Amazing Freedom

Overview

Women of Faith, renowned for their unique combination of personality and truth, offer fresh new messages in four new topical study guides in the popular Women of Faith Study Guide Series.

Each study guide, teeming with insights and quotes from the conference speakers provides twelve weeks of Bible study and a leader's guide for small groups.

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Amazing Freedom

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Overview

Women of Faith, renowned for their unique combination of personality and truth, offer fresh new messages in four new topical study guides in the popular Women of Faith Study Guide Series.

Each study guide, teeming with insights and quotes from the conference speakers provides twelve weeks of Bible study and a leader's guide for small groups.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781418526375
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/8/2007
  • Series: Women of Faith Study Guide Series
  • Edition description: Leaders Gu
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Founded in 1996, WOMEN OF FAITH® has ministered to more than4 million women with the transforming message of God's grace. Throughevents and resources, they fulfill their mission to nurture women spiritually, emotionally, and relationally.

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Read an Excerpt

Amazing Freedom


By Mary Graham

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2007 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4185-2637-5


Chapter One

Freedom to Dream

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."

Matthew 7:7

Are you daring to dream for something wonderful-something more-something you haven't yet tasted, or tasted fully? Something you've never done? Something you've desired, but have never pursued? Have you ever wished you could cast off all your inhibitions and fears and rush headlong into the future you'd most like to live?

Have you dared to dream of flying-no, soaring!?

Patsy Clairmont knows about such dreams:

There they were-two huge orange butterflies outside my office window doing acrobatic feats in tandem. I decided to believe they had been sent to dance just for me. Although as I watched them weaving in and out of my flowering shrubs, I wasn't sure if they were flirting, fighting for territory, or just having a wing-ding of a good time-kind of a fluttery game of tag.

Whatever they were doing, it sure looked whimsical. I wished I could shed my work, don wings, and join them as they twirled about the neighborhood alighting from time to time on daffodils andberry bushes. These majestic monarchs captured my desire to wing my way down the boulevards of life with beauty and grace.

Yesterday, my husband Les and I stopped for a red light and watched a small flock of blackbirds swoop across our vision and land in a nearby tree. Les asked, "Don't you wish sometimes that you could fly?" Who hasn't wished it or dreamed of it? -Patsy Clairmont

1. If you could do anything, knowing with certainty that you could not fail (and would not die!) in the attempt, what would it be?

Do you know what holds you back from making the attempt? What steps might you take to overcome those things that are standing in your way?

As we "grow up," many of us seem to lose our ability to dream with utter abandon. We begin to question whether our dreams are valid. We begin to feel hesitant about doing things that seem like "flying."

You may be thinking, I'm not sure my dream is God's will. But are you sure that it isn't? Does God's Word support it? Has God called or equipped you for it? Do you sense Him opening the door? What's holding you back?

2. What did Jesus tell His disciples in John 16:23-24 about the things we ask of God the Father in Jesus's name?

3. What does Ephesians 3:20 tell us about the degree to which God is able and desires to help us succeed in realizing our dreams?

The Bible teaches that many things we do not have in this life, we do not have because we simply don't ask God for them. James 4:2 says clearly, "You do not have because you do not ask." God desires that we ask Him for help in all things-asking Him to give us His desires and dreams, and then give us the courage to pursue them.

4. The Bible presents a clear balance between what we are to ask and how we are to ask it. What do the verses below reveal about the dreams God desires to fulfill in our lives?

Matthew 21:22

John 15:7-8

James 4:3

"But," you may be saying, "I gave up all my rights to dream when I made mistakes in my past. Those mistakes will surely keep me from having the life I've always dreamed of." Many women seem afraid to pursue their deepest dreams because of something in their past. They are hounded by shame or guilt, even though they know in their hearts that God has forgiven them. The good news is that God's forgiveness is complete! The Bible tells the story of a woman who dared to dream of a better life for her future, even though her past seemed to give her no right to dream. Jesus encountered her at a well outside her town, Sychar. She was a Samaritan woman, a woman considered to be a half-breed, of poor spiritual pedigree in the eyes of most Jews. Jesus asked her to draw a drink of water for Him from the well, and then He said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water" (John 4:10). Jesus offered her water that would satisfy her thirst for the rest of her life, and it would give her everlasting life! He was not speaking of literal water, but about meeting her deepest emotional and spiritual needs. He was addressing her inner "thirst" for love, security, and value. As they conversed, this woman admitted to Jesus that she had had five husbands, and that she was not married to the man with whom she was currently living. She was a woman with a "past."

