Women’s Devotion | April 2020

We Do Not Throw in the Towel

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV

 

In the boxing world, the expression to “throw in the towel” usually occurs when the boxer is no longer able to throw a punch, or even lift up his arms because he has lost all strength.  It is here when the trainer notices that his boxer has reached his limit and makes the decision to “throw in the towel”. This is what indicates the fight is over and prevents further suffering or irrepressible pain. Notice this decision is not made by the boxer, but by the trainer.

 

How many times have we found ourselves in life’s fighting arena where the thought to throw in the towel has crossed our mind?  Or how many times have we simply thought of abandoning everything and fleeing? Didn’t David do just this when he fled to the cave of Adullam? David, the man called “the sweet Psalmist of Israel”? David, the man “after God’s own heart”? David, the man called, the lamp of Jehovah? Did he not flee out of desperation?

 

Didn’t Peter also deny Jesus and return to his life of being a fisherman? When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Simon Peter was the one that answered by saying, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus responded, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:13, 16-18 NIV). This was said of the man, whom we all know denied Christ three times; and yet he was redeemed and still told by Jesus to shepherd his flock (John 21:17).

 

The litany of Biblical heroes who have fallen short and turned their back on God goes on and on. Judas sold Jesus. The other disciples dispersed in fear. Jonah went on another path, directly disobeying God’s commands.  Balaam desired treasure above all. Abraham lied to save his skin. Elijah prayed for death after witnessing God’s great marvels. Gideon was called during a moment of cowardice. And so on, and so forth……

 

It is a reality that we all want blessings, joy, and prosperity; but none of us want to endure the suffering and strife that it takes to attain these things. During the delivery process, the woman is given a choice of having an epidural. This injection can be risky, and the woman must sign a waiver consenting to undergo the procedure. During the procedure, she must be completely still because one move can have life-long consequences. Yes, the procedure has a numbing effect and assists in relieving the pain, but at what cost? Is relieving momentary pain really worth the possible lifelong risks? Each woman must make this decision based on their own situation. But there is yet another issue that arises in choosing this option. You see, the pain from the contractions is what alerts the woman on when to push. The same goes for us in life. It is the pain that alerts us when to push and accelerate the process. In other words, in order to release that which is inside of us, we must push! This process was not what was intended in the beginning. Yes, God in the beginning states that there would be pain, but because of the introduction of sin and disobedience, pain was augmented. In other words, if you truly want to deliver that which God deposited into you, do not try to eliminate the pain. You have to push and breakthrough for that which is to come!

 

God has allowed me to be at three different deliveries. The first one was that of a young lady who was having difficulty delivering her baby. The doctor told me to interpret and stated, “the blood that was being seen was that of a forced rupture and that an incision must be made in order for the baby to be born sooner.” The mother did not want for that procedure to occur, but she asked if it was necessary and the doctor confirmedthat it was. The doctor made the incision and the baby was born.

 

The path of the cross is inevitable. That was the plan the Father had in order for us to all be able to attain salvation. People laughed and mocked as the “King of the Jews” made His entrance and walked the path to the cross. But all this was needed for the greatest victory of all. Jesus recognized that this process needed to be done. Because of this process, we do not see Jesus the victim, but Christ the Victor, the overcomer, the survivor. Because Christ is able to do all these things, I too can say the same! Hallelujah!

 

Acts 20:22-24, “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

 

From this passage, there are three clear steps on how to become a survivor/overcomer:

  1. The first is that we must endure.People admire that which they can see. What many don’t understand is that which they see, has come about with a price. God has seen our tears, our pain, and our anguish. To endure(Greek), means to have an extreme weight placed upon a person, without fail and without shaking. Each of us have passed through trials that seem humanly impossible to endure. But we trust God that He does not give trials or tribulations that we are not strong enough to endure. On the contrary, when a trial arrives in our lives, God will give usthe exit strategy or give usthe strength to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13). God did not make a mistake in giving us the burden which we carry. He knows the capacity of weight we can carry. He weighs it out first and knows that 150 lbs. will not kill us. The weight of the trial wants to detain you and there will be suffering, however, you will still be elevated to His presence and what is to come is pure glory.
  2. Our “Special Trainer” is God.He is the one who knows us best, even better than we know ourselves. He will never allow us to struggle or fight against something that is greater than our capability to endure.
  3. The Lord has never thrown in the towel and will never throw in the towel when it comes to those whom He has called.Why? Because He is Jehova-Gibbor Milchamah, the Lord mighty in battle, the greatest of generals, leader of the Heavenly Hosts, and He fights on our behalf.

 

So, if He that has called you, never give up. Don’t you dare do it! He is the one who gives us the strength. You can do it! Endure! Resist! I will not tremble! I will not shake! I will not break! There are many that flee, “but we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews 10:39 NIV.

