Neural Valleys

Hebrews 9:14 (NIV)

14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Dark Valley

I am not alone when I say I’m tired of walking through the same emotional valley; the terrain is all too familiar! In this life, the enemy is too familiar with our emotional triggers which cascade into a myriad of self-defeating behaviors. For some it results in depression, anger, bitterness, envy, retaliation, or even self-harm. These behaviors  should sound very similar to the verse in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

Are you aware that Satan knows exactly how to trigger these negative and self-defeating behaviors in you? As you encounter numerous triggers throughout your day, many of these awaken strong memories which transport you into the deep emotional valleys of your brain. Before you know it, you find yourself walking through the same deep neural valley. The rocks are in the same place; the boulders haven’t moved; the ridges extend out at the exact distance as they did decades ago. Each step highlights a negative emotion or reaction that appears to reinforce the one prior.

brain.jpg

The only difference is depth! Each time you traverse this neural valley, you carve out a deeper path and it’s harder to (A) get out of it and (B) seal it up…BUT GOD! I’m here to tell you that Easter is more than a man hanging on a cross! Easter represents all things that come with salvation through the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus restores, heals, cleanses, and makes ALL THINGS NEW!

~I’m here to tell you – reach for the Father’s hand and get out of your mental trap!

~Let the Father flood these emotional, neural valleys with the redemptive blood of the perfect Lamb, His Son, Jesus Christ!

blood of Jesus

This precious blood is not only capable but eager to seal up these neural valleys; the only requirement is to allow Him to do it! Ah, so you’re holding the key to your own floodgate! Give the Father full control and He will open the floodgates to your mind, body, and spirit!

~Precious child, allow Jesus to rescue you today!

~Please give Jesus full control so you can live in complete victory!

~He is reaching down to rescue you, but you must look up to see His hand!

~Yes, you are the helpless lamb and He does leave the 99 to rescue just you out of the valley!

~Stop listening to the lies of the enemy and get out of your own prison.

Jesus and lamb

Once you’re in the arms of the Savior, you can rest assured that He will seal these valleys with His redemptive blood. God heals us completely! Just as the passage says above, He cleanses our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! This is a promise! Yes and Amen! This is not a suggestion folks. Start living in victory so you can serve the living God to the fullest. 

Challenge: It’s time to get out of “your head.” Look up and take the Savior’s hand and don’t look back. Allow Jesus to seal your emotional, neural valleys with His blood for good! Visualize the healing power of Jesus’ blood filling these neural, emotional valleys right now.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Doors

1 Corinthians 16:9 (NIV)

because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

open door

[Interpretive Journaling Based on a Personal Encounter]

We walked through the door of melodic destiny without recognizing God’s divine plan; it’s funny how a melody can be the master key – capable of unlocking the hardest of doors. The unfamiliar faded with each turn of the “familial knob.” Doors swung open aligning multiple families further reinforcing the body of Christ – the purpose – to sharpen, to edify, to deliver, to train, to correct, and to magnify the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I watched as each member of the familial unit was drawn by the Holy Spirit to various looking doors – some small and crescent, some tall and narrow, some wide and scalloped. As the doors were opened, God revealed one amazing surprise – His purpose remained the same no matter what door He opened. His main goal for going through each door revolved around finding His love, His grace, and His Son. Yes, each door was different, but the purpose was the same.

Each time, the familial unit would gather back and share of their glorious adventures through their doors that day, year after year; they would testify of God’s great work in their lives and even how He turned trials into triumphs. We even saw territories expanded and barriers erased all because God said “turn the knob and do not fear.”

God has continued to bless this familial unit with nearly daily excursions through different doors…until. There’s one particular door that just appeared off in the distance. The knob has a peculiar keyhole that I cannot open. When I look into each members’ eyes, it becomes evident that this knob is special and will require a sacrifice. One cannot turn it without giving something else to God in return; we weep! We place your hand on the knob and the creases in your palm match the keyhole.

We once walked through a spiritually swinging door, but I can’t go through this one. Yet, I see my prayers penetrating with ease! You do not walk alone for the prayers of the unit carry you.

Challenge: God’s kingdom is too vast to get stuck on the wrong side of the door. Take hold and turn the knob. It starts with letting Jesus in!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

When God Wrecks Your Expectation

Acts 3

Peter Heals a Lame Beggar

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

NOW

There are so many messages swirling through my head right now. Honestly, it’s hard to grab just one and lay it down on this computer.