5. In what ways can you relate to this woman from Sychar? Is there a mistake in your past that you keep repeating? Is it a mistake that has kept you from pursuing a dream?

6. In what ways might unfulfilled dreams be the cause of your tension, anxiety, or frustration?

7. What do the verses below tell you about God's ability to forgive and heal your past?

Isaiah 1:18-19

Psalm 86:5

John 10:10

The woman at the well was the first person in the Gospels to whom Jesus openly revealed that He was the Messiah (see John 4:25-26). Jesus revealed His identity as He let her know that He knew her identity-completely. She later told the people of her town, "He told me all that I ever did" (see John 4:29). As a result of her telling the people of Sychar about Jesus, He was invited into their midst for two days, and many in that place came to believe Him to be the Christ, the Savior of the world (see John 4:42). Jesus knew who this woman was in the past, in the present, and who she might be in the future. He knew her dreams, and knew that the ... ir fulfillment was ultimately in her relationship with Him as Savior and Lord.

8. How are your dreams and the dreams that God has for you related?

But, you may be thinking, I simply don't know what to dream. I don't seem to have any real goals, any unfulfilled desires. Ask God to give you a dream! There are things He is dreaming for you. Start dreaming His dreams for your life.

9. What do the verses below challenge you to do?

1 Corinthians 2:9-10

Proverbs 3:5-6

Jeremiah 42:2-3

Digging Deeper

How important is it to write down what you dream of doing or being? What does Habakkuk 2:2 offer as encouragement? Write down a dream that you feel God may be calling you to pursue. If you don't feel that God has given you a specific dream yet, spend some time in prayer, asking Him to reveal it to you.

Ponder and Pray

Is it possible that you are not living your "dream" life because you have been too afraid or overwhelmed to ask God to help you discover His dream for your life? How might the Lord be inviting you to pray about this today?

Chapter Two

Freedom From Paralyzing Fears

"When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet."

Proverbs 3:24

We've all heard the phrase "crippling emotions." The truth is, emotions can shackle a person from moving forward in her life, especially fearful emotions.

How much fear have you allowed to build up in you over the years-perhaps a fear of failure or a fear of rejection? To what degree is fear holding you back from taking the risks to learn ... to try ... to do ... to speak up ... to step out ... to move forward?

A woman who truly walks in freedom toward the fulfillment of her dreams and goals is a woman who has discovered a way of overcoming fears with faith.

Sheila Walsh has written this about fear: "Fear is a ravenous beast that can eat away at our faith and paralyze us until we are unable to move."

1. Have you ever been paralyzed by fear? Recall the experience in a few words or phrases below:

How did you find yourself able to "move" again?

Faith is the true opposite of fear. The Bible states repeatedly that trusting in the Lord-believing that the Lord will impart His presence and help-is the sure-fire way to overcome fear and experience courage.

2. Note next to each verse or passage below, your insights into what the Bible says about fear:

2 Timothy 1:7

Psalm 31:13-14

Hebrews 13:5b-6

3. When you think about the goals you'd like to achieve, what fears do you have about the pursuit of those goals?

Now take a look at each fear on your list and ask: "What would God like me to do about this fear?" Write down your response next to the fear you have listed.

4. Think about a time when you failed in the past. What were the immediate emotions and consequences of that failure? Did you allow a long-term fear to develop?

Why do you think we fear failure so much?

