Lies Teens Believe

Bible Reading: Philippians 3:7-11

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Phillippians 3:7)

Recall the moments after we attend church retreats. We leave behind good memories and fun times but also leave with renewed hearts, revived hearts, and a new passion for serving and knowing God who is the ultimate Truth. Contrast that with our daily life — school routines, packed schedules, afternoon tea cravings and hectic morning rushes. Maybe, some of you are reading this on the bus, train or car to school!

The point is, the times we had to retreat and reflect on life for extended periods of time are temporary. Daily life, with all its pressures and struggles, has returned. My question for us all is this — after returning to our daily lives, do we now see and overcome the lies we once believed in? Are there lies we continually fall into?

One of the most dangerous things about lies is that we believe them. Lies are so evil because we believe them to be true. We can’t see with our own eyes our flaws. Even if we have overcome a few lies we talked about, Satan has endless arrays in his weaponry. We are not strong or capable on our own. We must pray for God’s help, who in Christ has won the victory over evil. We should also share the struggle with others in love within the church. Ask our spiritual mentors, whoever they may be, to point out the lies they see we believe in. 

One of Satan’s oldest tricks is to lie to us about satisfaction and joy. This is evident from the recount of Eve! Firstly, Satan lies about God. Satan questions Eve, “did He really say you couldn’t eat from this tree?” Satan longs for weak Christians like us to plummet in doubt and questions about God. Satan wants us to question, “can God really satisfy me?” “if God exists, why is my life hard and miserable?”, “God doesn’t really care or understand my deepest emotional needs”. 

After these lies, Satan will deceive by saying, “look at your worldly friends, they have joy and satisfaction in gossiping, having lots of friends to party with, social media and tv shows”, and the list goes on. Satan really wants us to fall that we waste the limited time we have here on earth. Satan cannot take away our salvation which is secure in the blood of Christ. However, Satan can deceive us into living lukewarm lives that have no significance in His work. 

God’s truth to these lies can be found in Paul’s discourse to the Phillippians. He shares His own testimony and points out how once He found Christ, all else became “rubbish” in comparison. Who can say the same as Paul? Who understands what it means to be dead, now alive, to be blind but now sees? 

Most times, our joy and satisfaction are not in the Lord and His Word. In theory, it should be. In reality, it doesn’t play out. We become happy and satisfied when we have lots of friends and fit in. We can’t stand up and say that our greatest desire is to know God. 

Consider verse 9, “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”. Paul is resolved with joy in his heart about the greatest thing he ever knew. He saw that all he thought would satisfy him until God Himself rebuked Him and turned Him back into the right path to be used by Him. 

If our desires and love for God are still mixed and weak, pray and ask God to create in us pure hearts. Seek with your whole heart a life that grows in understanding the glory of God’s truth and our sinfulness. 

Lord, please shape a heart like Paul in me. Let my heart be filled with love for You at all times. Please help to trust in You in the midst of my community who are living in lies. Change my heart and let me grow to see and taste just how wonderful and gracious this is. Thank You, God, for all your leading and faithfulness in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

The Turning of Time

Bible Reading: Psalm 90

“The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty…So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:10a,12)

If you are of Chinese descent, along with three billion other people, you would have celebrated the Lunar New Year just over a week ago. Firecrackers went off, dining tables were filled with luxurious feasts, and red envelopes were passed around to all the lucky children. It was a time of joy, a time of celebration with family, and a time filled with positivity and hope for the future. 

As humans, we mark and celebrate the changing of time. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us how “[God] has put eternity into man’s heart”. We understand that life is more than just this world. We know that time turns. Yesterday does not come back, and today is only temporal. 

While there is nothing wrong with celebrating the turnings of time, Moses prays for deeper wisdom. He asks God for a realisation of time. Time changes rapidly, and time is limited. As Moses said, a lifespan is seventy or eighty years if you are strong. Cut away a third of that due to sleep, cut out your current age, and you are left with around thirty-five to forty years to live, depending on how old you are. Convert that to days, which is only around twelve-and-a-half-thousand days left to live. That is if you reach seventy years. Who knows, tomorrow could very possibly be our last. Each day passes, and we journey one step closer to our end. Time ticks, and it will not wait. 

