Women’s Devotion | June 2020

Don’t Let Your Vision Interfere with God’s Vision

“For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV 

What is vision?  Vision is defined as an act or power of sensing with the eyes or sight. It acts as one of the daily confirmations of the physical realm. In a corporate setting vision takes on a bolder definition acting as a vivid, imaginary or anticipative conception in “Vision Statements”. However, it is my belief visionmust be based on this definition, “the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.” This creates a path that will require you to use less of your physical vision but will cause you to lean on your spiritual vision. This has also been referred to as prophetic vision.  It is better represented by this verse, John 16:7 NLT, “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the ADOVOCATE won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.”

 

The question we must ask ourselves is, “Do I have a vision? Are we able to step back and take on the guard of our God?” Our number one job to make sure this is taking place is to become one with God through Jesus The Christ.  This happens by fasting, praying, meditation, sacrifice and obedience. I declare, I decree that you can tap into the power of God’s vision for your life with the help of the Holy Spirit! Make these things your foundation, stand on them and do not waver! The power will begin to touch you and God will reveal dreams and visions greater than you can imagine.

 

Proverbs 29:18 states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” If you do not have a vision for your life, where will you be? Ask yourself, “Will I perish?” In the year 2020, we have a fresh start to renew our foundation with our God and get a new vision. Don’t let hate hold you back, but learn to hate evil things because this will grow you in the Lord. Give your life to God and watch things turnaround for the good! Be loving, kind, grateful, speak well of your brother or sister, give good judgment, and watch how your power of vision grows.  NOW, CAN YOU SEE CLEARLY?


 

 

Catherine McNeil serves alongside her husband, Willie McNeil, as lead pastors of Kairos Worship Center in Meigs since 2014. The McNeil’s have two children, Jazmine and Jamal, as well as two grandchildren, Ja’Ziah and Heaven. For 19 years, Catherine has served as Transportation Driver for Thomas County Central School System and  continues to fulfill her mission by helping families within the church and the community. Her hard-working mentality has always been grounded with God‘s vision first. The McNeil’s serve on the Meigs City Council influencing their community as a whole. Catherine says her wisdom, strength and beauty are founded in Christ. Proverbs 9:10 reminds us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

 

Women’s Devotion | May 2020

The Father and the Prodigal

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:1-2 NIV

On August 11th, 2019 I lost my big brother unexpectedly at 57 years old.  Only 4 years older than me, Derek was my hero! He left home after graduation, got married and joined the Navy, but we were always very close. He was very gifted. In the Navy he received the rank of Chief Petty Officer and was in charge of communications on a nuclear sub. He was proficient with electronics as well as a master brick-mason. He could repair or fix just about anything. Our Dad was a pastor, so we grew up in the church. While Derek was at home, he played the guitar and sang at church with our family. Derek was a loving and compassionate person and always had a sensitive heart towards God. When he was just a teenager, God called him to preach and in his first revival 19 people accepted Christ!

 

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.”
Luke 15:13 NIV

 

As things happen in life sometimes, Derek began to go down the wrong path. His first marriage failed leaving 3 children to provide for. He soon remarried and his new wife had a baby. One of Derek’s problems was being easily influenced by others. His life really began to spiral downward when he was arrested while in the Navy. Now that he was the father of 4 children, he really needed more income.  While at home on leave around Christmas, a friend asked him to transport some drugs to make some extra money. He was caught, arrested, served 9 months in military prison and was then discharged from the Navy. After 11 years his career was over, he had 2 marriages and now 5 children. Derek had to come home and go back to work with our dad as a brick layer. While working on a school gymnasium, Derek fell 25 feet on to a concrete floor and crushed both ankles. In order to deal with the pain, he was prescribed high powered pain medicine which led to an awful addiction lasting 15 years.

 

The reason I want to share this story is because so many people in the church and ministry have a wayward child or loved one who has become “the Prodigal.”  I prayed, fasted and begged God to rescue my brother. I pleaded with Derek and even followed him to try and keep him away from his drug dealers. I saw the needle tracks and visited him in the hospital after 3 overdoses. I, along with our family, went to see him in jail and bought groceries for his family when he was locked up. Our hopes would rise when he would get out of rehab, only to be crushed when he would be using again within a few weeks. Every time the phone rang, I would feel a tightness in the pit of my stomach wondering if this was the call notifying his death. I don’t remember how many times he was arrested. I can’t begin to count the tears I cried. During this time I realized I had another issue–not only was Derek in trouble, but so was I. My hero, my big brother and his addiction had broken my heart.

 

I wasn’t sure God was hearing my prayers or even cared about Derek. Of course, this was only the enemy trying to discourage me from praying for him and trying to destroy my faith in the process. Jesus said, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy”John 10:10a. When we are praying for a person who is lost, we have to realize we aren’t fighting against flesh and blood, but Satan.

 

After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.
Luke 15:14 NIV

Derek remarried and moved to Alma shortly after Travis and I became pastors. Derek did eventually recover from the drugs and was clean for 5 years. In 2012 he gave his heart to the Lord and went to church with us but lived with no joy. He had so many regrets from his past. The enemy robbed him of his family and continued to try and steal his life and joy every day. I just kept praying and gave him to the Lord. June of last year he became very sick. He lost weight and we found out He had a bad strain of staph infection (MRSA) which started in his bad foot and had gotten into his blood stream.  He was very ill and lost so much weight that we didn’t think he would make it. During this time in the hospital, the Father begin to call to him once again.

 

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.”
Luke 15:17-18 NIV

Because of his past sins, failures and disappointments, Derek had an overwhelming sense of guilt. At one time he shared with my husband, Travis, that he wanted to be right with God but just didn’t know how. Derek was a very private person and kept things to himself. Because he had lost so much weight due to his sickness and his health had deteriorated so quickly, we were afraid He had some type of terminal illness. Travis went to ICU and asked him if he was hiding some type of sickness from us. Derek assured him that he did not have terminal sickness that he was aware of.  Travis began to talk with him about his soul. Travis told him “Derek, according to your profession in Christ, belief in God and repentance of your sins, the Bible says you are saved.” Then Travis told Derek the story of the Prodigal and that Jesus allowed that story to be put in the Bible just for him. Christ wanted him, had forgiven him and his past was forgotten.

 

So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
Luke 15:20-22 NIV

 Suddenly Derek began to cry and the guilt lifted. A peace settled on him that day and he had a different countenance. The agony and torture of past failures that had always been with him was now gone. He was free! He immediately signed up for the church membership class and was so thrilled! So was I! My brother was back!  Once he was dismissed from the hospital he was on the road to recovery and began to gain weight. My mother and I made sure he had food and everything he needed at home because he was on crutches and couldn’t put pressure on his foot for several weeks. He went to rehabilitation to learn how to walk on that foot again. He worked very hard to gain his strength and he was definitely looking much better. We had a lot more bonding time between brother and sister during doctor visits and his recovery time. We laughed, we cried and talked about old times. Looking back now, I cherish those times so very much.

 

On Friday August 9th while I was out of town, Derek called me and said he was running a fever. I talked him into going to the ER because he could not afford for the Staph infection to get back into his blood. They admitted him that night for precaution and to get his fever down.  On Saturday our care pastor went to visit Derek and found him witnessing to his wife and asking her to accept Christ.  

 

We returned home late that Sunday night, so Derek didn’t want us to come to the hospital. My mother and I had been talking and laughing with him over the phone.  Since he was fine and didn’t need anything, we told him we would see him first thing Monday morning. He called my mother back and asked her if she would drop off a cup of coffee and a pack of powdered donuts before she went home. At his request, my mother got what he wanted and took it to the hospital. When she arrived, my brother was gasping for breath. She called the nurses station and the medical staff immediately began giving him CPR. When Travis and I got to the hospital they were still trying to revive him. He was gone…when I walked into his room, I knew it. I felt and saw a peaceful look on his face and knew God had taken him home. A blood clot went to his lungs and caused him to go into cardiac arrest. Though his unexpected loss hit me and my family hard, I knew without a doubt “The Prodigal” had made it home.

 

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.”
Luke 15:22-23 (NIV)

God rescued him from the enemy… he is not tortured anymore. No more worries, no more sleepless nights for Derek. He is now healed, happy and rejoicing in heaven with our dad. God is faithful and he answered my prayer. Another Prodigal is home with the Father!


 

 

 

Sherry Peavy is a wife, mother and “Gigi”. Sherry and her husband Travis have been married for 36 years and in ministry for 35 years. For the last 10 years they have served as Lead Pastors at the Alma Church of God. They have 2 children Matthew (and Whitney), Student Pastor at Stewart Road Church of God in Monroe, Michigan and Kristian (and Sidney), who serves in ministry at Alma Church of God. They have two granddaughters, Taya James and Ila Parker. Sherry loves spending time with family, shopping and traveling. Her favorite past time, however, is being “Gigi” to her precious grands.

 

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.

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