Wilderness Warrior

Matthew 4:8-11

Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

surrender to Jesus

If those without spiritual authority are forced to bow to the Messiah, then what’s stopping you? Pride! This passage above is everything! I would love to dissect every piece of Matthew 4:1-11 but I’m especially pierced by these verses above.

When Satan failed two other times in this passage, he decided to pull out all the stops…so he thought. He made another fatal mistake! He lifted Jesus above the worldly kingdoms and offered them as a reward for worshiping Lucifer himself. However, My King knew something the devil has failed to understand to this date. The only way to true worship is not elevating ourselves above anything…but on our faces in pure submission and obedience to the one and only King.

I would like to think that Jesus looked around at all those worldly kingdoms and saw dust, rust, and decay while Satan tried to paint over them with shimmer and glitter; Jesus knew and saw right through it!

My Jesus might have even thought, “I might be hungry and we’ve been out here for a really long time, but I’m never trading my Father’s house for these things!” For it also says in Matthew 21 that Jesus calls His Father’s house a “house of prayer.” Jesus was not interested in these earthy buildings no matter how pretty or tall! He clearly showed us that the Father’s house is made up of prayerful worship not fancy things this world can offer.

Matthew 6:19-20 even says, “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.” 

However, this ploy is still working today! Satan continues to pick us up and show us our own kingdoms and ask us the same question! Why then are you contemplating the answer? Your response should be that of Jesus’, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Ah! and then…Read, Set, Go! Then ministering angels flooded the land to attend to Him! Why wouldn’t Father God do the same for His inherited children?

Remember, you are a co-heir, worthy, purposed, loved, friend of God, child of God, justified, redeemed, set free, accepted, saint, made new, sealed, seated, chosen. Our Wilderness Warrior, King Jesus, knew the answers to defending the biggest enemy and we should be paying attention!

Our flesh and this world will always attempt to lift you off your feet; it’s “prettier” up there, right?! Wrong! It is an atmospheric mirage. The only place to receive true peace and freedom is bowing before, head down, the one and only King Jesus. The greater the submission, the deeper the relationship. 


[Interpretive Message]

holy spirit coming down

You press my spirit but the flesh taunts your gesture. You never give up and patiently await my submission. Days may pass but you walk in step wishing to hold my hand. You reach for my face but something else has caught my eye. The second hand ticking at my wrist tightens the worldly shackles. Worldly position has only increased deadlines and personal responsibilities which appear to mimic pack mentality as it laughs in unison. It hurls insults of which it learned from listening to the world, “You’re a loser! You’ll never win! You aren’t as smart as him/her! Your spiritual gifts aren’t as useful and supernatural as hers. Why do you even try?” The lure of these worldly kingdoms begin to elevate my heels as my thoughts take me higher and higher.

But then…the Word of the living God floods through like a rushing army. Taking every thought captive through the Sword of the Spirit centers me and peace lace my stance. My eyes are unveiled and I see arrows bending under the force that surrounds me. The heavens are opened and my knees buckle. Warrior angels stream out with weapons of song, truth, and praise. A battle ensues but my face in planted firmly in the ground. Prayer and worship have replaced egocentrism. This world along with religionism is not my master and feathers have slowly fallen to shield me. As my face melts deeper into the ground, I feel His touch and He says, “Welcome! I’ve been waiting for this moment.”


Challenge: Dear believers, the enemy has no choice than to fall down and worship the King. You hold spiritual authority by housing the Holy Spirit in your body but have failed to truly worship by doing the same. What is stopping you? It’s time to get on your face daily. Ask the Holy Spirit to free you from the things that keep your nose in the air and your heels elevated: pride, envy, untamed tongue, lust, anger, revenge, unforgiveness, idolatry.

Note: Please seek and purchase the book How to Worship a King by Zach Neese.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Red Light, Green Light

Numbers 9: 15-23

The Cloud Above the Tabernacle

15 On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. 16 That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. 18 At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. 19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. 20 Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. 22 Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. 23 At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.