Repetition! The crippled beggar was “carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.” What was different this day? [pause – I really need you to take a breath and get this]…when Peter and John approached the crippled man, Peter exclaimed, “Look at us!” “So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.”

The crippled beggar expected to get the same thing he had always gotten – money, coins, sympathy, maybe even a prayer. The man expected to get something that he was used to. The beggar expected to get something that would reinforce what he had always gotten in the past; the same things over and over. These things reinforced the mind’s finite walls of impossibilities. What the man did not expect was a miracle from Peter and John! The man was not expected to walk! But Peter said, “Look at us!”…”Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give. In the name of JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH, WALK!”

Oh the powerful name of Jesus. Taking him by the right hand, instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. The man wasn’t expecting that the mere name of Jesus and an outstretched arm from a faithful believer would heal bones, ligaments, nerves, and muscles that had been misaligned and malformed from birth. The man came expecting alright, but he did not expect to walk that day. Better yet, he did not expect to start jumping as stated in verse 8.

~The enemy called repetition is stifling your miracle!

~The enemy called traditionalism is stealing your revival!

~The enemy called religionism is killing your house of prayer!

~The enemy called disunity is destroying the body of Christ!

Dear believers, you too are expecting to be carried to the gate called Beautiful expecting silver or gold, a nice smile, or even a quick prayer for deliverance from cancer, addictions, failed marriages, bitterness, heartache, etc. You ARE the crippled beggar!

However, I’m here to tell you one thing…[but first]…LOOK AT ME…Take a deep breath. Worldly wisdom I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, BE FREE! Oh the powerful name of Jesus. Let is wash over you. Now “stand up” and jump for joy as you run into His temple courts praising His name.

You will find that the same people who passed you for decades at the temple gate will be filled with wonder and amazement but they will only recognize you as the person who “USED TO…[FILL IN THE BLANK].” AH…I love this part! The world is really good at remembering who you USED TO BE!

[Don’t miss this part]

When you come jumping for joy because of your miracle, you then become the “crazy” person or the “nut” who “used to be depressed” who “used to be addicted to alcohol.” You see, the world is really good at reminding you who you used to be. Yet, this is not the character of MY GOD! Jesus did not come to condemn but to save! He came to restore. Therefore, bask in your miracle and hold the shield of faith firmly so that the Holy Spirit can blot out ALL the fiery darts from the enemy…NO SATAN NOT TODAY!

So, what are you expecting to see today? The same thing you saw yesterday and the day before that! Hum, maybe, just maybe this message will spark you to [pause]…LISTEN to God as He’s trying to GET YOUR ATTENTION! LOOK AT HIM and listen for Him to say, “GET UP AND WALK!”

Challenge: Stop repeating and start LOOKING for Him, everywhere!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Invade the Impossible

Matthew 7:21-23 (HCSB)

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!

line in the sand

Boldness! Today, I speak with boldness because frankly we need to hear this, and it’s time that the lie of the enemy stop here and now. It saddens me greatly when Christians argue over Biblical interpretation (i.e., Hermeneutics). Satan enjoys nothing more than believers posting or verbalizing their arguments for or against polarizing passages. Honestly, we are playing into his hand; this should alarm us more than what we are arguing over in the first place. The mere fact that we are being used as pawns is frightening to me!

I pray that the Holy Spirit pierce each and every one of us over the passage above; we must get it! I pray that the veil be removed from the unbelievers’ hearts and those who “think they know” yet who haven’t transitioned from knowledge to a personal relationship with Jesus.

It is time to invade the impossible! We, as limited-minded human beings, can create a line in the sand. However, the Holy Spirit wants to erase that line and fill us completely; He awaits your release!

I was recently “educated” by a fellow “believer” that the gifts and miracles of the Holy Spirit ceased with the original disciples. I typically do not engage in debates concerning interpretation; however, I cannot sit quietly. The same God who raised Jesus from the dead lives inside you and me. This miraculous Father does not sit quietly. Yet, He will if you want to quench Him.

Secondly, I must comment on the passage above. We believe that Jesus is the same yesterday, day, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Why, then, would be believe that Jesus is only talking about people during “His time” on earth? He says in Matthew 7:22, “On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’” Hum, My God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, Jesus must be referencing any person who had knowledge of Jesus (in the past, in the present, and in the future) yet failed to FULLY know Him. These individuals had “head” knowledge but failed to know Him personally.

