College family, another week comes to a close. As things start picking-up here and there, always keep Christ at the center of all you do, and let your heart not grow weary but stronger for the Lord!
Young adult family, as your work week closes, and as you navigate your future and how the Lord desires to build your livelihood and careers, keep walking in step with the Holy Spirit! May the Spirit of God bring you joy over any anxieties or worries, and settle your heart in the peace transcending all knowledge. May Jesus be the center of all you do.
Let us become all things to all people, so that Christ and His gospel may save many through us!
Let us not give up meeting together. Lord-willing, hopeful to see you again.
Your Brother Chester
Young Adult (College/Post-Grad)Life group THE FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS I Have Become All Things to All People [chapter 9] I HAVE BECOME A NON-APOSTLE TO ALL (9:1-14) (Question #1) The Corinthian church was full of problems. From divisions, to impurity, to believers suing each other with lawsuits, to distorted views on marriage/singleness, to stumbling other believers with their eating habits of foods offered on the altar to other idols – this church certainly didn’t have it together. Yet Pastor Paul had hope for this church! In the previous chapter, the apostle Paul commanded us not to wound the conscience of the weaker brother or sister in Christ. Whether it is by what we eat, or do, or say – if it encourages our brother or sister in the Lord to fall, we are to give up that freedom for their sake. Now here in chapter 9, the apostle Paul gives examples of those things he gave up in order to become all things to all people. Some thought Paul was not an apostle, and challenged his spiritual authority. Yet Paul was truly an apostle (someone sent with God’s authority who had physically seen the Lord Jesus Christ risen from the dead). Although being an apostle, Paul presented himself as if he was not an apostle. What are some of the rights that Paul gave up to appear as if he wasn’t an apostle (verse 1-14)? [*REFLECT #1] The lesson here is that although we may hold certain rights to something, we must be willing to give them up for the sake of serving others the gospel of Christ. In Paul’s case, he highlights especially his right to be supported financially and materially – those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. Yet, Paul Himself did not make use of that right, and ministered freely by other means of support. *What are the rights due to you, that you are holding on to that the Lord is calling you to forsake? We have rights to… study, to be happy, to be thanked, to be loved, to marry, to be respected, to be acknowledged, to be justified, to be heard, to hold a title, etc – what are we forsaking to become all things to all people so that they might come to Jesus on account of our surrender? I HAVE BECOME A BOASTER IN THE GOSPEL TO ALL (9:15-18) (Question #2) Although the apostle Paul would rather die than have anyone deprive him of his ground for boasting, what does the gospel do with his boasting (verse 15-18)? [*REFLECT #2] We can boast in our rights. Yet how does the gospel change our boasting? How does the gospel change us to do all things as entrusted with a stewardship? The apostle Paul preached the gospel without demanding the right to be financially supported – although he had every right to be – so as not making full use of his right in the gospel. How are we presenting the gospel free of charge? What is your ultimate reward in the gospel? Have you received the free gift of Jesus Christ in the gospel, or has it come to you as conditional? I HAVE BECOME A SERVANT OF CHRIST TO ALL (9:19-27) (Question #3) The apostle Paul willingly became a servant to all, although he was free from all. What are some ways Paul willingly became a servant to all (verse 19-23)? In a race, all the runners run, but only one receives the prize. So also, how should we, as athletes of Jesus Christ, run this race of faith in following after Jesus Christ (verse 24-27)? [*REFLECT #3] How can you become a servant to all, although you are free from all? What are some qualities needed to run in a race/rally/marathon? How are these qualities of every good athlete being exercised in your own life? HOLY SPIRIT MOMENT (APPLY #1) Spend two minutes inviting and listening to the Holy Spirit to show you the rights you need to forsake, in order to become a servant to all. (APPLY #2) Write those two things here: (1) _______________________________________; (2) ___________________________________________ (APPLY #3) Share one of them with the group, and a first practical step you can take to accomplish it. (APPLY #4) Write a sentence-prayer for it: _________________________________________________________________________________________ (APPLY #5) Share spiritual life – How are you? What is one thing about Jesus that carried you through this week? What is one thing you prayed for today? Can we give praise to God for prayers answered, or call out to God for continued prayers requested?