When God Moves

I used to love playing the game red light, green light as a child. The rules are simple but it brings such joy and laughter. You only need a large space to run in, and you simply listen to the leader on the other side of the field call out commands. When you hear green light, you move quickly in the direction of the leader. However, whenever red light is called out, you must quickly stop in your tracks. Anyone seen moving after red light is called is out of the game. The goal is to get from one end of the field to the other end where the leader is without being called out because you continued to move when red light was called out.

I love when the Holy Spirit brings up a childhood memory when reading the Word of God. This week, a daily devotion centered around Numbers 9. I immediately saw myself running on a field playing red light, green light; I laughed. The main idea always centers around focusing and listening only to God. If we can’t see this from even a simple childhood game, then we are truly missing the big idea. Matthew 18:3 says, “And he said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I become so exhausted with the devil’s schemes that pull us away from both keeping our eyes focused on God and listening for His commands. Many of us wait for obvious deceptions or roadblocks, but I’m here to tell you that the evil one is really good at subtle twists of truth that you must always stay on guard. The enemy is even skilled at using those closest to you to accomplish his evil purpose.

I am participating in a weekly lifegroup that is studying Seedtime and Harvest by Charles Capps; I strongly encourage you to look this up and dig into these words. One thing that Charles said affirms Satan’s ploy to falsely mimic the very truth of God. This next paragraph is taken from Seedtime and Harvest by Charles Capps on page 17:

James said, “If any man seems to be religious, what he believes will be in vain if he doesn’t watch what he speaks.” There are many that seem to be religious, but they don’t bridle their tongues. They speak all sorts of things that destroy their faith and deceive their hearts…What they believed in the beginning will disappear because faith cometh by hearing. Fear also comes the same way. If you pray one thing and say another, your saying will nullify your praying.”

Stop the press! Wow! You see, the only way Satan can get you distracted to where you stop listening to the commands of the Father is to falsely mimic the Father’s truths.

~Instead of standing on God’s promises, you trade your security for fear.

~Instead of claiming your healing, you settle for a broken body due to years of bitterness and unforgiveness.

~Instead of stepping out in faith, you watch your blessings pass you by due to personal control.

The list is endless. God is standing at the finish line telling us when to move and when to stay, but we can’t hear Him! Sadly, it’s because we are listening to those around us tell us that we gave up! Others will claim that you let Satan win. These are lies from the enemy all because you found your true calling by following the Holy Spirit’s fire. Do not fear for Psalm 23:5 says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

I am here to tell you that the only voice you need to be listening to is that of the Holy Spirit. When His fire leaves the camp and yells “green light,” you best go! When His fire settles down for a night or even years and says, “red light,” you most certainly camp out and worship the Almighty wherever you are. The voice of the enemy in the form of “religious” men and women are noise in the presence of the King. We cannot grow weary for following the Lord’s commands and moving when He says move, speaking when He says speak, and following His ways wherever we go!

Dear believers, take up your cross daily and listen intently on the Father.  Watch for the Holy Spirit’s fire and move with it.  Do not be caught moving in the direction of Satan’s false speakers. Remember James 1:26, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

Finally, don’t forget that those standing on the sideline of the game will be the very ones to taunt you and attempt to distract you to get you out! These sideline thieves will be friends, relatives, coworkers – anyone can be used. Never grow weary running your spiritual race. When in doubt, always ask yourself, “Would God say that?” In fact, you should always reference it back to His Word.

Challenge: Put on your spiritual shoes, line up, and get ready to win your spiritual red light, green light. God is on your side, but you must listen to Him alone.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Words & Worship

Psalm 19:14

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

sky praise

I just love this passage! God draws me to this verse when my thoughts do not match His and when my words begin to get out of line. This is so important to me that a dear friend from college framed this verse for me decades ago as a graduation gift; it remains on my desk at work to this day.