What should pierce us even more is the mere fact that these individuals were capable of casting out demons, prophesying, and performing miracles yet were not even saved!!! WAKE UP! This is how powerful the name of Jesus is! Just think what the Holy Spirit wants to do in your life if you would grant Him full access.

It is time that you allow the Holy Spirit to erase your line in the sand. Humble yourself before the Lord and tell Satan to flee! Stop getting lost in hermeneutics and start getting lost in the Holy Spirit. Stop limiting the resurrecting Savior and start accepting His gifts. We must fully understand that Jesus clearly stated here in Matthew chapter 7 that many will have “head knowledge” of Him and be able to perform many signs and wonders just by the mighty name of Jesus (yesterday, today, and forever!) so stop saying the gifts stopped with His disciples 2,000 years ago!

Start claiming your right, authority, and power through the Holy Spirit. Stop assisting the enemy and turn in your jersey! This is your wakeup call. Too many “believers” are limiting a limitless God. I encourage you to allow the Holy Spirit to erase your lines today!

Challenge: Allow the Holy Spirit full control to erase all lines in the sand.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Walls of Doubt

Matthew 11:1-3

Jesus and John the Baptist

11 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Prison Walls

Your circumstances compete for your faith and spiritual strength. All too often we become discouraged and discontent when our expectations do not “line up” with Jesus’ purpose.

Let that soak in for just a moment.

John the Baptist was sitting behind prison walls for condemning Herod Antipas for unlawfully taking his brother’s wife, Herodias. It was during his time in prison that John sends his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Mind you, this is coming out of the mouth from the same man who said he was unfit to carry Jesus’ sandals and who also didn’t want to initially baptize Jesus because he felt so unworthy. In fact, John said in Matthew 3:14, But John tried to stop him. John said, “Why do you come to me to be baptized? I should be baptized by you!”

So what changed in John’s life to now ask the Messiah that he personally baptized if they should be expecting someone else to come? The answer – his walls! Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that John lost his faith at all; I’m simply challenging you to look deeper into how your circumstances impact your spiritual strength.

Maybe John didn’t expect to be in prison. Maybe he thought that he would be delivered. While behind bars, he gets word of Jesus continuing to preach and teach. Maybe John was feeling discouraged because he wasn’t out there doing what he does best – being the forerunning for the Messiah. We can only speculate; however, we do know that his circumstances had changed.

What about you?

Is it easy to proclaim God’s goodness when operating fully in His gifts and seeing the fruits of His goodness? What about when trials come your way? What happens when you find yourself sitting in your own personal prisons and chained down by the enemies of fear, doubt, sadness, confusion, anger, and regret? What about then? We surely cannot point fingers at John for asking Jesus if He was the one to come or should they expect someone else!

Jesus gives a very clear response to John’s disciples who were instructed to report back to John. Matthew 11:4-6, Jesus answered, “Go back to John and tell him about the things you hear and see: The blind can see. The crippled can walk. People with harmful skin diseases are healed. The deaf can hear. The dead are raised to life. And the Good News is told to the poor. The person who does not lose faith because of me is blessed.”

…but what about the prisoners will be freed? Huh? What about John in prison?! [Stay with me!]…what happened to John even after his disciples returned and gave him the good news? Was John freed? Was John miraculously saved from the physical prison walls? No! In fact, he remained in prison and was eventually beheaded.

So, I’ll ask the question again…what happens when your expectations do not match with Jesus’ purpose? Ah! now it becomes clear! Your expectations are merely dust in comparison to God’s mighty plan for your life and those around you.

~Jesus came to set the captives free!

~He came to heal!

~He came to deliver!

~He came to model the Father’s will!

~He came to cast out demons!

~He came to restore!

~He came to save!

…and so much more. Yet, your life’s expectations may not align with His purpose.

~So wherever you find yourself, praise Him.

~So wherever you find yourself, worship Him.

~So wherever you find yourself, honor Him.

~So wherever you find yourself, submit to Him.

~So wherever you find yourself, glorify Him.

May you always know that He is King of Kings and never doubt His Lordship over all the earth! His authority does not change based on your circumstances, but your expectations will!

Challenge: How do you view Jesus based on your circumstances?

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

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