SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
We live in a culture where appearance means everything. Evading truths, cover-ups, and flat-out lying have become the norms of the day. As a result, the world is crying for integrity. Integrity is created when we become mature enough to acknowledge when we’ve messed up; when we fear the Lord, and fear the effects of sin in our lives. When we as individuals, groups, or even churches immediately and forthrightly acknowledge and repent of our failures, without evasion or cover up, not only can the blood of Jesus restore us, but we also become even more attractive to others and known for simple integrity.
GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
1. What does integrity mean to you? What do you think integrity means to the Lord?
2. Have you ever told a lie that you thought was rather insignificant, but it turned out to have much larger consequences later on? How did you respond?
3. Can you think of a time when you were disappointed by someone in the past who lied of misled you? What were the thoughts or emotions you experienced? How did you respond? Was the relationship or situation reconciled? How so?
INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
1. In 5 minutes or less. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
2. Read Joshua 7: 1 – 13:
1 But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel. 2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” 4 So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water. 6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Ah, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! 8 Pardon your servant, LORD. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? 9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?” 10 The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. 13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them
• Consider taking some time in preparation to read Joshua 6 and contextualize it for the rest of your small group.
• What was the nature of Israel’s sin ?(v. 1) Why do you think it made the Lord angry? What are some examples of “devoted things” people hold back from God ? Discuss and share.
• How many persons acted in an unfaithful manner? (v. 1) As a result of this unfaithfulness, how many persons did the Lord hold liable? (v.1) In your opinion, does this communicate anything regarding the relationship or responsibilities the people of God have toward one another? Why or why not?
• What was the report of the spies Joshua sent to Ai? What was their subsequent military strategy? How did this differ from their strategy against Jericho? What lesson did they learn from their defeat at the hands of Ai? What relevance does this have to those of us who are facing personal battles and struggles? Discuss.
• What do Joshua and the elders do upon hearing of the defeat? (v. 6) Why do you think they fall before the Ark of God ? (v. 6) What does the Ark represent? How does this inform us of the proper way to respond upon hearing unfortunate news? Who should we seek?
• What does Joshua ask of the Lord? (vv. 8-9). What is the Lord’s response? (vv. 10 – 12) Specifically how does the Lord tell Joshua to respond? (v. 13). Why was it important for the sin to be dealt with?
• In what way can the community of believers be consecrated today before the Lord? What provision does the Lord provide for sin to be removed among us? What do you think is the most devoted thing among us that the Lord desires?
3. In his sermon, Rich shares that “the hope of the gospel is that the blood of Jesus can restore our consciences”. In your ministry time, ask members of your group to do some self inventory. Ask them to internally ask themselves whether there is anything they may be hiding from God. Are their areas of their lives (or your life) that they’re holding back from God? Be sure to offer words of encouragement by reminding them when we can come willingly into the light of God as we are without any cover ups. This is because the blood of Jesus will cleanse and restore integrity and goodness in our souls.