1. If time does not stop, what should be our response? Seek God. As Moses prays, “satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we may rejoice and be glad all our days”. Only satisfaction in God’s unfailing love will bring us real joy and purpose in this world.

2. Leave sin. The whole book of Psalms constantly reminds us how the wicked will perish. Living in sin, living for self, is a life of vanity. We were not created for such rebellion. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God…Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:1,5)

3. Don’t waste it. The book Do Hard Things by Brett and Alex Harris speaks of society’s low expectations of teenagers. Society expects teenagers to sit around and watch tv all day, look mature but inside be irresponsible. Sadly, that is our culture today. John 9:4 says, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.” Our time on earth is limited. Why wait to serve God when you can serve Him now? If you understand the depth of the love of God, why would you not be eager to use all you have to bring Him all the more recognition and glory? 

Do not waste your time on trivial and unimportant business. Every second of your day is valuable because it never comes back. Use it wisely. When we surrender our whole lives to God, that means we offer every second of it to God. He has a grand plan for our lives. 

Is each moment in our lives lived out in obedience to His plan? Obedience is not a legalistic process or an obligation out of fear and guilt. Obedience is our joyful response of love to God. If you know that God loves you, love Him back by surrendering your time fully for Him. Seek His plan for our days. You will see that He has a grand plan for our future, and He has a plan for every single day of our life. Walk with Him and learn to follow Him each day. 

If time does not wait, let us not wait to follow Christ; let us not delay obeying Him. Trust in Him and His ways. Leave our sinful ways and know that His ways will bring us the greatest joy and satisfaction. 

Lord, teach me to number my days as You instructed Moses. Please help me realise what it means to live on this earth from a young age. I know that sin and the world is vanity. Please help me get to know You, serve You, and find my joy and satisfaction solely in You, my creator. Thank You, God. Please answer my prayer. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

A Reality to Live For

Bible Reading: Acts 2:14-47

“For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:39)

It’s the second week of February, and our life routines have just about resettled themselves. From the hectic mornings to the afternoon tea cravings, life seems to have fallen back into gear after the extended break. Head down, and we diligently chip away at our daily tasks as they pile up before us. Amongst such chronos, what is our motivation to keep going? What gets us up again each morning? 

As Christians, we often fail to see the grand vision and mission God has left for us. God is working out His grand plan to restore His Kingdom above all things, and somehow, miraculously, God has intertwined our lives to play a part in His plan. 

Peter’s sermon is the first recorded in the book of Acts. It is placed only one chapter away from Jesus’ ascension and commission to “be [His] witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Filled with the Spirit, Peter preaches boldly the reality of God’s Masterplan that had just unfolded before his eyes. 

Digging back to the prophet Joel, Peter proclaims how God had promised back in the Old Testament of a Saviour. God had long promised to humanity that He “will pour out [His] Spirit on all flesh”. God had promised that He would come to save humankind from their sin and brokenness. And now, with boldness and ecstasy, Peter points out the good news; the promised Saviour was Jesus of Nazareth, the man who had just been with them. How is that so? How do we know?

We know because death could not hold Him! Again revealing how the Old Testament had prophesied this, Peter declares how David “foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:31). Not only that, but David also prophesied that Jesus who they had just witnessed ascended into heaven, had done so to be made “both Lord and Christ” by the Father. 

After seeing God’s will and masterplan unfolded before their eyes, the Jews who heard Peter asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?”. Peter responded with boldness, “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). 

After hearing such truth regarding God’s salvation masterplan, three thousand souls returned and repented. And guess what happened to their lives from that day on? 

v. 42 – 43 says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles”. 

As Christians, our chronos should be filled with hope and purpose because we have come to behold God’s masterplan and purpose for this world. Our days should be lived out in awe because we know that the God of Isaac, Israel, and Jacob is faithful and has fulfilled His promise to come to earth to give life. Our daily lives should be filled with zeal because we know that the risen Christ is Lord and He is working out the plan of His Kingdom. 

To God’s Church, arise and take heart! Jesus who commissioned His disciples to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth is actively working our His plan. Peter, who first preached to the Jews in Jerusalem was the first account of Christ’s active work. Today, the gospel has spread across the whole globe and continues to spread. He who was working is still actively working through His Church to expand His Kingdom until it entirely comes when He returns. 

