Devotional

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Detours & Destiny

    By Caleb Kay

    27 November 2017: I attended the graduation for Awaken Generation’s Class of 2017 alone as a guest. I was friends with a few members of the staff, had played the drums once or twice with them, but that was it.

    I had just landed a new business development job, with hopes of saving up to head to Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry this year in August. It felt like God was opening all these doors; I had all these plans and dreams in my head.

    I thought I was stepping into my destiny.

    26 January 2018: everything derailed. Towards the end of my 3-month probation, I was unexpectedly let go, and given just three days’ notice of my termination. I was devastated. The entire weekend, I wrestled with my identity and self-worth: “was I really not good enough?”

    I wrestled with God: “why did You open doors only to shut them in my face?”

    Unbeknownst to me, God was setting things in motion. Just the week before my termination, I had arranged for a lunch with Ian and Calvin, just to catch up, and it was at that lunch that I was offered a short-term position at Awaken Generation.

    One year on, as I witnessed our Class of 2018 graduating – now as a full-time staff in Awaken Generation – and thinking about where I was a year ago, I’m truly lost for words at God’s goodness.

    Here are three things I’ve learnt on this journey:

    Detours Are For Growth

    I remember how I felt when I got the news that I was going to be terminated. I remember my mind going into overdrive, planning how to update my resume and who to send it to.

    In the midst of swinging between self-deprecating thoughts and psyching myself up to blast my CV to potential new employers, I suddenly felt a prompting upon my heart to stop and worship. It was so tough and I remember barely getting past a verse and a chorus before choking up.

    But then there was a peace – in the midst of all that chaos and turmoil.

    I’d like to think that I grew more in the heart of a worshiper in that moment. It was in that eye-of-the-storm moment that I realised what it was like to worship through the pain and to be given a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness.

    Detours Are For His Glory

    “Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
    I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.”
    Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

    For a way to appear in the wilderness, and rivers to flow in the desert, we must first take a detour into the wilderness and the desert.

    An impossible circumstance is a prerequisite for a miracle to take place.

    It was because of this sudden interruption to my life that I could see God’s providence, with a position in Awaken Generation offered to me just a day after my termination.

    It’s in the detours that our faith is tested and strengthened; it’s in the detours that our character is refined and purified; it’s in the detours that we are brought to a place of complete, total reliance, so that God can come through for us, and so that we can get through only because of God.

    Distraction & Deception

    Oftentimes, with detours come distracting, deceptive, and destructive thoughts. I constantly found myself wondering if I could’ve done more to retain my job. I doubted the abilities God had given me and the fact that when God created me, He said, “this one is fearfully and wonderfully made!”

    Even joining the AG staff team felt like a detour to my Bethel dream, and there were real doubt and fear: would God be able to provide? Was this the right path?

    I’ve since realised that fear is a tool of the enemy, and that fear is not our own; when we step out in obedience, the enemy projects his fear onto us. Our obedience makes the enemy afraid, because it advances God’s kingdom and His purpose in our lives.

    In Joshua 1, God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous; it’s not merely an encouragement, but a command, to be obeyed.

    Take detours in your stride! Step out with confidence and courage, eyes firmly on the Lord, our God, who is ever with us.

    Detours: The Route Towards Destiny

    David was anointed to become king when he was merely a teenager. Little did he know that the path to his eventual destiny as king would be riddled with detours, discouragements, and even danger!

    Psalm 27 is one of the most-quoted passages on worship; the entire psalm is penned by David as a declaration of courage, with his security rooted in his desire to seek God and God alone. David was unshakeable in his obedience because he kept an unwavering gaze upon an unchanging God.

    Sometimes walking into our destiny may require us to take what might seem to us like a detour.

    My season with my previous employer, along with the dramatic and sudden termination, felt like a huge detour (a derailing, even) but what gave me perspective was a realignment of my gaze to Christ.

    Perhaps you may be considering taking a year to join Awaken Generation’s year-long programme. Perhaps you’re counting the cost and it may seem like a detour.

    But I know that God wastes nothing. He is never too early or late; His timing is always perfect, and even when we think we are too far out on a detour, God still uses those detours to direct us towards our destiny. What keeps us walking steadily is a steady gaze on the Lord.

    Whatever battles you are facing, step out with boldness and courage, for the Lord, your God, is with you!

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Meditating on the Word

    Interview with Josh Yeoh

    What does it mean to meditate on God’s word?

