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Awaken your heart to the sound of the generation

by Jonathan Cho | 8 November 2017, 6:23 PM

Something I often hear Alarice say when she shares her story, is that she never knew she could sing. She never thought she could lead the people of God into worship. Well, let me tell you: This girl can sing.

You might already know Alarice Hong as the unofficial face of Awaken Generation, the woman behind the worship mentorship school that sprung up almost out of nowhere in 2015. Today, they’ve had almost 190 students from over 45 different Churches come through the doors for training, shaping and mentoring.

I remember when I joined AG last year and my cohort attended our very first Convergence – a monthly gathering of all the different AG streams – where Alarice led us in worship. As I’d never heard her sing live, I was immediately struck by the power of her voice and the authority she carried when she declared her praises to God.

And that’s the spirit of AG itself, really – our gifts are nothing without the anointing that flows from a heart that’s connected to Heaven.

Sure, she’s got a quality voice, but it was as if Alarice carried a song inside her. I was listening to a song birthed from the overflow of her deep relationship with God. If you were there, you’d know the song was coming out of that wellspring.

When Alarice sings, you can hear her heart for Jesus and the nations. And it’s this heart she carries into AG’s curriculum and how the school – and its students – serves the body of Christ.

Alarice, a self-professed “rojak” Singaporean, spent most of her life growing up in seven different countries before relocating to Singapore in 2010. Her husband Calvin, who pioneered AG with her, is no different – he spent almost 20 years in New Zealand before moving to Singapore sometime in 2011 in response to God’s call on his life.

Despite their personal background, or what might seem as “loose ties” to the country in the eyes of man, it is abundantly clear that Alarice and Calvin have opened their hearts to God and the nation of Singapore, to carry His heart for His people and to serve Him in this place.

In fact, Alarice once shared this in an interview with Selah: “Ever since I was a little girl, the Lord had tied my heart to this nation; I remember listening to a few National Day songs and weeping.”

And at her tender age, she’d already started on her music journey in Australia, where her dad was based for work, having been talent-spotted by her teacher in school. Little did she know, but her voice and her unexplainable heart for a country she’d never stayed in would one day be divinely woven together.

It’s hard to imagine how a natural performer like Alarice could ever feel insecure or uncertain about her talents. Even before AG, she was already professionally writing and recording music as a singer-songwriter.

Yet, I learnt through our friendship over the years that she’s had her own journey in learning how to take ownership of her God-given gifts and wield them for His Kingdom purposes.

The struggle with self-consciousness and doubt, uncertainties and fears, the desire for affirmation and the joy of being championed by a godly community are just some aspects of her story of stepping into her destiny as a worship leader and musician. It is certainly one that many on the same path can identify with.

Alarice would tell you herself that she would not be who or where she is today had it not been for the precious individuals in her life who were faithful to identify and call out her gifts.

People seldom take active steps to affirm those who have a God-given gift for something, because they do it so well that one assumes they already knew they were gifted at it and didn’t need to be told again. Serving in ministry, I’ve often been left to wonder if I completed my assignment excellently or not, because there was simply no response – positive or otherwise – from the people I was serving with.

But Alarice and the AG team are different, they don’t make those kind of assumptions with the people they meet. It is both their culture of honour – a huge thing in AG – as well as Alarice’s heart to affirm and champion others.

One of my favourite memories in our songwriting class was when each of us presented the original songs we had written for a mid-year assignment. Though it took time, Alarice and Ian (our other songwriting mentor) made an intentional effort at the end of each presentation, to affirm every individual and pray over each of us.

I recall one moment in particular where Alarice stopped one of the students after his presentation and said: “Doesn’t he have a great voice, guys? You have a great voice. Now, say it, ‘I have a great voice!’

Alarice, Calvin, and the AG team never meet and mentor people for the sake of it. They’ve always been after something bigger than themselves. Thus it is not uncommon to hear words like “nations” or “generations” in their conversations.

The desire to disciple one generation for the sake of another yet unborn (Psalm 102:18) is so essential to the call of the school, that their syllabus includes a teaching titled “Thinking Generationally”. The heart and vision of this team is great, because they have caught of glimpse of the greatness of God’s own heart.

