City Church Stories

By City Church New Orleans

Day 21 — Seed, Time, Harvest

EXPAND, A Devotional

by Elder Kimberly Williamson

“Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,” 2 Corinthians 9:10 NKJV

There’s no doubt in my mind that farming is hard work but without faith in God, farming has to be the most stressful work on the planet! Imagine planting thousands of seeds then praying for rain — but not too much rain… Then there’s the temperature. It can’t be too hot and it can’t be too cold. And you need sunshine, and good soil… My goodness, nearly everything you need is totally out of your control! Even if you do everything in your power, you still have no control over whether or not those seeds will grow.

God often uses natural references of farming to teach us spiritual principles of seed, time and harvest yet the closest most of us will ever get to actual farming is in planting a store bought seedling! But there is another opportunity for us to learn this principle and reap it’s harvest — by planting seeds of our time and our money to invest in the cause of Christ and the lives of people! The amazing thing is that the process and the reward used in “planting” this way is the same as that of the farmer. The only difference is they produce a harvest of vegetation and you produce a harvest in the quality of your life and the lives of others.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

Let’s look at the similarities:

1. Sowing Seed Builds Your Faith! — We’re so accustomed to using money in a tangible exchange for goods and services that we’ve become blinded to the spiritual principle of the seed offering. The result is that we’ve circumvented our harvest of Kingdom growth and financial blessing! Most jobs will only enable you to achieve a certain standard of living but God wants you blessed “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

2. Sowing Seed Teaches Patience! — Just like the farmer, your seed will rarely return an immediate harvest. You have to sow, then wait! But if you’re patient, you’ll reap a harvest! Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

3. Sowing Seed is An Investment in Your Future! — The farmer makes an investment of time, labor and money in full expectation of reaping an abundant harvest! He knows that his labor and his investment are not in vain because God is faithful! “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness” 2 Corinthians 9:10–11 NKJV.

We plant, we water, but God provides the increase! (1 Corinthians 3:6–7)

I exhort you to follow the example of the farmer that God has given us — do all that you can do and trust God for the harvest! That’s how Believers are supposed to live! Plant your seed. Exercise patience. And believe! In due season, you will reap your harvest if you don’t lost heart! Be encouraged.

Point To Ponder:
Has the enemy caused you to doubt the value of sowing seed? Read and meditate on 2 Corinthians 9:6–15; Mark 4:13–20.

By City Church New Orleans

Day 20 — By Faith

EXPAND, A Devotional

by Elder Pamela Porter

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

Back in January 2016, I heard the Lord tell me, “Deal with your finances.”

This was during the time when the church was fasting and praying, taking time to seek the Lord, and listening to what God wanted for us to do in that season. Pastor Owen had already declared 2016 as the year of Jubilee. Of course, that had to tie into my personal destiny as well. Why? Over the years, I’ve learned that the destiny of my life is intertwined with the destiny of the church. It’s amazing how things work together for the good, and how the church is such an integral part of your personal life.

For me, discussing finances has been a challenging thing to do, let alone address. But, things began to change and the knots in my stomach faded away. In February of 2016, we began Grow Workshops. One of the classes was based on Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace. Of course the light bulb went off in my head, and I knew this was confirmation about what God spoke to me. While taking the class, my husband and I decided that we were going to commit ourselves to getting out of debt. We were determined to be debt free.

We first decided to pay off my $18,000 student loan. How? By faith (Hebrews 11:1) we were going to get rid of this burden. At the time, we were paying double tithe and giving offerings. By God’s grace, He helped us. How? God gave us a plan, and we willingly obeyed.

Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.”” Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV

Every week, we’d complete our zero based budget and follow it as close as possible. We paid on our debt weekly and watched it go down!

There’s so much the Holy Spirit taught us during this time. For example, how to stay focused on the goal, meditating on God’s principles about money, how to be obedient in the little things concerning money, and how to believe what God said.

Eleven months later, we paid out the $18,000. Eleven months! God was truly faithful to us. We were feeling pretty good, but God wasn’t finished with us. My husband always quotes Proverbs 10:22, which says, “the blessing of the Lord, it makes rich, He adds no sorrow to it.

For us, that sorrow was financial debt.