    It means to slow down the reading pace, to prayerfully contemplate every word and every phrase, looking for deeper and fuller meanings. Meditation is the art of digging out the most that we can from each and every word.

    So often we read the Word as if we’re doing a workout – reading plans, checklists, and such. The art of meditation is what really unlocks the riches of the Word. It means to not take things at face value, but dialoguing with the Lord about it. Each verse or passage is a doorway into encounter with God; it’s an expression of Who God is.

    Meditation on the Word is the key to the often-asked question: How do I hear God? The same way He has been speaking since we’ve had the Word of God! It causes us to know Him more and hear Him better. How far or deep should we go?

     

    Why is meditating on and studying the word important in our spiritual walk? Does it practically benefit us?

    Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Every tool for succeeding in life is within His Word.

    The Written Word of God is revealed by the Living Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” The source of illumination is the mouth of God. Meditation made me feel like Aladdin entering the cave of wonders; there’s so much more! There’s a difference between looking at a photo of Niagara Falls and actually standing before the roaring waterfall – that’s how it is to read a book that God wrote and commune with the Holy Spirit that inspired it.

    There is a cry across the body for intimacy. There can be no intimacy without conversation and communion. If we truly love God, we will love who He is, not who we think He is. If we only love the idea of a God that we create in our minds, it’s at best, fantasy, and at worst, idolatry! Meditating and studying the Word is a way of conversing with God – with the ultimate goal of knowing God – is the doorway into such intimacy.

    Luke 6:45 says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Meditating on the Word is how we slowly transform our ‘inner well’, so that we are depositing ‘good treasure’; so that what comes out in our speech, thoughts, and behaviour is Christ-like.

    Proverbs 16:26 says, “A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.” We labour because of hunger. Similarly, as we meditate more and go deeper, we get addicted; hungry for more revelation!

     

    How should we do it? Are there any action steps we can use?

    Have a sheet of paper or journal where you write your meditations. Also, have a column or separate piece of paper. Your mind will likely wander to other things, such as to-do’s. This separate section is where you pen down all your stray thoughts, so that you can push it out of your mind for the moment without the additional thought-traffic. You can then proceed with a clear mind.

    You may combine pray-reading the Word with meditating on the word. Theology must lead to doxology. The study of God must lead to the worship of God. Here are some practical handles you may find useful:

    • Write down one or two verses that you will be focusing on.
    • Slow the pace way down. As you read, meditate on each word or phrase. For example, in ‘How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!’ (Psalm 84:1), take time to meditate on ‘how lovely’. Why ‘lovely’, not ‘awesome’? God is intentional with His word choices. There are so many layers of what He wants to reveal. Where is His ‘dwelling place’? How do we get there? Think of it as sitting down with your favourite author over a coffee, and asking them about their inspiration for this or that character, or idea.
    • Study the word / phrase:
      • Context: verses that precede and follow. David Pawson said: “A text out of context is a pretext.” We sometimes apply a verse out of context and it becomes false or inaccurate. Look for what’s before and after, in that book.
      • Look up word meanings; translations; lexicons at BibleHub.com or apps such as Blue Letter Bible. There are sometimes layers we miss.
      • Cross-reference it with word studies online.
      • Where there’s repetition, ask: What is its meaning? Why is it there?
      • Symbolism: What do they represent? Any deeper spiritual meanings?
    • Speak, pray, and sing the scriptures back to the Lord.
    • Do it in the context of Worship.
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Coping with Despair: The Importance of Emotional Health

    By August Lai

    A number of years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic auto-immune disease. At that time, I had been living what I considered a full life. I had a job which I found meaningful, was actively serving in church, plugged into a life group, and had just participated in a major musical production. I felt good about myself and excited for the future. Then one morning I awoke with severe double vision. It persisted, so I sought treatment for it. After weeks of doctors and tests, I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis.

    In the initial weeks following my diagnosis, I propped up a brave front for everyone around me but behind that sat a bubbling cauldron of despair, anger, and sadness. I started avoiding my friends, withdrawing from my family, and I couldn’t concentrate at work.

    It was in the midst of this that I gave up trying to make sense of the disease. I was adrift in a storm at sea and I realised I was trying to control the weather! I could only turn to God. After weeks of wrangling, I was challenged to release all the control and plans I had over my life. It was as if every bit of control I gave up to God would be exchanged for a small piece of supernatural peace. Months passed before I could honestly declare to myself that my life truly belonged to God.

