Monthly Archives: January 2011

5 Minutes with K.P. – Christ, Our Identity

Destined to Soar - KP Yohannan Books

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Has it ever sunk into your heart that Jesus and you belong to the same family? You are even named after Him. And “Christian” is not just your new family name; it’s your whole identity.

God wants you to know what this means because it will anchor your Christian walk and give you inner strength, freedom, confidence and clear direction.

It’s essential that we find our identity in what God declares about us in His Word. Let’s make His proclamations personal. I encourage you to continue the list I’ve started here:

I am a child of God (see Romans 8:16).

I am a conqueror through Him (see Romans 8:37).

I am an ambassador for Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:20).

I am His witness (see Acts 1:8).

Because God wants all of us to be His witnesses and ambassadors while we live on earth, each of us has a special role in His kingdom. Perhaps we are called to be a Barnabas, an encourager; a Timothy, who faithfully serves and learns under an older servant of God; or a Stephen, who is a fearless witness. Know God’s call on your life. Write it down. It’s important for you to know where you fit in God’s plan.

When we study the lives of those in the Bible whom God called for a specific purpose, we often find that many gained clarity regarding their identity and mission while going through trials and wilderness experiences.

Jacob, after 20 years of scheming and failures, finally came to the end of himself. In the midst of all hopelessness, he heard the words from the Man who wrestled with him all night: “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel” (Genesis 32:28). Jacob understood his identity was no longer that of a deceiver but that of a prince. From that moment on, his life changed until it matched what God said about him.

After 40 long years living as a refugee and shepherd in the wilderness, Moses had even lost his ability to articulate well. That’s when God told him, “I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10). Moses’ identity in God’s plan was that of a deliverer who knew God face-to-face. This became clear to him after all the glamour of Egypt had been stripped away and he stood alone in the wilderness before the burning bush. As he began to walk in his identity, Moses fulfilled God’s plan.

Gideon, hiding and scared to death of Israel’s enemies, heard the Angel of the Lord declaring his identity to him: “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” (Judges 6:12). He first thought it was a bad joke. However, each time Gideon stepped out on this declaration with a tiny bit of faith, he found it to be true, and he increasingly gained courage. In the end, we see him boldly marching with 300 people against an enemy “as numerous as locusts”—and God giving him the victory (see Judges 7:12–8:12).

Even Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, fasting, praying and facing severe temptations, before He started His public ministry. Although He already knew who His real Father was, He revealed His identity as Messiah only after His wilderness experience.

None of us looks forward to facing difficulties, loneliness, misunderstandings, problems and accusations. All these can present real wilderness experiences. I want to encourage you not to let these times be an end in themselves, but to find in them who you are in God’s plan.

Being aware of who we are in God’s kingdom is important for our stability on this journey. Every day Jesus encountered people who publicly declared that He couldn’t be the Messiah. Even His closest followers were oftentimes confused about His identity.

How did He ignore all those voices around Him and continue His journey toward the cross without being shaken? He listened to and believed only one voice—that of His Father. Each time people asked Him who He was, He confessed the identity His Father declared about Him.

We must follow the footsteps of our Lord. We too must refuse to give in to the voices of our mind and emotions and whatever negative things other people tell us. Instead, we must confess, believe and act upon the identity Jesus gave us in His Word and the calling of God upon our lives. This will lay a strong foundation for our life and service to God and set us free to live through Christ.

Whose voice will you believe?

Destined to Soar © 2009 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

Faith and Common Sense

A Life of Balance - KP Yohannan Books

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Nothing is going to be accomplished for eternity without faith. Only that which is done by faith will last. It is impossible to please God without faith (see Hebrews 11:6). Faith is the foundation of everything. Salvation will never happen without faith. Sanctification will never happen without faith. Heaven will never be ours without faith. But we need to be careful not to embrace foolish steps of ungrounded “faith.” We need to keep a balance between faith and the common sense God has given us.

The ministry of Gospel for Asia is a testimony to the power of faith in action. The Lord has done so many incredible things that we alone could have never made happen. What God promised to do, He will do. Faith is one of the subjects I like to talk about, because I see it working continually.

Oftentimes, people forget that we cannot respond beyond the measure of faith we have received from the Lord. When we hear incredible stories of God’s dealings with other people, surely it encourages our hearts to believe God for greater things. But in all of this, we must guard against the tendency to exercise “faith” not in line with God’s purposes. We cannot decide on something “good” we want to have happen and then presume God will do it if we keep on praying. We must not fall into the “name-it-and-claim-it” trap. God’s definition of “good” is so much greater than ours. He has our spiritual well-being in His perspective. For a lot of people in Christendom, faith has become a magic wand that will do wonders to meet certain wishes and wants. This type of “faith” is totally self-centered, leaving no room for God’s glory or the extension of the Lord’s kingdom in someone’s life. Hebrews 11 shows those whom God considered people of faith; their lives were spent continually for the glory of God, and they paid the price with their life.