I am reminded of a very important truth each day when I walk into my office and see this verse staring right back at me. First, my words and thoughts must line up with the God I say I love. As a believer, we are most certainly called to a higher standard. This means that my thoughts – the things I meditate on – must truly be God-honoring. Secondly, my words have eternal impact; they can speak life or death. I must make sure that the words that spring forth are filled and laced with love so that others may be drawn to the Father instead of repelled.

Sadly, some of us appear to understand how to worship the King but fail to love his brother or sister with our words and thoughts out of the same mouth and heart. We are good at raising our hands in worship and lifting our voices but gossip taints the entrance to the throne room. We are good at saying eloquent prayers but the outline of our hearts are burning with bitterness and a haughty spirit. We are good at asking for personal forgiveness while we continue to accuse and imprison our neighbors.

The problem is…this doesn’t match! This is a heart problem. James 3:10 says, “Praises and curses come from the same mouth! My brothers, this should not happen.” This pains me greatly especially when it comes from fellows believers.

Often times, we are looking for attacks to originate from the other side of the battlefield; however, do not be surprised when the fiery darts come from your own camp…aimed right at your back. This is why it is so important to pray a hedge of protection around you along with Psalm 91. Specifically verse 5 says, “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day.”

This is also why it is very important to be a part of a community that you can trust and who will always go to battle for you; life groups are a great way to build this kind of true support. I encourage you to find a group that you can build strong relationships, take off those masks, and build chords of trust. Trust is critical when it comes to the foundation of these groups. Gossip and failure to hold confidence have the potential to create lifelong relational fractures. Spiritual integrity is paramount. 

Finally, I strongly encourage you to always filter your thoughts and words through the Holy Spirit. May you think and speak encouragement and never gossip. May you marinate your words and thoughts with love instead of bitterness and revenge. May you walk in humility and dance in the freedom that being a true servant provides. May you marry true acts and words of worship with your daily life so that freedom may spring forth around you.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Mirror Neurons

2 Corinthians 3:18

18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.

jesus_in_our_eyes

I had the opportunity to speak to a group in our community this week on memory strategies. This presentation always starts with a fun lecture on neuroanatomy. Every time I prepare for this presentation, I see God’s fingerprints all over the complexities of the human brain; it truly takes my breath away. God’s handiwork over the human body is truly speechless. I thoroughly enjoy studying and sharing this knowledge with my patients and the community around me.

Also during this week, I was listening to a podcast by Rick Warren who mentioned “mirror neurons.” I thought, “What irony!!” This occurred on the same day that I gave my presentation on neuroanatomy, memory function, and nerve health. The Holy Spirit was prompting me to pay attention and I knew there was obviously a lesson in all of it. When the Creator whispers, you must listen. The life lesson I learned was far-reaching and I most certainly had to share!

You see, mirror neurons respond to actions that we see in others. [STOP!] Let that soak in for a moment. We are truly hardwired by God Himself to nearly imitate or at least emulate the things closest to us and especially the things we focus on. This is why it is so critical to focus on God!

There’s a reason why Hebrews tells us to fix our eyes on Christ…

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

AH! fixing your eyes on the things of this world will truly make you mirror those exact things! Your brain can’t help it so you must avoid it!

~When you fix your eyes on materialism, your mirror neurons can’t help but reflect the filth of this world through your actions and speech to others. You lose empathy, wisdom, discernment and compassion for others. You only see things that falsely fill your personal “want tank.” Egocentrism becomes your idol and you sacrifice those you once held dear for the things of this world. You are consumed by this world which prevents you from being transformed by the renewing of your mind.

~When you fix your eyes on pride, your mirror neurons can’t help but reflect the evil through your tone and discord ensues. You speak critically of others and lose the type of love Christ demands that we show to all. You see yourself as the Queen of your world; however, your empire is built on human praise that will eventually fall. Your eyes are veiled and you miss the pain all around you. Hurting souls are crying out but the “I” in your ear is deafening. Your worship is tainted as it is filtered through unthankfulness, anger, bitterness, hypocrisy, control, fear, obsession, and envy.