We had a $23,000 car loan. We decided to it pay off using the same principal: giving to God first, giving in special offerings, and just constantly giving…not just our finances, but our time, and strengths.

On November 30, 2017 we paid that loan off, and now we can look back at what God has done. It was ALL a work of the Holy Spirit and we were in perfect agreement with His plan!

Now, we are Debt Free!

A few keys I would like to leave you with are:

  • Give God your BEST;
  • Be thankful for what you have;
  • Use what is in your hand;
  • Give willingly because you want to, and because you love Him.
Points To Ponder:
Finally, I leave you with this question. It’s only something that you can answer:
What is God asking from you concerning your finances and giving?
What are some changes that you will commit to making in regards to your spending habits this year?
Scripture References: Hebrews 11:1 NKJV, Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV

By City Church New Orleans

Day 19 — Think and Speak

EXPAND, A Devotional

by Elder Ariann Sentino

“When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”” John 5:6 NKJV

Think about your community. Think about your family. Think about you.

How many people do you see that are blessed financially?

What is clear is that there is a system in operation, a system of poverty. I am reminded of the man that sat at the pool of Bethesda for 38 years with an infirmity — John 5:10–16. The man was surrounded by a multitude of sick, blind, lame and paralyzed people waiting. Waiting!

Take a moment and let that sink in. He was waiting for 38 years in a system that was unlikely to produce any victory or success.

Jesus asked this man “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6 NKJV)

It is a very interesting question. The question implies that the man was sick by choice. He had the ability to change his circumstance, but rather decided that he didn’t want to. The man responds by providing an excuse as to why he was unable to get well. Jesus in an attempt to get him to operate in another system ignores him and simply says, “RISE, take up your bed and walk,” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed and walked. Could it be that we are laying in a position waiting to be blessed in an environment that can only sustain poverty?

As believers, we must be active participants in the manifestation of God’s promises in our lives. In order to do this we must change the way we think and the way we speak. There are no greater seeds than words.

Words will produce a harvest of either blessing or cursing in your life.
Points to Ponder:
1. Think about the excuses we tell ourselves that keep us laying by our pool of Bethesda.
2. Identify your thinking patterns that conform your mind to living in a system of poverty.

By City Church New Orleans

Day 18 — First Things First

EXPAND, A Devotional

by Pastor Chris Davis

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 NKJV

Prioritization is a key to success in any arena of life. Setting the right priorities helps you to maximize your time so that you are accomplishing the most important things efficiently and effectively.

I’ve talked to many people who have applied the principle of prioritizing to their days but not to their lives. They have a difficult time keeping first things first. You see it all the time. Maybe it manifests in putting work before family or in some other less identifiable way like backing up on some commitments you made to God because your family has expanded.

Jesus warns of the “cares of life” which have the ability to steal our joy.

If we want to have an effective life then should make sure that first things are first, not just on our to do list but more so in the big picture of our lives.

“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22 NKJV

At the beginning of the year, I make it a point to revisit my life’s priorities to ensure that first things are first. I do this because I want to be very intentional accomplishing those things that give me the highest return on my efforts in relation to God’s revealed will for my life. I spend some time with God asking Him if there are things that I need to change or rearrange this year that would be most pleasing to Him. First things are very important to God in fact, the Bible teaches that “first” things belong to the Lord. Often we’re not sure how to identify the importance of one thing over another. Let the spirit of God reveal that you.

Point To Ponder:
What is the Holy Spirit asking of you? Make it a point to put first things first this year and watch everything else be added to you.

By City Church New Orleans

Day 17 — A Commitment to Becoming

EXPAND, A Devotional

by Pastor Chris Davis

“Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”” Exodus 13:17 NKJV

Are you a fighter? I mean, do you easily engage in conflict with others? Whether you do or don’t, no worries. We all have different personality types that govern how we respond to conflict. Personally, confrontation has been something that I’ve had to learn to embrace in a healthy manner. Depending on our upbringing and past experiences, we all develop a “fight or flight” mentality when it comes to conflict.

Here’s the problem, we often easily identify threats or enemies that exist outside of ourselves but fail to recognize the enemies that exist within us. The enemy of our soul has strategically set up strongholds within our souls to prevent us from becoming who Christ died for us to be.

