Uncomfortable Truths Discussion Guide - Week 2

CoreGroup Guide | Uncomfortable Truths - Part 2

Written by Sherrill Wall and Christopher Burford

Last week we began a study of some of the minor prophets of the Old Testament. Amos was one of the individuals who spoke some uncomfortable truths to Israel regarding harmful and hurtful practices that had become common within the community. Pastor Charity asked us to consider who it is in our individual lives who might speak uncomfortable truths to us and how we do at receiving such news. Do we retreat in shame; do we lash out in anger; do we deny it, or are we able to sit with it and lean into healing? This week we are looking at Joel.

Opening Prayer
God you are so good, and your longing is for our good. Thank you for each person gathered here today to learn about you and to grow in kindness with one another. Be with us in our conversation. Open our minds and our hearts to one another. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Ice Breaker
It’s MAY!! Seems like this is always a busy time of year. What’s the best and the worst of May to you? Examples might be the end of school, graduation parties, summer vacation beginning. Or perhaps Memorial Day at the lake, traffic on the way to the lake, and so on.

The Head
Unlike Amos, the shepherd, Joel, was likely a scholar– certainly one who read scripture and was familiar with the writings of other prophets. And although Amos follows Joel in the Bible, it is probable that Joel’s message was delivered to exiles returning to captivity while Amos warned of impending destruction. While Amos was specific about the sin of Israel and their enemies, Joel’s message includes more description of consequences and then a specific encouragement of God’s intention to restore what was lost.

What a terrible day! The day of the Lord is near, it comes like chaos from the Almighty.
(Joel 1:15)

The day of the Lord is referred to throughout scripture beginning in Exodus when Pharaoh releases the Israelites from slavery after the loss of his own first born. It is a day that begins in destruction but ends in celebration. Isaiah and Jeremiah use the term in reference to Babylon’s destruction of Israel and Israel’s ultimate return from exile. Other minor prophets, Amos, Haggai, Obadiah refer to a time of chaos followed by restoration. The day of the Lord is also cited in the New Testament both in the gospels and in letters to the new church. All of these references are contemporary and futuristic. They offer both warning and hope.

  • What is your understanding of the day of the Lord?
  • How is it relevant for us today?

The Lord is about to do great things! Don’t fear fertile land, rejoice and be glad for the Lord is about to do great things!
(Joel 2:20b-21)

You will eat abundantly and be satisfied; and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has done wonders for you, and my people will never again be put to shame.
(Joel 2:26)

Israel lived close to the land, so the promise of abundant crops would have impacted them in a way that is difficult for us to appreciate. Joel’s message of hope was specific to their present physical needs.

  • In what ways do we experience God’s provision for our physical needs today?
  • What are our specific needs for hope as a Christian community?
  • How can we share a message of hope with others in our community?

The Heart
In order to better understand Joel’s message it would be helpful to read the whole book. Given our time constraints, that may not be possible. The first one and a half chapters covers the description of the chaos/destruction. Scan quickly at least a portion of the text and list some aspects of destruction.

  • What might be comparable chaos and destruction today? For example recent tornados and strong storms in the Midwest
  • What examples can you share from your personal life of what feels like chaos or destruction?
  • How does naming the chaos in your life lead you closer to God?

The remainder of Joel’s book describes how the Lord plans to restore to Israel all they have lost. Most, if not all of us have had to confront uncomfortable truths about ourselves – some of which we have received with grace and hopefully moved into healing. Yet there may be other times when we ignored or denied a truth which ultimately resulted in some sort of destruction. Even more, there could be times we have repented or asked forgiveness from God, but we didn’t seek to change our sinful behavior and so we remain uncomfortable.

  • Share some of your victories in confronting uncomfortable truths.
  • Share a particular truth you may have denied too long or were reluctant to change.
  • What would restoration look like to you?

The Hands
Spend some time this week meditating on Joel’s message, his description of destruction, his invitation to repentance and his encouragement of renewal.

  • Joel suggests that the path to hope begins with repentance. How could we apply this concept in our lives? 
  • How might you incorporate Joel’s format into difficult conversations? If you have the opportunity to try it out, plan to share it with your group next week. 

Closing Prayer
Thank you, God, that your mercy is tender and complete. Thank you that you long for our good. Grow in us a heart like yours. Thank you for this group and for the grace we share with one another. Keep us this week in Christ Jesus. Amen

Going Deeper
Additional references to the day of the Lord:

  • Isaiah 13:6-9; 61:1-2 
  • Jeremiah 46:10,25
  • Haggai 2:20 
  • Ezekiel 7:5-9
  • Obadiah 1:15
  • Mark 1:15
  • 2 Peter 3:10

Additional Resources
The Bible Project, The Book of Joel Summary 


From Pastor Charity
Check out some of the upcoming events on the Gathering App. This week there are a couple of fun activities:

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