As John Piper puts it: “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”

Apart from the obvious work of running a school that cultivates a generation of true worshippers, Alarice and Calvin have also been intentional to involve AG in mission work throughout the year, fulfilling the missional call to disciple nations into becoming worshippers.

The couple believes that each nation carries an inimitable sound of worship – a heart cry unique to each people group – and they have set their hearts on unlocking every nation’s unique offering of praise to their King.

Your name, and Your renown, O God, is the desire of our hearts.” (Isa 26:8)

AG desires to empower the children of God in the ministry of worship so that true worshippers may better execute His will wherever He plants them. In this season, God has stirred them to steward their skills and resources towards unlocking the sound of worship in the heart of this nation.

From the simple prayer of: “God, we will disciple an entire generation in this nation with You – for You – if that is what is on Your heart for us”, God has worked through AG to touch so many lives.

It is all God. The hallelujahs raised by AG have indeed been multiplied by a simple act of laying down their five loaves and two fishes (John 6:1-14). By their example, I am compelled to look beyond myself, and allow God to use my life for His greater purposes.

AG are my family, because they truly live as children of God and the Kingdom. And in worship with them – I am constantly reminded that I must do the same.

AG’s latest single, “Hallelujah (For the Broken)”


Awaken Generation 2018 Applications are now open. Early bird applications close November 19, 2017. All applications close December 17, 2017. Their streams include: Vocals, Keys/Guitar, Bass, Songwriting and Dance.

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How I got my life back on track

by Tricia Tan | 9 November 2018, 4:51 PM

I did not know how misaligned I was in my body, soul and spirit until I literally collapsed onto the floor.

After teaching for more than 15 years, I resigned and enrolled into a Bible school. Upon graduation I was headed to Cambodia for a missions trip, but I was stopped dead in my tracks by a rude shock.

I had arranged to meet my Bible school friends for dinner. I parked my car at level five of Plaza Singapura, opened the door and stepped out.

Suddenly, an excruciating pain hit my back. I could not stand up. The pain was so unbearable that I slumped to the floor. Lying on the ground helplessly, all I could manage to do was grab my phone to call my friends.

When they found me, they called for an ambulance and I was wheeled to the A&E department. My friends told me later that a car had reversed into the empty lot next to mine. Had they not located me, I would have been crushed since I was in the driver’s blind spot.

Thank God for preserving my life! I was diagnosed with a slipped disc, and that was when I began what I call my wilderness journey.

During my recuperation, I had no regular income – but I had regular quiet time with God.

God showed me how misaligned my life had been. I was running on the performance treadmill and relying on my own strength to accomplish things. No wonder my body protested – I was burnt out.

Having the luxury of time in my hands, one of the things I enjoyed doing was learning at different seminars. I attended one organised by Archippus Awakening.

Now, something interesting happened two weeks before the seminar. A word was released to me that I would be given a new sense of smell – I would smell fragrance in the presence of His truth.

And at the seminar I really smelled fragrance!

Busyness is not fruitfulness. Faithfulness is key.

God had my attention.

And as I heard Pastor Henson (founder of Archippus Awakening) speak about being awakened, aligned and assigned – my spirit leapt in resonance!

God whispered to me that I was called out to be in alignment with what He wants to do in this season. I was to be anything but aimless.

I wanted to finish strong and to be able to say I had done what God assigned me to do. So I charged to the book table after the seminar and bought a copy of Say to Archippus. I devoured the book and got in touch with Pastor Henson after that, eventually attending an awakening event (a retreat) to learn more.

As I focused on intimacy with God, my body began to recover, as my soul and spirit were restored.

I also began to receive assignments from Him. God said to say no to teaching and yes to writing. That was challenging because I would have no regular income.

But as I learnt to obey Him, He encouraged me. When my second book was published, I received encouraging reports of how the book had been a blessing.

When we focus on the aligning, God will do the assigning.

One email from a caregiver excited my heart: She was reading my teaching anecdotes to a 77-year-old retired lady suffering from dementia. Usually unresponsive, this lady began to move her hands and a smile appeared on her face.

The caregiver told me how encouraging it was to see her patient progress; she was prompted to write to encourage me. I knew in my heart then that God was affirming my obedience.