Are you familiar with the story about the children of Israel’s exodus from Egypt? God delivered them from bondage and desired to bring them through a wilderness test to prepare them for their proverbial and literal promised land. It took them 40 years to cover a 13 day journey. They’d overcome the bondage of slavery in Egypt but there were giants and enemies that they’d have to conquer along the way in order to inherit God’s promises.

I’ve heard countless new believers complain about the difficulty of following Christ. They forget that the same God that delivered them from their Egypt is bringing them into their promised land. Yes, we need to have a mind to fight and not lose heart, because a commitment to becoming is a commitment to fighting. Not fighting against people, but rather, learning how to bring the victory of the cross to every place the enemy has tried to withstand you from possessing.

Consider these thoughts.

Your promised land is the potential within you that the Holy Spirit would like access to.Your inheritance is the very image and likeness of God. Don’t stop fighting, until by God’s Grace you look like Him.

Have you ever wondered why God took them through the wilderness?

“Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”” Exodus 13:17 NKJV

Points To Ponder:
Has there been a time that God took you through the “wilderness”? Did you recognize it initially? What was He saying to you?
Where are you now? What is God doing in you now to form you into His image?

By City Church New Orleans

Day 16 — A Solid Foundation

EXPAND, A Devotional

by Pastor Chris Davis

My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV

In my life, I’ve noticed that the Lord has often brought me to a place where He revisits foundational doctrines within my core beliefs.

At first, I’d wonder if I was backslidden because I was re-experiencing the elementary teachings of Christ. However, He revealed to me that at each phase of growth, a buildings’ foundation must be shored-up to ensure that it can withstand the stress of added growth.

In my experience, the Lord would confront core beliefs within my own heart through practical experiences or tests that would bring me to an awareness of a deficit or weakness present within me that He would like to strengthen. Most recently, I perceived that the Lord was working in me a greater revelation of 2 Corinthians 12:9 where the Lord said to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Being confronted with your own weaknesses can be difficult, especially when the areas in which you’ve at some time or another found yourself strong seem to evade your ability to trust in them. Trusting in your own strength can look like leaning on your understanding, gifting or experience. The problem here is that sometimes, in order to bring you to a greater revelation and trust in Himself, the Lord will allow everything that can be shaken to be shaken. I’ve learned that, contrary to popular opinion, weakness is not bad when held in the light of Christ’s strength. In moments when your strengths are unreliable and your weaknesses are magnified, take solace in the words of Paul’s letter in 2 Corinthians 12:10,

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In these times of testing, our priority should be committing to “walk in the spirit” (Galatians 5:16). It’s here, in the spirit, that all strength and provision is afforded to us for all things in life. If your life is in the spirit, then walk in the spirit. Living a crucified life is the key to walking in the spirit. This process of dying to self is indeed the road of downward mobility in which we humble ourselves and surrender to the Lord’s will so that we walk in a manner that is pleasing to Him.

I think it’s interesting to note that our life in Christ doesn’t get more complicated than the message of the cross. The apostle Paul exclaimed, “For I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me, for the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20).

It’s enough that our lives are firmly established on the foundation of the grace of God. We should be very cautious as to how we build upon the foundation of faith in Christ, understanding that by Him and through Him ALL things hold together. If we are to “expand” this year, we will need to deal with any presence of pride in our hearts making sure that we are building on a firm foundation of faith in Christ — our all in all.

In 2018, let’s build upon the foundation of salvation by faith through grace with bold and obedient faith working through love.

Points To Ponder:
1. Why am I stepping out into new things? Is it because I see a better life than what God has revealed to me? (This is totally rooted in pride.)
2. Or am I boldly and confidently stepping out in faith as a response to what God has revealed to me by His spirit?

By City Church New Orleans

Day 15 — Finding Your Tribe

Day 15 — Finding Your Tribe

EXPAND, A Devotional

by Dr. Toni Tyson

“But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.” Luke‬ ‭8:15‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Everyone wants to be a part of something — to feel special — - to be included. Even before children start school, they are participating in sports leagues, joining dance groups, learning karate, or building club houses for the neighborhood to gather. As we grow older, we find ourselves committing to college fraternities, book clubs, and an endless string of what society says is the thing to do. But no matter how hard we try, one size just doesn’t fit all.