~When you fix your eyes on gossip, your mirror neurons can’t help but reflect the power of death in your tongue for Proverbs 18:21 confirms this very truth. In fact, this verse also states that you will ‘mirror’ (eat) the fruits of your speech. Your false empowerment is also temporary as this too shall fall. The darkest side of your tongue becomes your weapon of choice. Edification is replaced with condemnation. The black hole inside of you vacuums light around you. You are incapable of speaking love and disunity grows around you until spiritual suffocation is complete.

BUT GOD…!

~When you fix your eyes on Jesus, your mirror neurons can’t help but worship! You and all of creation can’t help but sing praises to the King. Your entire body comes into alignment with the perfection of Christ. You desire all things pure and holy. Your fruits sprout and grow in the fertilizer of the King. There is no doubt that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control flow from His endless river onto all those around you.

This is why it’s so important to put on the full armor of God each and every day. Ask the Father in heaven to dress you as you would your child. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus. The only way to do that is to focus on Him in turn mirroring His every action.

It’s “spiritual neurology” my friends! Your brain is hardwired to mirror the very things you place in front of you. If it’s worldly, you will look like it, talk like it and vomit evil like it. If it’s of God, you will shine like it, love like it and speak life like it. I challenge you to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these things to you during your prayer time. Allow the Holy Spirit to surgically remove these evils in your life so that you may reflect His holiness.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

What an Honor

Jesus on Beach

John 2:7-11

Jesus Changes Water Into Wine

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

~Today I got to assist the King! To be honest, I started my day believing this would be like any other day. I would fill my space like I normally do and help others because that’s just what I do. I’m known for washing over people, which makes them feel better but I’m usually left drained. I’m sad to say that I wasn’t expecting today to be extraordinary. You see, I know I’m supposed to choose joy in all situations and even in the mundane, but it most certainly is a challenge. But today I saw the King! He actually needed me to accomplish His purpose. The very One who was with the Father the day Heaven and Earth were created prayed over me and I was literally transformed before His eyes; I’ve been made new and will never be the same…so said the water that turned into wine.

Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

~Today I got to assist the King! It started out like any other day when I ate breakfast and ran a little in the field. I worked in the garden and even carted some goods from town back to the house. I truly thought it was going to be like any other day, but the King needed me! I had no idea that He was on His way and He wanted me. His friends said He needed me! Yes, the Messiah needed me! My life was made for a purpose long ago, and I just didn’t know the impact it would have on eternity. When I walked up to Him, I couldn’t believe I was meeting my Maker face-to-face. He spoke to me without moving His lips. On that day, I got to carry the King who created me…so says the colt.

Matthew 27

The Crucifixion of Jesus

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the jews.

~Today I got to assist the King! When I was young, I never imagined my role in this life. To be honest, I thought of myself as a nobody. In fact, I purposefully didn’t stand out and made sure that I hung around quietly with others just like me. I’ve had some rough patches in my life, but when people look at me in general they don’t like what they see. I never truly felt appreciated as much as I did today. You see, a man needed me today….not just any man but the Savior of the world. I would hear from Him when He was close, but today I got to support Him in His toughest part of ministry. I listened while He prayed and I soaked up His sweat the best I knew how. You see, today I held Jesus as He died and saved you and me…so said the cross.


1 Corinthians 12:27

27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

I truly witnessed the body of Christ in action today and it radiated with love. There is nothing better than serving others and being a powerful witness to the greatness of Jesus Christ. There are numerous examples and commands in the Bible concerning this very message. From worshiping in one accord, prayer walking, cooking, filling book bags, praying with children, to face painting, God’s love was poured out today. My strongest encouragement and challenge would be to seek opportunities to be Jesus to those around you. I found myself overwhelmed with pure joy today because Jesus wanted to use us for His purpose. Just as He can use a colt, water, and a cross – He can use you. The difference is the relationship! So, today I got to assist the King, and I know it changed the world because He changed me!

