Full disclaimer: This past weekend I attended a women’s retreat with my church and I was blessed with the opportunity to deliver the message for our modified worship service. This is that message… but it has been modified so that everyone can understand and relate. In order to understand, you must know that we rented two houses at Deep Creek Lake, renamed the houses FREEDOM and Liberty, and then gave each room a name based on a woman from the Bible. The names of the women are listed below.) Each retreat attendee was then given the homework assignment of researching her woman and answering three questions: 1. Who is this biblical woman, 2. How does her story relate to my life, and 3. What can I learn from her? The names were duplicated in both houses and the women could work individually or in pairs to do the homework. What they didn’t know was that I had no intention of collecting or “grading” the homework. This was just an assignment to bring them closer to God. Lastly, this was the first time that our church had a non-business/conference retreat; this was a retreat designed for relaxation, rejuvenation, and renewal.
Here are the women:
The first preacher of the Gospel
Ok, I think I’ve shared enough for you to be able to understand… Enjoy!
I had a completely different message planned for today, but between this week’s Women’s Bible Study lesson on Ancient Ruins and the passing of my uncle at the same moment that my precious niece rose from the watery grave (my niece, Lil Butterfly, got baptized!), I had to bend to the Spirit and change the message for today. Please be advised that this is not a sermon; it will not come with three points, historical/literal/biblical context, and it won’t be long. This is a message- a conversation, if you will, between women who share one common bond- a desire to be free. Whether it’s participating in bible study, going to yoga and/or the gym, or retreating with God to Deep Creek, we drive down many different paths in the hopes of reaching the divine intersection of Freedom and Liberty streets.
It is not by chance that God gave the words FREEDOM and LIBERTY as the new names for our weekend homes. It is also not by chance that He selected the women to name each room that we slept in this weekend. I know, some of you researched your woman and thought, “What? Why on earth would someone choose this woman? She was this and she was that!” You probably also wondered why we opted for these women and not a Mary, Elizabeth, Esther, or Ruth. Truth is, those women are amazing and contribute greatly to the life of our Savior, Jesus the Christ… but they are also overused. We hear about them so often! We rarely talk about the other women of the bible; the women with stories and truths similar to ours. And if we were honest with ourselves, we would admit that if we talked about these lesser known women, we would have to admit some things about ourselves that we’ve worked so hard to bury and hide from everyone else. Tamar (the daughter of David) is me. Gomer was me. At a point in my life, Sarai and even Sapphira were me. When we finally realize and accept that we have a lot in common with these women- because nothing under the sun is new- then we are able to walk in the freedom that God has planned for our lives. God is working so hard to bring us out of our comfort zones and into His comforting arms. Take this retreat for example: this is new, and this is outside of the comfort zone for some of us, but this is where God needs us to be right now. Right here, right outside of our comfort zones awaits the freedom and liberty that only God can provide.
Open your bibles to the scriptures of the weekend, save the page so we can jump back and forth between the two. I will be reading from the New American Standard Bible version.
2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
Back in August when Minister Vivian Slaughter-Mitchell preached (click here to view), she said that if we are in God and His Spirit is in us, then wherever we go, He is there, too. Adding to that, Paul is saying here that wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Where is liberty? It is there. It is there in the midst of your problems. It is there on your job. It is there in your home. It is there in your car as you drive home. Liberty is there where the Spirit of the Lord is. And there is no wavering in Paul’s statement; there are no unsure words like “maybe” or “possibly.” Paul is plainly saying that wherever God is, there is liberty. And what is liberty? Liberty here comes from the Greek word Eleutheria (el-yoo-ther-ee’-ah) and means, “… living as we should not as we please.” Ladies, God’s Spirit offers us the ability to live as we should in Him- that is true liberty.
John 8:36 says, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
Here FREE comes from the Greek word Eleutheroo (el-yoo-ther-o’-o) and means “to make free or set at liberty from the dominion of sin.” This verse I love, probably more than most verses in the bible. It’s so finite and definite. It’s one of those If/Then statements that Pastor Henry loves to talk about. It doesn’t say “if…then possibly”; it says IF Jesus makes me free, THEN I am free. We are not free because we had fun on a retreat or because of a great massage, or even because we got a chance to let our hair down. Beloved, we are free because Jesus set us free when He went to the cross for our sins.
Now I know many of you are wondering when we will present the information on the women we studied. Well, here’s the thing, you won’t be presenting it… not to me, at least. You researched that woman for YOU. Again, the purpose was two-fold: 1. To meet a new woman in the Bible and 2. To see yourself in the humanness of a woman in the bible… and then find liberty in that revelation.
If you want a full lesson or structured plan on how to become set free, join us for bible study on Monday nights as we study along with author, Beth Moore. But today, right now, I want you to take a moment and empty your pot here. Here at Liberty House, I want you to leave all of the worries, issues, burdens, stressors, pains, and WHATEVERs of your life. Spend a few more moments with God and truly submit to Him. Allow Him to be wherever there may be in your life and fill you with His Spirit that sets us free and gives us the ability to live as we should in Him.
Walk freely, ladies.