It’s no different in God’s Kingdom. Every individual, when they receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, has a special place where God can best use the gifts and talents He has equipped that individual with. Living in isolation is just not a part of God’s plan for mankind.

If we look at the beauty of God’s creation, it provides us with a key to being connected. Every plant, in order to grow and develop, must be planted into good soil and take root. The deeper the roots grow, the stronger the plant becomes. If plants are planted in shallow, poor, or rocky soil, nature’s elements will destroy the plant’s ability to grow roots and the plant will die. But planted in fertile soil, where the plant has the ability to take in the pure elements of nature, the plant will push down into the soil and flourish.

So it is with mankind. After salvation God will open a door for you to plant your life in a good church, where you will be fed the rich food of God’s Word. You will be afforded the opportunity to be a part of the social community that is the Church, where the blood of Jesus Christ covers and continues to cleanse away our life’s impurities. By following the authority of God’s ordained, sincere leadership, you will be like the plant that is settled into the good soil prepared for God’s nurturing. You will grow roots that cannot be moved by the foolishness of the enemy that wants to destroy your life.

By following the authority of God’s ordained, sincere leadership, you will be like the plant that is settled into the good soil prepared for God’s nurturing.

Where do you stand today? Have you planted yourself in the House of God where He can effectively use your gifts; or are you plucking yourself up by the roots every few months, expecting God to follow you to the next place that fits your fancy?

Points To Ponder:
Where has God placed you in the Body of Christ?
What are you contributing to make the House of God the best it can be by utilizing the gifts and talents He gave to you?
Suggested reading: Luke 8:4–15

By City Church New Orleans

Day 14— Fight For What You Believe

Day 14— Fight For What You Believe

EXPAND, A Devotional

by Pastor Michael Gavion Jr.

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV)

One of the things as believers that we somewhat glaze over is the power of the admonition that Paul gave to Timothy in 1 Tim. 6:12 to “fight the good fight of faith”. Paul continued “lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses”. What Paul is saying here is so powerful. To lay hold of eternal life. Paul is not addressing the many small details of the things that plague us in our everyday life. Paul is speaking to Timothy to keep a higher perspective — an eternal perspective. And when we fight the good fight of faith, what Paul is saying fight for what you believe in, fight for the good confession that you made before all of that witnessed it. It doesn’t matter what happens after that, the confession you made unto the Lord before us was what your heart truly desired.

What does this do for us? It prepares us for an everyday life of victory in Christ. The enemy’s tool of choice in the life of every individual is offense. And I can attest, offense is one of the most effective tools the devil has in his arsenal. I know in my own life, every time I have had a major hang up personally, I can trace it back to an offense that I have allowed to take root in my heart. Offense attacks the core of what it means to keep an eternal perspective and an awareness of what it will be like as one family spending eternity with Jesus Christ forever (a privilege that the enemy willingly and foolishly forsook).

How to move forward? Remember the admonition that Paul gave Timothy. Fight for what you believe. We know what the Word says about loving one another and being knit together as one body. The devil wants us to avoid those that have offended us when the Bible commands us to go to our brother or sister and reconcile the difference. Reflect on these things continually. Then when the enemy tries to put a wedge between you and another person, the truth of God’s Word will guard you against such offenses and keep you focused on heaven and the unity that God desires us to have as members of His body.

Points To Ponder:
What do you believe about Jesus Christ and your faith in Him? Has has the enemy tried to attack those beliefs recently? How?
In what ways have you allowed an enemy to forge a wedge between you and someone else? Confess that to the Lord today and allow Him to heal your view of the person and the circumstance. If able, go to the person and reconcile and watch the healing flow begin to work in your life.

By City Church New Orleans

Day 13 — The Beloved of the Most High

EXPAND, A Devotional

by Pastor Michael Gavion Jr.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV)

At the heart of the Christian faith is the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for the church — His bride. Upon hearing the body of Christ being referred to as “His Bride” produces quite an array of responses — depending on each individual’s understanding and experiences. Nevertheless Jesus took up the challenge to heal all wrong perspectives of what humanity deems is the definition of a bride, much of which has been perpetrated on us by the enemy.