College family, you've made it through another tough week of classes and studies. Thank you for your endurance and being faithful to where God has called you as a student. Always remember you are never defined by a grade, or major, or career, or future salary, etc. We do our best, and let the Lord take care of the rest, can we say amen to that? Your best is not defined by the world, but by the unique way the Lord created you alone. So, press on!
Post-grad family, you've made it through another 40 hour work week, navigating the life of growing a godly livelihood and seeking next steps to where the Lord is leading you. Press on, and stand strong in the Lord!
It was brought to my attention that we've been doing some real heavy in-depth Bible studies recently, and a slight break is needed just to talk, reflect, and have more a casual night of sharing and praying. So let's do that! We'll look back on our time in 1 CORINTHIANS, or just talk about what the Lord is doing in your life, or look back to our Sunday messages in ISAIAH... for a lack of better terms, we'll have a TALK NIGHT :) Anything and everything on your heart and mind, I encourage you to share in a safe, non-critical/judgmental, and loving environment in Christ - our precious church.
Lord-willing, see you! Bless you my young adult brothers and sisters in the Lord!
Your Brother Chester
* Young Adult (College/Post-Grad)Life group
Life-Sharing What has God been teaching you through the visions of the book of ISAIAH? Pick one of the prior week’s central truth and explain how the LORD spoke into your life.
For God is With Us (ISAIAH 8:1-10) CENTRAL TRUTH: God is not slow in fulfilling His promised judgment. He acts in speed and in totality to turn us back to Him. Even evil itself is not spared to signal He truly is with us, for us, pruning us to be broken, shattered, and seeking the face of Jesus Christ once again.
I will Wait for the LORD (ISAIAH 8:11-22) CENTRAL TRUTH: Wait on the Lord when clear signs from the Lord become unclear. Waiting is neither inactive slothfulness nor proactive anxiousness. It is to call out the real object of your fear, to inquire the hidden face of God, to hunger after the teaching and testimony again.
For to Us A Child Is Born (ISAIAH 9:1-7) CENTRAL TRUTH: When all hope is lost, then begins real hope to be found. Thick darkness is no match for even thinnest light. The light shined forth as a child to show power in powerlessness, to assure promise kept over promise broken. Jesus Christ shining forth transforms it all.
His Anger Has Not Turned Away (ISAIAH 9:8-21) CENTRAL TRUTH: God’s anger will not turn away from continuous prideful arrogance. To the one who says, “I’ll build my own way” even after being shown God’s way, that way ends in scorching dryness. We’ll end up harming our own body – His church. God’s hands stretch against it.
By the Strength of His Hand (ISAIAH 10:1-19) CENTRAL TRUTH: Arrogance is like an axe that takes credit for what the worker produces with it. Can instruments boast above their skilled users? God uses the falsehood of arrogance to show us the strength of His hand, so that in all things, we might say, He has done it.
Lean on the LORD in Truth (ISAIAH 10:20-34) CENTRAL TRUTH: A day will come when we will no longer learn to lean on ourselves or another, but lean on the LORD in truth. By all means, God brings us to His shoulder to fear Him over the “what if’s” of life. Behold, the LORD God of armies clears the path! Follow Jesus today.
From His Roots Shall Bear Fruit (ISAIAH 11:1-9) CENTRAL TRUTH: When arrogance is cut down to a lifeless stump, an unmatured stem (shoot) of godly humility begins to grow. Jesus chose the stump over a majestic tree. Rooted here, we grow together in the Spirit, where once-enemies can now be family in Christ.
A Second Time (ISAIAH 11:10-16) CENTRAL TRUTH: In Jesus Christ, there is always a second time, a new beginning. This arrives by inquiring the Lord, who gathers His people in conflict towards correction, so that together they may walk across His highway that destroys the enemy of dispersion and division.
