A Future and A Hope

“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

This is one of the most loved and frequently quoted verses of the Old Testament. And well it should be! It contains one of the greatest messages of all time – one worth shouting from the rooftops. It’s a message the world desperately needs to hear in our day. And the Church is the only legitimate, exclusive, and authorised ‘dealer’ of this priceless commodity – I’m speaking of HOPE.

A little context serves to magnify the beauty and power of Jeremiah’s words. Israel was facing a Holocaust-like moment, one on which its very survival was hanging in the balance. Whole towns had been emptied of their citizens – bereft, pillaged, and arsoned by marauding Babylonian hordes.

Overnight, countless thousands in Judah lost everything – homes, land, livelihoods, security, and freedom. Exiled on the riverbanks in Babylon, the psalmist poignantly pens these unforgettable verses that unmask their despair:

“There we sat down, yea, we wept
When we remembered Zion.
We hung our harps
Upon the willows in the midst of it.
For there those who carried us away
Captive asked of us a song
And those who plundered
Us requested mirth,
Saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’”
Psalm 137:1-3

Languished and confused, the captives huddled hand to mouth under the moping willows until one day, a letter arrives from Jeremiah, the man of God. Perhaps expecting more gloom or decrees of judgement, a swell of exhilaration must have swept through the camp as despondency gave way to anticipation.

The letter exhorts us to build houses, plant gardens, to marry and have sons and daughters. God has not forgotten us! Here in this foreign land, yes, even here, the Prophet says God is executing an extraordinary plan to restore and redeem, yes, even to prosper us! He’s been holding us in His heart the whole time!

Since the pandemic, counselling services in Singapore have been inundated with nearly double the number of clients. Divorce and suicide rates have risen sharply. Mental illness has crept out of the shadows in our world, unexpectedly taking the podium at the Tokyo Olympics, but also affecting our colleagues and neighbours. Senior Consultant Psychiatrist at NUH Dr. John Wong says the increase in stressors and alienation resulting from the pandemic has “created a sense of hopelessness”.*

Without a doubt, the world is shaking, reeling to and fro like a drunkard (Isaiah 24:19-20) as Isaiah prophesied. But we hold the key to prosperity and peace. Our feet are planted on the Rock. Unlike those without Christ, our circumstances do not define us. The proliferation of confusion and uncertainty will never take us captive. God’s Letter has come to instruct us to keep a positive outlook. Build! Plant! Multiply! God’s got plans for you – good plans!

We all go through times when we’re tempted to hang our harps upon the willows. But, at the end of the day, we know who we are. We’re Cornerstone! If someone tries to carry us away and mockingly asks us to sing a song of Zion, we’ll turn with a wink and say, “Which one?!”

*https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/more-needed-help-during-pandemic-say-mental-health-experts

Pastor Kevin Graves

 

The Samuel Initiative

Four years ago, I heard these words ‘The Samuel Initiative’ vividly in a dream. I’ve never heard anything like that and had no idea what that meant. Wanting to dig deeper into its significance, I began to study the book of 1 Samuel.

The nation of Israel had a priesthood that had lost its vision and was corrupt. They had a form of godliness but denied its power. God was desirous of birthing something new amidst a barrenness. The story of Hannah who birthed Samuel was God’s solution to spiritual and societal compromise in the land.

Israel had undergone repeated cycles of backsliding and deliverance generation after generation. Eli, the spiritual leader of that day, had not disciplined his own two sons. As a result, Israel had become a barren wasteland due to the read more…

Pray Always

I’ve just completed my yearly consecration of a 40-Day Prayer and Fasting on our National Day. This season was unusual and special in several ways. In previous years, I satiated the 40 days with daily prayer meetings organised by Elijah 7000, Love Singapore, and other church prayer ministries. I’d fill my mind with the Word of God through reading, studying, attending conferences, and teaching seminars.

This year, I upped the ante by organising daily and weekly prayer meetings with my community in response to Pastor Yang’s call and preparation for revival. And it’s been an awesome season, riding the waves and building the momentum of praying together. It’s special because I’ve experienced a fresh grace for prayer. 

In his book Virgin Eye, Christian author, Robin Daniels, calls it ‘unceasing prayer’ – something I’ve been trying to learn and experience daily.

Prayer, read more…

I’d Rather Have A Buffet!

One of the most popular verses in Ecclesiastes is in chapter 3, where it talks about the different seasons in life and a time for every matter under heaven.

The first thing that caught my attention was two key points: 1) Everything 2) Has a season. The entire chapter reveals a time to be born; to die; to plant, and to pluck up what is planted; to kill, and to heal; to break down, and to build up, etc.

This list really is not just things that randomly happen but what God sovereignly allows to happen in our lives. This fact is hard for many of us – I too struggle with this greatly.

Sometimes, I’d watch food videos on YouTube before sleeping. Don’t ask me why, I still have no idea why I keep doing this! I recently saw read more…

God says, “Ask of Me”

In the last week of July, we convened our annual Cornerstone Global Network Conference with 23 countries from 5 continents meeting across the online platform. This global Covid pandemic has thrust us into this engagement, and God should have His way in this pandemic season.