When we read about David facing the giant Goliath and defeating him, and Abraham getting a son even though his natural body was incapable of producing such, and the wall of Jericho falling down, and about all the many incredible miracles recorded in the Gospels—the blind man seeing and the leper healed—we stand amazed to see how these individuals believed God and held onto His promises.

We need to realize that the faith they had was not something they could cook up. Rather, it was based on what they heard and learned about the grace and the promises of the living God. We, too, are given the challenge and encouragement to believe and have faith for God to do wonders on our behalf.

Let us be careful not to presume on God and take foolish steps, acting out of presumption. I pray for sick people often, and I see God heal and do miracles. I have seen people recover from illnesses for which there was no treatment. But does that mean I don’t take medicine? No.

I have a friend who is a well-known preacher, whom God used to do outstanding miracles. I was an eyewitness to what happened. The blind saw. Totally deaf people heard, and mute people spoke. I was right there when these things happened. One day this pastor told me that he had developed a heart problem. Up to that point, he had experienced continual healing in his life, and he was scared to go to a doctor. But the Lord spoke to his heart and said, “If you don’t go to a doctor, you are going to die. If you go to a doctor and get treatment, you will live.” So he went to the hospital, had surgery and lived.

I asked him why he thought this had happened. He told me that he believed the Lord wanted to show him that He heals through medicine and doctors. God wanted him to help other people see this, too, so that they were not led into blind faith. It is not God’s intent that people die because they refuse medical attention. My friend realized that the whole experience was God’s plan to help him understand the balance needed in this area.

God is the author and finisher of our faith. Faith is something He gives us through His Word and in proportion to our readiness to receive it. We cannot generate our own faith through the flesh and positive thinking. We need to have understanding so we can discern these things. It is absolutely essential to keep a balance between faith and common sense so that we do not fall into counterfeit faith.

 

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

The Devil is Bad Enough

A Life of Balance - KP Yohannan Books

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It is so important that we strive to maintain a balance between attributing things to demonic activity and recognizing natural phenomena. A particular instance comes to mind when I think of this subject. It was a time many years ago when I was speaking at a church. After the meeting a lady came up to me and said, “Brother K.P., will you please lay your hand on me and pray for me?” Naturally, I asked what she wanted me to pray for.

She answered, “I have a demon of smoking.”

I replied, “Dear lady, you don’t have a demon. You can cast out demons, but you cannot cast out the flesh.”

For every flare of temper, every weakness, every time you sneeze, you may think, “Oh, there is a demon.” Your car just swerved into the next lane or some madman drove through the red light. “Oh, there’s a demon attacking me.” No. The Devil is bad enough. Don’t attribute every little bad thing that happens to him.

Please don’t look at the events in your life and think demons are after you all the time. There are demons and there are attacks. But we should be careful not to become paranoid of the things that happen in life. If there are demons, the Lord has given us the authority to pray and tell them to leave—and they must go.

The truth is, the Devil is defeated. Therefore, the child of God has no reason to be afraid of Satan and his hordes of demons. Someone who has truly repented of sin and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ lives a life that has been washed in the blood of the Lamb. When Jesus died on the cross, He placed demons and Satan—the whole evil bunch—under His feet. And we are the Body of Christ, so the whole satanic force is under our feet. The Scripture specifically tells us, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4, NASB).

One of the main tactics that Satan uses is causing us to forget who we are in Christ. This deception is very powerful. When we forget that Satan was defeated through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, we also forget the greatness of our God. In Ephesians 1:20–23, we read of the tremendous authority that the Lord Jesus Christ has given to His Body, that is, each one of us who belongs to the Lord:

. . . when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

For many of us, we constantly see the Enemy and his tactics all around, and we focus on what we see rather than on the power of our God. This is clearly illustrated in the story of the 12 spies who were sent out to evaluate the Promised Land (see Numbers 13). Except for Joshua and Caleb, 10 of them—the majority—came back talking about the giants they saw in the land and how they could never conquer them. It even says in Numbers 13:33, “There we saw the giants . . . and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” They made the confession that it was impossible to possess the land God had promised them. The problem was not the giants—it was that they saw only the giants. What they overlooked was the greatness of God in the situation and how God saw them—able to possess the land by His might!

This is so true in our lives today as well. When dealing with daily life struggles and issues, especially if they are influenced by satanic forces, we can easily forget that God is just that—God! Ephesians 6:16 (NASB) tells us we should take up “the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” That means no matter what we face, we are given the authority, and we can overcome and stand firm and victorious.

At the same time, we need to be very careful that we do not look at people with emotional problems or certain mental problems as being demon possessed. Just like there are large numbers of people living with physical illness, there are thousands and tens of thousands of people who are inflicted with some form of emotional or mental problem. What they need is counseling based on God’s Word and treatment by professional people.

Please understand. There are very real physical and mental illnesses. With some of these you can pray against demons all you want, but that is not going to work. These people need treatment, help and counseling. At the same time, some people are demonized, as seen in Mark 5:1–20. Nothing will help them except praying and casting out the demon.

There are natural phenomenas, calamities, problems and difficulties in life. But there is also demonic activity that needs to be recognized for what it is. Unless we are careful, we can get out of balance and forget there are two sides.

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

5 Minutes with K.P. – Neither Do I Condemn You

Destined to Soar - KP Yohannan Books

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James and John were furious. These Samaritans had the gall to close their village to Jesus just because He was traveling to Jerusalem. Instead of being overwhelmed with gratitude that the Jewish Messiah would even set foot on their soil, they closed their doors.

Convinced that these heathens didn’t deserve another breath, the two disciples volunteered to call fire down from heaven, like Elijah, and wipe them out. Jesus rebuked them immediately with these words: “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of” (Luke 9:55).

Jesus’ closest followers reverted to serious carnality just days before His crucifixion. This incident tells us something. In our own selves, when we are rejected or mistreated, we are capable of forgetting all the spiritual things we have learned and responding with judgment and retaliation just like the rest of mankind.

What happens to us that we so quickly look down on others? Along with Jesus’ disciples, we as believers sometimes feel we are qualified and even called to judge others because we think we know the laws of God and are zealous for righteousness.

But Jesus didn’t judge those Samaritans who rejected Him. Neither did He judge the prostitutes, sinners and tax collectors who came to listen to His sermons.

The religious leaders brought Jesus a woman caught in adultery, convinced they had Him trapped. He was a Jew. He knew the Law of Moses. The stones were ready—He would have to pronounce the death penalty over her. But when He challenged those who were without sin to cast the first stone, one by one they left, each convicted by his own failures.

In the end, Jesus, the one and only One who could have passed judgment over her, sent her away with the words, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

What prevented Jesus from judging others? It was His knowledge of the purpose for which His Father had sent Him to this earth: “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Luke 9:56), and “He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives” (Luke 4:18).

Unless we learn to leave judgment to God, we act like a wrecking crew, demolishing lives wherever we go, and do not exhibit the Spirit of Christ.

I remember a massive old building in downtown Dallas, which I passed every day as I went to seminary. But one day, to my surprise, the entire building was gone. I learned that a demolition crew had brought it down within seconds. All that remained was a huge pile of debris, which trucks were in the process of hauling away.

This is a very vivid picture of what happens when we begin to judge others. Unlike our Heavenly Father, who looks upon the heart, we only consider the outward appearance. That’s the reason we end up misjudging people’s motives and having no mercy for those who fail.

For the same reason, Eli, the priest who was supposed to represent God’s heart, looked at Hannah in her agony and thought she was drunk. And no one but Jesus noticed the enormous sacrifice the widow made when she put her two coins in the offering box at the temple.

Matthew 7:1–5 clearly tells us not to judge because we are not qualified nor called to do so. The consequences of not staying within our job description are much more serious than we think. First of all, we will be judged with the same measure that we use to judge others. But also when we judge, we inflict additional wounds on those whom the Lord seeks to make whole and set free.

God wants us to walk through this world with great spiritual sensitivity and discernment. We should not think that He wants us to close our eyes to unrighteousness. However, instead of judging, He has given us a ministry of compassion. While the whole world was condemning One, that One was hanging on the cross for the whole world. Failure and weakness in others’ lives should only make us aware of their needs. It should evoke compassion in us and a desire to bring healing and wholeness to their lives. It should lead us to pray and cooperate with God’s work in them.

Thus, instead of judging and destroying, we become agents of change. We respond as Christ did and in obedience to Him who has asked us to follow His example.

What is your default: judgment or compassion?

Destined to Soar © 2009 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

Our Sacrifice and God’s Grace

Road to Reality - KP Yohannan Books

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In the four Gospels, Jesus talks about forsaking all, giving up everything, not laying up treasures on earth and being willing to walk away from even your own life. First Corinthians 13:3 says, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” Unless the motivation behind the sacrifices we make is love—unselfish and genuinely motivated by God and His grace—our sacrifice profits nothing.

The teachings laid out in books such as True Discipleship1 need to be balanced by those presented in books such as Grace Awakening.2 The church at Ephesus made great sacrifices, worked hard and endured difficult times. But the Lord said to them, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4–5). He said this simply because they had lost the reason for all the sacrifice and work; they had lost their first love—Jesus.

One of the marks of people who serve God with great sacrifice, but without the inner reality of grace and love, is that they criticize and condemn others, putting them down and finding fault. They look at others’ houses and think something is wrong with them for living in such wealth or squalor. They look at their clothes. They look at their kids. They compare and complain and murmur, despising people who may not even have the so-called “deeper life,” or revelations and gifts of the Holy Spirit that they have.

The older son in Luke 15 was much like this. While the younger brother was squandering the father’s wealth with wild living, he was laboring in the field as a full-time worker, sweating away. He was not wasting his father’s money. But he was full of jealousy, anger and bitterness. He had a condemning and unloving spirit. He imagined that his younger brother had done all sorts of wicked sins, such as living with prostitutes, all of which the younger brother may have actually never done. He accused his father. I can imagine him saying, “How can you claim that you are my father and that you love me? I’ve been with you all these years, and you haven’t ever given me a party. Yet my wicked brother returns, and look what you do for him.”

This attitude is the fruit of legalism and Phariseeism. It is sacrifice combined with a hard, unloving heart, and it is no good. That is why it is so important to keep a balance between living a life of sacrifice and extending grace and love to all.

I will not change the message I gave you in The Road to Reality3 about sacrificing comforts and giving up worldly possessions for God’s eternal work. I will not compromise, because I keep telling myself that 100 years from now, earthly possessions aren’t going to matter. But I regret those days when I spoke that message without grace.

One particular time comes to mind. I was invited to a home in the Midwestern United States to speak to a group of medical doctors about missions. This house was like the Taj Mahal or some great palace. I sat there fuming, angry and upset at the wealth I saw. I said to myself, “These peoples lives are all a show. Why can’t they sell all this and give the money to world missions?” I could hardly wait for the chance to speak. When my time came to speak, I said nothing about the fancy house. But what I did say was so harsh, unkind and judgmental. My attitude was so unlike Christ.

God in His mercy helped me to grow up and understand His heart. Then I learned there are millionaires who love God and serve Him with more commitment than many full-time Christian workers I know.

In Philippians 4:11–12 Paul writes, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (NIV). We must learn to live with this attitude. Simply put, Paul is saying, “If you put me in a five-star hotel, I am very happy. Bring all the best food, the caviar. And if you put me in a no-star hotel, no problem. I am content and happy there, too.”

If you are called by the Lord to be a person of sacrifice, if you are given the grace to give things up, I can tell you, it is wonderful. I could not have given up the things I held on to if it were not for the grace and the love of God. As the Lord is my witness, I found such joy and love in giving them up. I never felt sadness and sorrow in surrendering these things. Instead I got such joy—joy that nothing in the world could give me. It was God’s grace.

We cannot impose His calling for us on others or assume that others are wrong or less mature because they do things differently. It is the Lord’s work in us, not our own doing, that makes us willing and happy to surrender these things.

Notes:

1 McDonald, True Discipleship.
2 Charles Swindoll, Grace Awakening (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1990).
3 Yohannan, K.P., The Road to Reality.

The Road to Reality © 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

Our Need and Christ’s Sufficiency

A Life of Balance - KP Yohannan Books

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We all have expectations for ourselves. We all have ways we would like to be different. Perhaps we would like to be more patient or less prone to anger. When we do not measure up to the standards we have set for ourselves we become discouraged. But we have to realize that God is not discouraged with us. He never gives up on us. He never stops working with us. Balance is needed between knowing our sins and insufficiency and knowing that it is God who works within us, perfecting us for His glory.

When you pray, do you oftentimes get weighed down with confessing your owns sins and repenting for every wrong thought and failure? Sometimes it seems we can’t get over this, living with constant memories from the past and old sins that caused great pain. Many people live continually with the words, “If only . . . if only . . . I wish,” playing through their minds, unable to move past their failures.

Sometimes we feel that we don’t pray enough. We are not spiritual enough. We don’t have enough of a burden for the lost. We feel we are not good husbands, good fathers, good wives, good mothers or good children. We think negative things about ourselves, and we begin to dwell on these thoughts, beating ourselves up because we don’t spend money wisely, don’t study enough or don’t pray enough.

We all have this problem—me included. Our expectations of ourselves can take us into spiritual darkness. This happens because we become our own judge. We become our law. We become our guide and teacher, the one who evaluates ourself. In the end, it is a cesspool of self-centeredness and anguish.

Matthew 12:20 says, “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench.” Philippians 1:6 says, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

Ten looks at self and one look at Jesus will make you a hypocrite. You will have to pretend to be spiritual, living with conflict and mental torture because you don’t measure up to your own standards. Hear the frustration in Paul’s voice when he writes of the great insufficiency of I in Romans 7:14–23. If you are this kind of individual there is no rest for you. This happens because you become too introspective, taking the focus off of Christ and placing it on yourself.

But one look at self and ten looks at Jesus will keep you going. Romans 7:24–25 says, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our LORD!” Yes! It is through Jesus Christ our Lord!

It is good to know our weaknesses and failures, for how can we confess our sins unless we see them as sins? Toward the end of his life, Paul calls himself the worst of sinners (see Timothy 1:15), knowing that in his flesh there dwelt nothing that was good. This is being honest about our true condition. But in this honesty, we must also know God’s longsuffering and faithfulness in working with us in our many weaknesses.

It is in knowing our true condition that we understand the fullness and completeness of God’s great love for us. We could never fully understand and appreciate what Christ has done for us until we know something of our wretched state. Knowing the offense in us causes us to understand the depth of His grace—that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The danger lies in dwelling on our sins, failures and shortcomings.

We must look to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, the giver of all good gifts—our Master, Savior, Redeemer and Friend. We must trust Him. We must have faith that He will mold us into His image and that He will not give up on us. It took 20 years for God to make Jacob into Israel. But did God give up on him? No.
High standards are very good.

We encourage people to read The Road to Reality,1 The Calvary Road,2 True Discipleship3 and other books whose authors challenge a deeper life and commitment. The tremendous challenge is to constantly abandon all and follow the Lord—walking away from friendship with the world and keeping ourselves free from the pollution of watered-down Christianity.

None of us is capable of serving God in our own strength. That is good. None of us measures up. It is the strength and grace of Jesus that allows us to serve. “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). We have to fully understand both parts of this verse—the first part, “with man this is impossible” and the second part, “but with God all things are possible” (emphasis added).

Keep in mind—wherever you are in your spiritual walk with the Lord, God is not concerned about whether you are now a mature, strong person. No. He is looking at your heart. Let Him work with you. Trust Him to do His work in you.

I want to encourage you. When you have these struggles in your spiritual life—when you feel weak, like you are not measuring up—just be yourself. Admit your sins and shortcomings. Don’t try to prove anything to anyone. The worst thing you can do is become a hypocrite and pretender. One thing God hates more than anything else is hypocrisy.

Let us be honest with each other. I share my weaknesses and problems. One time when I was speaking to seminary students, I shared about the struggles I have in many areas of my life. It shocked the students. One of them said to me afterwards, “We never thought someone like you would have struggles in your life.”
I replied, “You must be joking!” The truth is we all struggle with one thing or another.

But even when you are discouraged about yourself, God is not. He loves you. He has forgiven your sins—the ones you have committed, the ones you are committing and the ones you will commit until the last second of your life. It’s all taken care of.

You cannot make yourself spiritual by weeping and fasting and punishing yourself. As much as you are concerned about your inner life, putting yourself down and dwelling on failures and sins will not help. Remember, it is God who is working with you and He will not let you go. He is faithful to complete the good work He started in you.

NOTES
1 K.P. Yohannan, The Road to Reality (Carrollton, TX: gfa Books, 1988).
2 Roy Hession, The Calvary Road (London: Christian Literature Crusade, 1950).
3 William McDonald, True Discipleship (Kansas City: Walterick Publishers, 1975).

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

5 Minutes with K.P. – Finding God’s Heart

Destined to Soar - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Once I watched a program on which a reporter interviewed passersby on a busy city street, asking each one the same question: “How can someone get forgiveness of sin and receive salvation?” You wouldn’t believe the answers people gave just off the cuff. Most of them spoke totally out of their vivid imaginations.

The Bible has very definite and unchanging answers to these crucial issues. However, it seems people either don’t know the Word of God or they just prefer their own opinions on the subject.

Unfortunately, this attitude is not just confined to those who don’t know the Lord! Multitudes of believers cling to their own ideas when it comes to serving the Lord and exercising faith.

But this is of huge consequence. God cannot bless us, change our circumstances, heal our bodies, fulfill His promises or put His stamp of approval on our service to Him until we align our thinking with His thinking.

We can mark it down—God will wait and work with us until we change and come to a place where we abandon our own ways of thinking and accept His. However, we can only accept His ways if we know what they are. It takes us deliberately seeking to understand God’s heart through the passages we read in His Word.

Let’s look, for example, at the church of Ephesus in the book of Revelation.

