m reading a devotion via the Bible app with some friends called “Spirit Wars: An 8-Day Devotional” by Kris Vallotton. If you have an opportunity to check this devotion out, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Today’s message was based on this well-known passage…[pause]…yes, well-known, but how many of us actually do this each and every day?

These words are bold commands, not suggestions: Be Strong, Wear, Fight, Get God’s Armor, Stand Strong, Use, Stop, Accept, Take, Pray, Do This, etc. Sadly, we fail to do these very things each day. Satan wants you busy; he wants you distracted. The enemy most certainly wants nothing more than you to wake up late, fail to spend time in the word, avoid prayer because you don’t have time, and forget to put on your armor. This is where accountability and spiritual maturity come into play. You must exercise these practices in order to build spiritual strength in the same way we build physical strength. Also, you must have an accountability partner or team that will help you stay on track. Remember, two are better than one!

What I love about reading the Word is that it is alive and personal. The Holy Spirit touches each person in a unique and special way through the same Scripture. While reading this passage today, I was struck with this simple yet powerful statement in verse 13, “That is why you need to get God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.”

Let me share two quick revelations here. First of all, I looked up the translation/version and it comes from the International Children’s Bible (ICB). I literally laughed and smiled upon that revelation. I thought to myself, “No wonder I understood it so well; it’s the children’s bible.”

In all seriousness, I truly think we, as adults, miss the point. We try to use years of experience and dress it up as wisdom. We try to analyze things that are simply out of our ability or authority. We should really take a hard look at Matthew 18:3 where Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you change and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” This requires humility, submission, and dying to self. Therefore, I don’t mind one bit reading passages from the Children’s Bible, and I most certainly never get tired of the Holy Spirit speaking directly to me however He chooses.

The second personal revelation I gleaned from this specific verse came from the words whole fight. I almost fell out of my chair reading this translation. How many times do we get right in the middle of the fight and throw our hands up? This is why I love this translation. If you are prepared [key point that my friend Sarah F. beautifully spoke about this morning], then you will still be standing when the fight is over! I hear a promise! I’m starting to learn that many of us  falter during life’s storms [“day of evil”] because we were truly never prepared. We are relying on our own personal strength. This will result in failure 100% of the time.

Think about Paul and Silas for a moment. What if they threw their hands up in the middle of their storm, specifically, the middle of the prison? Let’s look at the passage in Acts 16

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

I am overwhelmed by this passage! What could have happened? I will tell you…Paul and Silas would have sat in their prison cell, crying and complaining. In other words, there would have been a lot of “Woe is me!” This would have also been heard by the fellow prisoners which would have been a negative witness. Yet, THIS IS NOT THE STORY! Praise God!! In the middle of their storm [“day of evil”] they were praying and singing hymns. Other prisoners were listening. What happens next is miraculous…still standing firm on faith following the storm and others were saved. How many times do we miss such miraculous works because we don’t have this type of spiritual perseverance?

Therefore, I encourage you to start today; start preparing today. The Word is your personal study guide. You do not need to look any further. Spend time reading and praying today. Ask a friend or a group of friends to encircle you for accountability. Finally, put on the full armor of God each and every day. Remember…Satan doesn’t take a vacation! Therefore, you must dress yourself in God’s protection every day. Then, and only then, will you be able to stand firm through the whole fight!

Challenge: Be the example God desires of you. Stand firm through the whole fight so others will know that you are different. Pray and sing hymns during your “day of evil” and watch others come to know Christ because of your faithful witness.

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

Revive

2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if My people who are called by My name put away their pride and pray, and look for My face, and turn from their sinful ways, then I will hear from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

revive

Venom drips from the mouths of the deceitful – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Worldly fruits are ripe for the picking in the garden of pride – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Apathy slithers across the aisle and blots out flickering lights – REVIVE US OH LORD!

The dragon’s forked tongue paralyzes the weak – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Strongholds multiple in the assembly of discontent – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Melodious worship is drowned out by traditionalism – REVIVE US OH LORD!