Psalm 2:8 declares, “Ask, and I will give you all the nations; the whole earth will be yours.”Another version says, “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.”

The picture here portrays the relationship between prayer, asking, and receiving the ends of the earth which belong to Christ. It’s about the nations of the earth praising Jesus as His inheritance.

Hebrews 1:2 says Jesus has been ‘appointed heir of all things’ and we’ve become fellow heirs, joint heirs, and heirs read more…

Cultivating a Tinder Heart

“In the eighth year of his reign … he began to seek the God of his father David, and … purge Judah and Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 34:3

During camping trips growing up, as the youngest of four boys, I was often tasked with foraging the woods for tinder to light the campfire. Spiritually-speaking, as God prepares to set His people ablaze, His eyes run to and fro throughout the earth looking for tinder among us.

2,650 years ago in Judah, God’s eyes fell upon a young king named Josiah who would usher in one of the greatest renewals the nation ever saw.

Josiah re-instituted the Passover, something no king of Israel had done before, and he ‘removed all the abominations in all the country … and made all who were present in Israel diligently serve the Lord their God’ (2 read more…

Thought on Marriage from a Newly-Wed

I spoke recently for the first time ever at a wedding and it got me thinking about marriage. I add a disclaimer that I’m no expert on marriage. I’m in fact a beginner, having been married only for a short three years, hence the title of this blog post.

The most commonly referred-to passage in the Bible on marriage must be Ephesians 5. Here, Paul established an incredibly high standard for both husbands and wives.

The men love it whenever Ephesians 5:22 is read in church, ‘Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.’ Ephesians 5:25 then continues, ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her’ and we cower at that command. A husband is required to love his wife and deny himself for her. How hard it is to read more…

The Strange Tale of Kepa Arrizabalaga

In the 2019 English League Cup Final game between Chelsea and Manchester City, fans were treated to a spectacular sight of bizarre behaviour by an elite footballer.

Chelsea’s goalkeeper, who goes by the name Kepa, had just been treated for cramps and, with the clock winding down to the end of extra time and the penalty shoot-out looming, Chelsea’s manager signalled for a tactical substitution. The reserve keeper, Willy Cabellaro, with a better penalty record, was coming on for Kepa.

But, instead of following orders, Kepa refused to come off the field, waving his index finger furiously in the air and repeatedly shouting “NO!” defiantly at the bench. It was comically astonishing for the millions who were watching. The referee couldn’t get Kepa off the field, and Chelsea’s team captain and teammates could read more…

The Blessing Is In The Seed

My 8-year-old son loves watermelon. But there’s one problem – he likes it without seeds.

We normally eat watermelons with seeds intact, mostly for convenience, given the extra work to remove the tiny seeds. He reasoned that “No one eats the seeds. It’s not meant to be eaten.” On hindsight, there’s some spiritual truth in his words.

This precious truth is found in the first book of the Bible, in the very first chapter of Genesis, also known as the ‘Book of Beginnings’.

In Genesis 1:11-12 (NKJV), we read, ‘Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. …and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.’

This phrase was mentioned twice in these two read more…

Stop Making Useless Vows

In the 18th Century, James Boswell, a well-known Scottish author, said, “Hell is paved with good intentions.” That’s really intense if you think about it, but there’s some truth to it. Actions must be taken and followed through for intentions to become a reality.

Boswell’s quote is a summary of human nature not to follow through on what’s right. In fact, James tells us this is sin. ‘Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.’ James 4:17

I recently met up with a man who’s been visiting Cornerstone for about a year. He told me that God had told him at the beginning of the year that he should be rooted in a community. During the closing prayer, he told himself and the Lord that he’d start attending read more…

A Battery of Tests

”I got an A, Dad!” Few things bring a broader smile to a parent than this announcement following late nights and cram sessions at the close of a semester.

For our kids who have been through the Singapore school system, it seems you’ve hardly taken a bow for one job well done and the pressure is already building for the next jarring series of exams.

Maybe God helped to write the curriculum! If your walk with Him has been anything like mine, you’ve noticed you’re either just breathing a sigh over one completed test or you’re staring down the barrel of the next.

You also might think you’ve been sitting for your present exam much too long. You look around: the room cleared out long ago, the air-conditioning has been shut off, and you’re left sitting read more…

Man Enough For Fatherhood

Evangelist Billy Graham once said, “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”

Pastor Larry Stockstill, Senior Pastor of Bethany Church in Baton Rouge for 30 years, said, “Fathering is not just a role, it’s a foundation.”

This weekend, we celebrate Father’s Day and fatherhood. A day to honour and commemorate our fathers, to inspire fatherhood and maximise the blessings that fatherhood brings.

In my lifetime, I’ve had close encounters with four fathers – my paternal grandfather, my own father, the father of my children, and the father of my beautiful granddaughter. There’s nothing easy about being a father and we want to recognise the influence fathers have in our homes and society, and to foster paternal bonds.

My father lost his mother at a young read more…

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