Challenge: Seek service opportunities this week to live like Jesus in your community.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Goals

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

saying goodbye

I was reminded today that my goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals! You see, in a matter of three weeks, I will lose another spiritual sharpener. I almost can’t even type without the sound of tear-soaked keys. People come and go, but you are never prepared to let those very dear to you leave the close perimeter of your life especially when you have witnessed such spiritual metamorphosis in such a soul.

~My goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals.

Sure, it’s not about me but there are always lessons to learn! Just this year alone, I have watched three precious families and courageous hearts dear to me leave the familiar and venture out into new lands. Now, in just a blink of an eye, we will raise palms to the sky and release another warrior into her promised land. Stunned, shocked, yet rejoicing.

~My goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals.

As I listened to her speak, I heard the same words uttered from my mouth twelve years ago when God called my family back to Louisiana from Plano, Texas. You cannot deny open doors; God doesn’t miss an opportunity to outline the doorframe with tissue I know! I’ve been there before.

~My goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals.

So, I raise a hallelujah for surprise blessings! Yes, it’s not about me but one thing for sure…I’ve grown through her salvation, encouragement, praise, worship, and prayer. May we all learn that no matter where we go the mission remains the same: to love one another and to make disciples. I cannot wait for my dear friend and strong colleague to see God’s footprint as she settles into her new promised land.

~My goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals.

This is what I want to be known for truly. Your mission is where you are! It does not matter if you are working at a hospital, in a school, in a church, or at home…your mission is God’s mission and that never changes. This is also why every church should follow God’s mission and goals. Church goals should always reflect that of discipleship and brotherly love. Goals that fail to include God’s clear command will always end in destruction.

~My goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals.

Inward self-seeking service is rooted in pride. My encouragement and challenge for you this week is to study God’s commands and expectations for the body of believers. Always remember that the life of Jesus was remarkably people-minded because souls were hanging in the balance. I honestly want you to examine your mission field. Have you lost your focus for people? Is your calendar inwardly focused? Have you become just too busy in the world of distraction? It’s not too late to refocus on God, His mission, and His heart for people. It’s why He came and provided the ultimate sacrifice for us. So, it’s time that we all re-examine ourselves, our groups, and our culture. Let’s all agree that Satan no longer can distract us from our mission…to be light and salt in a dark world…making disciples.

~My goals are not your goals but they all must match God’s goals.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

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

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

 

Unraveling

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

warrior

The devilish storms collide as I watch pieces of faith unravel around me.

~Hard pressed on every side but not crushed.

My eyes see your squall filled with your venom but my ears only hear silence.

~Perplexed but not in despair.

Norms are replaced with abnormalities to persecute, pierce, and punish.

~Persecuted, but not abandoned.

The evil grip punctures my heart and your forked tongue relentlessly plants lies.

~Struck down, but not destroyed

Abandoned and deserted while pride, hypocrisy, and judgment rise all around.

~The life of Jesus may be revealed in our body.


Before walking out of my house each morning I pray that God would help me put on the full armor of God. Honestly, I imagine Him dressing me as I pray over each piece. This image brings me both strength and joy.

However, no matter how old I get or how “seasoned” of a believer you are, you are truly never prepared for an all out war! This is why I like the picture of the warrior who dropped his sword but his eyes have not moved while he is picking his sword back up! They are firmly planted, and trust me…the only way we can survive is to not only put on the full armor of God but to also keep our eyes firmly planted on the Lord.

Hebrews 12:1-3

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I pray that you are courageously wearing your armor. I also pray that you are fixing your eyes on Jesus while you run this difficult race of life. The war is real and some seasons are more difficult than others.

I had a dear friend recently tell me that the hard pressing will result in “diamond-faith” if you allow Jesus to use it for His purpose and stop fighting it. “Diamond faith” is created under extreme heat and pressure! We often want to fight God and yell, “TIME-OUT!” Yet, He just wants you to stay in and rely on Him – the result – perfection! I am thankful for this word as it encouraged me and renewed my faith.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta