By Jon Cho
Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that the Lord quiets us with His love and rejoices over us with singing. When we lean into Him and listen closely, we can catch echoes and reverberations of His infinite love for us individually – do we believe that God’s heart beats in the same way for the Nations of the World, too?
Most of us appreciate that in some broad way, God is Omnipresent and Sovereign over all the nations. But does He really have anything to say about what happens daily on a national level? Does He really care?
The (National) Anthem in God’s Heart
In Deuteronomy 31, God tells Moses to write a song for the nation of Israel, and to teach it to them so that it may be passed down from generation to generation:
“…write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that… it may be a witness for me against the people of Israel.”
As the story goes, the people of Israel had already forgotten how the Lord had rescued them from slavery, provided for and protected them as they journeyed towards the Promised Land. God wanted a song written so that it would bear testimony against them of their unfaithfulness towards Him as He anticipated their going astray – “This song will be there with them as a witness as to who they are and what went wrong”.
It may initially seem harsh – the song functions like a witness testifying against them in God’s Court. It hardly seems like the kind of tune that any modern day songwriter would be ‘inspired’ to write. If we look closer, however, we will find that the song was merely a medium and a way for God to reveal His heart towards the entire Nation. He cared about what He was seeing. He perceived whatever was taking place daily in the Nation and He had something to say about it. In Deuteronomy, God chose Moses to listen and to write the song on His (God’s) heart. What if He’s choosing us to do the same today? Are we tuning in to listen?
Co-writing Nation Songs with the Lord
The commission of Moses in Deuteronomy isn’t just for the songwriters – it is for all the children of God. As Jesus told us:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
As children and lovers of God, our commission is to make disciples of all Nations. Songs are a powerful tool for discipleship – taking place on an individual level, but also on a national scale as in Deuteronomy.
Songwriters have a special role in this endeavour because we are armed and equipped with a very specific skill-set: crafting lyrical and melodic hooks to retain attention, understanding the power of a song idea that will renew minds, appreciating the structure of songs and how best to order words with melody, so that we can truly take our songs to the paradigm that God is on. As we do so, our songs become a platform on which God reveals His heart to an entire Nation, even to disciple them.
In this process, we learn to become His faithful scribes (Psalm 45:1) – people who listen to Him, know His heart and express it faithfully. We become co-writers with God to pen the song on His heart. We listen in closely, asking Him as often as we perceive the happenings around us in the Nation: “Lord, what do You see? What do You think? How do You feel about this?” Imagine the impact we could bring to the communities around us and the Nations of the World if we care about what He truly cares about, and if we speak what He would say: “Lord, what are you thinking of when you look into our Churches, the marketplace and on the streets? Father, how Your heart cry out when we see the way we strive in this Nation for what doesn’t fully satisfy us? Lord, what is on Your heart right now for this Nation? How are You moving, and how do You desire to ‘heal our land’?”
Make no mistake – God does have something to say. The question is: do we want to know? Will we seek His heart in prayer and keenly study His word to discern His voice and find out? When we do, we must come ready to scribe and pen down what we hear from Him. In that place, we will find that He always faithfully responds and reveals His heart if only we seek Him.
Every Nation has its own spiritual climate and journey – one which God Himself in continually writing. I am reminded of that powerful Singapore National Day Parade (NDP) song which goes:
“There was a time when people said
That Singapore won’t make it, but we did
There was a time when troubles seemed too much
For us to take, but we did
We built a nation, strong and free, reaching out together
For peace and harmony
Singapore our homeland, it’s here that we belong
All of us united, one people marching on
We’ve come so far together, our common destiny
Singapore forever, a nation strong and free”
Just think about the incredible influence that a song like this can have in mobilising an entire Nation into greater purpose, if only we were to re-imagine it for present times and begin to pen our God-song with intimacy and sensitivity to His Spirit.
Ultimately, writing songs for the Nation isn’t just about song-writing itself – it is about having such an intimate walk with the Lord that we begin to feel what He feels, think how He thinks, and have on our hearts whatever He has on His for the Nations of the World.
By Caleb Chan
When I was asked by the team to write this blog, that was my exact thought: “Help! I did not expect ministry to look like this!”
