Broken Walls

Broken Walls

Nehemiah 1:1-10

Nehemiah’s Prayer

These are the words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah.

I, Nehemiah, was in the capital city of Susa. It was in the month of Kislev. This was in the twentieth year. One of my brothers named Hanani came from Judah. Some other men were with him. I asked them about the Jews who lived through the captivity. And I also asked about Jerusalem.

They answered, “Nehemiah, those who are left from the captivity are back in the area of Judah. But they are in much trouble and are full of shame. The wall around Jerusalem is broken down. And its gates have been burned.”

When I heard these things, I sat down and cried for several days. I was sad and did not eat food. I prayed to the God of heaven. I said, “Lord, God of heaven, you are the great God who is to be respected. You keep your agreement of love with those who love you and obey your commands. Listen carefully. Look at me. Hear the prayer your servant is praying to you day and night. I am praying for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites have done against you. My father’s family and I have sinned against you. We have been wicked toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, rules and laws you gave your servant Moses.

“Remember what you taught your servant Moses. You said, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you come back to me and obey my commands, I will gather your people. I will gather them from the far ends of the earth. And I will bring them from captivity to where I have chosen to be worshiped.’

10 “They are your servants and your people. You have saved them with your great strength and power.


[Narrative]

You trailed behind me making me believe you left long ago; however, clanging bones revealed your position. You were closer than I ever imagined! Pausing long enough to catch your eye [pause] – brings back sorrowful emotions. Visions flood my mind where captivity, chains, and venom abound. When I saw these things, I could only cry. Evil freely enters through broken walls without any awareness or plan to fortify. Replaying the events mimicked learning to ride a bicycle yet falling repeatedly on gravel without any one there to help mend the wounds.

The hair on the back of my neck stands at attention in the first line of defense. The legion has been identified and their war cry is deafening. The sickening sound of anger, resentment, fear, and seclusion swirl around me like fiery hornets. My posture changes to prayer as my physical calls for help go unnoticed by man; I’ve been looking but no one comes. The hills are empty and my voice carries with purpose yet the echo returns empty. As I hit my knees, my Spirit always reminds me:

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.

storm coming

Falling prostrate in prayer allows my God to fight my battles! I am transformed into a field of peace, where His hand of protection covers me and allows me to stand on His solid Rock [His Son] where I am able to look at the storm, head on, only through the eyes of my Savior who took the battle ahead of me. Through His ultimate protection, I begin to feel the Potter rebuild the damaged walls and fortify His city within me. I continue to rely on 2 Corinthians 12:10, “So I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles. All these things are for Christ. And I am happy, because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.”

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Reflecting Jesus

2 Corinthians 3:16-18

16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

reflecting jesus


[Narrative]

The law of religion casts a spiritual veil entangling those who call themselves righteous yet remain in darkness. Tear-stained pews welcome the sign of forgiveness and freedom; yet, the face of skepticism reinforces the spirit of fear. Shackles emerge from the stagnant atmosphere where negativity, criticism, and judgment abound. The powers of darkness multiply through generations of apathy while the sheep remain scattered. Disunity provides the appetizer for Satan’s pawns; yet, no one really understands that their souls are his main course. The trumpet sounds and in a dissonant whisper the church hears, “Woe to those who call evil good.”

The angels sing and a war breaks out. The enemy’s handshake encodes rejection and persecution into the deepest creases of your palm, and he doesn’t want to let go. Comfort, satisfaction, and power drift from his breath into a coat of lies. However, Jesus came to set the captives free. The blood flowing from his nail-pierced hands decode the Deceiver’s message, and it now says, “BOUGHT AND SET FREE!” Your religious chains are no more. The veil has been lifted; the shackles are broken. Under the new covenant, all who turn to Jesus have communion with the Savior, and His glory shines upon you. The Word of God reflects the Holy One, and He is seen through your eyes.


Dear friends,

We have this false idea that only the religious leaders during Jesus’ time were the only ones who rejected the Messiah while He was right in front of them. The religious people during this time did not grasp the message even though the Messenger was right in front of them. Why? They had a spiritual veil over their eyes. Honestly, they were blinded by their own rules, religion, and doctrine. Sound familiar? Yes, it actually does. The same thing is happening today. Please do not believe Satan’s lies any longer.

2 Corinthians 3:16 says, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” Praise the Lord! This is a heart change my friends. You can’t work enough for it; you can’t pay enough for it; you can’t do good enough for it. You must turn your heart and trust the Holy One, Jesus Christ. The law only brings bondage; rules only bring bondage; religionism only brings bondage – interesting theme here. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus makes it very clear how Christians are supposed to live; however, if you are trying to follow rules to be found righteous, then you are veiled. Jesus wants you to receive true freedom.

No more legalism! Receive the true gift of freedom so you can see through Jesus’ eyes. Begin to see His ministry, His people, His passions, His sheep. Be filled today with the Holy Spirit and bask in a new life each and every day – one where you are seeking to be a disciple!

Question: What do you see?