 

Push, for those are simply birthing pains. Remember that your trial and tribulation is simply a sign of which is to come. Push, so you can give birth to what God has deposited within you! Your reward is on its way!


 

 

María del Carmen Méndez prefers to go by Carmen, especially after she found it meant “song” and that coincided with her desire to “sing” for God. She was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico but came to live in Bronx, New York. Carmen and her husband, Demetrio pastor Iglesia De Dios es el Poderin Hinesville/ Ft. Stewart, Georgia since 2006. Both are licensed ministers in the Church of God. The Méndez’s have been married for 37 years, 29 dedicated to ministry. They have three adult children, Jesus, Edgar and Ann-Marie and two grandchildren, Israel and Elisabeth Marie.

 

Women’s Devotion | March 2020

Ugh!

 

Restore us to yourself, Lord that we may return: renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.

Lamentations 5:21-22 NIV

Webster defines lamentation as an expression of sorrow, mourning and regret.

 

After reading Lamentations I thought, “What a hopeless book!” How can so much grief and devastation bring hope? I believe everyone has been in a situation where all they could do was cry out to the Lord in pain and remembering what “once was”.  It is in this book of Lamentations that the revelation of who I am in Jesus Christ became real.  I have seen pain and sorrow in my own relationship with the Father. Being a child of God does not make life without struggle and being a pastor’s wife does not make me untouchable. At one time we were doing the will of the Father moving forward in ministry and in an instant, we were feeling ashamed and in fear of our future.  In Lamentations there is a sense of greatness that had been destroyed due to sin. Sin is selfish and it will leave a path of destruction. In Lamentations God had turned away and what was left was pain, suffering, shame and deep sorrow which is described by the author in each chapter. But in the middle of this book, starting in chapter 3 verse 21, there is a glimmer of hope. The author brings into remembrance how good the Lord is and how great His love is for us. The rest of the book continues to speak of more pain, shame and destruction—all wrought by sin.

 

I have felt the shame and destruction of sin and longing for the “once was”. It’s very hard not to feel alone and think that the Lord has turned away during these times. I wanted so badly to be restored but I was so afraid that the Lord had rejected me and that He was angry beyond measure just as the author wrote in chapter 5 verse 22. Life itself can feel hopeless and full of unwanted stuff. Throughout my Christian life I have heard about the good ‘ole days and how much they are missed. What made them the good ‘ole days? Is it because people remember a time when they were filled with the Holy Spirit and in the will of God? In today’s world we get so caught up in life and struggles that we began to speak our own lament. Why am I going through this Lord? Why do You hate me? Why have You forsaken me?  We have forgotten about Jesus Christ–the One who went to the cross and died for our sins. We have allowed the world to take our focus off of Him.

 

I am the first to say, “Where are you Jesus?” My days are filled with a bunch of stuff. I have to remind myself daily to keep my focus on Jesus. I know that sounds crazy coming from a pastor’s wife, but I work in the world and the world has blurred my focus at times. That’s when I find myself wondering, “Where is Jesus?”  I have found out it’s my responsibility to seek Him daily and to know who I am in Him. If I don’t seek Him first, my days will be a blur and sin will follow. I know His word tells me that I am not defeated that I am free from condemnation (Romans 8:1-2) . I must put my focus on Him daily and stay in His word, so I never forget what “once was”. He is the Father who will never leave me nor forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5). He has searched me and knows me. (Psalms 139:1). He knows who I am even when I don’t know who I am in Him. I have worth because He says I am the salt and the light of the earth (Matthew 5:13- 14).  Although I struggle daily, I am continuously reminded through the Word of God that Jesus loves me and wants the best for me. I am freed from being in bondage. I am loved and accepted, I have been redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:14) I am complete in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:10). He desires for meto commune with Him daily. He wants a relationship with me. I am the reason He went to the cross. He died for meso I may have everlasting life.

 

I don’t miss the “once was” days because through Jesus Christ I am restored daily. I don’t want my book to be hopeless with a questionable ending. I want to have a victorious ending to my book and that can only come from Jesus Christ.

 

My prayer for you is:

  • You are reminded daily to seek Him first.
  • If there are any struggles blurring your focus today, that they be removed.
  • Through Jesus Christ you know who you are in Him and feel the love He has for you.

 

May all your days be victorious!


 

 

 

 

Kathy Stoddard serves alongside her husband, Bishop John A. Stoddard III, at Grace Point Worship Center in Fleming, Georgia. The Stoddard’s have been married for over 30 years and have two children who serve in various ministries in their church.

 

Women’s Devotion | February 2020

Hearts & Lemons

 

The month of February brings about feelings of love and being sweet to others.  Hearts, hearts, and more hearts. Well, one morning at around three o’clock, God revealed to me how MY heart was like a lemon. My immediate thoughts were, A lemon? They are bitter and sour, and that’s not me!