On his second missionary journey, the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel in this city. Incredible miracles happened, and many who received Christ publicly confessed their sins and burned a mountain of costly witchcraft books. The believers born out of this mighty move of God suffered severe persecution and became known for their great love for Jesus, their perseverance and their hard work.

By all New Testament standards, they were far ahead of most of us, especially in the areas of love, dedication and spiritual discernment.

But as time went by, they became cold in their hearts toward the Lord. And we read in Revelation 2:4–5 these frightening words of warning from the lips of Jesus, the Head of the Church: “I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.”

If we are honest, it looks rather unfair to us that Jesus threatens to put the light out in this exemplary church. Why would He want to burn the whole barn down for one small rat? After all, this church in Ephesus had 99 things right and only one thing wrong.

What, then, is God’s real reason behind pronouncing such a severe judgment? God’s heart concerning work, sacrifice and service sharply differs from ours.

To God, everything we live, say or do as believers is valued by the underlying motive found in our hearts. When He looked upon the situation in Ephesus, He saw that the reason for their faithful service had changed. Their true motivation was no longer love, but duty. For them, the visible service had become most important, but for God, it was the internal condition that counted.

God saw an empty shell void of the wonderful life the church of Ephesus once had, and He was going to remove their lampstand. Yet in His mercy, He revealed to them His thoughts and showed them the way to recover their loss: Repent and do the first works.

Outwardly they didn’t have to change anything, for they had always practiced the first works. But inwardly they needed to give up their own ideas about what successful ministry was all about. They had to realize that it was not work and more work, but loving the Lord—and then serving Him motivated by this overflowing love in their hearts.

The Lord knows that we so easily impress ourselves by the outward appearance of our accomplishments for Him: the hours we spend in prayer, the knowledge we acquire about spiritual things, the money we give for Christian causes, the position we hold at church or in a ministry and the number of people we teach or to whom we witness.

I believe the Lord wants us to examine closely the reason why we do all these wonderful things. After all, like the Ephesians, we also could end up building a structure made of wood, hay and stubble (see 1 Corinthians 3:10–15).

What, then, is the only safe measuring scale for our work for the Lord? It is finding God’s heart about our service for Him—as revealed in His Word. His thoughts should permeate every aspect of our lives. God does not want us just to change our behaviors, but our very being. As we change our heart to His, He will change our attitudes, our actions and our very lives. Our life will then bring forth lasting fruit.

Today, seek to know your Lord’s heart.

Destined to Soar © 2009 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

Both Sides of the Coin

A Life of Balance - KP Yohannan Books

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Have you ever seen those people in the circus—the tightrope walkers on the high wire? It’s all balance. They must study and learn the proper way to carry themselves as they walk that wire, otherwise they will fall. Balance is crucial in every aspect of our lives, whatever it may be.

In God’s plan and creation, things are made to balance out. When we look at life, whether we are Christians or non-Christians, in ministry or otherwise, we need to have balance as our anchor, cultivating it daily into our thoughts and actions.

Where do we find such a balance? We find it in the Word of God. The Bible presents us with that proper, whole and complete understanding—a stable approach of thought and action. All truth has two sides, just as a bird flies with two wings. Have you ever seen a bird with one wing fly? If you have ever seen one, I guarantee you it did not fly for long. The bird has been given two wings so that it can soar away from the earth and experience the awesomeness of God’s creation and majesty, appreciating the vastness of God’s handiwork. We also are meant to soar in this life. But like the bird, we cannot fly with just one wing, no matter how strong and healthy that one wing may be. With only one wing, we are unable to stay aflight due to unbalanced thinking, behaviors and decisions. If we focus only on one side of the coin, we do not have the whole picture and are therefore incomplete.

We must be especially careful of this imbalance when it comes to living a life that is radical for Christ. Many times people are drawn to certain movements or ministries because they operate on the radical edge—that craziness and foolishness for Christ’s sake. This type of commitment often brings a breath of fresh air in a place where ministries become dull after time. That edge is good, yet we should keep that edge without becoming too extreme. Maintaining a balance is critical to the health of any individual or organization.

If you look at many movements, you will find that radical edge—in the early days, that is. Unfortunately, many become watered-down over time. Thinking they have been too radical, full of zeal, working day and night, many feel the need to become “normal.” And normal often means lukewarm, becoming like everybody else, operating according to the standards of the world. This results in the loss of passion and purpose. Now all that remains is a structure and shadow—an organizational framework.

We should personally seek to live lives of continual commitment and abandonment—forsaking all and following the Lord. We must continually endeavor to keep that vision alive. We do not want to become lukewarm. However, unless we are careful, our desire to be alive and impassioned can produce an unbalanced extreme.

We are living in a day when extremism is clearly evident, especially when it comes to religious matters. Many cults started with Bible studies and good intentions. They did not begin as cults, but became one as they fell out of balance.