I also resolved to discern between kingdom assignments and Christian activities. In choosing kingdom assignments, I was experiencing unspeakable joy and a sense of purpose amidst challenges. Life becomes all about Christ and being intentional to fulfill kingdom purposes.

Obedience is the key to unlock blessings.

When we focus on the aligning, God will do the assigning.

One of the kingdom assignments I took up was to be a mentor in the Mentoring Aligning Process (MAP) – an Archippus Awakening initiative. What mentors do in MAP is journey with their mentees to check their alignment to God.

In such a ministry, I learnt to do things differently. I learnt to let God empower me and to work from a posture of rest. That meant having to completely trust Him and obey Him – not relying on my own strength or wisdom.

God is my King, and I do what the King says. I have been awakened! I do not want to go back to sleep again. Busyness is not fruitfulness. Faithfulness is key. I am also thankful for a community of kingdom friends, Archippuses, whom I can journey with and spur one another on to finish our race.

May I encourage all of us to be awakened, aligned and assigned for our King and His kingdom purposes. May we echo Jesus’ words in John 17:4: “Father I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.”

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Man on a mission: To the marketplace and beyond

by Jonathan Cho | 9 November 2018, 4:41 PM

I haven’t been on a mission trip in some time. The last trip that I recall was sometime in 2010 to Hatyai, Thailand.

It was such a wonderful experience – one that I will continue to look back upon fondly: Moments of deep intimacy with God and the team, seeking His will each day for what we should do next and how best to do it.

Last year, my wife and I committed to set aside a portion of our annual leave to doing missions beyond our doorstep. Things got slightly complicated when we realised in the middle of the year that we were expecting our first child, as it restricted our travel and movements.

But it was this very turn of events that caused me to consider: Is going overseas the only way for us to participate in “mission work”?

The answer seems obvious, but for some reason most of us still carry a conventional view of missions that paints a picture of overseas travel, crossing cultures and nationalities, eating different food, speaking different languages.

I’ve long held that view myself, and as much as we know that missions begins at our “doorstep”, it somehow doesn’t resonate as quickly with us.

As a compromise, I took a short break from my full-time job instead to spend a three-month stint with Youth With A Mission’s Discipleship Training School (YWAM DTS).

It was a bittersweet transition for me to take a sabbatical from work and have a time-out from the marketplace. I found myself suddenly liberated from the demands of working life but thrust into a community of people that I was not quite accustomed to seeing on a daily basis.

Being a missions agency, YWAM is basically made up of – wait for it – missionaries. Most of my DTS course mates were also full-time church workers, and I was amongst a minority who spent their Monday to Friday (and Saturday) working a full-time job in the marketplace, and only my “leftover” time in Christian ministry.

As a “marketplace” guy, the first few weeks at YWAM was definitely a challenge. Questions like: “Are you planning leaving your job to go into full-time ministry or become a missionary?” were in abundance.

I often found myself embarrassed by these questions; they were of course well-intended, but it left me feeling almost like a second-class Christian – what had I been spending the past 5 years of my life doing? Did it count for nothing?

In an attempt to give an adequate answer to these questions (and to assuage my own internal conflict), I would answer: “I’m a marketplace missionary”. It sounded confident, but the truth was that it was borne out of insecurity.

Faced with questions like these, I grew uncertain of what my role in God’s story was, and I was definitely desperately trying to find my place among this group of amazing missionaries.

Theologians and Bible scholars have long studied and contemplated the meaning of missions – what God’s mission in the world is and what the Church’s mission should be.

In my simple and (if I may say) child-like view, missions is essentially this: God’s agenda. And if so, we must certainly accept that God has an agenda everywhere – not just in the out-of-country locations that often form the “missions destinations” in our mind, but also in our offices, corridors, schools, homes, and streets.

We may not realise it, but even being in this “concrete jungle” requires us to “cross cultures”, speak different “languages” and be “all things to all man” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Imagine the fresh graduate accountant who is thrown into the deep end of the pool, having to navigate a new office culture, adopt a fresh set of terminology and social language for meaningful interaction with his peers and supervisors.

Missions is essentially this: God’s agenda – and God has an agenda everywhere.

What then do we make of this? It may be a matter of mere terminology, but I am reminded by this simple definition that I am in every sense, on a mission everyday.

A mission to seek God, to know what He’s thinking when He sees what we see around us; to understand His agenda for the people around us and places we enter; and to partner Him in what He intends to do.