 

I stumbled into the kitchen and began to load the dishwasher. I couldn’t understand why I was awakened and felt the need to complete this task, because that’s just not something I would do at three o’clock in the morning. Who does that? 

 

The previous weekend, I went to visit my parents, and I always come away with “loot” (you know, like fresh eggs, lemons, cane syrup, oranges, pecans … the good stuff).

This trip yielded big, beautiful lemons.  As I turned the dishwasher on, my eyes caught those same lemons, and the thought came to me, MAKE LEMONADE. I’m not going to say God said, “Kylee, make lemonade.” However, I do feel that the unction to make lemonade at three o’clock in the morning was inspired by God, because this woman likes her sleep! 

 

I pulled out a pitcher and chose four lemons to get started. If you’ve never made homemade lemonade, you must first soften the inside. This extracts more juice, so you won’t have to work twice as hard. As I rolled the lemon back and forth, I heard in my spirit, “In order to hear from me, your heart (like a lemon) also has to be soft.”  

 

Ezekiel 36:26 NLT says, I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you.  I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”  As women, we tend to put up walls around our heart to protect us from getting hurt. In doing so, we can’t mirror Jesus Christ to those around us because we are too busy trying to keep them out. God specifically wants to take out our hard hearts and give us tender, responsive ones because He knows we need to use them to love like Jesus.  

 

Once I softened the insides of the lemons, I had to pierce them with a tool to release the juice. Hebrews 4:12 ESV says “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” When His word pierces our hearts, it begins to discern our intentions of being godly or ungodly, as well as our thoughts of good or evil.  We must spend time in His word to keep our hearts softened to hear Him. 

 

After I pierced the lemons, the process of SQUEEZING came! I wanted to get as much juice from those lemons as possible. As I squeezed and pressed, the good DID come out, but some bad came out as well. What was the bad? The seeds. In our Christian walk, there are many trials and temptations. Through these events, we sometimes allow “seeds” to take root in our hearts that shouldn’t be there. These can be seeds of bitterness, jealousy, offense, and much more. Those seeds, if not carefully taken care of, will turn into weeds. What do weeds do? They choke out the ability of the good seeds to bear fruit. Just as I had to be patient in picking out all those seeds, we also must be patient in allowing God to help rid us of “bad seeds” in our hearts. It is a process.

 

Squeezing the lemon reminded me of an illustration my husband mentioned in one of his sermons. He asked the congregation what comes out when you squeeze an orange.  Their reply was, “orange juice.” He did the same with lemons and apples to get lemon juice and apple juice. Then he asked what comes out when you squeeze a Christian. The squeezing here would be trials and tribulations that we go through, and the answer should be CHRIST! However, when we are pressed, persecuted, and crushed, do we gladly boast about our Jesus as Paul and Timothy did? Have we filled our hearts with His word?  

 

I noticed the lemons that had been softened, pierced, and squeezed were in a mess all over my counter! Isn’t that how we come to Him sometimes? We feel our lives are a mess, our hearts are a mess, and we are just painfully broken.  Psalm 147:3 NKJV reminds us that, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds…”  I didn’t realize that I had allowed my heart to become hard. My heart WAS like a lemon. It took making lemonade at three o’clock in the morning to reveal this to me. I was bitter, I was sour, and the only one who could fix it was Jesus.  

 

The last step to making the lemonade was to add sugar and water. “O taste and see that the Lord is good…”  Psalm 34:8 NKJV. Jesus and Holy Spirit bring sweetness to our lives just as sugar and water turn sour, bitter lemonade into something sweet!

 

It’s the month of February ladies, and I encourage you to check your own hearts to make sure there’s nothing holding back the love He wants you to pour out. He has to fix things that are broken so they can function as they were created to do. It’s time we allow Him to tear down our walls, soften our stony hearts, give us new ones, and use them for what they were intended for…TO LOVE!


 

 

Kylee Herndon is currently serving alongside her husband, Scotty Herndon as Lead Pastors in East Dublin at Lighthouse Church of God. They have served in various areas of ministry for 11 years. Kylee leads worship and seeks to encourage those around her by showing and sharing the love and joy that only Jesus can give.  Kylee is currently a third-grade teacher at East Laurens Elementary in her 12thyear of teaching. 

 

Women’s Devotion | January 2020

Food for the Day

What is life? For a while now I have been thinking about life–my life in particular. I feel like there is so much more we can do with this precious gift God has given us. I realize God says in His Word that we are to occupy until He comes, but what does that mean? I feel like it means more than just going through the daily routine of work and home life. I believe He wants us to live life with purpose.

 

So you ask, “What is life?”

 

1. Growth-It involves growing in a spiritual relationship with our heavenly Father. It is spending time in prayer, study and solitude with God. In Colossians 2:6 -7 NKJV it says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith…” Hebrews 5:12-14 tells us as babes we drank the milk and we were unskilled, but we cannot stay on the milk. We must receive the meat of the Word in order to mature and discern good from evil.