The LORD is My Strength and My Song (ISAIAH 12:1-6) CENTRAL TRUTH: There is day when there will be no more death nor sin, but only strength and song. What we say in that day will be, “give thanks.” What we behold in that day will be our salvation. What we do in that day will be to draw water for all to drink from the wells of Christ.
The Day of the LORD is Near (ISAIAH 13:1-10) CENTRAL TRUTH: People may have their day, but the LORD will have His soon. On that day, the burden of God’s heart will be seen, the sound of His multitudes will be heard, the agony of His wrath will be felt. Flee Babylon. Look at Jesus. Hear Him. Rejoice, for His day is near!
I will Punish the World for its Evil (ISAIAH 13:11-22) CENTRAL TRUTH: On that awesome day of the LORD, all evil will be punished by even greater evilness. Through this civil war of evil against evil, God’s righteous wrath will be stirred up. The heavens will tremble. The earth will shake. But the veil was torn! Trust in Jesus alone!
The LORD will have Compassion Again (ISAIAH 14:1-15) CENTRAL TRUTH: Judgment upon a fallen world ensures compassion upon God’s humbled people. Compassion still chooses the same, still restores it all, still gives rest unending. On that Day, compassion will fall from heaven, humbling us to highest joy – Jesus Christ!
As I Have Planned, So Shall It Be (ISAIAH 14:16-32) CENTRAL TRUTH: God is sovereignly in control of your past, present, future, according to His good and holy purpose. Stare and ponder at this over all troubles. Trust in His sworn word that it is done. Our plans will end up broken, so lean on the refuge in His plan – Jesus Christ!
Undone in a Night (ISAIAH 15:1-9) CENTRAL TRUTH: If we continue to trust in the lust of our flesh, what is right in our own eyes, the pride of what we have, everything can be undone in a night. These high places cannot save us, and even more emptiness will remain. Today, collapse on Jesus! Obey Him! Ascend to Him!
How has your walk with the Lord grown since the last time we gathered? What areas of your spiritual health have been nourished? What areas are still in need of growth that we can treat together with the Word and Spirit?
What hardships, difficulties, trials, and/or unanswered prayers are you going through that we can all carry together as one body in Christ? “
In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world,” says Jesus (JOHN 16:33). How can we take heart today and overcome?
Life-Praying What requests of prayer are still left unanswered, where God has said “no” or “wait”? What requests of prayer have been answered by God in the last month? Read the following Scriptures about prayer, and close by praying for one another!
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18)
… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7)
Happy Friday! You made it! Praise God! He carries us through and through! Whether in classes, work, or just the pressures of life, never be defeated nor declining but victorious and inclining to flourish in the Lord! Press on, young adult family! As adults - not children nor youth any longer - let us press on to know Jesus Christ.
This week was a bit special with two birthdays - our sister Hanna yesterday and our brother Jake, whose birthday is today! Happy birthday to Jake, our brother of Christ's gentleness, kindness, and faithfulness! Bless him with a prayerful happy birthday, if you haven't already :)
I apologize we weren't able to meet last week! Let's pick-up our gatherings tonight. You'll have to forgive me again, as I am presently in Houston for the Presbytery of Texas gathering. However, our wonderful Teacher Heather has offered to be with you to lead the time in Word and reflection/discussion. Let us show our love and appreciation for Teacher Heather as she leads us to the Lord!
I hope you were able to read this very short chapter, with so many insights about the difference between knowledge and love. Have a Spirit-filling time hearing from the Lord with Teacher Heather. I will be with you in prayer. Love builds-up, looks-up, picks-up! Live to love-up over puff-up! Bless you!