When I first visited the United States, I read a shocking article in a newspaper about a group of people in Louisiana. The members of this group were picking up venomous snakes and drinking the poison, declaring that God would keep them safe from the harmful affects. Many of these people died while proving their “faith.” Then there is the story about parents in certain churches letting their children die from diseases, keeping them from medical treatment and claiming “faith.” One family, after praying for their diabetic son, threw away his insulin. The poor child died. It was all in the name of “faith”—an extreme and unbalanced faith.

Please let us beware. Satan is the master deceiver. He masquerades as an angel of light. He will seek to sidetrack us with religious thinking that is unbalanced. The more intense and radical our lives are in following the Lord, the more authentic and holy we want to be in our pursuit of God, then the more we are in danger of getting out of balance and going to extremes.

One reason why there has been so much division, disunity and fighting in the Body of Christ throughout history is because an individual or group took a truth, stretched it to an extreme and left out the other side of the story. They forgot that the coin always has two sides and that the bird flies with two wings.

For example, take the Calvinistic and the Armenian points of view. The Calvinists believe in predestination, the election of the saints. Man has nothing to do with it; God has already chosen those who will go to heaven. The Armenians believe in the free will of man to choose. So it is up to man to decide if he is going to heaven or hell by his own choice to receive or reject Christ. These two groups never seem to come to terms. Yet both positions are taught in Scripture. It is like two sides of the same coin.

I’ve had my own personal experience with this. At one time, somebody heard a few of my talks that I gave for the staff and some of the teaching that I did for the Seminary in India. Afterwards this person came to me and said, “I am so confused about your teaching. I heard several of your messages. They all contradict each other. One message is totally one way on a subject and the next time it’s the opposite way on the same subject. There doesn’t seem to be any cohesion.”

Gently I tried to explain to this person, “It’s alright. Please understand that when I speak in a meeting there is time for only part of the story. Even after two or three times of speaking, there still may not be enough time to bring the full balance to a particular subject.” I feel badly many times because people often do not realize there is always the other side of the story in the messages I speak. If I have five or six opportunities to speak on a certain issue, then I can bring balance. Unfortunately, someone who reads only one book I have written or hears me speak just one time might think that I am completely one-sided. But then they hear me in some other situation and realize my position is not at all what they thought it to be at first.

Sometimes the Bible appears to contradict itself, but actually through these types of Scriptures we find the balance God desires. For example, Jesus said, “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:3–4). But, on the other hand, He said, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12, NIV). There is both the life beneath the soil and the life above the soil. There is that balance.

Proverbs 30:8–9 says, “Give me neither poverty nor riches—feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.” It is not being rich or being poor that is important. What is important is honoring God.

James talks about rich people—the millionaires of today—coming to church wearing gold rings and fine clothes. But the point James is trying to get across has nothing to do with rich people selling all their gold and expensive things. Instead, he says not to give more honor to the rich people than to the poor people who come (see James 2:3–4). You see, in the church you have both groups—rich and poor. The balance is kept with love, not with external agendas.

Another example of how things can get out of balance can be seen in the life of Martin Luther. The Reformation started based on the teaching of faith—that our salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ, not by works. “The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:17, NIV). “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV). This was a great revelation to Luther because his church at that time was preaching a salvation based on works and good deeds.

But when Martin Luther read James, he saw that it talked also about works. “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? . . . Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:14, 17, NASB). Luther could not grasp this. He grappled with the message of the book of James to such a degree that he didn’t think it should be part of the Bible. He had come out of the works position into the faith position, and he could not see the whole picture.

In reality, there is a beautiful balance between faith and works. We can see a picture of it in the life of Abraham. Around the age of 75, Abraham was promised a son. Twenty-five years later at the age of 100, his body was “as good as dead,” and his wife’s was also (see Romans 4). Physically, they were too old to have children. So how did Abraham and Sarah get their son? It was not a virgin birth. Abraham had a part to play. God used his body, his energy, and his blood to bring forth a son. Abraham could have said, “God promised, so He’ll do it,” and just sat there. But he didn’t do that. That’s what it means when it says faith without works is dead. When Abraham offered his son Isaac, it was a real offering up—a work. He took Isaac in his own hands, laid him on the altar and raised the knife. Real faith has action; it is visible; it is a faith with works.

Over and over again we see this balance in the Scriptures. God’s throne is built on the foundation of mercy and justice. It is not built on mercy alone or justice alone. There is balance. He is the God of Jacob, who was a crook, a deceiver and a liar. Yet He is also the God of Israel, which means “prince of God.”

