SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
In Genesis 42-44 we read a story of a family whose lives are in suspended animation. They are stuck and frozen in time because of an incident that happened more than twenty-years before. Jacob is stuck mourning for a son that supposedly he has lost. The brothers are stuck trying to run from their guilt; and Joseph is stuck, to some degree, wondering if his brothers still hate him. Like this family, many families and individuals today are stuck because they have not effectively dealt with their past. In this message, Pastor Rich shares why some of the ways we choose to deal with past sins are ineffective and contrasts these with positive methods we can use to finally deal with our past sin(s) once and for all. We don’t have to be imprisoned by guilt; when we finally deal with our sin, we can be set free through the miraculous power of Jesus Christ!
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. The experience of shame and guilt is powerful. There are many stories in film and literature that center on this human experience. Can you think of any recent stories or films that deal with guilt and shame? What was your response to the story?
2. Are you aware of personal stories from your own family or circle of friends where someone has suffered because of guilt and shame?
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 Psalm 51:
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. 14 Deliver me from bloodguilt, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. 18 May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
• When David asks for mercy, what aspects of God’s character does he emphasize? (v. 1) Why might it be important to focus on the nature of God when seeking relief from our guilt? What images come to mind when you read David’s request that God “blot out”, “wash away”, and “cleanse”? (vv. 1-2) How does this influence the way you think about God’s compassion, love, and forgiveness? Discuss and share.
• David isn’t trying to cover up his sin, he is truly repentant. (vv. 3-6) Do you feel it is important to openly repent and confess when you’ve done wrong? Why or why not? What impact does denial and covering up have on us? Have you ever felt that your sin is “always before me”? Discuss and share.
• Discuss David’s description of the clean that God can bring, “whiter than snow.” (v. 7) How does David describe the feeling of having been cleansed? (v. 8) Have you ever been relieved of a heavy guilt in your life? Describe the experience.
• Describe what living with a “pure heart” and a “steadfast spirit” looks like for you? What about the “joy of your salvation” and a “willing spirit”? Have you experienced these in your relationship with Christ? How do you believe the Holy Spirit is involved in our experience of these? (vv. 10-12)
• Having been cleansed, what does David intend to do? (v. 13) How can the forgiveness that you’ve received impact others? Are there people in your life that would benefit from hearing about the freedom from guilt and shame that Christ can give? Are there people in your life that would benefit from hearing your honest confession of a wrong you’ve committed against them?
• What do you think David means when he says, “You do not delight in sacrifice”? Why do you think he focuses on a “broken spirit” and a “contrite heart” instead? (vv. 16-17) When seeking forgiveness, what does it look like when you have a “broken spirit” and a “contrite heart”? Are there outward actions that accompany this inward state? Discuss and share.
3. In his sermon, Rich talked about confession, sacrifice, restitution, and repentance as ways to deal with our guilt and sin. Consider the following questions, and take time to seek the Holy Spirit. Invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you as a group.
• Have you struggled with prolonged guilt and shame in your life? Is there something that you believe the Holy Spirit wants you to confess to the group, or another brother/sister? Do you need to repent; that is, get off the path you’re on and go in the opposite direction?
• Is God calling you to share your experience of God’s compassion and forgiveness with someone else in your life? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how and when to approach this person.
Small group leaders, please be aware that there will not be a discussion guide provided the week of November, 21st, as many groups will not be meeting due to the Thanksgiving holiday.