The Power Available to Us

A WILD Devotional

Most of us want to reach out and help people who are faced with difficult circumstances. To a certain extent I’m able through my own abilities and talents take care of people’s needs.  There is a difference when I’m empowered and anointed by the Holy Spirit. I can partner with Him and operated at a level that brings real and lasting change.

This scripture tells us how this works:

“ And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the Holy Spirit and power”, (a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them). (1 Cor. 2:4 Amplified)

When I was in 8th grade I shared with my science teacher my testimony of being miraculously healed from a broken back and two fractured pelvis bones. He was so touched that he gave his life to Christ that day.  In that moment God used my words but the Holy Spirit’s power transformed the teacher’s life.  

I’m not the only one who enjoys this experience; there were 63 million Spirit filled believers in 2014.  And that number is expected to grow to 800 million by 2025. There is an outpouring worldwide!  

Let’s pray:

“Holy Spirit, you are the one who empowers us to walk in the gifts that touch and transform those whom we encounter. I choose to listen and act as I hear you direct my conversation, my day, my choices, and my life.  Where I walk you’ll be with me. Thank you for your anointing on my life”. 

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Carole Kornreich and her husband, Dale are active members of The Agoura Campus of The City Church.  Over the course of her life, Carole has led mission teams in twelve African countries.  She has trained and mentored those who need direction and support.  She currently works as a Ventura Superior Court Mediator and an Executive Job Coach for Lee Hecht Harrison.  Carole is gifted at walking individuals through change and conflict, and launching them into their destiny. Dale & Carole host City Groups and are active welcoming people every Sunday. For more information about the Agoura campus go to thecityagoura.com.

When Life Throws Curve Balls

A WILD Devotional

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5.  

Last year, I resigned from my Director position at a very prestigious resort. On that day, I had an overwhelming sense of peace and calm. Never in my life had I taken such a risk with the unknown. However, I knew everything was in God’s hands. I knew I couldn’t reason with myself. I had to put my worries on God’s altar. I had poured my heart and soul into my career, given them all of me. I put in very long days, even weekends and holidays. I never complained because I knew that came along with working in the hospitality industry and I truly enjoyed what I did. Needless to say, my husband was at home caring for the children and ensuring things on the home front were handled. While he never said it, he was never sure when I would walk through the door. Some nights it would be timely,  but as the job responsibilities increased, my days grew longer. Eventually, I would even miss tucking my kids into bed at night.

Now that I have been unemployed since May, I have realized that God really does have a plan. If this would have happened even two years ago, I don’t think I would have been able to trust in God; I didn’t have the relationship with Him yet. Not only that, but I would not have been able to see the beauty in cherishing every moment with my children. I was always so career focused and my patience would have been short. While being a mommy is not an easy task, I have been able to embrace this time.  It’s the simple things: doing school drop off and pick up, being able to attend school events, attending daytime mommy groups and getting all the love from my little ones. These are the things that I hold dear to my heart right now. I would have never expected to still be out of work at this point, but I have kept believing in Him. I know “my God will supply every need of [mine] according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19. I continue to pray for grace and patience to see through what God has planned for our family.

If you are wrestling with a big decision this year, one that you know is right but comes with a lot of risk, let me encourage you that you can trust God to provide for every need.

Join me in this prayer: God, you see my life from the beginning to the end. You know what’s best for me better than I know for myself. Thank you, Jesus, for the work you did on the cross, so I can truly rest and value the things that matter most. Help me to make the big decisions that you want me to make. Help me to see and believe for all that you want me to have. You see it all and know it all. Thank you. I trust you. 

Erin Watson

Erin Watson is mother to two great kids and wife to Leonidas. Erin loves to use her gift of hospitality by helping
out with women’s events and groups. She’s also actively involved in a City Group for moms with small kids. You can connect with her at the Ventura campus of The City Church and by following her @teamwatson33 on Instagram.

Being Brave

Being Brave is Scary

Have you ever heard the song “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel? You may recognize it from its anthem bridge- “You make me brave, you call me out beyond the shores into the waves.” Never have these lyrics become as real to me as when I was asked to lead others in singing them for our recent women’s event, Beautiful Stories.

