No Greater Defense

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

under God's Wing

I have a few places of pure peace and sanctuary: my whisper spots where I pray daily [yes I have more than one spot because I am in more than one place in a day]; an altar praying and worshiping; and on a long road with running shoes laced and earbuds tuned to my favorite praise and worship songs. Honestly, when I look back at this list, I would probably say my favorite time to worship, listen, and speak to God is when I’m running [gasp – I know!].

For some, this sounds more like a punishment; yet, for others this is about as close to God as we can get. Granted, this message is not a reinforcement or advertisement for running [even though that WOULD be a good one!]. No, this message came straight from the Holy Spirit today while running down a dusty road, worshiping, praising, and praying.

I found myself pulled into one song – Your Love Defends Me by Matt Maher. Granted I’ve heard this song many times, and it is most certainly on my favorites list. Yet, today was different. Don’t you just love how God points out something you’ve heard before, seen before, and maybe even done before and makes it…NEW! Ah…the God of wonders! Well, this is exactly what He did for me today.

If you have never read or heard Matt Maher’s heart behind this song, I strongly encourage you to read it. Here is an excerpt: “To put it simply – evil is in the business of accusation but God is in the business of raising up testimony – of who He is and what He’s done. This song talks about how God is a defender.” ~Matt Maher

[click below]

Matt Maher: Behind the Song

 


Trust me, this hits home!

When seasons change and persecution commands a mighty front:

~Your Love Defends Me

When closet faces find their prettiest mask to shield the evil behind:

~Your Love Defends Me

When hidden lies create spiritual craters in the souls of the innocent:

~Your Love Defends Me

When pride and bitterness corrode strands of unity one piece at a time:

~Your Love Defends Me

When the snarls of the devil are masqueraded behind the elite:

~Your Love Defends Me

When enemy forces catch the tunes of the worshipful seconds after vocal escape:

~Your Love Defends Me

When accusations replace affirmations:

~Your Love Defends Me

When personal opinion ruptures Godly wisdom:

~Your Love Defends Me

When excuses strangle the sin of judgement:

~Your Love Defends Me

When the tongues of the Pharisaical lash endless assault

~Your Love Defends Me


I’ve been on a deep spiritual journey that has taken me along the highest mountaintops and some of the deepest valleys that I’ve ever been on in my entire life! Nevertheless, I am learning each and every day that God’s love defends me and He never leaves me.

Trust me, I would love to “try” to defend myself, but I’ve learned that NEVER turns out well [ha!]. It would almost look like young David putting on King Saul’s armor trying to defeat a giant – that would be David trying to defend himself. That wasn’t the plan. He let God defend him, and we know how that turned out – victoriously! What did David do? He showed up and let God do the work with a sling and a stone. I expect to do the same then! So, I do pray Psalm 91 over myself, my family, and my friends. Yet, today it reached a deeper meaning. So, be encouraged today! His love defends you too!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Runaway

Matthew 26:36-46

Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

goodbye

I recently read a wonderful devotion covering this passage that made me literally stop in my tracks. Jesus was in true agony! He knew what was coming; He felt every bit of urgency, pain, sorrow, and a million other emotions the night before His crucifixion. We can honestly say He dreaded the cross, but He loved us too much to allow selfishness to take over. In fact, that would have been flat out impossible!

Look at His response in verse 53, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

 

The one thing that Jesus asked during his most desperate time of need was for His disciples to stay near and pray. However, these men could not stay awake. Jesus said to Peter, “You men could not stay awake with me for one hour?” This should pierce us all! Jesus explains why He wants and honestly needs them to stay awake but when He returns for the second time, He finds them asleep again. 

The point:

Jesus was fully man, and He was also fully God (Colossians 2:9). Jesus showed us through His own life here on the earth that we will experience trials and even anguish in this life. It is important to have people praying around you. However, we battle the flesh that keeps us bound in selfishness, self-pity, pride, bitterness, jealousy, greed, and anger. These oppressive forces block your blessings from reaching any further than your own thoughts.