 

2. Contribution-It requires taking up our cross and bearing our part in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mathew 6:33 NKJV, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” This gives us a good starting point so we can be able to do as Mark 16:15 NKJV says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”  Also in Matthew 10:8 NKJV we are told to, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”

 

3. Connection-This will bring life into the situation. Connection will result in reproduction. We are to connect with our heavenly Father through prayer, fasting and study. John 15:5 tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches and as long as we stay connected to Him, we will be sustained and bear fruit to sustain others.

 

4. Creativity-This happens when we create an environment around us in fellowship with our heavenly Father. Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together in the manner as some do. When we come together we create a bond for growth in ourselves and each other. Proverbs 27:17 NKJV says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” We are to create an environment that will strengthen, encourage and sustain our life and the lives of others through Jesus Christ.

 

From this day forward I choose to purposely declare my faith and the Word of Life to every person with whom I come in contact. In this new year, What are you doing with your gift of life?


 

 

 

Paula Wommack serves with her husband, Gilbert, as lead pastors of Oasis Church of God in Lyons, Georgia. They have pastored there since planting the church in November of 2000. They serve as Vidalia District Overseers as well. The Wommacks have been married for 38 years and have 3 adult children and 8 beautiful grandchildren. They feel blessed to be able to have their children working with them in the ministry of Oasis. Paula serves as Women’s Ministry President and teaches the “Fierce Women Warriors” Bible study. It is her desire to equip ladies to be strong women of God, to support their husbands and to be Godly examples to their children.  Paula enjoys doing arts and crafts but her greatest joy comes from being Nana to their grandchildren.

Women’s Devotion | December 2019

The Invitation List

“There was no room for Jesus in the Inn.” Luke 2:7 

 

My husband and I had just received our first pastoral appointment at summer’s end just before the holiday season kicked off. My to-do list was a mile long already and growing with every click on Pinterest. Time flew by as we settled into our new house and community. It was now December and the Christmas Season was in full swing. Just imagine the excitement swirling in the heart of this new pastor’s wife! It was almost Christmas and I wanted to share everything we had to offer during the absolute best time of the year with those entrusted to our care.

 

Nine years later, I still remember December 14, 2010 like it was yesterday. It was the big day, our Women’s Ministry Christmas Party and I had thirteen who responded to the invitation RSVP! This was huge considering we only had 23 in the entire church!

 

During those days being busy excited me. Accomplishing things helped me feel important. I thought “there are people who need us now and things that we have to get done ASAP”. I also felt everything had to be done to perfection and with absolute excellence! For days I had been so busy cleaning, decorating, making Christmas goodies, wrapping gifts and preparing delicious foods for our party, that I had hardly slept. I made every Christmas finger food known to man and displayed them with great care; surrounding them with perfectly placed decorations. After all, it was CHRISTMAS, we were celebrating the birth of our Savior – it had to be the best!

 

Finally, my to-do list was completed. Utterly exhausted, I sat down, looking around the church parsonage feeling so accomplished, proud of what was to be offered to my guests until I looked up and saw a tiny spider web stretched across one of the globes of the dining room chandelier. I just stared at the spider web; honestly I was perplexed as to how I would muster up the strength to get it down. It was not until that moment, when I had nothing left to offer, did I speak to God about the party I was throwing…IN HIS HONOR. I said to Him “Lord, I cannot leave that spider web for everyone to see, will you please give me the strength to get it down?” To which He responded with these chilling words “Much ado about nothing, it is my party and you have not even invited me.”

 

Hearing these extremely unsettling words, I fell on my face in repentance! You and I must admit that often they are true of us – especially at Christmas time. We know that the reason for the season is to celebrate Christ’s birth and we say this is what we want to do. Yet, we get so busy with decorating (and fixing broken lights!), buying presents (and waiting in lines!), hosting parties (and getting stuck in traffic!) – and we add all these things to our normal schedules that are probably already too full! There is no room for Jesus in our hearts when we are rushing around, pushing to get more done, and trying so hard to make people happy. Just like the Innkeeper whose Inn was too full for Jesus, so also our schedules may not leave time – unhurried time – to appreciate and enjoy Jesus.

 

You see, we can plan all the parties, buy all the best gifts, decorate elaborately but without inviting Christ first, it is just “much ado about nothing!” What you do, do with excellence, but remember, excellence without HIM IS DEAD!

 

This Christmas season as you begin making your Holiday preparations, make room in the Inn FIRST and your invitation list will never be lacking.

 


 

 

 

April Schluckebier serves alongside her husband, Matthew, as pastors of Life Church in Albany, Georgia. April also serves as the Church Ministries Assistant at South Georgia Church of God State Office. The Schluckebiers have been married and in ministry for the past fifteen years. They have two daughters, Lauren McClellan and Adah Grace, and two precious grandsons, Raegan and Ross Thomas.