When I was first asked to lead this song, I felt my heart drop to my stomach. I’ve never been in an elevator that shuts down and plummets ten stories, but I imagine it’s a similar feeling. “No way, God. My voice can’t hit those notes!” I found myself on my bedroom floor, explaining the situation to God, when suddenly, He brought to memory a request I’d made only a week beforehand for Him to stretch me in my worship.

I think that so often in my life, I wish the stretch could be comfortable. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply grow in our relationship with God from the safety of the shores? Venturing into the waves seem so uncharted and so unsure. And yet, I’ve found that it’s in these times that God grows our faith the most, because we can no longer rely on our own abilities. Suddenly, we just have to trust that God’s got us.

In Deuteronomy 31:7-8, Moses encourages a rising leader, Joshua, who also had to face daunting circumstances as he took on the responsibility of leading the nation of Israel: “Be strong and courageous…The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (NIV).

Let these words wash over you today. Declare them. Pray them over yourself daily. Join me in making this your battle cry every time fear tries to hold you back from stepping out in faith, knowing that whatever your story might be, God is forever faithful!

As for my story, I sang the song. I’m pretty sure that my voice cracked towards the end, but I sang the song. And you know what? God showed up. The Holy Spirit moved that night, and my faith was stretched.

So, here’s what I’ve determined- being brave can be scary, but the God who calls me out on the waters if faithful to help me walk on them.

xoxo Victoria

IMG_4649Victoria Baca grew up in northern California and is overjoyed to now call Ventura home! She graduated from California Coast Bible College in 2017 and is spending a third year as the college’s Resident and Housing Director. Victoria is passionate about worship, youth ministry, and missions. Find her small group for college girls here, and join to do life together!

No Fear

A WILD Devotional

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

1 John 4:18 (ESV)

At age 19, God ignited my heart with life-changing faith. So, I rolled up my sleeves and went to work! With a genuine passion to know Jesus better, I attended church nearly every time the doors opened. I listened to Christian radio and read volumes of Bible commentaries. And life seemed to go down a pretty comfortable path for a while. So, what was my conclusion? Do right and God will do right by you.

It was many years later that God taught me my most important faith lesson.  It was well after I had married, had two teenage children, and was trying my best to use my life to honor God.  It was at a time when my comfortable path took a sharp turn! I found myself on an uphill climb, then careening towards a jagged cliff! I cried out to God, wondering what I’d done, and what I hadn’t done to bring about the “death” of everything I cherished. It was the lowest point of my life, when my marriage was failing and I would soon be divorced.

In the middle of this crisis, I went to a women’s retreat. The speaker was so raw and real. She shared that we often believe lies about God that affect how we think and feel. Later she asked each woman to spend some alone time with God. I found a soft pad of grass to lie down in … and there I opened my Bible to First John 4:18.  It was like a window had opened and a fresh breeze rushed in. God’s Spirit whispered to mine. He told me through His Word that I wasn’t being punished. Jesus had already taken the punishment for all my sins. And nothing I do or don’t do can ever lessen God’s incomparable love for me or take away His unlimited grace!

God was not loving and cherishing me because of my good deeds, or taking his love away when I did wrong. And the same is true for you.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you that you always love, always protect!  You never leave us. You never forsake us. You make a way through the wilderness and a road through the desert. Your love redeems heartache and sin, disasters and even death through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!

Yvonne Noblitt Bio Photo

Yvonne Noblitt has attended City Church Agoura for the past two years, and serves on the greeting team. As a professional writer, she has enjoyed a career in radio and magazines, Christian education and ministry. She has a passion for sharing God’s love and grace with people of all ages. Currently, she is the Director of Creative Services for Roger Kemp and Company, a media agency that creates, produces and distributes Christian radio programs. Yvonne is married to Randy Noblitt, and together they have a blended family of five adult children, two daughters-in-law, and one grandchild. In their spare time, they love to travel, bicycle and hike, while exploring the beauty of God’s great outdoors!