May our days be filled with awe. Let us devote ourselves daily to God’s Word, to fellowship within the church, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers. Let us serve God diligently as we watch God unfold the riches of His “glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:6). 

Lord, please help me to see the hope and joy there is in You. Show me Your Glory. Let me get to know You for who You truly are. Rekindle in me a fire like the fire of apostle Paul and the early church. May your Spirit work to open the eyes of Your church today. May you give a zeal for Your kingdom and a trust in Your grand plan to restore all things under the Rulership of Christ. Thank you, God. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

Fish And Fishing Rods

Bible Reading: Nehemiah 8:1-8

“They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.” (Nehemiah 8:8)

After many years in exile, living in a pagan land, God allows Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to build up the ruined city walls and bring God’s people back to their land. The Israelites had been exiled in Babylon for many generations. Over the years, their faith and culture must have diminished. Babylon’s pagan religions and tongues would have heavily afflicted their language and philosophy. These returning Israelites were confused children who no longer knew God’s law or their own identity as Israelites. 

Yet, upon return, these confused Israelites opened the Word of God. Ezra, the scribe, opened the book before all the people and read aloud. The Levites helped all the people to understand what was being read. From early morning until midday, all the people stood up, listening attentively to the Book of the Law. With seriousness and solemnity, God’s people understood who they were and who God is once again. Bowing their heads to the ground, they worshipped the God Jehovah. 

Today marks the 365th devotion and Regeneration-Z’s first birthday. For one year, we have prayerfully sought to see God work through us as He did through Ezra. In a secular culture where God’s children are confused about their identity, we have proclaimed the Word of God, praying that God will give understanding to His truth, as He did towards the returned exiles. In particular to these devotions, I pray that as I have invited all of you into my personal study of Scripture, God may use my flawed words to give understanding and clear sense to God’s truth in Scripture. Through proper understanding of God’s Word, we are brought to worship — to be changed from inside out. I pray that this is the end to which God uses Regeneration-Z and all its ministry. 

To this day, I have been feeding you the fish. I have hauled my sails early in the morning, sailed out to sea, dropped my fishing rods and captured the fish for you. But now, I hope to hand you the fishing rod, for there is so much more blessing in the process of Bible study than mere consumption of packaged devotions. I can’t express how monumental my personal Bible study has been to my faith. Throughout this year, increasing hours spent in the Word each day has been everlasting springs of nourishment to my soul. These are God’s grace and gift in my life to whom I ascribe all praise. 

Yet, in the year ahead, I hope that all of you may learn the art of fishing yourselves. The fishing rod is Bible study. This means getting knee-deep into the Scriptures yourself. When was the last time you set time apart to sit down at your desk in the morning and study your Bible? Have you ever actively paid attention to the words and phrases of a passage and sought to understand what God was saying to you? 

I hope that in this next chapter of Regeneration-Z, we can all grow in this process of Bible study. There are many resources out there to help, and I will point out a few. The first is Transformed by Truth by teen author Katherine Forster. This is a go-to manual on how to study the Bible as a teen. From here, getting a study Bible like the ESV Study Bible as well as using resources like Matthew Henry’s commentary, the online Greek-Hebrew interlinear Bible and the Scripture cross-referencer, the Treasury of Scripture knowledge, will significantly aid in our process of Bible study. 

These devotions will be recycled, and if these devotions have been a blessing to you, I encourage you to keep reading them. Don’t just follow something for its novelty. There is much blessing in reading something again. Personally, I receive many blessings in reading my writing again because as time lapses, old words apply to new contexts. 

Yet, I also encourage you to start digging the Scriptures for yourself. God wants you to grow in knowing Him. He is waiting for us to join Him in growing fellowship. This relationship deepens when we spend more time listening to Him through His Word and speaking our hearts back to Him through prayer. Such ‘I-and-Thou’ relationship is personal. And it begins with a personal engagement with God’s Word. So, are you ready to get your hands dirty?