Disclaimer: I don’t profess to know the whole works, and experiences definitely vary between individuals. I find it terribly challenging to pen these thoughts down as I still consider myself fairly young in ministry, compared to the many who have given their lives to serving God (who are way more qualified to write this), but I hope what I’m about to share from what I’ve learnt during my time in full-time ministry would bless some of you who are praying about or are in it.
Full-time ministry was not something I considered going into while growing up. Having known family and friends in ministry, it never looked easy (or fun!). Audio was a growing passion and fast becoming something I could see myself doing for many many years. I’m not sure when it happened that I started desiring to use the things I’ve learnt to serve full-time in a church or ministry, but when I ORD-ed (left the army), I sent out my resume to various churches. I was eventually ‘picked up’ by “Oops!Asia” and that was my entry into full-time ministry.
June this year would mark my 9th year in ministry. Were these 9 years as I expected when I first stepped in? Definitely not.
I’ve heard people ‘glamourise’ full-time ministry:
“Wow! You get to serve God full-time! It must be fun.”
Great, and mostly true, but they only paint the side of the picture the public sees. The common reality is usually one that involves wearing multiple hats and handling multiple responsibilities, and no, not all of it is “glamorous”.
Not every organisation or church is able to hire extensively and fill every role and need. For example, here at Awaken Generation, all full-time staff do dual roles – one on the ministry front, and one on the organisational front. I handle all things Sound related, including teaching and running a stream, and I also manage the facility and logistics (making sure there is an adequate supply of drinking water and toilet paper).
“Wow! You get to do music full-time! Such a good life.”
Other ‘realities’ and challenges I faced are with time and finances. There are busy periods and then there are waves-crashing-on-all-sides-thunder-lightning-hurricanes-perfect-storm seasons.
A friend once joked that in ministry, there is no full-time or part-time, only over-time. And we (have to) learn to ride the waves and the seasons.
Finances are challenging for me as well. This would almost always be challenging especially for those starting out, but it is also a journey of recognising God as the Provider. Is this the best-paying job? No, but it definitely is worth it. Our “yes” to God should not be laden with conditions and ideal situations. If He calls, He will enable.
“It must be easy working in a church, everyone’s a Christian.”
And yes, while everyone is (probably) a Christian, everyone is also a human being with flaws and weaknesses, on their own journeys, learning to manage their own struggles, occasionally celebrating victories, sometimes losing the plot a little, still having bad days amidst other good ones, and overall basically, still human. I hope you get my point?
The Reward is Better than the Sacrifice
A group of leaders visited Bethel Church in Redding and got to spend some time with the Bethel leadership team. During a Q&A session with Ps Bill Johnson, he was asked how they did it – travelling for long periods of time, long hours, late nights, and all while having kids and thriving families. Bill Johnson’s answer was that they would tell their children all the time that the reward is better than the sacrifice.
That statement stuck with me. Every one of us needs to remind ourselves that the reward is better than the sacrifice. And the reward can mean many things and come in many forms.
The reward of souls saved.
The reward of lives transformed.
The reward that awaits us in eternity.
And I believe very much as well, in the reward of God’s Presence and Hand on our lives. My pastor shared recently that the Levites (full-time temple workers) were not allocated a plot of land as their inheritance. Instead, God would be their inheritance; God Himself was their portion.
The Call of God
My last point is this, what is God’s call for you? Full-time ministry today doesn’t just mean working in a church or a Christian organisation, it doesn’t mean getting paid to do ‘Christian work’. I strongly believe that full-time ministry can and must look like each of us picking up the mantle to ‘go and make disciples’ wherever we are called to.
What is the posture of our hearts?
“Help, I did not expect ministry to look like this!”
‘Ministry’ here can refer to a whole array of activities, people groups, job scopes, and so on. When we say ‘yes’, let’s not enter each season with an expectation of the experience and outcome, but rather be expectant that wherever the Lord calls us to, there He will be, and where He is, He is enough.
June this year would mark my 9th year in ministry. Were these 9 years as expected when I first stepped in? Definitely not – they superseded any expectations I thought I had.