I can have that same level of “deep intimacy with God, seeking His will each day for what we should do next and how best to do it” in my daily work, as I do on an overseas mission trip. This life is our mission field.

And as His children who seek to do His will in every arena of our existence, I dare say that we are all on a mission all the time; each one no less in “full-time” than the other. Full-time is a posture more than it is a position.

Towards the end of my course in YWAM, the community gathered to pray for those of us who were returning to our different spheres: Overseas missions, church, and the marketplace.

By that time, through the teaching sessions, I had learnt to accept and even embrace my role in the story that God was writing. This meant that I had resolved to return to the marketplace and seek an understanding of the work that God was doing there; to seek the shalom of the very city and office that I had long been placed in.

In every sense, the time of prayer was like a commissioning – a sending out. Many things were said, but what I remember most was the parting conversation that I had with one of the experienced missionaries. Before this, I’d never had the chance to share my thoughts with her.

She came up to me after prayer with a word of encouragement, saying this: “You know, Jon, although you are going back to work in your office, you are as much in the mission field as I am, as we are – in fact, the ground there in the marketplace may even be much harder.”

For those of us in the marketplace, our work and ministry is not second-class at all.

I have often repeated those words in my mind, not because I need the affirmation, but to remind myself each day that I do have a purpose where I am each day; to carry the heart and mind of God to the people I meet and the work I do.

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
Abraham Kuyper

The path back to work since then hasn’t been entirely smooth-sailing, but my mind often traces back to moments like this as a reminder that for those of us in the marketplace, our work and ministry is not second-class at all.

Yes, there may be daily tasks for us that may not intuitively fall into the category of “Christian ministry” as some of us have come to understand, but I am learning that God definitely has an agenda for wherever He has positioned me, even in this bustling city.

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7)

The stark reality is this: There is a group/category of people that is within my specific reach because of my geographical location, profession, skill-set, and placement – and these are people that the heart of God is after.

In an age of technology and easy travel that makes our world a global village, we can easily extend our lives to friends from all nationalities simply by taking a walk on the city streets. Perhaps that is exactly what Jesus longs to do the most through each one of us, to reach those in every corner of the earth, first-world business districts included.

As I write this, my mind returns to a moment when I brought my two-month old daughter with me to work for a visit. It was exhilarating for me simply because I wanted to show her what I was up to everyday.

She may not have completely understood the full picture, but I found myself carrying an innate desire to reveal it to her and help her get it, even if it would take the next few years for me to do so.

I wonder if this is how God the Father looks at us – we think that we are bringing Him with us to work and to the office, but perhaps He is the One bringing us to work with Him.

And as His children, He calls us to partner Him because our mission must be this, as modelled by His Son Jesus Christ: To do only what we see our Father doing – and that He is always at work, everywhere in the world.

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Lean in, lean back: He’s okay with that

by Jonathan Cho | 9 November 2018, 2:49 PM

“A disciple is someone who is leaning back on Jesus, hearing his heartbeat, and from that perspective, looking out into the world.”
—Dave Lomas

It all began with a message by Dave Lomas called “Lean back”. It was based on a passage in John (John 13:21-29), which describes how the disciple “whom Jesus loved” leaned back on Him as they reclined together at the table in fellowship, moments before Jesus was taken away.

According to Lomas, this was a perfect picture of how we can find rest in the Father’s love, the same way Jesus too rested on His Father’s bosom (John 1:18) in perfect submission and trust. And His call to us is the same: To lean in and listen to what He is saying, as well as to lean back and rest in His love.

Do you recognise my voice
The beating of my heart
Let it drown out all the noise
That’s keeping us apart

The image stuck with me for some reason – I simply could not get it out of my mind. I asked myself candidly: Did I really believe that Jesus would love me in such a deep and intimate way? Or was there something about the love of God that I haven’t quite understood?

“Lean in, lean back. Rest on His chest, He’s okay with that.” I wrote down the words that had surfaced in my mind and left it sitting in my collection of other virtual notes.

A couple of weeks later, I was invited to a songwriting session with Awaken Generation, where we were asked to prepare song ideas to share. As the day drew closer, I revisited my notes and these same words came back to me.