 

Letting Go

A WILD Devotional

I remember when I was 18, it was 1984.  I wanted so badly to experience life and all God had for me and couldn’t even fathom it, though I tried.  I remember imagining myself in each decade to come, how old would I be? Who would I marry? How many kids might I have?  My desire was to always be pleasing in God’s sight and a valuable member of God’s family, always contributing to society.  Somewhere in my early childhood there was a tormenting voice that constantly told me I never would.  It was the liar’s voice, Satan’s.  I wasn’t aware there was a liar whose main role was to kill, steal, and destroy; I had no clue that I could or should give him a verbal tongue lashing with the truths found in the Bible.  Often I would cry out to God declaring what I wanted for my life, almost in a desperate plea, like a peasant begging a king for mercy.  And so, my focus became my own performance and that began to define my worth.

I am now 51, amazed at the journey, wiser, stronger, braver and secure in my hope because of my walk with the Spirit of God who is my comforter, shepherd, counselor, teacher, confidant, refuge and friend.  My ears are better receivers of his voice and I want to hear it more than ever before. At times I still wrestle with old lies.

For the last few days I have wrestled with anxiety over this blog. It would be public.  What should I say? Would my story impact the lives of others? What if my grammar is incorrect?  In sharing with a friend today, she “took me to church” as she reminded me that performance is not worship.  God is so good to use other believers as His gentle reminder to refocus.  Lord, forgive me for getting it twisted!  My highest calling is not in what I do. It’s about who I am becoming. His first commandment (Exodus 20)  is that I should have no other gods but him.  He loves me unselfishly, unconditionally and all he asks of me is to love him and believe Him.  If I’m in Him, nothing else can shake me. If He is my main obsession, everything else will fall into place.

Join me in this prayer:

Jesus, today I’m letting go of performance. Just as 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) says, “I give all of my worries and cares to You, because You care about me.”

13A8B514-7562-4D8C-A9F4-79DD61A4BED8Sara is mom of three amazing, adult children, and one son-in-love,  Brooke, age 27 (and Zack), Moriah, 25 and Landon, 22.  Sara has been married to John for 31 adventurous and miraculous years.  It is their desire to use their history, milestones and miracles to encourage young adults and married couples in their journey with each other and Jesus. Sara grew up in a relatively conservative background as a pastor’s daughter.  In the last six years Jesus and the Spirit of God have blown her away with new revelations and surprises.  Look for Sara (and John) at the Agoura/Oak Park campus where you’ll usually find them greeting at the door.

Hope

“Hope” settled on my heart as my “word of the year”… and I wasn’t excited.  Really, God? Hope? Why not CERTAINTY or STEADFASTNESS? Hope is… weak sauce…

It was early 2016 in Los Angeles and we were “getting on our feet” with shaky legs, having battled a bad financial situation.  George was finally at a stable job and we were grateful.  But this new job’s commute was killing our family time with Daddy. The boys started taking turns pretending to be him at the dinner table. Slowly, George became more discouraged. We were both in bed every night exhausted, dying to regain intimacy and, conversely, alone time.  And then Hope.  Hope said, “Relax.  There is no more you can do than what you are already doing.  Keep driving the kids, keep cleaning, keep meeting with your small groups—keep praying, keep dreaming, keep learning—and hope.  Hope that the future is bright– that the little things you’re doing today, will make a huge difference tomorrow.”  Hope is the confidence that better is coming.  

But the Lord says, “I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

So George and I prayed — desperately.   We prayed for the next step; we prayed for wisdom.  And bit by bit the inexplicable peace came.  Peace that trusted—God’s got this.

Eventually, George got a new job.  It paid more and it was two blocks away!  The time we saved  was tremendous!  He was home to eat dinner with us, he could work out, and afterschool activities were easier to plan.  I told him, “We can never go back to you having a long commute again.”  And then, as if to test me, George was offered a job with Ventura County.  The commute would be long if we stayed where we were and moving would save us that precious ‘Daddy time.’  For us, the answer was almost instantaneous.  We would move to Ventura. We said goodbye to our friends, our schools, our comfort zones. We knew from past experience we couldn’t trade time with Daddy.