By Calvin Hong & Shawn Walrus
Gossip, backstabbing, politics. Sound familiar? Many of us have experienced these things first-hand, or have even used them to get our way. Despite often being associated with the workplace, in reality they run deep even within our Christian communities.
What would be like if we didn’t have to deal with a negative team culture? Is it even possible, especially when your situation seems bleak? I believe it is.
Greenhouse: The 5 C’s
Recently, AG held a leadership elective about building a healthy team culture. Our Senior Leader Calvin presented to us the ‘greenhouse’ concept. Let’s think about that idea for a bit. Firstly, what is a greenhouse? What does it do? Well, a greenhouse is a structure in which plants are grown and nurtured, especially the ones that require specific conditions to thrive. The temperature, humidity, and many other parameters are controlled so that the plants within it can flourish.
Wouldn’t it be great if our community, ministry, or church had dials and switches with which we could alter its culture? The good news is that there are! However, as with most things in life, using them is not quite as straightforward as flicking a switch. Building anything takes time and effort. How then can you make your community, ministry, and church a greenhouse? Calvin shared about the five C’s that make up a healthy greenhouse: Character, Competency, Chemistry, Culture, and Calling.
I’d like to talk about one of them in more detail – Culture.
Many have approached to share how the culture at AG had blessed them. They often share about how different it is to the cultures they had experienced before. Was it by chance? Did the AG culture organically evolve into what it is today? All of here would answer that with a resounding ‘no’!
We believe that core values, when communicated, demonstrated, and enforced, play a vital role in shaping any culture. These are the core values that AG fights to uphold – a passion for the Presence of God, a Culture of Honour, Mentorship & Discipleship, Relationship in Community, and Creativity & Excellence.
These are more than fancy-sounding buzzwords. These are truths that we believe are on God’s heart for the Body, and keys to crafting a new wineskin into which He will pour out more of Himself.
Let’s take a closer look at two of those core values.
A Passion for the Presence of God
Any organisation can plan events, create communities, and build a sense of belonging. But without the presence of God, it would ultimately amount to nothing.
We must be like the Israelites who encamped around His presence – in the form of a cloud – in the wilderness. When the cloud moved, they packed up and followed. When it stopped, they set up camp. We seek to be utterly and completely reliant on His voice to direct us, and His presence that renews and empowers us.
Like Moses, we, too, do not want to go anywhere without His presence. Are you dependent on God no matter where you go? Will you obey willingly as the Lord directs?
A Culture of Honour
To honour someone is to give value to them; to affirm them. It’s not about whether they deserve it or not; we are called to honour because we are people of honour.
We see each person as sacred, made in the image of God Himself, and therefore since Jesus has bestowed so much value to us by dying for us, who are we to do otherwise to our brothers and sisters?
Could we honour and celebrate them for who they are, instead of stumbling over who they’re not? How are we demonstrating love, affirmation, encouragement, and kindness to our brother?
Calvin elaborated on the four other ‘C’s that would help develop a Kingdom culture within your community. To attain this may sound daunting to some of you, but be encouraged that our God cares about our communities more than even we do, and He always, always empowers those He calls!
If you or your ministry would like to receive leadership training or find out more, contact us at [email protected]!
By Ian Chew
Those two words rang out in my spirit. My heart leapt, and my soul awoke. I propped up and inclined my ear toward the voice of Heaven, hoping to receive some form of elaboration. There was none. Nothing but the dull stillness and silence of the night that surrounded me. What was happening inside of me though, was the complete opposite. Because by now, the pounding within me was intensifying and everything internally was coming alive.
A few years ago, I stood at a crossroads that involved making a crucial decision in my life. I sought clarity and direction from God for my future. I thought I was asking about where my next job would be; instead, God responded with a vision for my life that gripped me even till today. When my concern was vocation, the Father brought me higher and revealed destiny and purpose. I have been marked ever since; by two words that were uttered in a moment. It was a divine download that flew past my head and straight to my heart. I wish I could say I knew exactly what God meant by “Worship Revival”, but I didn’t. My spirit, however, responded immediately with a resounding “YES”. It set me on a course of discovering what’s in the Father’s heart as He calls me to be a Worship Revivalist.
At first, I thought God was calling me just to be a Worship Leader in big revival meetings, but I was wrong. While our corporate worship and meetings are great, He is looking beyond that. Our goal is not the worship we induce, but the worshippers we produce.