Women’s Devotion | November 2019

Giving Thanks

 

Psalm 107:1   “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good and his love endures forever.”

 

Andraé Crouch so beautifully penned the song entitled My Tribute. The song begins, “How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me? Things so undeserved yet you give to prove your love for me. The voices of a million angels cannot express my gratitude….”

 

The month of November has one day dedicated to giving thanks. This day is a national holiday which encourages people to recognize their blessings and express appreciation for what God has

graciously and bountifully bestowed upon His creation. This day is meant to be a focused and intentional recognition of the many blessings and gifts received during the year.

 

The book of Psalms is filled with proclamations of thanksgiving and declarations of gratitude for the abundant and undeserved blessings bestowed by the Father of all good things.

 

One of the first phrases we teach our children is to say ‘thank you’ when they receive a gift. In those two simple words we are attempting to teach thankfulness and gratitude.

 

Can a song thank Him enough? Is one day a year enough time to thank Him adequately? Can we thank Him enough through a book? Can two simple words appropriately express gratitude?

 

In this day of ungratefulness and feelings of entitlement I fear we have lost the recognition and understanding of truly being thankful. We often categorize and appraise our blessings and then measure our thankfulness accordingly. The proportion of our thankfulness is directly correlated to the value we place on our “blessing.”

 

I understand that it is humanly impossible to find adequate words or to express our deepest emotions when we recognize our many blessings. It often seems difficult to convey our gratitude to the Father for all He has done. However, the motive and objective of our heart speaks volumes even without words. The appreciation we feel is revealed in how we cherish our gift.   Our

greatest thankfulness is manifested in how we acknowledge and respond to the Giver.

 

The greatest blessing of all is the ability to have a deep and intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. Yet do we live in such a way that our gratitude for this eternal gift is evident to the Giver and to those around us? Do we express more dissatisfaction in our life than appreciation for who we are in Him and what we have because of Him?

 

Life itself was breathed into man by the Creator Himself. A portion of His life and sustaining power now resides in us giving life, breath and various abilities. Even if our life seems short by earthly years, the value of our lives and our purpose for living is a great cause to live thankfully and to rejoice that the opportunity has been given to us to walk this journey in relationship with the Father.

 

After a miraculous healing in my life over 8 years ago, I felt so inadequate and unworthy of such a touch from the Lord. How could I say thanks? What words could I use that would sufficiently express my gratitude? I have yet to find words. I have yet to feel that I have sufficiently expressed my appreciation for His healing touch. However, I believe that God knows

my heart just as He knows yours. Our appreciation to Him is expressed in our love for Him, our love for our family, love for our friends, and love for the lost. Our gratitude to Him is expressed in our faithfulness to obey His Word and serve devotedly in His purpose. Our desire to be in His presence is a way of expressing our appreciation to Him for the opportunity to walk with

Him and commune with Him. We can never repay God for all His mighty acts and gifts unto us. His wonders aren’t for sale. We may always feel indebted to Him, but we can be assured that He acknowledges our heart of gratitude and thanks.

 

Even if the voices of a million angels cannot express my gratitude, what my heart can convey to the Giver for what He has done for me resonates throughout the courts of Heaven when I cry “Thank You, Father.”

 


 

 

 

Cheryl Hughes serves along with her husband, Pastor Wayne Hughes at Abundant Life Church of God in Valdosta, Georgia. They have been in pastoral ministry for over 38 years. The Hughes have been married for 42 years and have two married children and five grandchildren. Cheryl serves on the South Georgia Church of God Music Committee and enjoys music, the piano in particular, and reading.

Women’s Devotion | October 2019

Seasons

 

Fall. I just love this time of year. And I’m sure you’ll agree. I look forward to cooler weather, mountain time, apple cider, pumpkins and fall decorations. But it doesn’t last forever. Too quickly another season approaches and as an adult you want the time to slow down, but we know that’s not possible. As a child, I’ll never forget what seemed like the eternal wait from fall break to Christmas. Anticipating that time with family, gifts and traditions that we hold dear. Often, we rush things. Look how soon we have Christmas decorations out in the stores. Too soon in my opinion but I’m learning they don’t ask me.

 

Winter. Again, another season of sheer joy. The smell of Christmas greenery, decoration, gift giving and let’s not forget the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He’s truly the reason for all the seasons. He came to give us life and give it more Abundantly. (John 10:10) But the first part of that scripture says the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. This is why I chose this topic. Seasons come and go like the wind. They change the atmosphere and sometimes makes us wonder why the tree has to lose its leaves, why the bush must be pruned and cut back. The pain of this process proves to be beneficial to our growth.