    In retrospect, one of the most challenging aspects was how this emotional roller-coaster affected my life. When my emotions were ragged and frayed, it was difficult to connect with others, rest well, make good decisions, and be rational. Emotional health is not a state in which there is a lack of stress or problems; rather it enables one to cope well when life unexpectedly takes a turn for the worse. Here are two lessons I learnt which I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life.

    Community

    In times of crisis, we need others who are willing to come alongside us to share the burden for a season. That’s when friends and family with whom we have strong relationships will rise up in prayer and support; trusted leaders can offer sound counsel when we are too exhausted to make good decisions. Without a supportive network, even a small one, I would be mired all alone in my irrational thoughts and fears. An engaged community can encourage you to anchor daily upon the truth of God rather than despair. Proverbs 24:6 tells us, ‘For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.’ Do not underestimate nor forsake the power and safety that comes with community!

    Identity

    Prior to the diagnosis, I had never seriously considered what it meant to be a child of God. I was not living from a position of surrender, so I would try to fix every problem I encountered with my own wisdom. Eventually I ran into a problem that all my wisdom could not fathom nor resolve, and I was forced to turn to the One higher than I. He then taught me about the heart of an Abba Father and I learnt how to be His child. I love this quote which goes like this: ‘God never promised us a storm-free, life but a storm-proof one.’ Within our relationship with Him can be found all we need to weather the storms of life – and it starts with knowing who we are in God! Isn’t that amazing? When we are assured about our God-given identity, we can then do what Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to: ‘Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.’

    By God’s grace, I was eventually healed from my condition. I am grateful not only for my health but also for my purpose which He continues to uncover for my life. There is great value in tending to your inner life, ensuring that you are emotionally stable and secure in who you are. I pray that you will be blessed in your season and discover renewed strength from the revelation of His great love for you!

  • Blog
  • My 2.5 Star Review: Dealing with Criticism

    When I launched my album ‘The Kingdom’ back in 2014, it was a joyous night of celebrating the accomplishment of the songs that the Lord had given me in that season. I was very proud of the work because I was deeply satisfied with the revelations and the messages these songs carried, which I knew would have a significant impact on people’s lives. It was also a dream to have recorded it with Ed Cash’s studio in Nashville, Tennessee, which had always been a lifelong dream of mine!

    I remember the next day being pleasantly surprised that there had been a critic at my launch and they had written a public article reviewing my music. Curious of course, I logged in straight away to read it. Interestingly though, the article was not quite a positive one that I would have ‘shared’ enthusiastically over my social media. In fact, the album was given a 2.5/5 review for its work.  

    I remember sitting there, having a brief moment staring at the computer screen. I knew I could allow my heart to go either of two ways: 1) I would let a number dictate or destroy the works that I knew to be powerful, or 2) listen to God’s voice, and be confident in the value of His work done through me. I chose the latter.

    I know for some people receiving difficult criticism, especially in a public setting can cause one to spiral into condemnation and question their self-worth. First, your work is separate from your identity as a child of God, so don’t foolishly let a ‘performance’ dictate your value. Secondly, if your art has a greater purpose than just to ‘impress’, then that in itself is invaluable.

    For me personally, I was and still am very proud of the work of art the Lord had given me. Not just because of the production and the effort put into the art of songwriting, which I personally thought was done phenomenally as a team, but also because of the fact that I’ve had very REAL testimonies of miracles that have been released because of these songs! One woman received a miracle baby (his name is Lucas) after declaring in faith the lyrics of ‘Hand in His’. This song also gave couples, who were suffering in marriage, the courage to love again with the strength of Christ. Do these songs have value? Absolutely.

    As artists and creatives, especially if you know you are a son or daughter of God; having purpose in your art beyond simply ‘entertaining’ or ‘impressing’ others is vital. Art can be used to heal, uplift, and invite Heaven’s government – it is a conduit to express the very heartbeat of God. Your primary role is not to win the praises of man, but it is to be faithful to the assignment entrusted to you by the Father.

    I pray that the Lord will release His grace upon you to create without fear but to create instead from the overflow of a steadfast confidence that He loves you and will partner with you to release His goodness across the earth.  

    You can find the link to listen to my album ‘The Kingdom’ here!

  • Blog
  • Hallelujah When It Hurts

    By Jean Tan

    It’s easy to sing praise when all is well. What happens when the realities of your world don’t seem to match up with the goodness of God’s promises?

