Group Discussion Guide

Session

4

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Repentance

Jesus saves those who believe and call upon His name. Saving grace is once and for all (justification) and also a continual invitation to repent for our wrongdoings. With the help of the Spirit we take inventory of our lives, humbly and honestly confess our sin, and turn away from our sin toward God in surrender. Through Jesus' offer of forgiveness, we receive true freedom.

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Session Agenda

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October 10, 2021

Connect & Reflect

  1. Reflecting back on this weekend's message on "Repentance" or the video message recap we just watched together, how did you sense God's Spirit speaking to you? Any new things that you learned? Any new steps the Spirit was stirring you to take?
  2. Did you interact with the Daily Reflections this past week?  If so, were any of them impactful?  Feel free to look through what you recorded in your Life in Rhythm journal as you share with the group.
  3. Ask everyone to pray silently, telling Jesus your most honest thoughts and feelings about the repentance process that we’re about to experience. Ask for courage in calling out your sin as the Holy Spirit shows you. Ask for His help in turning away from your sin. Share your desire to experience His forgiveness. Ask for the Spirit’s power to become more like Him.

God's Response to Our Sin

Just before our Repentance Experience, let’s be reminded that Jesus will “deal gently” with us whenever we confess our sin. In Daily Reflection #13 last week, Dane Ortlund insightfully shared, “What elicits tenderness from Jesus is not the severity of the sin but whether the sinner comes to him.”

Just by us coming to Him in confession, we know that Jesus will welcome us with gentleness. But then Ortlund surprises us with another unexpected revelation of how God views our sin:

If you are part of Christ’s own body, your sins evoke his deepest heart, his compassion and pity.… He’s on your side. He sides with you against your sin, not against you because of your sin.… God looks at his people in all their moral filth (“My people are bent on turning away from me,” Hosea 11:7) … but his heart is inflamed with pity and compassion for his people (“My compassion grows warm and tender … and I will not come in wrath,” Hosea 11:8-9). He simply cannot give them up. Nothing could cause him to abandon them. They are his.

We tend to think that because he is God and not us, the fact that he is holy renders it all the more certain that he will visit wrath on his sinful people … (but) the sins of those who belong to God open the floodgates of his heart of compassion for us. The dam breaks. It is not our loveliness that wins his love. It is our own unloveliness. Our hearts gasp to catch up with this. It is not how the world around us works. It is not how our own hearts work. But we bow in humble submission, letting God set the terms by which he will love us.” (Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, p. 71-75)

Group Discussion: How are you surprised by God’s response to our sin? Do you struggle to understand why He would respond with “warm and tender” compassion? Do you struggle to believe it’s even true? If our sins “evoke his deepest heart,” how does knowing that prepare you for our “Repentance Experience”?

Rhythm Experience (Optional)

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What is the “Repentance Experience”?

You will have an opportunity to enter into a brief time of self-examination and confession, inviting the Holy Spirit to guide you. You’ll review a list of “strongholds” of sin and their corresponding behaviors. Next to each stronghold will be an alternative spiritual attribute that describes the kind of freedom that God longs for you to experience in that area.  For instance, next to “bitterness” is “forgiveness.” You’ll also find Scripture to gain insight into the freedom that God offers and that will reaffirm your true identity in Christ. As you sense the Holy Spirit’s leading, identify any stronghold areas where Satan has a foothold or where you’ve allowed patterns of sin to develop. 

After you’ve had time alone with God, you'll have an opportunity to share and confess your strongholds to part of the group, as you feel led by the Spirit. Next, the group will pray over you, asking the Holy Spirit to break any strongholds in your life so that you can experience the Spirit’s healing power of freedom and forgiveness. 

James 5:16 provides an instructive model for your time together: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

What is a stronghold?

A stronghold is any area of sin where Satan has “twisted a weakness we have into a binding knot where he’s holding the ropes” … and we’re unable to break his grip simply by trying harder to be “good.” Each stronghold is an area of spiritual battle where Satan wants to discourage and defeat us. Ultimately, we can’t win those fights without the Spirit’s power to “demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Galatians 5:16 reminds us to “walk by” or be guided by the Spirit so that we “won’t be doing what our sinful nature craves.” (NLT)

As the Holy Spirit reveals behaviors and patterns of sin in our lives, we can choose to confess them and ask for His power in turning away (repenting) from our sin. The apostle Paul tells us that we have total access to “the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20). That’s the kind of power we need to claim victory and experience breakthrough over our strongholds. 

What steps will we follow?

  • Your leader will provide an overview, answer questions, and guide the process. 
  • Groups with men and women will separate into single-gender groups for greater intimacy. 
  • Groups will divide into sub-groups of 4 or less to ensure enough time for sharing. 
  • Each person will review “Stronghold/Freedom” list, inviting the Holy Spirit to reveal strongholds.
  • Circle “Strongholds” on the list, and consider how you’ve experienced each stronghold. 
  • Reflect on the “Freedom” attributes and associated Scriptures, and reaffirm your true identity in Christ.  
  • Each person will confess their strongholds to the group as they feel led, claiming the freedom of God’s forgiveness.
  • After confessing strongholds, each person will be prayed for by the group, asking the Spirit to break those strongholds and to give them freedom.  
  • Keep in mind:
  • If you sense the Spirit prompting you to pray for someone, please step up.
  • Group members will struggle with the same strongholds — no one is alone. 
  • Avoid offering quick fixes or advice. The group is there to listen, pray and encourage.
  • Consider encouraging a group member this week. Repenting of strongholds is challenging and someone may need your support. 
  • Your leader will close by leading a debrief, inviting people to share and ending with prayer.  

Next Week:

Serving Our Community

Next week we will dive into our first rhythm, Serving Our Community. We will focus on the truth that being called and equipped by the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ love compels us to be difference-makers by serving Him in our church and in our world, both locally and globally.

Between now and our next meeting together, your homework is to complete the Daily Reflections 16-20. You can start the Daily Reflections as well as read an overview of our new rhythm by clicking the button below.

View daily reflectionscoming soon...

What's Next?

We hope you had a great experience with our Life in Rhythm study. Please take two minutes to complete this short survey and let us know how we can serve you better. We'd also love to here your story! Please share a story of how you’ve sensed God speaking into your life or your group through the Life in Rhythm series!

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