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. 

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.

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.

End Of Year Instructions

Bible Reading: Exodus 33

“Now, therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight” (Exodus 33:13)

2021 is soon coming to a close. What is in our minds at the end of this year? Have we taken time to reflect on what has happened this past year, and have we surrendered our lives to God once again for the new year if that day will come by God’s will? In the midst of all your busyness at the end of this year, plus the addition of all this covid havoc, please take time to be still and meditate before God on all the things He has done for you this year. 

Ask yourself these two questions before God. Firstly, has God led my life this past year? Secondly, have I grown to see His glory this past year? Ponder about how God has led your life and how He has given us spiritual growth over this past year. Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves, have we found favour in God’s sight? 

If we can testify to God’s goodness and faithfulness over this past year, then praise God! But just because God led us through this past year, that doesn’t mean that God will surely lead us in the next. In Exodus 33, Moses had reached a pinnacle moment in his personal and Israel’s communal walk with God. God had valiantly led them out of slavery in Egypt. God had set His people free so that they could worship Him in the wilderness. Yet, because Israel was a stiff-necked people who made idols to replace God, whom they quickly forgot about, God said He would no longer go with them. 

To this, Moses prayed in intercession. His plea for the future consisted of two petitions on the basis of God’s promise. God promised that He knew Moses by name and that Moses had found favour in God’s sight. God reaffirmed this from His mouth in verse 17, “this very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name”. Yet, Moses wanted God’s promise to be his felt experience in the coming future. Therefore, he petitioned, “please show me your ways that I may know you” so that he could experientially know God’s favour for Him. 

As we face the new year, may this be our prayer also. Pray that God may continue to show His clear leading in our everyday lives. God is leading us if we are growing to know Him and see Him in His glory. So, we must pray that we may know Him more and more. All in all, pray that God’s promise of His favour towards us in Christ (read Romans 8 if you need the reassurance of this promise) may be our lived everyday experience. Only then will we be able to glorify Him and enjoy Him simultaneously, revering at the glories of God’s grace which is our ultimate end, as Ephesians 1 and 2 explains. 

May God have mercy on us all in these last few days of 2021!

“Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11) 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.

Hope In The Midst Of Evil

Bible Reading: Luke 1:1-7

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7)

Christmas came in the midst of an evil and merciless time. At that time, Mary was in her late pregnancy. Yet, a man of great power, Caesar Augustus, thought that it would be about time to hold a worldwide census. This great man was proud of his power and achievements. He was the epitome of human pride and rebellion against God — a man who thought he was omnipotent without God. 

When Caesar called for a census, he had no mercy. He ordered all people to return to their hometowns. There was no mercy for people like Mary, who was soon to give birth. What would have Mary thought? There would have been nothing but bitterness in her heart towards such evil and pitiless men. 

Mary was forced to walk hundreds of miles to Bethlehem. It was a death wish. How could she endure such a journey when she was about to give birth anytime? Evil reigned at that time, and evil wanted to crush Christmas.

When Joseph and Mary got to Bethlehem, there was no place in any inn. All the rooms were full, and there was no room for a woman to give birth. How hopeless would have Mary and Joseph felt? What curse of sin left this couple no room to give birth? Why were they deprived of basic necessities any human deserves? What sin caused so much suffering?

The only place to stay that was available was an animal’s stable. It must have been a filthy place filled with animal dung. No reasonable human would stay the night in such a place waiting with bacteria and diseases. Yet, in desperation, Joseph cleaned up the stable for Jesus to be born. He lined the animal manger, that food tray filled with animal saliva, to place the coming Baby. 

The place was filth. From an outsider’s view, there was no dignity in this birth. This was an example of the degrading experience of suffering as a result of sin’s curse. Yet, in such a place, Jesus was born. Evil could not sway God’s plan. In a humiliating place, a Saviour for mankind was born. There was hope in the darkest place. 

This is the essence of Christmas — God incarnates to overturn the darkest places in our hearts to bring forth light. He is willing and able to give us hope in our broken and sinful hearts. Have we accepted Him? Has His love overflowed in our hearts? Can we rejoice at the joy of Christmas, praising Him for what He has done? 

May we remember His love once again this Christmas.

Lord, thank You for Your love shown through Your Son on Christmas. We praise You for You bring hope in the midst of the darkest evil. In Your wrath, You do not forsake Your people. Yet, You sent a Saviour so that those who believe might be reconciled with You. Teach us to rejoice and to love You more. 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 Lasting Christmas

Bible Reading: John 13:1-20

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1)

Jesus humbled Himself to incarnate as a man so that He could portray God’s love to this world. Jesus came to love His own, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, casting out demons. Amongst all these, Jesus gave the gift of faith that those who were healed would believe and be forgiven. Jesus, Himself said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).

Even amongst Jesus’ disciples, there were tax collectors. Take Matthew, for example. The amount of public shame associated with a tax collector sitting in his tax booth could be synonymous with a prostitute in the middle of an act in today’s culture. Tax collectors were liars who scammed everyone for money. They were corrupt government officials who did not pity the financial stress of others. Yet, as Matthew sat in his booth, Jesus came and called Matthew to follow Him. Jesus then went to recline with tax collectors and break bread. Here is God, the Holy of holies reclining with the sinner of sinners. See God’s love for this world! What vile sins are hidden in your heart? Behold, Christ is willing to come in and dwell with you! Open your heart for Him!

This is the love that came at Christmas. It was a bright shining hope for this broken and rejected world. Yet, we often complain that today is different. After 2000 years, we can no longer see Christ in the flesh, and such love seems to have vanished. But that is not the case. Jesus promised that having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them also to the end. That means, His love lasts for eternity. “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The love He showed to tax collectors and sinners while He was still on earth is the same love He shows to us today. 

Notice how Jesus demonstrated His love through the action of feet-washing, a dirty act reserved for non-Jewish slaves. Jesus not only cleansed feet, but He has stooped down as a servant to all to cleanse sinful hearts by dying for sin on the cross. This is Christ’s love which is still at work today. While Jesus was on earth, He visited those who were broken. Today, Christ still works through the power of the Holy Spirit, who visits helpless sinners and opens to them the bright light of the gospel for their salvation. Christmas was not a one-off event. It lasts to this day!

Lord, thank You for the love that You showed on Christmas. Thank You that Your love continues to this day. Bring us to comprehend even more deeply Your love for us this Christmas. Draw us closer to You and teach us to love You more each day. 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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