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

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

Traps

1 Peter 5:8-9

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

traps

[Narrative]

Satan’s timing is incredible. The landmine of criticism incinerates the atmosphere of joy. Fiery darts invade your home; however, your unveiled eyes only see emotional triggers. Dirty clothes scattered throughout the hallways and open school books singe your last effort to cope. The spirit of anger penetrates deep within, and the enemy laughs at your attempt to hold it all together. Your physical attempt to resist melts under the weight of stress and trial…explosion.

The raindrops cannot drown out the downpour of exhaustion. Fear, fatigue, illness, abuse, and addiction surface. Immediately, you are contemplating the end. Hours now replace seconds. Empty promises produce a false sense of comfort where the Holy Spirit once stood. Finally, the fiery darts have nailed you to your strongholds.

In a moment of surrender, a prayer is heard. The Holy Spirit flashes the light of forgiveness that cleanses within. The fragments of this world are flushed out as the Spirit overflows the soul. Gifts are strengthened, and clarity revives spiritual will. Fiery darts are extinguished and joy is renewed. Hearts are mended. Strongholds are broken, and families are restored.

Challenge: Be mindful of Satan’s traps in your life. Pray over your families every day.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

See-Through

Lamentations 3:40 – “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.”

Proverbs 15:3 – “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”

See through

[Narrative]

~The crisp button down shirt hides the pain within the heart; yet if I let you see-through would you run away?

~The half smile and dim eyes are the definition of uncertainly; yet if I let you see-through would you question me?

~The recoiled posture marinates into the pot of despair; yet if I let you see-through would you comfort me?

~The questionable behavior alarms the elect; yet if I let you see-through would you gossip instead of protect?

~The heart’s denial battles the soul’s awareness; yet if I let you see-through would you correct me?

~The habits strangle purposeful intent; yet if I let you see-through would you carry me?

~The tongue speaks of what you want to hear only to mask the truth deep within; yet if I let you see-through would you pray for me?

~The talented hands move in unconscious memory as if going through the motions; yet if I let you see-through would you forget about me?

~The reputation fights for balance within the bitter sea of pride and humility; yet if I let you see-through would you call me narcissistic?

~The demons attempt to speak through the pores; yet if I let you see-through would you embrace me?

~The walls write another chapter of strongholds, devastation, and worldly battles; yet if I let you see-through would you call me your friend?

~The eyes tunnel into the spirit of truth which cascades volumes of personal despair but also victory; yet if I let you see through would you hold me accountable?

Dear friends, I speak a great deal on unveiling the truth within our lives. We spend an enormous amount of time packing fear, hurt, and strongholds behind our eyes. John 8:31-32 says truth will set us free. I will always encourage you to actively seek out strong Christian brothers and sisters to share life together. You do not have to live in darkness or face battles alone. To that I say, Satan is a liar!

Challenge: Reach out to a close friend and become actively involved in sharing life together.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Stronghold Isolation

2 Corinthians 10:3-4

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.

lonliness

The pew briefly collects the weight of your thoughts while you ponder your sinfulness. Thoughts of divinity overwhelm your senses to where your reflexes engage to mask the hurt welling up inside. Your painful expression makes one last effort to smile during the congregational welcome.

As the choir releases a powerful anthem of praise, your flesh sounds the alarm. You hear, “I’m not worthy.” Spiritual cement appears to paralyze your core. The battle between the forces of good and evil ignite and you feel as though you have already lost. The weapons formed against you continue to tear down your mental defenses as you ponder your past and the physical destruction of your present. The whispers continues, “If they only knew who you really are!” You turn sharply afraid your neighbor can overhear your thoughts.

The discerning hearts surrounding you release prayers of strength and peace. Even though the enemy has convinced you that your sin is greater than your neighbors, warrior angels have already commenced and the battle is the Lords. The enemy continues his attacks as you fight back the tears of disgrace. In a moment of surrender, the veil is lifted and you are surrounded by outstretched arms.

Stronghold isolation is a lie and you now realize that you’re not alone. Chains begin to fall. The congregation through the spirit of acceptance and humility ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse the temple body. As the strongholds release, they are extinguished by the blood of the Lamb. The Lord continues His protection, and the spirit of fear is cut off from your body and you take your first step into true worship and faith.

You awaken prostrate at the altar of forgiveness surrounded by fellow sinners with the same realization – God is sovereign and we are not alone!

Dear brothers and sisters, my greatest challenge is that you build strong accountability groups and share life together. Please know that isolation is Satan’s best weapon.

~Your struggle is not unique…God is all-knowing.

~Your battle is not new…God is all-powerful.

~Your sin is not greater than your neighbors…God is forgiving.

~Your struggle is not against flesh and blood..God is victorious!

Challenge: Release the strongholds that entrap you and know that you’re not alone! Share your story to entrusted Christian brothers and sisters and find freedom in the similarities of life.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Evaporation

Ezekiel 37:1-6

37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

Evaporation

[Narrative]

Visionary fragments release from your core like dust in the wind. Dreams, purpose, intentions, and goals flutter from your consciousness into the atmosphere of apathy. Depression, stress, pride, and control assemble a Goliath right before your eyes.

