Repentance and confession.
These are often not the most popular small group topics. We like to talk about God’s goodness and grace. But when it comes to rubber meeting the road of our sin and our need to confess and repent, sometimes we shy away. The avoidance can be intentional. Other times, the topics can just slip our mind.
How do we, as group leaders, hope to lead our group into these practices if we don’t practice them ourselves?
In the study, Praying at the Crossroads, the topic of personal repenting and confessing is addressed. We must explore this if we hope to bring our group into this prayerful practice. The rest of the study goes on to examine the prayers of 12 biblical heroes to show what we can learn from their examples. Enter below for a chance to win a copy of the entire study.
The following excerpt is from Praying at the Crossroads.
Sometimes our “repentance” is something less than actual repentance, and that appears to be the case with Achan. He had followed the same pattern of sin Adam and Eve did: he saw something he wanted, coveted it, took it, and then concealed it (see vv. 20-21). Having violated God’s covenant by taking spoils, lying about his action, and hiding the articles among his own belongings, he didn’t seem to have been genuinely sorrowful about his choices.
Notice the process Joshua followed to identify Achan. Progressively, Joshua brought forth all of the tribes and narrowed them to Judah. Then he called out the clans of Judah and narrowed them to the clan of the Zerahites. Next he worked through each man of the Zerahites to narrow the clan to the family of Zabdi. Finally, he faced each man in the family of Zabdi, ultimately coming face-to-face with Achan. Joshua said to him, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and make a confession to him” (v. 19).
Achan admitted his sin but only after the spotlight was shone on him. The detailed process of identifying him was likely God’s way of giving him numerous opportunities to repent and confess, but he didn’t do so. He didn’t admit his sin when Joshua was one step closer to identifying him by narrowing the tribes to Judah. Nor did he confess as the progression through the clans and families tightened the noose around him. Perhaps fear caused him to be honest as Joshua ultimately confronted him, but his previous silence suggests that his heart was hardened.
Maybe today is a crossroads for you. You may be a believer, but you have sin in your life that harms your relationship with God and hinders your prayers (see Ps. 66:18-20; Isa. 59:1-2) even as you’re learning to pray through this study. Or it’s possible that you’ve never entered a personal relationship with Jesus. If that’s the case, turn from your sin and trust Jesus to save you. Today’s crossroads can be your first step toward eternal life.
Deborah Spooner is a Minnesota-born analytical creative serving as a Marketing Strategist for Lifeway’s Groups Ministry. As a pastor’s daughter with a background in Digital Communications and Media and Biblical & Theological Studies, you can find her at her local church, in deep conversation, or with a book or pen in hand as she seeks to know Christ more and make Him known.