Lord, we thank You for Your faithfulness and blessings through these devotions over this past year. Looking ahead to the next year, we pray that You plant in Regeneration-Z a hunger for Your Word and a revival of teens who are serious about studying Your Word. Your words are life, and they sustain our soul. Have mercy on us and draw us into a closer and more intimate relationship with You. May You continue to work amongst us. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

New Year Resolutions

Bible Reading: Psalm 37

“Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” (Psalm 37:3-6)

What are your new year resolutions? A lot of the time, we make resolutions because we want to improve ourselves. We want to be better people than we were in the last year. This is all good, and we ought to strive for growth all the time. But, the question is, what is our definition of ‘good’?

Our ‘good’ is often defined as becoming prosperous. We want friendships to prosper, family to bloom, personal habits to improve so that life would be more easy-going. We always seek a more comfortable and joyful life. These things are not wrong. However, there are no joys or eternal comfort to be found in becoming prosperous in worldly things. 

Our relationships with friends and family, as well as our personal circumstances, can fluctuate. There will be good times and hard times. We might not always enjoy the financial luxuries we do, and future days could become tough from circumstances outside our control. More than that, all these pleasures are like grass that fades away. They are here today and wither away tomorrow. 

So what should we be resolving in this new year? 

For me, I am resolving to be the godly man David describes in Psalm 37. This man does not fret over the godless’ prosperity nor about their vain lifestyle. He knows there is something more precious — eternal things. For the godly, trusting in God is their treasure. They learn to obey and follow their beloved Master faithfully. They learn to make God the delight of their heart. When this becomes the case, God gives them their heart’s desires because what they desire is what God desires too. 

The godly surrender every day of their lives to God’s ways and leading. When God’s leading seems humanly impossible, they trust that God will deliver them, that He will act. They trust that God will not forsake those whom He has made righteous. Patiently, they rest in patient waiting in God’s refuge. They can be still before God’s presence and entrust all things into the hands of their Lord. Although this man may fall, his steps are established by the Lord, and he will never fall out of God’s reach, for God is upholding them. 

At the beginning of this year, resolve before God one thing — to surrender your whole heart and life to trust in Him. When you trust God to become your delight, the director of your life, your refuge, your place of quiet rest, your Master, all things in life fall into their place, making everything beautiful in its time. The godless do not know of such eternal prosperity reserved for the godly who on the outside may not look prosperous at all. May God help us as we dedicate our whole lives to Him once again. 

Lord, we thank You that we may enter the new year. If you give us the grace to live, grant us also hearts that fear You. We surrender our whole hearts and lives to You once again at the beginning of this year. Teach us to trust You even more, this year. We are your servants. Guide and use this life in this new year as You please. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

God’s Will For My Life

Bible Reading: Acts 20:17-38

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

The end of the year brings about a realisation of time, bringing all people worldwide to reconsider their existence and purpose on earth. The years tick by so fast, and in less than twenty-four hours, we will enter the new year if God wills. The year will change, and 2021 will never come back. As the age progress, our lifespan regresses. Time is short. What’s important is, how will we use our time? What is God’s will for the limited time we have on earth? 

For Paul, life was more than selfishly pleasing himself. To many of us, this might be what we live for unconsciously. The goal of our days is to selfishly enjoy the company of friends, selfishly study and work to acquire luxuries in the future, and even selfishly serve God at church so that our conscience is satisfied and we can live guilt-free thinking we are already right with God. Such life is vanity! It has not to value whatsoever. If this is you, deeply reconsider your life’s purpose and repent. 

For Paul, life was about obeying his Lord, Jesus Christ. Paul had a personal relationship with his Lord. He trusted his Lord and knew that God had good plans for him. Paul lived with his eyes fixed on Jesus. His only intent as he walked this earth was to finish what his Lord had entrusted him to do on this earth. His eyes only sought the approval of his Lord, whom he loved because he was loved first by his Lord. 

The work entrusted to him was to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. This was God’s will for Paul’s life, and it is God’s will for our lives. This might look different in practice applied across different contexts, but the essence and end goal of all Christian’s lives are essentially the same. We are called to be witnesses to God’s work of grace in us, displaying the glory of God to all creatures in heaven and on earth. We are called to proclaim the good news of salvation to the whole world. We are called to be ministers of God’s Word, which is powerful for salvation in all contexts. 

This is God’s will that is plain in His Word. Have we ever thought deeply about how we can actually apply this in each of our life contexts? 