In a moment of inspiration, a melody came to mind, and I quickly recorded it down as a voice memo whilst penning the lines.

Lean in, lean back
Rest your head on my chest
I’m okay with that
Lean in, lean back
My love is wider than the ocean
Are you ready for that?

Still, even after writing it down, the words and language I used to express God’s love for us seemed so unconventional and alien – could I really believe this? Was I being too radical or worse, heretical with my thoughts about God?

I mean, who would imagine Jesus saying something like: “I’m ok with that?” or “Are you ready for that?” I wasn’t sure. But if nothing else, I would at least have something to share at the songwriting session, if I were asked.

Well somehow, I ended up sharing that little chorus and was encouraged to develop it further. But I was stuck – what else could I say? I could barely comprehend “how deep the Father’s love for us”. What exactly is God’s heart for His children and how would I express His desire to love us so intimately?

These thoughts continued to permeate my mind as I drove home from the songwriting session. But by then, I was simply looking forward to being home to see my wife and little one, Zoey, who was barely a month-old then.

I arrived home to a sleeping wife and baby, and quietly carried little Zoey out from the cot, wanting to wind down from the day together. I enjoyed just being with her. As I sat down on the sofa to adjust myself, Zoey squirmed a little and I propped her up, resting her head on my chest. She snuggled up and quickly fell back to sleep.

And then, it clicked. The moment could not have been more divinely orchestrated – I was receiving a picture from God Himself. He delighted in me resting on His chest. In the same way I was enjoying Zoey even though she was doing nothing but resting, He truly desired and loved to carry me tenderly. Where else did I get such fathering instincts from?

Immediately, like a download from Heaven, words and images started to surface in my mind and I understood fully what the Father had been trying to show me all along.

Is it hard for you to speak?
Is it hard to lift your head?
I am gentle with the weak
Let me carry you instead

He wants us close to His chest because that is where we will hear Him the clearest – it is where we will hear what is on His heart and begin to recognise with greater familiarity the sweet cadence of His voice resonating throughout every part of us.

And we must learn to trust Him enough, that when we rely and rest on Him so unreservedly and fully, He does not reject us. Just like Zoey and me. If I, a human, broken, sinful father can love my daughter in such a way, how much more my heavenly Father, from whom all fatherly-intuition comes from?

Listen, seek
Breathe in, deep

I began to think about how I would want my children to grow up knowing me – I would want to them to know their father’s voice. I would want them grow in trust of my goodness and love towards them, truly believing that whatever the situation, they can be confident that I speak into their lives only from a place of deep love.

While this process begins with recognising my voice (literally), it matures into an ability to recognise the heart behind that voice, to the point where it has the ability to “drown out” all the noise, discouragements and lies of the world.

Isn’t that what our Lord desires for us too? (John 10:27-28)

As I began to gently lift up Zoey’s head and adjust her to make her rest more comfortable, I cradled her little head gently, remembering how fragile it was and how dependent she was on me to care for her, to respond to her cries for attention.

My love is more than enough, child
More than enough for you

Is this how the Father sees me, too? How vulnerable and broken we must seem to be Father! That in our moments of weakness and desperation, God tells us that all we need to do is cry out for Him in “wordless groans” (Romans 8:26-27), and that the Spirit of God intercedes for us – He hears, He knows, and He understands our deepest yearnings and needs.

And as those revelations came, I penned down every thought and allowed the Father to take me on a journey of recovering the language of love between a Heavenly Father and His children, a language that has become foreign to so many of us.

Lay down your burdens
And I’ll give you rest
Lay down your weapons
Lay down your weapons

Perhaps this image of deep intimacy is something that many of us dare not even imagine. Could we really imagine ourselves reclining next to Jesus at the dinner table, lying on his chest? Some of us don’t even do that with our friends or loved ones.

Lean back on Jesus’ chest? Are you sure? Aren’t we supposed to bow down before Him?

It is something we must hold in tension – God is the Almighty One, the One who shielded Moses and hid him so that Moses would not be consumed by His glory; and yet also expressed perfectly in our Lord Jesus – the very representation of God, dwelling amongst us in human form.

He is a God who reclines with us at the table and invites us to rest on His bosom in an act of crazy, radical intimacy. Who dwells within us in Spirit, one with us in our suffering, that we may share in His glory (Romans 8:17).