 

Spring. A time of new growth. We’ll see the bare trees begin to bud and flowers bloom. I once had a dear friend give me a potted Cala Lilli. I had planted it in a planter just outside my garage door so every time I would back out of my garage, I would see this beautiful plant. At the end of the season not really knowing the plant would come back the next year, I put a new plant in the planter. Next year, just outside the planter, I began to see this vibrant bright green growth bursting through the ground. Evidently when I put the new plant in, the bulbs from the planter fell to the ground. It was such a treat that I texted my friend that gave me the plant, “look what popped up today.” I would text her regularly about the progress of the plant and remind her that. It was a gift that kept on giving.

 

When we sold the house, I made sure to tell the new owners of the plant. I didn’t want her to plant something there not realizing that in the right season a beautiful plant would come back. We so often do this in life. We feel that something is dead when it’s only dormant. We get ahead of ourselves and try and make something happen when with only a little time and patience, it will come back again. Back in June, I was reminding my son of this process. Trying to encourage him that though things seem bare and dormant, it’s a time of healing and preparation for what’s ahead. A season of new growth, strength and life. It’s during this time that we must walk or dwell in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16) This is living by the Spirit’s Power! There have been several times in my life where it was nothing but the comfort or nudging of the Holy Spirit that was getting me through. You make know what I’m talking about: those Sunday mornings on the front pew being the pastor’s wife or even a lay person, not feeling worthy to raise your hand, but then the Holy Spirit shows up and nudges you to praise, to worship, to speak life and blessing. We have to be that open vessel in all the seasons! Regardless of what we’re going through, to be willing to praise our Lord and Savior for his goodness, for our feet hitting the floor this morning and for the victory that’s around the corner. We cannot allow what we’re going through to cause us to shut down.

 

Summer. Our favorite Season! We were at the beach—our favorite place to relax. I was sitting there when all of a sudden, I heard this little boy calling out, “momma, daddy!” He was frantically searching the beach for them. He had run into the water not really noticing the details of where his family was sitting on the way in. I could see him begin to panic as he kept looking and calling out for his family. And then, just in time, in the distance, I heard his father call out his name. We often do the same thing in life. Running on for what’s ahead not really realizing what we leave behind and, on our way back, lose sight of where we should be. A look of relief came over his face as his eyes found his father because he was just about to lose it. Isn’t that just like our Heavenly Father? He allows us to run in a direction we think is best but will always be there when we come running back, calling his name.

 

Let me encourage you today to be an open vessel in all the seasons. Remember don’t let what you’re going through cause you to shut down. In those moments we have to invite the Holy Spirit in. In submission is freedom Romans 8:14, “For all who are led by the spirit of God are children of God.” Matthew 11:28, “ Come to me… I will give you rest.” Verse 29 “Take my yoke… let me show you.” Carrying a yoke by yourself is heavy but He says, “take my yoke.” (meaning together we share this yoke). I get to get in the yoke with the Spirit. In your darkest season there will always be a reason to praise.

 


 

 

Melissa “Missy” Faircloth serves along with her husband, Pastor Sean Faircloth, at Living Faith Church in Guyton, Georgia. Missy met Sean at Florida Youth Camp. He proposed at the end of the four weeks and they married three months later. The Faircloth’s have one son, Andrew. Missy has served on the South Georgia Girls Ministries Board and currently serves on the Women’s Ministries Board. She has been a pastor’s wife for 26 years.

Women’s Devotion | September 2019

Abiding in the Secret Place

 

“He who dwells in the secret place of Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust. Surely, he shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and your buckler.” Psalm 91: 1- 4

 

There is safety in the secret place if we only trust Him. Psalm 91 is a word of comfort and hope for those who are going through tough times, walking through rough places, or just fighting a battle. The Lord reminds us in this scripture that He is our refuge and fortress. David states, “Surely, he shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler.” God covers us when we come to him. God is bringing us out. We must look for it.

 

He said, “he that dwelleth in the secret place” – that place where we come to God in prayer. When we unite with Him and tell Him all we have been through; all through the days and all through the nights. When we go to Him and cry out to Him and ask Him to strengthen us, He said we shall abide (remain in, continue, sit here) under the shadow of the Almighty. Praise the Lord, He will cover us in His presence!

 

If we trust God regardless of how it looks, I don’t care what it is, if you trust God, He will bring us out. The Word of God admonishes us to “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) He is going to bring us out of every situation. He has seen every tear and understands what we are going through. We are a testimony to others around us. When we go through struggles, it lets others know they can make it. As we dwell in our secret place in Him, God covers us and gives us more strength so we can bear it. God says He sees our heart and the labor of love we struggle with and it is not going unrewarded because God will take care of His own. He wants us to trust Him without a doubt and know that He is going to bring us out.

 

My prayer for you today is that you will abide in the secret place of the Most High God. That you may come to know the many benefits that come with trusting and abiding in our heavenly Father. May God continue to lead and guide you as you continue to go to Him in your secret place. May you find comfort in knowing that if we only trust and believe, God is able to do all things. With man it may be impossible, but with God all things are possible unto him that believeth.