The Bible tells the story of a woman who decided she had had enough of her illness and went to Jesus for healing. She no doubt had fears about what she was planning to do. She had experienced "a flow of blood" for twelve years, very likely a form of endometriosis or some other disorder in her uterus that caused nonstop menstruation or hemorrhage. She was very likely physically weak. She was also desperate. She had spent all the resources she had trying to find a cure. The Bible says she had been to many physicians and had "suffered" at their hands and was no better, but rather, she grew worse. Then she heard about Jesus. Somewhere inside her a flicker of faith was fanned into flame and she said to herself: "If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well." She boldly maneuvered her way through a crowd of people and reached out to touch the hem of Jesus's garment. The Bible says that the flow of blood "dried up" immediately (see Mark 5:25-34).

5. How do you think you would have responded to your situation if you had been in this woman's position?

Have you ever been so desperate in your circumstances that you knew you had to take action, no matter the consequences to your reputation, your pride, or your social standing? What happened as a result of your desperation?

This woman who was hemorrhaging had more than a physical ailment. She also suffered from rejection and, very likely, loneliness. Her condition made her "unclean" in her community at that time, which meant she was required to refrain from mingling with crowds of people or participating in religious ceremonies. For twelve years, she had been isolated from many of her neighbors and friends, and she was prohibited from taking part in many family celebrations. After she touched the hem of Jesus's garment, Jesus turned and asked, "Who touched My clothes?" The woman, "fearing and trembling," fell down at Jesus's feet and told Him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction" (see Mark 5:30-34).

6. What advantages do you see in telling Jesus the "whole truth" about your situation, including your fears?

Why would a person be reluctant to admit the whole truth to anybody about her fears ... perhaps even refusing to admit the whole truth to herself?

What freedom is gained when you confront your fears?

Confronting our fears and putting our trust in God can release God's peace into our hearts. Barbara Johnson writes:

Looking through the windows, [Veronica's family] could see the ferocity of the storm. Meteorologists say the most destructive winds of a hurricane occur along the east wall, and that's the part of the eye that walloped their area. Then, as if the hurricane itself wasn't enough, the storm spun off several tornadoes that swirled around them as well. Outside, the world was turned upside down, and the noise was deafening. Yet inside their wood-frame home, which Veronica and Karl had renovated with eleven-inch-thick walls, there was quiet peace. ... In fact, they felt such peace they all eventually went to bed and slept soundly as the storm blew through.... Now, Veronica doesn't recommend defying official orders and staying put when the authorities tell you to leave. But when you find yourself trapped in a storm with no way out-whatever kind of storm it is-she can tell you how to feel freedom from the fear that, by all accounts, should be part of the experience! "We prayed, and we asked for God's protection," Veronica said, "We knew that whatever came, we could handle it because of our faith in him." -Barbara Johnson

7. The psalmist writes: "He calms the storm, So that its waves are still" (Psalm 107:29). Have you ever experienced God's peace in a difficult or scary situation-a "storm" of life that may have involved a literal storm, a relationship crisis, a financial crisis, or a health crisis? Recall that situation in a few sentences:

How did God's peace feel to you? Describe it in a few words below.

8. The prophet Isaiah praised God for keeping "in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!" (Isaiah 26:3 NLT). In your own words, respond to the following statements.

These are the practical ways I put my "trust" in God (focus on what you do or say):

This is what it means to me to "fix my thoughts" on God:

Digging Deeper

In what ways does the pursuit of your dreams and purpose involve overcoming fear with faith? How might you "grow in faith" and in your ability to trust God in all things and for all things?

Ponder and Pray

In what ways do you feel challenged to ask God to help you trust Him more about a specific situation you are facing today?



Excerpted from Amazing Freedom by Mary Graham Copyright © 2007 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Foreword     v
Introduction     vii
Freedom to Dream     9
Freedom from Paralyzing Fears     19
Freedom from Sorrow and Painful Memories     31
Freedom from Perfectionism     43
Freedom from Insecurity     51
Freedom to Explore Your Unique Purpose     59
Freedom to Make Your Own Choices     69
Freedom to Set Boundaries     79
Freedom to Be Spontaneous and Make Mid-Course Corrections     91
Freedom from the Shackles of Worry     99
Freedom to Speak Up     109
Freedom to Love and Be Loved     121
Leader's Guide     129
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