This is exactly what Jesus did during His time on earth. This was how He lived out His relationship with His Abba. With His ears always close to His Father’s heart, He was only ever interested in doing what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19).

Jesus understood what God truly cared about. He knew who He was, that He was loved, and that His Father delighted fully in Him (Matthew 3:17). And He invites us all to do the same – to lean in, lean back, and trust that the Father is always okay with that.


“Lean In” is a song from Awaken Generation‘s latest album, “Our Light Has Come”, which has been released on October 24, 2018, on all major music platforms.

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What are you wrestling with?

by | 9 November 2018, 2:35 PM

One of my favourite actors is Dwayne Johnson. He’s better known as The Rock, a nickname he got while he was still a professional wrestler.

I love his acting versatility and his charisma; it’s actually pretty hard to reconcile the soft guy he is with the exaggerated, violent theatrics of his previous career as a professional wrestler.

But one thing about professional wrestling is that it doesn’t really resemble what wrestling and struggling actually look like in our lives. A lot of it is internal; wrestling to accept the way things are in our lives.

And just as wrestling is about submission, the truth is that all believers struggle to surrender to Christ at one point or another.

Why do we find it hard to surrender to Christ?

After all, the Bible tells us that from the beginning, He already knew the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11). And when we surrender to Him, He gives us rest because His burden is easy and light (Matthew 11:28-30).

The fact is, we only ever want to rely on ourselves. We make decisions to benefit ourselves because we wrongly believe that we are the masters of our destiny and in control of our happiness.

Yet it was God who started His good work in us (Philippians 1:6) by even creating us. So when we decide to complete this “work” based on human strength and understanding, it will never work out.

God is not our opponent standing in the way of fruitfulness and happiness. We are our biggest opponents.

As Jacob physically wrestled with God (Genesis 32), he was also wrestling with himself.

After all, he had just been told that his older brother, Esau, whom he had stolen the family birthright (Genesis 25:29-34) and inheritance (Genesis 27) from, was coming to meet him with 400 men (Genesis 32:6).

Jacob must have been frightened. He knew that Esau had planned to kill him (Genesis 27:41), and that the 400 men coming with him could well wipe out his entire family and all he had. And he knew that he would deserve such a fate.

Against the facts and numbers, Jacob also had God’s promise from the time he was at Bethel: He would be the father of many and God would not leave him until He had fulfilled His promises (Genesis 28:10-15).

It was God’s promise that Jacob clung on to as he prayed: “Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted’” (Genesis 32:11-12).

God is not our opponent standing in the way of fruitfulness and happiness. We are our biggest opponents.

I believe that even after that prayer, Jacob was still afraid, and not fully surrendered to the Lord.

That is when his inner wrestling manifested into a physical one with God, who seeing that Jacob would not relent, brought him physically to a posture of complete surrender and submission (Genesis 32:25).

Since Jacob’s hip had been wrenched, there was no way he could physically escape the potential disaster that lay ahead of him. I believe that’s why he told God: “I will not let You go until You bless me”.

In my view, that is the moment Jacob learnt to have total reliance and dependence on the Lord. In complete dependence and surrender, God made a way for Jacob out of a potential conflict.

When the brothers met, Esau ran to receive Jacob with grace (Genesis 32:4), and they were reconciled.

How ironic it is that we struggle to surrender to the Lord and keep striving in our own strength – when He has already promised freedom when we choose and follow Him (Galatians 5:1).

The Lord is sovereign over us. He is sovereign over all. That truth alone will always bring comfort. He is the only one we could surrender and submit to totally.

He is the God we can fully trust.

/ samanthaloh@thir.st

Samantha is a creative who is inspired by the people and stories around her. She also loves striped tees and would love to pass her collection down to her future children. Currently level 1127 on Candy Crush.

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Feeling desperate? Worship is the answer

by | 8 November 2018, 2:24 PM

Think about all the things you’re struggling with today. What would happen if I asked you to take a step back from the problems and worries … And worshipped?

Have you ever thought to do just that in times of trouble — to worship when you’re at your wits’ end? To the rational and solution-minded, worshipping in such a scenario sounds counter-intuitive. And that’s the point.