Soon after Jesus’ arrest, the disciples deserted Him and fled (v. 56)…[pause]…we no longer have to wonder why Jesus strongly encouraged these men to stay awake and pray [v. 41 The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.] In His most desperate time, they fled; He was alone.

The solution:

~Pray hard and honestly.

~Pray with others and don’t fail them in their time of need; humble yourself.

~Pray even when you don’t want to; let go of the rebellion.

~Pray until you have nothing else to say; the Holy Spirit is still praying on your behalf.

~Pray until it hurts; God catches all your tears.

~Pray even when the world grows silent; God is always listening.

~Pray when others sleep; God is stretching your dependence.

~Pray when you see them run away; He will bring more back to you.

 

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Less and Less

John 3:30

30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

ladder of success

I just love the running community. This weekend we are celebrating the Beauregard Watermelon Festival here in Beauregard Parish. All the area runners come out in support of the Beauregard Christian Women’s Job Corp to run the local 5K. It is notorious for being hot, fast, and fun. This year did not disappoint.

We all love the competition and seeing who will place year after year; however, the goal is simply to finish which is an accomplishment in and of itself. After the award medals were placed around the winners’ necks and celebratory chatter died down, I couldn’t help but think about our Christian walk.

We spend our entire lives climbing the ladder of success in all aspects of our lives not just professionally. Our society teaches us to climb as high as we can. Some worldly philosophies would even support jostling your competition just to surpass him or her. Don’t get me wrong, I love races and winning medals, but when it comes to our walk with God, I want us to consider this verse in John that says, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”

As we elevate Christ, we become less important [pridefully speaking]. You see, it truly isn’t about you or me – are you shocked? Of course you’re not! Matthew 20:28 also says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Yes, God incarnate came to serve others and to give his life for many who would spit on him, punch him, beat him, curse him, and nail him to a tree. Sadly, we are still doing that today. Even as believers, we abuse grace for recurrent sin. Instead of elevating Christ, we continue to lose focus on the prize – being a powerful witness. You can’t be a witness when you are too busy jostling people off your spiritual ladder.

I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to dig deep within your soul. Flip your ladder upside down. While the world is climbing a ladder that will rust and fade away, spend time working your way off the pride ladder. Let God change the rungs so when you step back on, you step on the rung of mercy, then grace, then peace, then patience, then kindness, then thankfulness. Before long, you are at the top…however, the world will see only Christ in you as you are elevated high like a bright light. Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” So I’m going to keep climbing but in the fruits of the Spirit and not flesh so that Jesus will become greater and greater, and I will become less and less.

Question: What do people see at the top of your ladder? Personal Pride or Christ Himself

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Ability

Exodus 4:10-12
Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? “Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”
running
Nothing humbles you more than running long-distance races facing pain head-on. My ten-year old son and I just completed the Houston Half Marathon yesterday, and I always learn valuable lessons along the way. This year, I was overwhelmed with joy observing the different “types” of runners: Men, Women, Children, Young, Old, Disabled. These worldly labels define us according to age and physical ability. However, one thing was very clear during this race – we were all runners facing challenges in order to cross the finish line. Some faced blindness that required guides; some faced knee pain that required trainers; some faced amputations that required prosthetics; some faced paralysis that required wheelchairs – the goal was the same – RUN AND FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED!
The most amazing part about the whole experience is that you are able to witness passion, determination, discipline, and grit. This is why I enjoy the running community so much. There are truly no labels. It doesn’t matter what shape you’re in or what physical limitations you might have, you set your eyes on the prize and nothing will stop you from crossing that line.
In this passage above, I couldn’t help but relate this to my race experience. Moses did not feel adequate based on God’s calling. Yet, we know that God is faithful to equip His children according to His perfect will. There is no such thing as a limitation, disability, or dysfunction when God calls – for who stitched you together in the first place? I urge you to listen closely and follow God’s calling over your life. God promises, even as stated in this passage, to be with us.
Thankful,
Christian Armetta