Giants will fall with one stone and Holy Spirit guidance – YOU ARE WORTHY!

The dragon is defeated by the sword of truth – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Venom soaked cloth is washed away by the blood of the Lamb – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Strongholds flee at the faintest breath of the Almighty God – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Dry bones awaken with a renewed spiritual nourishment – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Mountains will fall into the sea from the sound of the faithful – YOU ARE WORTHY!

Dear friends,

I am encouraged because my God is victorious. I encourage you to remain in the shadow of the cross. Remember, our Savior, Jesus Christ, is ALIVE! Keep your eyes firmly planted on Him.

When surrounded by crashing waves, keep singing because the waves will hush in the spiritual lullaby.

When surrounded by the spirit of negativity, keep praising because peace is a strong spiritual weapon.

When surrounded by apathy and discontent, keep praying because evil cannot stand in the presence of the Almighty God.

When surrounded by crushing mountains, keep believing because faith as small as a mustard seed is strong enough to move mountains.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Traps

1 Peter 5:8-9

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

traps

[Narrative]

Satan’s timing is incredible. The landmine of criticism incinerates the atmosphere of joy. Fiery darts invade your home; however, your unveiled eyes only see emotional triggers. Dirty clothes scattered throughout the hallways and open school books singe your last effort to cope. The spirit of anger penetrates deep within, and the enemy laughs at your attempt to hold it all together. Your physical attempt to resist melts under the weight of stress and trial…explosion.

The raindrops cannot drown out the downpour of exhaustion. Fear, fatigue, illness, abuse, and addiction surface. Immediately, you are contemplating the end. Hours now replace seconds. Empty promises produce a false sense of comfort where the Holy Spirit once stood. Finally, the fiery darts have nailed you to your strongholds.

In a moment of surrender, a prayer is heard. The Holy Spirit flashes the light of forgiveness that cleanses within. The fragments of this world are flushed out as the Spirit overflows the soul. Gifts are strengthened, and clarity revives spiritual will. Fiery darts are extinguished and joy is renewed. Hearts are mended. Strongholds are broken, and families are restored.

Challenge: Be mindful of Satan’s traps in your life. Pray over your families every day.

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

See-Through

Lamentations 3:40 – “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.”

Proverbs 15:3 – “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”

See through

[Narrative]

~The crisp button down shirt hides the pain within the heart; yet if I let you see-through would you run away?

~The half smile and dim eyes are the definition of uncertainly; yet if I let you see-through would you question me?

~The recoiled posture marinates into the pot of despair; yet if I let you see-through would you comfort me?

~The questionable behavior alarms the elect; yet if I let you see-through would you gossip instead of protect?

~The heart’s denial battles the soul’s awareness; yet if I let you see-through would you correct me?

~The habits strangle purposeful intent; yet if I let you see-through would you carry me?

~The tongue speaks of what you want to hear only to mask the truth deep within; yet if I let you see-through would you pray for me?

~The talented hands move in unconscious memory as if going through the motions; yet if I let you see-through would you forget about me?

~The reputation fights for balance within the bitter sea of pride and humility; yet if I let you see-through would you call me narcissistic?

~The demons attempt to speak through the pores; yet if I let you see-through would you embrace me?

~The walls write another chapter of strongholds, devastation, and worldly battles; yet if I let you see-through would you call me your friend?

~The eyes tunnel into the spirit of truth which cascades volumes of personal despair but also victory; yet if I let you see through would you hold me accountable?

Dear friends, I speak a great deal on unveiling the truth within our lives. We spend an enormous amount of time packing fear, hurt, and strongholds behind our eyes. John 8:31-32 says truth will set us free. I will always encourage you to actively seek out strong Christian brothers and sisters to share life together. You do not have to live in darkness or face battles alone. To that I say, Satan is a liar!

Challenge: Reach out to a close friend and become actively involved in sharing life together.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta