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

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

 

Timing is Everything

Ecclesiastes 3:11

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

blueberry tree

How does God teach us about His perfect timing through an episode of picking blueberries?

I must admit, my wife, Aimee, is better at picking blueberries than I am because she definitely has more patience. Recently, Aimee made a profound statement while we were out picking blueberries in the backyard. She said, “Isn’t it amazing how God turns the blueberries ripe in phases! If all the blueberries were to turn ripe at the same time, many of them would spoil. His timing is perfect.” This application should most certainly resonate with your spirit.

God has graciously gifted human beings with the ability to organize, sequence, problem-solve and reason life’s most difficult tasks. This is what separates humans from other animals. Yet the Bible makes it very clear that we cannot even fathom what God has done from beginning to end. God’s ways are far beyond our understanding, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

To some, this is a great challenge because you strive to stay in complete control. Stress and depression appear to sneak in during these times because frankly we are losing the grip on our circumstances or environment altogether. We take the reins from God and say, “I’ve got this Lord. You obviously need some help.” Then…disaster strikes because we failed to wait on the Lord.

~Why is it so hard to wait on God’s perfect timing?

~Why can we understand how seasons change and fruit ripens in God’s timing, yet we cannot accept spiritual delays in our own lives?

Sadly, our current society teaches us that waiting on anything means you aren’t trying hard enough. One example includes making purchases you cannot afford. What happened to saving up money and spending it wisely? Oh yes, I know…the American dream has warped into the “no need to wait when you can have it now” dream. This type of thinking tarnishes not only finances but also relationships. We see all through God’s word that His timing is perfect. We should wait on the Lord.

Psalm 27:14, “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.”

I encourage you this day to look around you. Look for God’s beautiful examples of His perfect timing. Yes, remember timing is everything; however, God’s perfect timing is paramount to your joy, peace, patience, and even happiness. We find such freedom when we place the reins back in God’s hands.

Question: What are you trying to control?

Challenge: Wait on the Lord and bask in His freedom.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Judging Others

Matthew 7:1-5

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

judgement

The tongue brings forth both praise and condemnation almost within the same breath. We’ve all heard the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” However, I want to take this a step further by saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, ask God to reveal your own plank so the Master Surgeon can skillfully remove this evil from your body.”

James 3:8-9, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.”

Yes, I’ve heard it all! You say, “But her sin is greater than mine!” “She went down a dark road and ruined many lives.” “He lives in sin yet comes to church like nothing is wrong.” The list is endless! Yet, the mirror image of your condemnation tarnishes your very own appearance.

The stumbling block verbally created by linguistically simple phrases blocks spiritual progress in the body of Christ. In other words, it doesn’t take much effort and much movement within the mouth to destroy not just one person but an entire assembly through relentless gossip, judgement, and hate.

~Venom projects into the body of Christ with such articulate morphology of evil overtones.

~Charisma masks the hatred under the skin in order to draw others into the stumbling block of defeat.

~A critical spirit takes residence within the laryngeal vestibule.

~Speech is filtered now through evil intentions.

~What can break this type of stronghold? The NAME OF JESUS!

Philippians 2:9-11

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Dear believers, we come together and ask that God pierce us all against such sinfulness masquerading as concern for others. The simple truth is…you are gossiping and holding the body of Christ hostage with your entangled words. No one is immune to the simplicity of this mighty sin. Therefore, if you truly have nothing nice to say, I ask that the Holy Spirit humble you at that very moment. Seek His face in order that your words may be uplifting and beneficial to those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Question: Have you allowed your tongue to produce venomous condemnation or fruitful edification?

Challenge: Ask God to place a spiritual mirror in your face at the very moment you feel the desire to condemn others?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Battlefield of the Mind

Ephesians 5:20

“Giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

light and darkness

You lurk outside my prayers waiting to distract. Your slithering approach gives you away. Yet, your goal was accomplished – eyes off the cross. The Holy Spirit announces your purpose, and you cannot hide – so – you strike! You lurch forward and fangs appear with discernible purpose to kill and destroy. However, there will be no flinching for fear is silent in the presence of God. There is utmost protection under the shadow of the Almighty! Warrior angles encircle the darkness and eradicate evil’s purpose – God remains fully in control and at the center of it all!

Dear friends, negative speech masquerades as a viper. Ephesians 4:29 says, “No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.” There are multiple problems with a negative tongue. First and foremost it is not God-honoring and does not represent the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Secondly, it strikes spiritual venom in the minds and hearts of those listening to you.

I beseech you dear friends to remove negative speech from your lips. Seek God’s protection over your words and fully represent the characteristics of Christ in your mission fields (e.g., work, school, home, etc.). Seek to build others up instead of tearing them down. Avoid entangling others by spewing negative speech out of anger, bitterness, jealously, and pride! Most certainly, please do not be a stumbling block to those around you.

Challenge: Avoid negative speech and gossip. Commit to these verses and build others up!

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Are You Coming?

Psalm 100:4

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

Are You going

I work with some of the most amazing people in the world. God has blessed me with a team that exhibits a vast array of personalities and spiritual gifts. We are beyond blessed to be in a “helping” profession. We get to see God’s work first hand even in physical healing. It never gets old, and I’m always looking for the Spirit. In fact, I listen intently when my team speaks because I want to hear more than the literal terms; I want to listen for God’s message through their conversations no matter how unrelated.

Just this morning, I was blessed to have a spiritual conversation with a new team member. She brings such light, spiritual awareness, and truth. She is gifted and people cannot help but listen when she speaks. Her genuine heart is tangible and visible. She is more than an answer to prayer; she is a gift. This spirit-filled lady made a profound statement today that I couldn’t get out of my head all day. We were discussing the importance and power in worship. We both expressed disappointment when those around us simply appear unmoved and unaffected by His presence. She then stated, “I’m going to the throne room no matter what so are you going with me?”

YES – she gets it! Not only does she “get it” but she helped me understand it too! You see there is power in worship.

Exodus 23:25 – Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you.

Psalm 150:6 – Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.

Acts 16:25 – About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

John 4:24 – God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

Joshua 6:2-5 – But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.”

I must admit, my friend is right! She’s going to the throne room to worship, and I want to go too! She doesn’t become frustrated when those around her fail to be moved. In fact, this drives her to worship more for she knows the Father is WORTH IT! The Father’s room is deep and wide. His grace and mercy bind us together in one body. The Father yearns for all His children to – come! Don’t delay dear friends. Meditate on the Word; pray without ceasing; and worship like He deserves!

Friends, I’m going to the throne room to worship…are you coming?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Perfect Love

1 John 4:18-19

18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.19 We love because He first loved us.

victory

It has been a long day, but these words circulate through her mind like a broken record, “Is it really over? Do I have the energy to fight for this marriage any longer?” She musters the strength to clock out after a 12 hour nursing shift which only leads to acknowledging bottled up emotions from a broken marriage.

She finds herself driving home in “autopilot” unaware of stop signs and passing emergency vehicles because fear has overwhelmed her senses. The thoughts once implanted deep within her brain have quickly surfaced into a single person dialogue. She thinks, “Why doesn’t he love me like I need to be loved? He’s just so angry all the time! Where did it all go wrong?” Yet, this time she hears a reply, “He doesn’t love you, and you aren’t good enough.” Stunned, she reflexively slams on the breaks yet her feet never move. She is disoriented because her reality doesn’t match her emotions. She quickly pulls over to catch her breath, “Am I having a nervous breakdown?” she thinks. At that very moment fear is born and rapidly growing.

As she enters through the front door of their single story country home, she shuts the door ever so softly hoping not to be noticed. She just can’t find the strength to argue any more. She removes her shoes and slides across the living room floor as anxiety and frustration increase. Her thoughts begin to take control, “Why do I have to act like this in my own home? I’m done with him and living like this!” As she enters the bedroom, her fears quickly multiply as she comes face to face with her husband. “Why are you just standing there?” she says forcefully. “Better yet, don’t answer that. I don’t have the energy to argue with you. Just get out of my way; don’t talk to me, and leave me alone. I’m obviously not good enough for you so why even try!”

As she walks around him, her eyes are unveiled for the first time in months. She sees roses and love notes scattered across the room. Her fear is crippling and attempts to induce confusion. “Wait, um, what is all of this?” she says under her breath hoping not to cry. He takes her hand and begins to speak, “I’ve been praying and God has revealed His perfect love to me. Even more, He has convicted me, and I first want to say I’m sorry.”

At that very moment, perfect love drives out all fear from their home and the Holy Spirit is allowed to begin the healing process. Trust and mutual respect will be restored. Love and generosity replace resentment and bitterness.

God reminds us that His design is perfect. His love is perfect. In fact, He sent His Son to die on a cross to save the entire world out of perfect love and perfect obedience. What a beautiful example for us all! Dear friends, always remember that fear is a spirit, one that we should not welcome and one that is not from our heavenly Father. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Perfect love is so powerful, Christ-centered love, that it drives out fear.

Satan is well aware that He is no match for the Father, but the evil one has convinced you, your family, your relationships, your friends, etc. that bitterness, fear, anger, resentment, and failure are inevitable. Today we say – NO MORE! Under the blood covering of Jesus Christ, we take back our families and relationships as we stand on perfect love! We shall never forget that Jesus Christ is the author of perfect love, and we will thrive on His cornerstone.

Question: Are you in a struggling relationship? How will you use “perfect love” to drive out fear?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

Choice Words

Isaiah 55:8-11

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, 11 so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.”

words

Words! —This passage brought me to my knees. I have read this passage many times before, but I give thanks to the Holy Spirit for always revealing something new. We must always be reminded that the Word is — ALIVE!

Language is a coded system shared by a group for communication purposes. It’s rich, deep, and intricate. There are literally thousands of different languages throughout our world; however, there is commonality in how we produce our words. We shape both voiced and voiceless air effortlessly with various combinations of tongue and lip movements. This motor act is acoustically perceived in language form as words.

I wonder, though, how many of our words are produced with the intent to harm, destroy, or teardown. Remember, the motor act is the same…so what changed? Matthew 15:18-19 says it best, “18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” In essence, it’s a deep rooted sin nature that springs forth words that go against our Christian walk. 

Ah, it’s making sense! We have a choice dear friends! As air passes through your larynx to activate your vocal cords; as you feel your breath rising over the base of your tongue, as you begin to shape your sounds, your words have the potential to edify or to corrupt! It happens in a flash. We must ensure that our hearts are filled with the fruits of the Spirit to have any hope in mirroring Father God.

I was humbled by this passage as it states in verse 11, “My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.” —– I still have to pause and take a moment! God’s words are so powerful that EVERYTHING He says and EVERYTHING He promises WILL (catch that verb)…WILL accomplish what He pleases and what He designs. God does not verbalize a plan or promise hoping that it will come to fruition…NO! There is no doubt that what comes from the Father will always be fulfilled in His will! God’s words are never empty dear friends! PRAISE GOD! 

You see, I want us to learn that God is perfection, even in His words! God does not produce empty promises! Yes and Amen. God does not produce even empty speech. He does not manipulate others with His words. He cannot lie. I could keep going, but I believe we are beginning to understand the magnitude of this passage.

So where does this leave you? We are instructed to live like Christ yet our words are tainted! Dear believer, I encourage you to speak words of life, love, encouragement, hope, faith, and deliverance. There is absolutely no room, and frankly no more time, for empty words and especially words that do not glorify the Father.

My prayer is that our words will also return to us full and fruitful as we share the gospel across the world!

Question: Do your words return void or fruitful?

Thankful,

Christian Armetta