 


 

Pastor Vivian McDonald is an Ordained Minister in the Church of God and currently enrolled in the Church of God School of Ministry. She is the founder and senior pastor of the Cathedral of Faith Church of God in Dawson, Georgia. Pastor McDonald was saved at the age of 12 and has spent the majority of her life serving in various roles in the church including pastor’s wife, evangelist and Women’s Ministries President. She was married to the late Reverend Frankie McDonald, who served as the National Evangelist in the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee. The McDonalds have two daughters and two grandsons.

Women’s Devotion | August 2019

The Power of God’s Contentment

Contentedness: content, satisfaction, fulfillment, pleasure, cheerfulness,
gladness, gratification, ease, comfort, serenity, restfulness, and tranquility

 

A relationship with God brings contentment. It comes from being fully convinced that God is God, you belong to Him, He loves you fiercely, and He is always with you wherever you go. Contentment is also a state of happiness and satisfaction. Whoever is happy, will make others happy, too (Mark Twain).


Contentment is not determined by the ideal geographical location. The apostle Paul wrote from a damp Roman dungeon, “I have learned in whatever state I am therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). So, contentment is a learned process; a mental assertion or decision that God is with you despite your present place or station in life.


Contentment is peace of mind. Phil 4:11-13 says, “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (NLT).


As a pastor’s wife, ministry required us to move several times. Moving and transitioning is certainly one of the number one stresses of life. It involves moving to new churches, changing locations, putting our children in new schools, and leaving friends behind. We must remember that there is nothing we face that is too difficult, too troubling, or too fearful for God. We must turn our anxiety over to God and let His perfect peace guard our heart. We must never forget that our “steps are ordered by the Lord.”


On the journey of life there are always forks in the road where a decision must be made, but change should never destroy one’s contentment. The happiest people are the ones that make the best of everything they have and make the best of every situation.


I have been a pastor’s wife for fifty years. We have pastored ten different churches in three states. During each of these pastorates, I learned to be content. It didn’t matter if the parsonage was big or small, pretty or not so much; I was able to find contentment with what I had and where I lived. I enjoyed every church family and every place we relocated. I learned to bloom where I was planted. Home can be anywhere you make it. We should learn to accept what God allows and change what He empowers us to change, which is usually our attitudes.


Contentment could be a state of having accepted one’s situation which is ultimately a mild or tentative form of happiness. Contentment is also the absence of worry and frustration that steals our peace and joy. In times when life seems to be coming apart, it’s always good to look at God’s faithfulness in the past. Life is too short to be lived without experiencing the contentment found only in Christ. I know what it is to cry and to rejoice, but through it all, I’ve learned to seek contentment.


Contentment should never be based on our place of ministry, the financial package, the size of the parsonage or the size of the congregation. It is about our relationship with God, our family, the people we serve and the ability to bloom where we’re planted. As I walk with Him, the pleasures are never ending, and I know true joy and contentment.

 

Prayer:

Dear Lord, help us to always place our faith in you. Even when things are not what we desire. Help us to be content, even when we’re feeling frustrated. Help us to always remember when we look back over the years in ministry, and to celebrate the joy and peace that the world could not give. Lord, I thank you for the contentment that is have found in living a Godly life. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26)


Peggy Smith has been in ministry with her husband, Hulet Smith, Sr. for fifty years. They are lead pastors at Crossroads Church of God in Jesup where they have served for 16 years. They have been married for fifty years and have three sons: Hulet Jr., Peter, and Tommy Smith. They are blessed with nine grandchildren. Peggy has been an educator for thirty years and a Mary Kay consultant for twenty-five years. She is a graduate of Brewton Parker College. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, walking, and shopping.

 

 

Women’s Devotion | July 2019

Kill Britt or Make Me Happy 


Lord, I give you complete control of my life. Lead and guide and direct my steps as You see fit.
Famous last words…. I had no idea at the time the turn that my life would take after I prayed those words.

 

I grew up in Texas as the daughter of a baseball coach, teacher, rancher, school superintendent, book publisher, Southern Baptist preacher. My father wore many hats (quite literally), and therefore, we moved A LOT. I attended 10 schools in my 12 years. So, when I say I am from Texas, I mean I am from the whole State of Texas. My father believed in being adventurous, trying new things, and using a pencil to record our current address.

 

My brother, sister, and I shared some great experiences. We lived on a South Texas Ranch when I was in the 2nd grade. The school bus would only go so far out of town to pick us up and drop us off, so my mother would meet us at the stop. One day, she couldn’t make it in time, so she had my dad come to get us. He did… in a helicopter! He was out doing the deer census that week, so the pilot landed the chopper in the middle of the road in front of the yellow school bus. Too bad we were the last stop! The only one who saw it was the bus driver!

 

When I was in the 6th grade, we lived in Odessa, Texas-Home of the Permian Panthers. My father was the baseball coach and assistant football coach of the team that was represented in the movie “Friday Night Lights”. I fell in love with football which has carried over to my life today, only now I yell “Goooooo Dawgs! Sic ‘Em!”

 

In college, I studied Psychology and Social Work. Then, I changed my major to Physical Therapy. Then, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do. The only thing I knew for certain is that I wanted to attend Texas A&M University. So, my parents told me to come home and attend the local Junior College for a semester, then I could transfer to A&M. So, I did. During this time, I worked a part-time job with a lady who pastored a small church in town. She and I would talk about the Lord every time we were together, and I began to really seek the Lord for His will for my life. It was here that I prayed those words: God take over my life. Two weeks later, she tells me that she has this young evangelist coming to preach a revival at her church and she thinks we would really hit it off.

Enter Britt Peavy.

That was November of 1993. We spent those 2 weeks talking and getting to know each other.

December 1993: I go to Georgia to meet his family and spend 2 weeks.

February 1994: I go back to Georgia for 2 weeks – we get engaged.

March 1994: We get married.

 

Now, remember, I was raised moving every year or two. I was used to picking up and going somewhere new. This did not seem like anything new to me, until I had to say goodbye to my little Texas Grandma as we were driving away from the church. I had been be-bopping around all day, happy-go-lucky, oblivious to the fact that I would soon be leaving my family, my friends, and my home to be with this man that I had known all of 4 months and had only been around for 6 weeks!

 

So, I began to cry. For three hours, I cried. I could not stop crying. Poor Britt. He’s on his honeymoon with a girl who won’t stop crying! He finally pulled the car over to just let me cry. He seemed so sweet and sensitive, until you discover from him that he was thinking the whole time, “Did I shave my legs for this?”

 

We spent a week making our way back to Georgia stopping off in beautiful places like San Antonio, New Orleans, and Stapleton, Alabama (My Aunt Jody’s house). After we made it to my new home, which was 1300 miles away from my mom and dad (and right next door to his), we jumped right back into Britt’s life of preaching revivals each week. Now remember, I was raised Southern Baptist. I am now the evangelist’s wife in a Pentecostal denomination. I was expected to sing, play the piano, and lay hands on people! I did not sing. I did not play the piano. And, I certainly did not lay hands on people! But my husband never pushed me to do anything or be anything other than myself. I am still so thankful for his wisdom and patience.

 

After about a year and a half of being removed from everything familiar, I realized that I still had not adjusted to this new life. Nothing was the same: the church, the style of worship, the landscape, the family, the friends. So, I spoke to The One who never changes. The One who is always the same. The One who told me that He would never leave me or forsake me and that He would go with me to the ends of the Earth. Did that include Georgia? So, I prayed. I told Him everything that I was thinking and feeling. And it went something like this: “God, when I said, ‘I do’, I meant it. I do not believe in divorce. But this is not working. So, the way I see it, we have 2 options. You can either kill Britt, or You can make me happy!”

 

There were no external changes that day. I was not miraculously picked up and placed back in Texas, nor was Britt struck by lightning. But my perspective changed that day. Do you know what I learned? I learned that God hears us when we call. I learned that when nothing else is familiar, God is always the same. And, I learned that God speaks and understands all languages, even Texan. I realized that God knew where I was and that He was right there with me. I realized that God did not just listen to the prayers of the old precious saints, but that He listened to me! And, I learned that God had placed me in a wonderful family (although we are still praying for Barry!).

 

Fast forward about 12 years: Britt and I are doing premarital counseling with a couple before their upcoming wedding. Britt asked me if I wanted to share anything. I knew that the groom-to-be had been divorced before, and statistically if someone has been divorced, the chances of divorce happening again increase drastically. So, I felt led to share this story to make the point that even when things are tough, we must have our minds made up that we are in it for keeps. The problem is, about halfway through the story I remembered that I had never shared this story with Britt. So, when I finished, he whips his head around to me and emphatically says, “WELL, I’M GLAD TO KNOW THAT ‘KILL BRITT’ WAS OPTION A!”  Yeah, so we needed counseling after that session….


Kristal Peavy is the wife of Pastor Britt Peavy. They have been married for 25 years and have served at West Ward Church of God in Douglas, GA for the last 10 years. They have two amazing children. Their 15-year-old daughter Kadi sings in the Coffee High School Chorus and is the Sunshine of the family. Their 17-year-old son Kameron is a dual enrollment student working on completing his Associates Degree by the time he graduates high school and is the one who keeps everyone on track! Kristal has her Doctorate Degree in Education and currently teaches gifted and honors math at Coffee Middle School. She loves reading, working in her yard, and spending time with her family. Her favorite scripture is Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”

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