Though both fear and excitement gripped me, Hope whispered, “God’s got this too.”  I do my part and the part I cannot do, He covers. Jesus went to the cross to take my fear and uncertainty. He became my everlasting Hope, giving me confidence for the future.

Prayer:

Father, help me lay my burdens before you.  Remind me how big you are and how you have already given us victory.  Help me to hope because I know “Hope” is not a wimpy word.   

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Christine Meier is mother to three amazing boys and wife to George. She is a Child Development Specialist and has her Master’s in Human Development with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. She teaches the two year olds (who adore her) at the City Kids Preschool in Ventura. Christine is passionate about marriage and family ministries, particularly around the issues that pertain to women and children. She and George co-lead a fantastic City Group for families on the first and third Fridays of the month. For more information, or to join her group, click here. 

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Intimate Friendship

“15 I have never called you ‘servants’, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants, and servants don’t always understand what the master is doing. But I call you my most intimate friends, for I reveal to you everything that I’ve heard from my Father. ~ John 15:15 (TPT)

Years ago, I started to see bracelets and heard people giving advice by asking, “What would Jesus do?” I started to think that if I served more and ‘did good things,’ I would get God’s approval. While it sounded like a good idea, it was something that I could never do. I spent many years being a diligent servant, yet love for myself and others was still missing.

One evening when I was having an internal meltdown, I came across a video on grace. My spirit awoke and in that moment, I understood how I could receive and then give others the only thing that matters to the Father – love.  

I began spending personal time with God daily as a “want to,” not a “have to.” Friendship and intimacy with God as a Father gives you access to all that is happening in His kingdom right now. The byproduct is bringing the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. In heaven there is peace, health, prosperity, joy, and more. An encounter with the tangible love of God has the power to transform your life with lasting fulfillment NOW!

Prayer: Father, I thank you for sending your Son to reveal the truth of your love for me, and that you never leave me. You love me unconditionally, and meet all of my needs, as a perfect Father. I ask you to make yourself real to me, to know me as a friend, and show me more of what’s in your Kingdom. I expectantly wait to encounter your love again and again, discovering more of who you created me to be in the fullest sense. Amen

“16 We have come onto an intimate experience with God’s love, and we trust in the love he has for us. God is love! Those who are living in love are living in God, and God lives through them. 17 By living in God, love has been brought to its full expression in us …, because all that Jesus now is, so are we in this world. ~ 1 John 4:16-17 (TPT)

brandi shot.JPGBrandi Matherne is a devoted wife and mother who works alongside her husband in business and in ministry. She has a passion to share with others how the grace of God has changed her life, and how it continues to elevate her marriage, family, and business to new levels. Her testimonies of the various ways God shows His love today are helping others walk in renewed hope, joy, peace, and faith. She is compelled with compassion for other’s to be FREE indeed. Brandi and her husband are leaders in the City Church Marketplace Ministry, and lead a City Group: “Firehouse: Prayer and Power.” To join a City Group, sign up here. 

 

The Miracle of the Sink

WILD Devo By Sharon Rhodes

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Reluctantly submitting to my husband, I found a cheaper sink; so cheap in fact that when we opened the box on installation day, we found that it was completely shattered. My contractor looked at me and said, “You need to get a sink… today.”

As I turned to walk out the door to go settle for another sink I didn’t want, I heard the Lord whisper, “Look at Craigslist.”  I turned around and obeyed.  To my astonishment, I found the exact, English sink that I had wanted and it was being sold for even less than the cheap sink. My sink fantasy was not sunk! God directed my path when I acknowledged Him!

He is a good heavenly Father who has the incredible capacity to know about and care about every detail in our lives. When we yield to His voice, His word, He will always fulfill His purpose in our lives.

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help me to acknowledge You and trust You with every detail of my life. Your ways are far greater than mine and I desire to follow your lead.

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Sharon Rhodes is a mom of three incredible boys and the wife of Allen. She’s passionate about prayer and evangelism and helped to pioneer the Agoura Campus of The City Church. She leads the Agoura Campus prayer team and also leads a City Group. If you’re passionate about prayer and would like to join Sharon, sign up for her City Group at http://www.thecityagoura.org today!