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

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

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

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

Immeasurably More

Ephesians 3:20

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

By Faith

[Narrative by Christian Armetta]

My ears spontaneously dim the environmental noise echoing from the crowded whispers. The hairs on my arm instinctively respond to a spiritual call. The Holy Spirit widens my narrow pupils and indescribable colors appear to dance above the beloved.

A spiritual magnet is released from the pastor’s breath as he proclaims a healing service. Legalism and traditionalism announce their rightful place at the center of the aisle. Who would dare attempt to pass through their narrow vestibule to get to the wounded sitting behind them?

Without further thought, the chosen spring up and confidently draw near. Each step is protected as angels dress the warriors with the armor of God. An army presses while eyes are unveiled to the spiritual readiness from the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. 

In tandem, the forces of legalism and traditionalism link arms creating a barrier in the resounding prayer. The army draws strength from the Almighty as light pierces the darkness. Outstretched hands release a guttural cry that only the Holy Spirit can discern. Voices marinate in God’s cleansing basin at the altar of faith. Oil now drips from each brow of the anointed.

The enemy, sensing defeat, calls forth the fallen and chains begin to separate the healing light. Through unconscious tongue and endless petition, Christ steps forward and breaks the chain of darkness! Healing light flows through the prayers into the depths of physical matter. As the prayers begin to calm and flutter into the Holy of Holies, the body of Christ strengthens under the obedience of the chosen.

Faith wins!

[We continue to pray for our brother in Christ and his family this day and every day.]

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

————————-

In collaboration with my dear friend Ms. Rita Harris, please continue reading her words below:

Question: “Why do we go to the Lord God Almighty in prayer with limited expectations when He is an unlimited God?”

Let’s think about it! When’s the last time you asked your spouse, a friend, a co-worker for a few bucks? First of all, you go to them because you believe they have it and secondly, you trust that if they have it, they’ll give it to you, right? We dare not ask for more than they could give…because we realize most of the people we know are limited in the amount that they can give us.

God’s Word says, in Ephesians 3:20, “Now unto him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

This power is the Witness, Holy Spirit, who bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. As children, we are heirs, coheirs with Christ!

Therefore, we CAN expect that the impossible is made possible in Christ alone! Let’s begin taking Him at His Word. Let’s begin to exercise our faith in the ONLY One who is faithful!

Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Much love and blessings,

Rita

Shelter

Psalm 121

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

FullSizeRender

[Narrative]

Lungs ache for the pure breath of serenity. The unpredictable road is littered with distractions, failures, disappointments, and traps. The evil one unleashes his army along the path to draw you into the wilderness.

Through the parade of evil intentions, you look up to the mountains and cry out, “Does my help come from there?” A still small voice breaks through the atmosphere of despair and proclaims, “Your help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!”

The announcement alone shakes the foundation of the earth. Rocks cry out, “You are worthy!” The quake removes scales from your eyes. What you once viewed as beautiful, enticing, and acceptable now stand before you in the form of serpents and dragons. These monstrous beings have been identified and can no longer stand under the weight of God’s proclamation. Although rebellious, they fall to their knees and bow their heads!

Through complete permeability, these evil beings release unrelenting fear into your mind. However, your spirit proclaims 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

The rolling thunder and darkened clouds announce the second wave of attacks. The evil one gathered his very best to steal, kill, and destroy. Anxiety-ridden, your spiritual ears begin to hear the drums of warfare instead of angelic psalm. Your eyes begin to see elements of destruction instead of Jehovah Shalom.

In humble submission, you lay prostrate before the Lord. Immediately, silence falls upon the earth. Without peering up, your spiritual eyes are overwhelmed with wide-angle vision. The One who promises to watch over you like a shade has halted an entire force with His outstretched arms. He has silenced the noise. He has obliterated the prince of confusion with just His presence. With unimaginable authority He speaks…”I, the Lord of heaven and earth, keep my flock from harm. I, the Lord of heaven’s armies, watch over them wherever they go now and forever.”

Dear believer, live in peace today – everyday! In this life, we most certainly will experience pain, suffering, and consequences of disobedience. However, God’s promises never change. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Humble yourself this moment and pray that God overwhelms you with His perfect characteristics each and every day as you walk your life’s road.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta