Most prisoners in jail, regardless of the number of hours or years locked up, dream of the time they will be set free.Imagine an inmate sitting in a prison cell with his back facing the door. A guard unexpectedly unlocks his door and informs the prisoner that he is free to leave. Yet he remains unmoved, staring intently at the walls around him. How strange! Did he not hear or simply refuse to believe the guard’s word? Did he feel unworthy of such a gift? Was he fearful of what lay beyond the door that was standing wide open? Or does he actually like his prison? In order for the inmate to experience freedom, he must believe the guard is speaking the truth, then stand up and walk out through the open door. It seems ridiculous doesn’t it? To be set free, yet to CHOOSE bondage!Christ has offered us the gift of freedom, but so often we linger behind the bars that have been foraged by our past mistakes, or present worries, or possibly even our projected fears about the future. For past mistakes: God’s promise of forgiveness frees us from the penalty and power of sin’s enslavement. “You have no obligation whatsoever to do what your sinful nature urges you to do….but if through the power of the Holy Spirit you turn from it, and its evil deeds, you will live free.” Romans 8:12-13 For present worries: God’s promise of peace frees us from all worry. “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God your need and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:5-6For future fears: God’s promise of answered prayer frees us from all fear. “I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me, freeing me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy!” Psalm 34:4-5Are you in jail? Linger no longer! A legitimate jailbreak is yours! Take God at His word and, empowered by faith, walk out of your unlocked cell block and enjoy past, present and future freedom by Christ, in Christ and through Christ, moment-by-moment.It is time to walk free! Find more Fresh Stories here!Debbie McGoldrick is the founder of NBS2GO and blessed to be married to Mark and the adoptive mother of Melissa and Matt. Debbie is an avid collector of heart rocks and shells, a lover of color and always looking for a reason to go to the beach.
Encouragement & Real Stories of Changed Lives
What is keeping you from reaching out to your neighbors? Are you hiding behind your door?So far NBS2GO has encouraged you to host a Bible study in your home, emphasizing that it doesn’t matter what type of countertops you have, where you live, and if you serve food. Think about it. Jesus wasn’t meeting with His followers in a Joanna Gaines decorated farmhouse with a serene setting and tasteful hors d’oeuvres. He fearlessly met them where they were – on the road, near the synagogue, in their homes. He wasn’t focused on the external, but the internal. Newsflash, He wasn’t worried about what He was wearing either.Over the years since my children were born, I have made many excuses for not gathering with other women. One of them centers around not having anything to wear. Seriously! Not talking about your typical packed closet with unwanted choices for the moment. More like drawers replete with items that do not fit. It is hard enough to step out in faith and lead a Bible study if you are marginally confident in your abilities to at least open in prayer, lean on the Word, and start a discussion. It is even harder if you are completely uncomfortable in your own, plentiful, skin.You can tell yourself all the same platitudes…the ones you have heard before. Yet, it all boils down to one thing…the confidence to be who you are in Christ.Time is up. Gig over. Own it. By the grace of God and an unimaginable gift of a precious Son, we are FORGIVEN and can have a sweet, personal relationship with God. We are not defined by our size, the baby weight (even if our youngest baby is 16 years old…can I call it that?), the ornery number on the scale, or our wardrobe – or lack thereof.We are LOVED and called His. We are also empowered by Him! We can pour and squeeze ourselves into whatever is relatively comfortable and OPEN our front doors to other women who need Him. It IS about HIM.“For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:10 So, if what is holding you back from unlocking the door to hosting a Bible study in your home is what weighs you down; sweet sister, let go. He loves you. The women will love you. Stepping out in faith for Him and them, is more important than your comfort zone. Countertops, home decor, fine china, haute couture (or clothes that fit) really and truly do not matter. In this process, live FULLY in Him. Your life will be overflowing instead of your muffin tops – blueberry that is, or scones. In your obedience, you will be a gift to others and blessed beyond measure. Rebecca is a wife of 23 years and a mother of two teen boys. A former educator, certified in three subject areas from P5 – 12th grade, she clearly can’t make up her mind (just ask her ever-patient husband). Years ago, God placed Rebecca into the role of Editor for an online magazine, nurtured her love of writing and photography, and then delivered her to NBS2GO at its inception. Having recently moved, she is beginning a Bible study in their new neighborhood – with complete disregard to her wardrobe. You can often find her reading a book, curled up with her two dogs, munching on raw carrots and green beans (her dogs that is).
As a facilitator of a neighborhood Bible study for nine years now, I am continually looking for fresh ideas. If the Lord is creative enough to design butterflies and the zebra, certainly He can give me creativity with the women in my Bible study! It's a well known fact that for Valentine’s Day, the one book that is read aloud in my home (even to my older children) is "Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch." It's a heartwarming tale that shows the effect of love and tender regard toward a man who lives alone. For a few years now I have also read the book aloud to the women in the Bible study. One year, I decided to change it up. Instead of just reading the book at Bible study, I contacted the husbands of the women of the group and ask them to help me. I sent a quick note to them that said, "Hello! This is Joan Parsons. I am hoping to surprise the ladies around Valentine’s Day with a note from their husband. Could you please take a couple of minutes and answer the question: What do you admire about your wife? I would like 2-3 sentences. You can send it via text or email." The morning of Bible study came and honestly, I was overwhelmed. The husbands were amazing with their words. They had taken time to be thoughtful and encouraging. I took each of their notes and reproduced them on pretty stationery. "She is the most supportive wife, who is never critical of me to others, always respects my opinions, and honors me without complaint after long hours of work." "She is the most capable person I've ever met. There is absolutely NOTHING she can't accomplish when she puts her mind to it." One by one, I read the notes aloud. We laughed. We cried. We shared a very special and precious moment together. One of the ladies said, with tears in her eyes, "I have never heard him say these things. This means the world to me." And she and her husband had been married for 40+ years! Mr. Hatch strikes again!
Ask the Lord to give you creativity. He can do what you could never do on your own. How have you marked Valentine's Day in your Bible study? Share your ideas with other leaders in the comments.
When I was a child, our family loved to travel, camp and explore God’s creation. One summer we had one of those vacations of a lifetime! For seven and a half weeks, we traveled 3,000 miles from Michigan to Alaska and back. Mid-summer, the four of us piled into our red station wagon with a hand-made sign, “Alaska or Bust” proudly displayed in the back window. We drove north through Michigan into Canada where we began our trek to Alaska on the hard-packed gravel road called the “Al-Can Highway.”