Your Brother Chester
Young Adult (College/Post-Grad)Life group THE FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS Knowledge Puffs Up, But Love Builds Up [chapter 8] LOVE BUILDS UP (8:1-3) (Question #1) Numerous problems in the church at Corinth have been addressed – divisions, impurity, lawsuits, abstinence (singleness and marriage). The apostle Paul now deals with another growing problem – eating food once offered to idols. We can imagine what the heart of the issue was here – to eat or not to eat? Before addressing the issue of food, what do they all possess, and what does this do in contrast to love (verse 1)? [*REFLECT #1a] The “knowledge” that the apostle Paul was referring to is the ability to examine and understand the whole of the problem from both sides. In one sense, we understand and know that all food is clean in Christ and can be eaten, yet in another sense we know how difficult this can be for someone who was associated with the idol-worshipping temple where that food was purchased/came from. Our knowledge determines our sense of what is right and what is wrong. *Yet, the apostle Paul is saying that being right and wrong is not the end-goal of knowledge, because knowledge by itself can only be pride that puffs up. Rather, the goal of knowledge is love. Knowledge can either grow love or grow pride. Knowledge can either build up or puff up. How are we growing in knowledge to love, and not just swelling in knowledge by itself? Are we just bubbling-up or building-up? [*REFLECT #1b] Knowledge alone is not the goal. If we hold to knowledge alone and think we might know something, what does the apostle Paul say about what we think we know (verse 2)? [*REFLECT #1c] Rather than claiming our knowledge, what must we do to truly know God and be known by Him (verse 3)? [*REFLECT #1d] When have we claimed to know something without considering love? When have we claimed to love without knowing as we ought to know? How can we make the goal of all our knowledge to love God and one another? LOVE LOOKS UP (8:4-6) (Question #2) The apostle Paul now lays out the knowledge that the Corinthian Christians know. Concerning eating food that was once offered to idols, what do they know (verse 4)? [*REFLECT #2a] When have we made idols more than they really are? Are we living as if idols have no real existence? [*REFLECT #2b] What does the apostle Paul label the idols that the corrupt Corinthian worshippers were calling upon in heaven and on earth (verse 5)? [*REFLECT #2c] There’s always a plurality of so-called gods and lords in our lives. One of them is never enough. What are the so-called gods that we can never get enough of in this world? How are we putting the only true and one God, the confession that “there is no God but one” in danger? What must we be gently and fearfully warned of today? [*REFLECT #2d] Yet for the Corinthian Christians, among their world of many false gods and lords, who remains for them, from whom all things and through whom they exist (verse 6)? [*REFLECT #2e] How are we seeing more and more from whom all things exist? How are we embracing more and more for whom we exist? LOVE PICKS UP - REFRAINING STUMBLING THE WEAK (8:7-13) (Question #3) Not all possess the knowledge that “an idol has no real existence” and there is but only “one God… one Lord” – according to Paul, who are those who do not possess this knowledge (verse 7)? [*REFLECT #3a] When have our conscience been defiled by our own weakness in faith? Similarly, how has our knowledge stumbled and defiled the conscience of others who are weaker in faith? [*REFLECT #3b] What will not commend us to God, and are we worse or better off because of it (verse 8)? [*REFLECT #3c] How have we made unimportant things commendable/praiseworthy before the Lord? Are we any better off with or without it? [*REFLECT #3d] What should the Corinthian Christians take care concerning their knowledge and rights, and why (verse 9-11)? [*REFLECT #3e] Who are we sinning against when we wound the conscience of the weak, although our knowledge may be correct (verse 12)? [*REFLECT #3f] If something like food makes someone stumble, what ought we do (verse 13)?
Happy Friday, Young Adult family! Labor Day weekend is upon us! If a few of our distance college family are coming back home, we hope to see your precious smile in Christ! Congratulations to all our college family for finishing the first few weeks of school. First few assignments may be piling up. May the Lord give you enduring wisdom to schedule and work them out with all joy and glory for Him! Always know you are never defined by a grade, degree, or salary. Post-Grad family, press on! As you live out your calling in your workplaces, secure a livelihood, even consider God's calling for a future family of faith (?)... it is an exciting time. And so is our journey tonight! Always know a fountain of living water and well of God's Word will remain here for you every Friday (and Wednesday too [!]) evenings. *Tonight, youth WoW is on break due the the Labor Day weekend, so we'll Ezra chapel all to ourselves! :) We'll do a short praise together, and proceed with this important topic tonight! Stay single? Get married? Which is better, or worse? We'll find out soon! Lots of godly wisdom. Treasures for you all. Let's stay married in the right place, and so as long as God has given us calling, health, and strength... let us do our best to grow a family of faith as well. Bless you, precious young adult family! Lord-willing, see you soon.