    I was born with a cleft palate and lip. My first operation was at 3 months of age, my second when I was 1 year’s old. My third at 9, when they discovered a hole under my lip. My fourth at 16, when my jaw grew out so much I couldn’t talk or eat well. My fifth at 17, and then sixth at 18.

    I had to go through 6 surgeries to look and speak as normally as I can today.

    I have been called a monster, crooked, ugly. People stared in the streets, boys laughed or recoiled.

    Somewhere along the way, my parents divorced and my dad went bankrupt. I did well in school to make things better for myself and ease the finances on my family, but also so that I could go away for college and live life on my own terms for a change.

    And when life was finally heading somewhere, I was diagnosed with kidney disease at 24. The doctor’s prognosis: a 30% chance that this would go away after treatment, another 30% that symptoms would recur through life, and another 30% that I would have kidney failure by the age of 40-50.

    It didn’t make sense. Somewhere, somehow, I felt betrayed, unfairly given a load I’d never asked for, and one that few else understood. I stood by pews and cried, soaked up hospital bedsheets with blame, couldn’t utter the words of the songs on Sundays.

    But even through all of that, I couldn’t rid myself of an undeniable sense that Someone was with me. And that, despite the madness of life and the questions that came with it, that He was palpably real, present, and was giving me a great measure of resources to deal with whatever I needed to deal with.

    So through all that madness, I knew I always had a choice: to turn further inward, and away, into the poison of bitterness, doubt, and anger, or move into the light in an almost insane trust in the goodness of God. The former consumed me alive, again and again; the latter was the only thing left to save.

    For the next 6 years, as I lost practically everything, I kept turning to the light. Every time I stumbled, I turned. Every time I didn’t understand, I turned. Every time I was hospitalised, I puked, I fell, I turned –

    Turned to One I was angry with, and yet the only Person whom I could trust. The only One who saw it from the start and understood; who knew pain and chose to take it upon Himself so we would know what strength and hope was. The One I’ve come to intimately know as Lord, because He’s proven Himself faithful, time and again.

    Because when I began to turn to the light, regardless of the darkness that loomed – the light began to form itself in me. Light replaced night, and hope replaced the hollow. Instead of anger, thankfulness grew. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I learnt to give strength to others. Instead of despair, I found confidence and faith: that no matter what happens, everything will be okay.

    And strangely, as I turned – all the things I’d lost began returning, one at a time, like flowers blooming out of the wintry cold. Relationships, job opportunities, money, music, travel… they came back with a vengeance and with a beautiful sweetness I’d never known.

    It was in that journey that “Hallelujah” was written. It’s a song about giving your very last breath and turning to the light again and again, even when you don’t see the good that comes out of it. It’s about making the choice to trust, even when you are riddled with doubt. It’s about knowing that there is darkness in this world, but that His goodness overcomes it.

    Because He is good.

    And He will never fail you.

    Facebook: fb.com/jeantanmusic

    Instagram: @jeantanmusic

    YouTube: www.youtube.com/jeantanmusic

  • Blog
  • Dealing with Offence, the Number One Relationship Killer

    by Alarice

    Have you ever known a particular ‘easily-offended’ person whom, after a while, would consecutively get offended by every one of their friends and systematically start to cut them off from their circles of influence? It’s not long before you would see them completely isolated, offended by everyone – it becomes them against the world. 

    THIS is the NUMBER 1 strategy of the enemy to steal the abundant life that God has for us.  It says in John 10:10 that the ‘enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy’, and he loves to do this by sowing seeds of bitterness and offence that ultimately lead to the destruction of God-given relationships! Friends, our Christian life MUST be done in the context of relationship, community and family – it is the foundation of Heaven’s culture. There is so much richness to be found in doing life in community – it is where our callings and our identities are affirmed, where we are positioned to fulfil our destinies, and where we are sharpened and experience growth. It’s time we got smarter and realised the enemy’s schemes, learn to forgive, and let go of offence so that we can enjoy the abundance of being ‘set in a family’. 

    So how do we overcome offence? How the Lord has personally shown me, is to ask the Lord to give you a revelation of WHO that person is DESTINED TO BE. Sure, they may have flaws (we, too, have flaws), but it’s not to stumble over who they are not. Instead, we are to celebrate who they are! They are sons and daughters, God sent His Son for them, they are called to do great and mighty exploits in His name! Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities – we have a common enemy and it is NOT your neighbour. Ask the Lord to give you eyes to see the greatness in that person and you soon will find that you will be able to release your hurt and release that person into the fullness of their destiny in Christ.