I remember multiple times as far back as high school being told by many men older than me to “never get married.” Many of whom who have had failed marriages or grew up in a home with parents with a failed marriage. And even though I grew up in a home with parents with a successful marriage, I still found myself becoming more and more reluctant of the thought of marriage. That’s the power of believing lie. When I arrived at City Church, I saw plenty of marriages that challenged this false perspective. This is when I began to look deeper into myself to see what was wrong with what I believed.

We must allow God to take all prior knowledge no matter how deeply rooted and replace it with the truth that Jesus Christ is the ultimate bridegroom. There is none like Him. If there is one thing above all things our bridegroom wants us (His bride) to know, it is how much He loves us. Everything our bridegroom did and does is to further solidify this fact into our hearts. As we allow our hearts to meditate on this love, it incredibly transforms us like no other love can (2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV).

If there is one thing above all things our bridegroom wants us (His bride) to know, it is how much He loves us.

So what does this mean for us today? We are to live everyday knowing that we are deeply loved by the one whom is known The Lord of Hosts, God of the whole earth (Isaiah 54:5). We are loved by a God that wants us to live in the glory of His marvelous presence and shower us with His goodness. As with any husband, He wants nothing more than for us to allow Him to be good to us. Now this is something worth attacking. So when we experience the wiles of the devil, remind him and yourself of who you are loved by and nothing can keep Him from loving you. It is at that name and that revelation that the enemy must flee. Once we realize we are loved, only then can we go into the world and truly love others.

You are the beloved of the Most High! Take rest in that and watch how life truly begins to open up to you.
Points To Ponder:
Has there been a time when you experienced the goodness of God that you were not aware of?
Knowing how much He loves you, how does this impact your everyday life?
Prayer: I pray that you abound more and more in the love of God. I pray that He showers you with His goodness and empowers you to live everyday in this love and be a reflection of this love to the world.
Verses: Ephesians 5:25; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Isaiah 54:5

By City Church New Orleans

Day 12 — Reaching My Jerusalem

EXPAND, A Devotional

by Elder Ryan Bourgeois

“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Matthew 18:11 NKJV

From the Genesis of creation to the Revelation of end times, the central theme of the Bible is our salvation. This has always been the greatest desire of God as evidenced by the passion committed at Calvary’s Cross. We are His most precious creation, His love for us is more vast than the stars in the sky and measures more than the grains of sand on the Earth. We were created His own likeness and image just so we can share in who He is. He was even willing to surrender His one and only son as ransom for our salvation. We are His most valuable treasure So as believers we cannot say that we love God and fail to love each other. During His ministry on earth Jesus declared that it was His mission “to seek and save that which was lost” Matthew 18:11. He reached much of Jerusalem, teaching the Word of God with every opportunity that He was given. He even laid down His own life as a sacrifice for our salvation. As Believers we should have the same heart of God concerning the salvation of our brothers and sisters, as we each carry the responsibility to spread the gospel according Matthew 28:11. It is here that Jesus issues his his final command to those who were gathered with Him after His resurrection, that He instructed all who believed to make disciples of the nations, teaching all people to observe the Word which He taught.

A great misconception that’s held by many believers today is that the responsibility to spread the gospel is the sole responsibility of those who are called to the fivefold ministry. It’s a staggering fact that most modern Christians have never engaged in the ministry of evangelism, deceived by thought that it’s a calling reserved to church leadership. This thought could not be farther from the truth, regardless of differences in our purpose and calling we each share in the common responsibility to spread the gospel to the people whom God has given us influence with. Each and every person regardless of race or culture, has a God given sphere of influence that is unique to them. These people may be relatives friends or even coworkers, but it’s important to understand that the influence of the believer is given in order for us reach, in one way or the other, those who God has connected to our lives. This can be as simple as explaining to a friend or loved one how the Gospel has impacted your life. Another form of spreading the gospel is simply living according its standards where there are those who do not believe, allowing your light to shine bright.

There’s no need for a gifting of speech or a vast knowledge of the scriptures — all you need is love and a relationship with Jesus.

Simply sharing that with those who are uniquely connected with us has the ability to reach the world. It is how we can, as Jesus did, reach our own Jerusalem.

Points To Ponder:
Have you ever been in a situation where you witnessed a believer’s light shine bright before your eyes?
Where is your Jerusalem? Where is God showing you to go and let your light shine? Be bold and know that your “Jerusalem” needs your light to shine bright that they may believe.

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