The first and foremost question is this. Do we personally know God’s grace? Have we experienced it? We can’t testify about God’s grace if we have not experienced (and are not continuing to experience) the goodness of the gospel. Are you asking what God’s will is? Firstly, it’s simple — take God’s Word seriously. Read it, listen to it, go to church and discuss it, pray over it, apply it, seek it like a dying man, and do it, again and again, every day and every hour of your life. God’s Word is what can make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. God’s Word is what will make a man of God complete and equipped for every good work. Go read up 2 Timothy 3:14-17.

However, knowing in our heads is not enough. We are called to obey, to act. We testify to God’s grace through our obedience, our pursuit of holiness. These things show how God’s grace has worked in us, making us new people in Christ. Being holy, we are set apart for service to God. What gifts and talents have God called us to develop and use to serve Him and His church? What part of God’s body have we been called to? How do we use all that we’ve got in our beings to proclaim the gospel to the world? How can you offer your life as a living sacrifice? 

This is God’s will for you. As 2021 comes to a close, may our vision be focused on Christ once again. Our time on earth will soon pass. Focus your eyes on eternity, on the hope set before us, and live out your days in response to your Lord who has rescued you from the depths of sin. 

Lord, we thank You for Your guidance and goodness in this past Your. You are ever faithful and unchanging in steadfast love. As we look towards a new year, we surrender our lives into Your hands once again. Take our lives as living sacrifices and use us up as Your witnesses on this earth. Lead us and show us Your will for each of our lives in the year to come. We ask in Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

A Broken And Contrite Heart

Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 12:1-15, Psalm 51

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

Nearing the end of this year, let us introspect our hearts once again for all the sins we have committed and the sins which still abide in our hearts. To us, our sins might seem permissible or even valid. But to God, they are evil, and they “utterly scorn the LORD” (2 Samuel 12:14). We ought to pray that God reveals our sins the way He sees them. 

Laying our hidden sins plain in God’s sight, pray for a broken and contrite God which God will not despise. Our initial response to sin is to reject it, hide it, or formulate some valid reason for it. In our deceitful hearts, we never want to see sin for what it really is — evil in God’s sight. God does not want us to attempt to fix our own hearts. That is impossible, and that only shows our inherent pride, which still thinks that we are good enough to be holy by ourselves. We must come humbly and helpless to God. It is only such people that God restores. 

At the end of this year, come humbly to ask God to clean your hearts. Pray with David, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice” (Psalm 51:7-8). 

A broken and contrite heart accepts God’s will for blessing and consequence wholeheartedly. As Nathan cursed David saying that evil would arise out of his house and his wives would be given to his neighbour and slept with him on the rooftops before the sun, David remained silent. He did not retaliate or argue with Nathan. Instead, he wholeheartedly submitted to God’s will. David simply responded, “I have sinned against the LORD”. For the rest of David’s days, he bore the shame of his sin. 

Evil prospered amongst David’s children, and David could do nothing but humbly accept God’s will for Him. David’s son Amnon raped his daughter Tamar. David’s son Absalom then killed Amnon and eventually usurped David’s throne. Finally, Absalom had to be murdered. Amidst all this, people like Shimei in 2 Samuel 16:5-14 mocked David, saying, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man!”. David’s servants were mad at this nobody for mocking the king. Yet, in humility, David accepted that it was the Lord’s will to be humiliated and his throne overturned. 

Despite David’s seemingly ruined future, it is penitent and humble men that are pleasing before God’s sight. And to such people, God’s promise, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13), does not fail. David’s last words recorded in 2 Samuel 23:1-7 reveal David’s triumph and God’s goodness and blessing, which overflowed to David. 

2 Samuel 23:5 says, “For does not my house stand so with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire?”

David, the man after God’s own heart, was not perfect. He sinned greatly. Yet, his repentance and humility were what made him great. So may we learn to be humble as David was and walk in fear of the Lord. 

Lord, have mercy on us, for we are sinners before Your sight. Our hearts are clogged with evil that scorns You. Please forgive us. Cleanse us and give us broken and contrite hearts because those You will not despise. Plant the humble heart You gave to David in us as well as we soon enter the new year. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

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