There is both work and rest. The two are not incompatible. In fact, Jesus speaks of the two existing simultaneously. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

In all of our maturing and growing in understanding and living as the Body of Christ, we need to be continually called back to balanced thinking. And that proper balance is given to us through the Word of God.

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

A Life of Balance

A Life of Balance - KP Yohannan Books

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“It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them.” Ecclesiastes 7:18, NASB

One of my happiest times growing up in India was playing along the river. When the monsoon season came and brought the floods, the river near my village would swell. You could be sure all little kids were out on the rushing water playing in our tiny, homemade canoes—so small they could hold only one person. I was there too, just a young boy, maybe five or six years old.

Just imagine, a young little kid, no more than 60 pounds, tossing on the rushing waters of a flooded river in a makeshift canoe. I can remember countless times when the whole thing would be flipped over by the force of the water, and I’d be underneath with that canoe over my head.

But after many monsoon seasons and many flips, I became an expert at handling my little canoe in the floodwaters. I became so good that I could actually stand and put one foot on each side of the canoe and balance myself on the outer edges. Then I’d maneuver myself right through those waters. These memories make me wish I were young again.

It was growing up by the river that I first began to learn the lesson of balance, which affects life every day, no matter where we are. In order to maintain a healthy life and ministry that doesn’t just come and go but is continually sustained by God and His grace, we need to have a balanced foundation in our thinking and our service. Then we will be able to maneuver safely through all that comes our way because we will be grounded by the Word of God.

 

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

5 Minutes with K.P. – Which Road Will You Travel On?

Destined to Soar - KP Yohannan Books

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We live in a culture in which, unless we consciously and deliberately seek to swim against the current, we will hardly make it as followers of Christ . . . at least, not the Christ of the New Testament, who said, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).

The Church at large has adapted to the trends of the culture. Frequently the Christian message is presented in a way that caters to people’s perceived needs and their desire for an easier, better life. Man and his comfort have become the main focus, and God is obligated to meet these expectations.

This has created a generation of Christians who know little or nothing of sacrifice, suffering and self-denial for the sake of Jesus. We have become conditioned to always seek for a soft cushion, at the least a thin one, if we are asked to sit on a hard bench. Even in the work of God, we avoid difficult tasks, and we question anything that demands physical and emotional discomfort or spiritual battles.

This is in sharp contrast to Jesus, who rebuked Peter for counseling Him not to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die, and later for trying to rescue Him with his sword in Gethsemane. Commanding Peter to put his sword away, Jesus said, “Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (John 18:11).

Jesus was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, and He came to suffer and die for our sins. Knowing His purpose and submitting to the Father’s will, He chose the hard road, the one that led to Calvary.

Christ set an example for those who followed Him then and for all who want to follow Him now. He said, “Where I am, there My servant will be also” (John 12:26).

You see, God is also asking us to do hard things. For example, Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).

God is telling us there is a choice left before us. We have to make a decision between the hard road on which God asks us to go or the easy road everyone else travels.

For Noah, preaching 120 years without results meant choosing the hard road year after year.

Nehemiah, building the wall of Jerusalem, faced constant harassment by enemies from within and without. The easy road would have been to quit, to go back to Persia and live at the king’s palace in peace. But he chose the hard road because he was not seeking his own, but the things of God.

We cannot honestly, authentically, reasonably and deliberately serve our Lord without our willingness to accept difficulties and inconveniences—the hard road.

Consider some of the stories of national missionaries in our ministry: two brothers who became porters, carrying heavy loads in a Nepali mountain region in order to win a tribe to Jesus . . . a young man from Myanmar, who walked 17 days through the jungle to get to Bible school, leaving his family behind . . . Bible school graduates who have made the slums their mission field.

Why are they choosing such difficulties? They are following in the footsteps of a Savior who didn’t hesitate to lay down His life for a lost world.

Amy Carmichael, pioneer missionary to India, wrote a poem that is actually a prayer. In it, she asks for nothing less than deliverance from her self-seeking nature so that she may serve Jesus freely and totally.

From prayer that asks that I may be

Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,

From fearing when I should aspire,

From faltering when I should climb higher,

From silken self, O Captain, free

Thy soldier who would follow Thee.


From subtle love of softened things,

From easy choices, weakenings,

(Not thus are spirits fortified,

Not this way went the Crucified)

From all that dims Thy Calvary,

O Lamb of God, deliver me.


Give me the love that leads the way,

The faith that nothing can dismay,

The hope no disappointments tire,

The passion that will burn like fire;

Let me not sink to be a clod;

Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.


If there is anything that is holding you back from giving your all to Jesus, following Him and choosing the hard road, you need to start calling out to the Lord for His help just as Amy Carmichael did.

Freely give it to Him.

Destined to Soar © 2009 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.