Your Brother Chester
Young Adult (College/Post-Grad)Life group THE FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS Undivided Devotion [chapter 7] UNDIVIDED TO PASSIONATELY DESIRE INTIMACY (7:1-16) (Question #1) From the problem of impurity to lawsuits within the community, the apostle Paul now addresses a third major problem – abstinence. Since the city of Corinth had no standard of purity, their rampant immoral activity caused Christians to take their opposite view of abstaining from intimacy to the extreme. What did the apostle Paul hear about their perspective on intimacy (verse 1)? [*REFLECT #1a] God created our desires and passions for intimacy. These are good in the sight of God, as He purposed them for our joy and procreation – to multiply His image throughout all the earth – within the beauty of a marriage covenant. In view of today’s sexual revolution and distortion of the sacred to the secular, how have we suppressed these God-given desires and passion? Is abstinence or remaining single somehow more holy or better than getting married? [*REFLECT #1b] Because of the temptation to distort God’s pure and good intentions for intimacy, what should each man and woman do (verse 2)? In God’s covenant design of marriage, whose authority does the body of each spouse belong to and why (verse 3-4)? What are husband and wife not to do to each other and why (verse 5)? [*REFLECT #1c] Have you discerned if you have God’s pure desires for intimacy and relations with another? Then, how are you progressing and preparing to step into marriage, or honoring your spouse already within marriage? Are you depriving each other, or devoting yourselves to honor the Lord’s desires for you? [*REFLECT #1d] Not as a command, but a recommendation from the apostle Paul is given. What does he wish and ask of those who are unmarried/widowed (verse 6-9)? [*REFLECT #1e] Are you not able to exercise self-control? Are you burning with passion? Then, how can you make real steps to progress towards marriage? [*REFLECT #1f] What does the apostle Paul charge to those who are married (verse 10-11)? If married and the spouse is an unbeliever and consents to continue living together, what should the believing spouse do (verse 12-13)? Why (verse 14)? [*REFLECT #1g] How are you making holy those around you, especially within your family members and church family members, by your covenant to stay together? [*REFLECT #1h] What is the apostle Paul’s one exception to separate/divorce, and why (verse 15-16)? UNDIVIDED TO LIVE AS GOD CALLED YOU (7:17-24) (Question #2) So whether God has called us to singleness (temporarily or permanently) or marriage, what is the apostle Paul’s rule in all the churches (verse 17)? [*REFLECT #2a]At the time of our call from God, whether the issue be circumcision or slavery, what ought we do and why (verse 18-24)? [*REFLECT #2b] Does circumcision/uncircumcision really matter? Or whether you are a bond servant or free person? Or single or married? What really matters to God (verse 19 & 23-24)? How are you being faithful in whatever condition God has called you, and remaining there for as long as God has called you? UNDIVIDED DEVOTION TO THE LORD IN YOUR MARITAL STATE (7:25-40) (Question #3) Now concerning the betrothed (engaged, or in Jewish marriages a step above even the engagement stage), what does the apostle Paul have to say concerning his judgment (verse 25-26)? How is this applied (verse 27)? [*REFLECT #3a] The apostle Paul is not taking sides on whether to marry or stay single, yet he does warn that those who marry with have what (verse 28)? [*REFLECT #3b] Because the appointed time of the day of the Lord, the day of Jesus Christ’s return, has grown shorter, how ought we live (verse 29-30)? Why (verse 31)? [*REFLECT #3c] To secure our undivided devotion to the Lord, what does the apostle Paul say about the unmarried and the married (verse 32-35)? Is it favorable to be unmarried or can both give undivided devotion to the Lord? [*REFLECT #3d] What should one do if he is not behaving properly, and what should one do if he is firmly established in his heart (verse 36-38)? Is marriage permanent (verse 39)? What is happier for the widowed (verse 40)?