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

Interpersonal Engagement

Job 2:11-13

11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Engagement

During a recent quiet time, this passage popped up and it truly made me stop and think. Most of us know the story of Job, but we honestly fail to give more than five seconds of credit to his friends for their initial reaction to Job’s suffering. Let’s all understand that when these three friends heard about Job’s suffering, they set out from their homes and went to be with Job to offer sympathy and comfort.

What I love about the emotional engagement flow picture is that when Job’s friends saw him from a distance, they transitioned from sympathy to empathy. These friends could barely recognize their dear friend; they began to weep aloud and even tore their robes in complete mourning.

Let’s make a very clear statement: The only way you can move from sympathy to empathy is if you make an intentional step to see someone’s pain.

These men had to literally leave their homes to go visit their friend. Those that know me well know that I speak of encouragement just as much as I speak of spiritual warfare.

Let’s make another very clear statement: If you are seeing from afar then you are not truly seeing at all.

What does this mean? If Job’s friends would have stayed in their homes, they would have never seen Job’s suffering for what it really was and would have never emotionally moved across the interpersonal engagement flow.

Another good example of showing interpersonal engagement is offering your physical presence without saying a word. Often times we feel as though we have to offer immediate advice, suggestions, and personal opinions. Yet, this is not warranted in many situations. We see from this passage that no one said a word for seven days. I love this!

Here’s yet another very clear statement: Sometimes the hearts communicate when the mouths cannot.

Now granted…the moment these friends started talking, things went off course. Just because you have a word does not mean it’s from God nor does it mean it’s good advice. In fact, Job 42:7 says, After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”

Sadly, I know I’ve done this a time or two in my life. In full transparency, I can be too quick to offer advice, and just because it “sounds good” doesn’t mean it’s from God. I won’t get into all the other components of this book. I simply was pierced after reading this passage.

However, I most certainly wanted to challenge you with looking at how you fit on this interpersonal engagement flow. Some fall immediately to pity and never move because of pride, resentment, and judgement while others have a spiritual habit of landing right on compassion every time.

Questions: Where do you land? Do you move by making an effort?

Challenge: Where do you fall typically on the interpersonal engagement flow? How can you make this an exercise this week?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

 

Come and Stay Awhile

Jeremiah 31:25 (NIV)

25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

He-Who-Searches-Mind-and-Heart

[Narrative]

The cheers disappear and the chatter is all but gone.

~You light the way.

The silence is deafening and negative emotions begin to take hold.

~You call me into the Holy of Holies.

My soul pours out until it reaches critical emptiness.

~I enter through the torn veil.

My heart breaks as silence fills my ear.

~Your words never return void.

The gift of edification is met with worldly destruction.

~You call out and say, “Come and stay awhile My child.”

The ‘coat of silence’ is heavy and weighing me down.

~”Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”

Do you mind if I rest here for a moment, Lord? It’s hard out there.

~”I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.”


Challenge: I was blessed to hear a sermon on encouragement last night. I’ve learned through personal trial and through teaching that the enemy wants nothing more than to keep Christians busy – so busy that they fail to sharpen one another.

Americans have this mastered perfectly! We do not need any further training; we don’t need the syllabus; we don’t even need the practice test! We already know how to overextend ourselves through work and play to where we forget the “main thing”…making disciples; loving God with all of our heart, mind and soul; and loving our neighbor as ourself. Within this process, there is a great deal of encouragement and edification.

Conversely, when we are focused only on climbing the career ladder, refreshing social media accounts, and making sure our elementary children make it into the major leagues when they grow up [-laugh please-], then we have truly failed. That might be hard to swallow, but we all know it’s true. Living a life filled with the Holy Spirit and on track with Jesus’ ministry means doing exactly what He did when He walked this same dirt thousands of years ago. The first church gives us the best example; they were a body knit together. Can’t you just see it?! Praying, worshiping, eating, sharpening, sharing, helping – Kingdom work!

When you live life together, you can’t help but encourage those around you! So, I encourage you today – look up! First and foremost, let the Holy Spirit fill you up to where you have His rushing waters flow from your spirit onto those around you. Does your family need a refreshing? What about those around you at work? Let the Holy Spirit flood you and those around you. Secondly, be intentional! Make a point to step outside of yourself and encourage those around you. For some, this is super easy. For others, this is foreign and hard. However, the reward flows both ways! Be blessed as you pour out a blessing.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Shout of Faith

Luke 18: 35-43

Jesus Heals a Blind Man

35 Jesus was coming near the city of Jericho. There was a blind man sitting beside the road, begging for money. 36 When he heard the people coming down the road, he asked, “What is happening?”