I believe the greatest revival that is coming, will be ushered in and marked by worshippers arising from every tribe and tongue – the kind that the Father seeks in John 4:23. It will be a nameless, faceless generation of worshippers who will carry His supernatural presence into every area of society, culture, and life. These are the ones who hunger and pursue the Presence like no other; who worship with the same vigour that David did. They will be sent as forerunners to release unparalleled manifestations of His Presence. The most powerful meetings will be those centred around the Presence of God. In authentic worship, there is no division. Racial, political, cultural, language, and denominational lines will be erased. Worship is the activity of Heaven, after all. His Kingdom is established where His Presence inhabits.
I see God redeeming music and intercession from every culture and restoring to the nations their rightful inheritance. Consider this: we are the most musical generation in history. We are surrounded by music constantly. Never before have we had access to music as we do today. Music affects and impacts us more so than any other generation in history. Most importantly, music has the unique ability to touch our hearts, and the Lord wants to use that to advance the Gospel. I believe worship will be the key activity through which people will be drawn to the Father and where hearts open up to the Gospel. At the same time, God is raising up prophetic songwriters who would bring articulation and language to the dreams in His heart for the present and the future. They will pull to today what was meant for tomorrow by giving the Bride of Christ the songs of Heaven to sing.
As I step back and comprehend the vastness of God’s heart and plan for His church, I know my part is small to play. My desire is to raise and equip not just musicians and songwriters, but worshippers who will prepare the way of the Lord in this hour. There is an invitation for you and me to be part of the narrative and storyline God is writing in the nations. If reading this has in any way resonated in your spirit, I pray you will indeed stand and have your life count for Him.
“For the hour is coming, and now is,
when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth;
for the Father is seeking such to worship Him”
– John 4:23
The Father is seeking Worshippers – worshippers born of His Spirit who abide, meditate, and live upon the truth of His Word. It’s funny that the passage doesn’t say that He is firstly seeking evangelists, teachers, prophets, pastors, and apostles, instead the Father is searching the earth for worshippers. Perhaps it is because, in the act of worship of totally surrendering our lives, hearts, ambitions, dreams, and desires unto Him, that we find who we were truly meant to be.
God isn’t some tyrannical egotistical god who demands worship for His sake or because He needs it, He is seeking worship for OUR SAKE – because without it, we will not fully live out the destiny He had planned for us since the beginning of the foundations of the earth (Eph 1:4). We only discover who we were truly meant to be when we worship – it is in intimately knowing our Creator that we discover His intent for us, His creation.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters,
in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a LIVING sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.”
– Romans 12:1
If we want to grow as worshippers, we need to be discerning to whom or what is actually sitting on the ‘throne’ of our hearts. To worship is to ascribe worth to something, which means it usually comes at a cost to attain. An indication of what we truly worship is when we consider where our time, finances, and energy of our thoughts go to. Things like financial security, your career, your reputation, and the praises of man above the fear of the Lord can easily crawl their way up onto the throne of our hearts. In Romans 12:1, Paul urged us to be a LIVING sacrifice, meaning there is a daily surrendering or sacrifice of our own hearts and desires in exchange for a God who is worth infinitely more than anything the world could offer. What are we willing to lay down at the altar of worship to gain more of God?
“ But you are holy,
you who inhabit the praises of Israel.”
– Psalm 22:3
As worshippers, we have an amazing and rich inheritance that we as children of God can access by faith. The enemy wants nothing more than to disarm us as worshippers because he knows of the power we carry in releasing God’s kingdom on earth. When we worship and praise in faith, the presence of God inhabits our praises, and His Kingdom and dominion is established in our world. The Kingdom of Light is greater than the Kingdom of darkness, so when we praise we must expect that strongholds will be broken, darkness will flee, sicknesses are healed, dreams and visions are released, captives are set free, and that the lost will be saved!
The Lord is calling His church back into intimacy of worship with Him. He is not looking for more programmes, nor is He looking for Sunday church-goers, nor seeking form without power. He is instead searching the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him (1 Chronicles 16:9). Will you completely surrender your heart and devote your life completely unto Him who is worthy?