As Singaporeans who lean towards practicality and pragmatism, the next time a serious problem arises, I want us to consider: What if worship was the first recourse, not just the last resort?

Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-31, where King Jehoshaphat defeats the armies of Moab, Ammon and Mount Seir.

The odds were completely stacked against King Jehoshaphat and the country of Judah, as whole armies were marching upon their territory to decimate them.

If we were leaders in such positions, I suspect that many of us would be hastily making preparations to retreat, or perhaps drawing up the terms of surrender for a capitulation agreement. We would be thinking of compromise.

But what was King Jehoshaphat’s response? He “resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3), as all the people gathered at the temple of the Lord.

Do we realise the gravity of the image this chapter gives us? That’s an entire nation, coming together in crisis, looking to God as the first recourse and the last resort: “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

What would life look like if at the first sign of trouble, we seek the Lord, fast, pray and worship? How oblivious we often are to the fact that the Almighty God is with us.

What happens next in Jehoshaphat’s story is remarkable.

“Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.” (2 Chronicles 20:14).

Jahaziel received a revelation from God. He shared with the assembly the message that the coming battle belonged to God, as well as the exact details of God’s impending victory and Judah’s deliverance.

What is interesting to note here is that Jahaziel was a Levite and a descendant of Asaph. As a Levite, he and his family, and all the generations before them, had been set apart for worship since the days of Moses (Deuteronomy 10:8).

Prayer is the fragrance of heaven, and worship the sound of God’s assured victory.

And Jahaziel was a descendant of Asaph. Asaph was one of the great seers and worship leaders of King David’s time (1 Chronicles 16). All this to say: Worship was in Jahaziel’s blood.

So it is little wonder that the Lord released revelation to Jahaziel — someone wholly devoted to ministering to the Lord. A true worshipper (John 4:23) who was singled out by Father God as the one to bring revelation.

Worship brings revelation. What if we were Jahaziels in the face of our hardships or a seemingly impossible situation? Hearing a single word from God can transform our whole lives — let alone a circumstance!

Though we are often tempted to believe we are helpless creatures, we have this fearsome weapon in true worship of God.

“After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his[c] holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”” (2 Chronicles 20:21)

It might initially sound incredibly stupid to have musicians at the front of the army — surely you’d want your strongest fighters there. But true worshippers are the strongest fighters.

Consider this: In the chaos of battle or inertia at impending crises, music is the most effective tool to command troops or galvanise forces.

We can see the results of this strategy right in the next verse: “And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed” (2 Chronicles 20:22).

Side note: There have been so many times in my life I’ve felt so beaten down and wearied, that I could hardly pray or speak a word. But I could still sing the worship songs imprinted on my spirit since childhood.

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
“With Christ in the vessel, we can smile at the storm.”
“My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.”

And I’d be edified and encouraged in that moment. I believe audible worship unto God changes the spiritual atmosphere of the place we are in. It takes us from looking at ourselves, to looking at God.

There is an inherent heavenward direction to worship, such that we cannot remain rooted or mired in the weariness of life for as long as we seek God worship.

And there is nothing demonic forces hate more than the sounds of our prayer and our voices in worship of the Almighty God. Just as Jehoshaphat’s enemies were routed as the worshippers sang and praise (2 Chronicles 20:22), I believe a similar thing happens to demonic forces when they hear the sound of true worship.

Prayer is the fragrance of heaven, and worship the sound of God’s assured victory.

King Jehoshaphat knew the power of worship.

He treated worship as a divine spearhead against the enemy, which tells us that worship isn’t just something to do before and after a big crisis. Worship is also crucial during the throes of the crisis.

The greater truth is that worship should be taking place all the time, in feast or famine, peace or war. For a worshipful life reflects the very purpose of our design as creatures of worship, destined to bring glory to God and pleasure in Him.

So what are you up against today? Would you dare to believe that worship is the answer to the seemingly impossible?

A worshipful life reflects the very purpose of our design as creatures of worship, destined to bring glory to God and pleasure in Him.

Draw near to God in worship, for the sake of worshipping God Himself. He deserves the highest praise and is worth the weightiest worship.

And everything else that is going on in the world … We can leave that to Him.

He reigns from Heaven and is in complete control.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you …” (James 4:8)

/ gabriel@thir.st

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.

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