37 They told him, “Jesus, the one from Nazareth, is coming here.”

38 The blind man cried out, “Jesus, Son of David! Please help me!”

39 The people who were in front, leading the group, told the blind man to be quiet. But the blind man shouted more and more, “Son of David, please help me!”

40 Jesus stopped and said, “Bring the blind man to me!” When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”

He said, “Lord, I want to see again.”

42 Jesus said to him, “Then see! You are healed because you believed.”

43 At once the man was able to see, and he followed Jesus, thanking God. All the people who saw this praised God.

Jesus heals the blind


I would venture to say that you might want to sit down and buckle up for this one. However, I feel as though I don’t want to even give a respectful warning because many out there might need the spiritual jolt. I do know that I have to give an apology. Yes! I’m sorry for being too passive in my past posts. Yet, there is a sense of spiritual urgency, and it is my duty as a Christ follower to speak the truth.

This passage delivers a clear message, and I do not want us to miss it! If you meditate on this prayerfully, you can almost hear the shout of faith deep within your soul! Why? Honestly, because the Holy Spirit does not want to be held inside your vessel unused and surrounded by lukewarm flesh. This is not the nature of our Father in heaven. So why then are we still walking into our sanctuaries sitting oh so pleasantly only to ensure that we do not worship, praise, or [heaven forbid] shout a hallelujah when the message touches our hearts?

Do you honestly believe God can heal you? Do you believe God can bring you out of the valley? [Let me back up]…Do you actually believe God can save you? [Pause!] I really want you to think about that for a moment. You cannot begin to think that God can heal or deliver you or anyone if you do not fully understand how He saves! The transformative power of the Holy Spirit is rich! So if you truly believe in God’s saving grace, then answer this question: How can we [me included] sit in a chair, pew, etc., unmoved, untouched, unaffected when in the presence of God? Hum…are you actually in His presence?

Let’s look at the blind man in the passage above. I have three revelations that we must fully understand dear friends:

  1. When Jesus is in your space, you know something special is about to happen: When the blind man heard the commotion he asked, “What is happening?” He was told that Jesus was near! All too often we go to church not expecting to see Jesus! [Did you catch that?!] I know that hurts to hear but it’s true. I’ll tell you what we do expect – we expect good company; we expect order; we expect good music [that we personally like]; and we expect to hear a good 30 minute message. [checkbox…now where are we going to lunch?] I challenge you to expect to encounter your Savior – each and every time! What does that really look like?
  2. The enemy will try to silence your shout but don’t stop: When the blind man heard that Jesus was near, he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David! Please help me!” The people who were in front, leading the group, told the blind man to be quiet. I will tell you right now that I will not stand before God Almighty and have to answer why I quenched the Holy Spirit especially when it meant that someone in the audience needed to hear it! The religious elect will not silence me nor should they silence you. I will pray boldly; I will praise fiercely; I will sing joyfully; I will shout freely; and I will battle the enemy with Holy Spirit victory! Do not let the “Pharisees” silence your shout of faith.
  3. Shouts of faith prompt an encounter: The blind man shouted more and more, “Son of David, please help me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Bring the blind man to me!” When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”He said, “Lord, I want to see again. Jesus said to him, “Then see! You are healed because you believed.” What would have happened if the blind man would have listened to the “religious” crowd and stopped shouting for Jesus? We can only guess that he would have slumped back down and given up his victory – his healing!

    Dear believers, this passage is your battle cry! Wherever you see yourself right now – SHOUT! God wants to hear from you! Shouts of faith repeatedly produce an encounter with your Savior. Remember, God wants to draw near to you! 


shout to the Lord

Questions:

  1. Have you given up your victory; your healing; your [fill-in-the-blank]?
  2. Have you stopped shouting because the enemy silenced you the first time, or second?
  3. Have you truly experienced an encounter with your Savior?
  4. What or who is preventing you from worshiping, praying, or speaking with Holy Spirit fire?

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

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