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for theLord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
– Joshua 1:9
I am not sure if many people would naturally describe themselves as a bold and courageous person – I feel facing fear is part of the human condition. There’s a reason why the Lord commanded Joshua and Caleb to not fear when they were tasked to take possession of the Promised Land; it’s so easy to fall into fear when we see ‘giants’ with our natural eyes. Did you know that when you fear, you actually have faith, but you’re putting your faith in the wrong thing? Having fear about your circumstance reflects that you have more confidence in a circumstance to rule over your life than your heavenly Father’s ability to take care of you!
Being bold and courageous starts from a position of quiet trust and steadfast faith. The fruit of obedience doesn’t start from a place of striving but actually starts from a place of surrender. You are surrendering your life and your future to a good good God who is more than capable of leading you and taking care of you – it is this truth that gives you steadfastness to continually follow Jesus all the days of your life. As the Awaken Generation team have prayed and sought the Lord, we have felt the Lord impressing on our hearts that 2019 would be a year of boldness and courage. If we want to go deeper in the Lord, if we truly want to know Him, it’s less about simply having knowledge of Him, but actually applying what He says in His Word, and living that out in the face of fear and pressure.
In the Awaken Generation community, we always emphasise the theme of sons and daughters and securing our identity as children of God. This is a significant and holy truth, yet I feel a further maturing coming where there’s a pull on us to delve deeper into our identity now as lovers of God – and to take our place as the bride of Christ, holy and pure, willing to lay down our lives because of our great love for the Bridegroom King. In a sense, the depth to which we grow in this maturity is up to us – the invitation from the Lord is there, but how much are we willing to trust and surrender?
The late theologian Eugene Peterson wrote a book called ‘A long obedience in the same direction’’; I love this title as it beautifully describes the journey of our Christian pilgrimage, that it is a daily choice of obedience and an unwavering faith that eventually leads to accomplishing things for the Kingdom that we thought we’d never be able to do. As you consecrate yourself and seek the Lord leading up the new year, I’d like to leave you with an old story I heard once.
There was once a mouse and elephant who crossed a rickety old bridge together. After they had crossed, the mouse turns to the elephant and said, ‘We sure shook that bridge, didn’t we?’
May 2019 be filled with faith and wonder as you witness a great and magnificent God who can do exceedingly more than what you could dream of or imagine.
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!
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.
“Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,
But the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn”
– Isaiah 60:1-3
It was the 27th of January 2018. We were gathered in Changi Cove, Isaiah 60:1-3 resounding in our hearts, our minds locked together, fitting together the puzzle pieces of what we knew was to be a powerful prophetic song. It took 8 songwriters to finally piece this song together in a way that we felt best captured the message that was beating in our hearts, both lyrically and melodically.
I love how it took a team; the ‘Body’; a ‘family’ to unlock the pathways that would ultimately culminate in the creation of not only this song, but of several others. The song was indeed birthed out of community; a community that loves Jesus and were ready to listen and attune themselves to His heart.
This was just a glimpse of the journey of what we’ve seen released today as the fruit of labour by a family, a Body of Christ – the release of Awaken Generation’s first full length album, “Our Light Has Come”. More than just the songwriting process, there were the long hours of arranging, creating musical layers and dynamics, and working out the sorts of instrumentations that would best communicate and carry the message of the song. Then there were the many rehearsals that required grit and precision to ensure that what was imagined could effectively be brought to life in an accurate and sharpened manner.
There were the divine appointments of kindred hearts that sacrificially offered their resources and talents to execute this vision, and many hours of prayer-walking and intercession – because we all knew that this album was not unto ourselves, but a greater purpose of awakening an entire generation unto Him.
Perhaps the process of the album itself was just a little reflection of what it means to “arise and shine” – to step out, to use our gifts and offer our ‘little’ pieces to a big God who is more than able to pull it all together; to multiply our Hallelujahs.
Perhaps we are to simply live in the reality of this scripture, now that we are living in the era where Jesus has already been given to us and where His Holy Spirit is being poured out across the earth onto the young and old to prophesy, dream dreams, and see visions (Acts 2:17). And as we live out that purpose, may all the nations “come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn”.