Tarnished Gifts

Ecclesiastes 3:11

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Spiritual-Gifts-Sermon

Satan is a liar! In fact, he is the father of all lies. John 8:44 says, “…for he is a liar and the father of lies.” I begin with this emphatic statement because I’m tired – tired of watching Satan kill, steal, and destroy in plain sight. I’ve learned recently that we all listen to his lies from time to time. So…we must get real, be honest, and embrace our calling as valiant warriors.

As believers, we ARE gifted! We are given the Holy Spirit to perform supernatural abilities to further God’s kingdom, not ours. However, Satan has done a good job at tarnishing these gifts and making them useless or ineffective at best. It should not be surprising that these gifts frighten the kingdom of darkness. The same God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you and me!

Romans 8:11, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” I quote this Scripture often because frankly we need to be reminded of its power! Satan clearly knows this kind of power because he remembers losing the keys of death that day. Therefore, he is spending an enormous amount of time whispering lies and tarnishing your gifts to make you ineffective for God’s Kingdom.

So what do we do? Be encouraged! You might feel like you are far from God’s grace. You might feel as though your gifts are so broken and tarnished that they cannot be repaired so why try. Speak truth over your situation and allow the Holy Spirit to resurrect your gifts and talents just like He resurrected our Savior. This is what I know – God creates beauty and that includes you – don’t listen to anything else!

Challenge: Place your tarnished gifts and talents at His altar and allow Him to resurrect them to perfection for His purpose!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Driving in Reverse

Hebrews 13:5

5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

living in the present

We’re moving, YES…but in the wrong direction! Wake up! Face forward and drive in the direction God has designed.

-Narrative-

You’ve convinced me that I was destined to be someone that I’m not! My mind scatters into countless pieces of possibilities. I see puzzle pieces floating above with self-defeating labels. My eyes are drawn to the bleeding ink of failure, loser, weak, incompetent, and sinner. These pieces congregate together and begin to fit tightly into one picture – my past. But I’m moving in the right direction, right? “Yes!” says the evil one. “Then why do I feel so defeated by my own desires and passions?” “Keep looking into your rearview mirror and the answers will become clear,” exclaims the author of all lies. The mirror widens as my focus intensifies. I ponder countless life decisions and fall deeper into despair. “If only I had pursued that career,” exclaims the weary one. Satan is now fully in control as your life moves forward but you are driving in reverse.

Dear friends, stay alert! 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The enemy wants more than anything to get into the driver’s seat and convince you to drive in reverse! You cannot use your spiritual talents to impact the Kingdom of God when you are focused on the past and driving in reverse.

Remember – you are exactly where you’re supposed to be because God is ultimately in control. Your struggles and encounters can and will be used for good when you focus on Christ and drive forward! Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Therefore, stop analyzing the past. Tear down the rearview mirror and drive in the direction of Christ. He will use all of you to glorify His name if you surrender the keys!

Question: Does your “Spiritual Gear Selector” say “R – Reverse” or “D – Drive”?

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

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

Mirror

James 1:22-25

22-24 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. 25 But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

looking into mirror

[Narrative]

“Of course that’s me!” the distracted soul exclaims as he stares intently at his reflection. “Why am I so confused?” he ponders. “I was just here moments ago and somehow forgot my own reflection!” He feels such conviction as the Holy Spirit speaks, “Do not be deceived my dear child. You must be a doer of the Word and not just a listener.”

The tortured soul refutes such conviction as he listens to the deceptive whispers of the evil one, “I go to church regularly, and I even bow my head reverently during prayers so I know I’m a good person.” The battle ensues over the wanderer’s confusion. His focused attention is suddenly interrupted by a knock at the door. An alluring voice can be heard from the other side, “Are you coming? We are waiting on you!” The distracted one turns from studying his reflection and exclaims, “Yeah, give me a minute to grab my stuff, and I’ll be there shortly.” Carousing speech can be heard on the other side of the door as they await his arrival.

As the conflicted one turns from his own reflection, a bright light catches the corner of his eye. The spiritual battle intensifies as he struggles between following his fleshly desires versus listening to the counsel of God. With only a glimpse, he sees a holy messenger standing where his reflection was once projected. The cautious one immediately recalls Galatians 5:17, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”

Instead of grabbing his keys, he opens the nightstand and pulls out God’s holy word. He opens directly to Psalm 19:14 as he repeats, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Instead of walking to the door to leave, he carefully walks back to the mirror. This time, his reflection is replaced by the Son of God. The fiery darts appear to come from all directions; however, they are not penetrating his focus. With purposeful intent, the seeker reaches for the Savior’s hand and takes his first step of obedience. 

Jesus hand.jpg

Dear friends, you cannot live a double life. Proverbs 27:19 says, “As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.” Do not be deceived. Seek holiness as you bear the name of Christ for your witness is greater than you think. 

Thankful,

Christian Armetta