  • Blog
  • “I’ll be praying for you…” – Sound Familiar?

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    by Ian Chew


    “I’ll be praying for you”.  

    We quite often say this as a casual remark to bring comfort to a relative or friend when they are going through difficult moments. Yet, how many of us actually do take time amidst our day to present before God in prayer the person we said we would pray for? Many Christians acknowledge the importance of prayer but struggle in the daily pursuit of it. I know I am guilty of expressing the intention to pray for a person yet never really getting down to it.

    It wasn’t until things starting going wrong for the people around me that this realisation came to light. A friend struggled to find a job. A church member failed a driving test. A colleague suffered from sleepless nights because of spiritual oppression. Suddenly, the Lord convicted me of my negligence & indifference. It is not enough just to have a ‘thought’ or ‘intention’ of praying for someone, & then expect God to come through for them at the end. I needed to contend in prayer intentionally to see breakthrough.

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    No, not that the hand of God is manipulated through intense & fervent prayer; but that the Lord is passionate about one thing – PARTNERSHIP. The Lord reminded me of this mind-blowing Kingdom truth: He has placed such a weight of power & authority in our lives that until & unless we partake of God’s desires & ask that His will be done, we will not see the fulfillment of things we expect & hope for. How inconceivable it is to recognise that our obedience or lack of it has such a profound effect on the outcome of events & circumstances for those around us!

    “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, & stand in the gap
    before me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

    Ezekiel 22:30

    God is not needy of us; but He desires partnership & wants us to be involved in His redemption story, and He searches for those who would agree with His heart. We carry godly authority – more than we think we do – to shift atmospheres, affect outcomes, heal the sick, break bondages, & simply call things into being. We can all press in to greater things when we partner with God in obedience.


    Ian Chew was part of Awaken Generation’s pioneer vocal stream batch & joined the team mid-2016 as the head of missions & media. Having always had a heart for missions, he yearns to see revival throughout the nations & serves actively in his church’s music ministry as a worship leader. Ian leads the team frequently in prayer, devotions & worship.

  • Blog
  • Student Testimony: Learning to Say “Yes” to God

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    by Faith Lim


    This is a testimony of God’s providence, gentleness, grace and glory.

    Songwriting has been a calling close to my heart & affirmed by God through different people that He has placed in my life. When I received the notification email from AG that 2016 registration was open & that there was a songwriting stream, my heart was filled with much excitement. However, the total cost of this 8 month-long course stood as a hindrance as a student without an income & so I decided to wait another year to save up for it.

    On the day of the early bird closing date, I received an unexpected but timely message from a brother of Christ & something in my heart began to stir. God was speaking! Stepping out in faith, I sat in front of the piano & to my amazement, a song was birthed forth by the grace of God all within 15 minutes. I submitted my application with so much joy & by God’s grace once again, I got accepted!

    Orientation day came & I found out that there was an additional 10% reduction in cost if the full year’s fees had been paid in full. The ‘Singaporean’ in me & my fleshly wisdom & reasoning thought it would be a good decision. My boyfriend agreed to help pay the full fees first & when God had provided the funds in the future to then return him the cost. The next day, we heard God’s gentle rebuke, “Did I tell you to pay for the whole year? Do you not think I am able? I want you to press in & trust me to take care of this.” God didn’t need me to help him save anything because He is our Abundant God & in Him we lack nothing.

    My boyfriend & I made it a point each day to set aside time to seek God for His providence. Through divine appointments & simply sharing my encounters with God, I was blessed with sufficient funds for the whole year with approximately $400 in excess by the 3rd week of class commencement. The following week, I heard of a brother who had dedicated his life to serve in another ministry & was also in the midst of trusting God to provide the necessary funds. Guess how much he was asking God for? $400!!! My surplus was his answered prayer!

    Every week, God broke through with His undeniable goodness & involvement in my life. This is who our God is, His timing is perfect & He desires for us to experience His Greatness & His dedication in our lives. Be blessed, knowing how much our Lord desires us & is investing in our lives. May we live lives of faith & obedience as we seek to glorify His beautiful name!

    In His love & my love,
    Faith


    Faith Lim is one of the students at Awaken Generation this year & currently attending the songwriting stream. Her testimony is one of the many that have risen from our student cohort this year; testimonies of God’s abundant provision & grace.