~His sword represents your failure.

~His shield represents your hopelessness.

~His armor represents your fear.

The collective laughter from even the godly suffocate the still small voice from above. The world entraps you by clinging to your ankle reinforcing your lack of faith. You feel as though there is no way out. You instinctively sense pieces of your character departing your reality until emotional and spiritual weakness ensue.

Your Goliath laughs before the battle even starts. You appear paralyzed by the weight of this world. Agonal breaths evaporate from the caves of your suffering. Your bones become brittle with exhaustion…[pause]…your last utterance announces surrender.

Defeat is imminent!

You sink into the valley of dry bones believing hope is lost. The enemy’s victory table is assembled over the dry bones reinforcing the crushing defeat. However, a rushing wind can be heard traveling over the hills. The Lord calls out, “Hear the word of the Lord!” The Lord’s announcement brings fear to the fallen angels. Trembling replaces gloating tongue. As the word of the Lord stretches over the valley, breath reenters, and life is renewed. Tendons and flesh reappear with reinforced strength from the Almighty.

With reverence, stones appear in the hand of the refreshed. The Holy Spirit guides the charge while stones soar to met their rightful place – the forehead of your Goliath. The giant falls and is extinguished from the battlefield. The chains of depression, fear, and covetous heart fall from your shoulders. Victory replaces the field where dry bones littered God’s promised land. The lies of the enemy are revealed and truth unmasks evil intentions to destroy you. Faith wins!

Challenge: Ask God to breathe life into your dry bones.

Questions: What is holding you down? What/Who is your Goliath?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Looking Back

Isaiah 43:18-19

18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Plano

~Narrative~

An infant’s cry fills the foyer of an expectant home. New life awaits the season of unknowns. Bustling autos create ambient noise in the neighborhood of possibilities. One’s future is bursting with fill-in-the-blank opportunities. Evening walks through a sun-kissed sky promotes jubilee barks from the family pet. Laughter fills the cup of youth. Fountains erupt from familial exchange…but…change!

Seasons no longer represent the divisions of the year but stages in life. The skyline fades as the years pass. The majestic skyscrapers now become photographs for visitors.  Situational dialect across state lines is no longer relevant but a distant memory. The heartbeat of relativism stretches her arm and grabs my shoulder…I stop…and look back!

The still frame creates a guttural response that cannot be denied. What do I see?…the evil one proclaiming his false kingdom. Matthew 4:8-10 says, “Again, the devil took him [Jesus] 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.’”

The rural road now becomes the blessing. Children laugh and play in the collective land of the protected. The familial song now replaces the fireflies in the field of glory. Glorious solitude paves the road where the sun whispers his secrets to the cornfields. One cannot compare seasons ordained by the Creator Himself. Instead, memories create the foundation for the future.

The passage above teaches us to not dwell on the past. I want to bask in God’s “new thing!” as described in this passage. The challenge is to see what God is up to in your present, which will change your future. No matter where you are (city or town), what is God up to in your life?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Amazing Things

Joshua 3:5

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

Mission Trip

Today we pray for our dear friends and church family in Honduras and Ecuador as they exemplify God’s love by being His hands and feet through missions. Some are participating in a medical mission in Honduras while another is teaching English in Ecuador. Please pray with me that God will be glorified through these encounters. You see, it’s never really about passing out medical supplies or teaching conjugated verbs. The main point is showing Christ’s love through word and deed. 1 John 3:18 says, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”

While reading through the first few chapters of Joshua this morning, the Holy Spirit clearly stopped me when I came to Joshua 3:5 that says, “Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.'” According to Merriam-Webster, this means to wholly dedicate yourself to something of greatest important. It also refers to the act of setting yourself aside and dedicating yourself to God. This passage and definition enlightens me!

In this passage, Joshua challenged the Israelites to consecrate themselves in preparation for the Lord’s goodness. How many of us miss the supernatural because we are too self-absorbed? In this same passage, we know that God did in fact show up in a mighty way. The priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of the people and stepped into the Jordan river expecting the supernatural! As soon as they touched the water’s edge, the waters parted and the people were able to walk across on dry land.

I believe the Word of the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I also believe that if we humble and consecrate ourselves before the Lord, seeking His forgiveness of sin, then we too can walk supernatural riverbeds to reach the lost, hurting, and unloved here in our own towns or even in foreign countries.

So today I have two challenges:

  1. Pray that our dear friends in both Honduras and Ecuador consecrate themselves before the Lord so that they too will be able to walk across dry riverbeds into victory. We pray for salvation, healing, and love to abound.
  2. Pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal where you are failing to step into your own Jordan river. Are you doubting that God will part the waters for you? What is holding you back from believing in His supernatural abilities even today? Stop staring at the river and step! First, consecrate yourselves before the Lord and take the next step – walk across dry lands to what was once thought of as impossible – and bask in the God of possibilities!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta