Monthly Archives: April 2011

5 Minutes with K.P. – With Each Stroke of the Brush

Destined to Soar - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Have you ever watched an artist paint a picture at a street corner or in a park?

When the artist first takes his canvas, puts it on the easel, dips his brush into a color and begins to paint, he alone knows how the painting will look when it is completed. For me as a bystander, it’s a complete mystery. I may even wonder what on earth he is doing. But slowly the painting emerges—with each stroke of the brush. Finally, I stand amazed before a marvelous picture, and now that I can see the end result, everything the painter did along the way makes sense.

Did you know that God is such an artist?

All of humanity, the sons and daughters of Adam, sinned and became by choice slaves of Lucifer. Controlled by demons and totally darkened in their spirits, they agonized and fought but could not escape the grip of darkness and Satan’s kingdom.

When Christ finally came on the scene, He overcame our Enemy through His death on the cross and destroyed him who had the power of death (see Hebrews 2:14). In Christ, we who were destined for hell were forever set free and translated from this horrible kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.

In Ephesians chapter 1, Paul reveals that our redemption through the precious blood of Jesus is only the beginning of what God has in mind for His Church (see Ephesians 1:7–8). If indeed our salvation, forgiveness of sin and deliverance from hell were all God had planned for us, then it would have been best if He had taken us to heaven right after we were born again. That way, we would no longer have to live on this sinridden and temptation-filled earth. But God left us here.

What exactly is God trying to do? We find the answer in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Some years ago, I completed a detailed study on the book of Ephesians. It was an exhilarating experience for me when I looked up the word “workmanship” in the original text. I discovered the Greek word used is poiema, from which we derive the word “poem.” It means “handiwork” or “craftsmanship.”

This verse describes God as a poet or an artist at work on His masterpiece. Deep within the heart of God is an ache to see the work completed. He sees every brush stroke it will take, and His heart is filled with emotion as He brings it to pass.

As children of God, we are His painting, His poem, the expression of His heart in our generation. Romans 8:29 tells us: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” This simply means that we are predestined for this one purpose: to become like the Lord Jesus Christ.

The goal of God, the Master Painter, is that with each stroke of His brush, the life, character and nature of Jesus increasingly fill our hearts and are clearly expressed through us.

As we allow ourselves to be transformed into the image of Christ, we are able to represent Him to our generation, to serve others with His love and compassion and to have rivers of living water flow from our lives to a lost and dying world.

May this song written by Albert Orsborn become the desire and prayer of our hearts:

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,

All His wonderful passion and purity;

Oh Thou, Spirit divine, all my nature refine

Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.

When He finishes with His painting, we will see the expression of the Master Designer in a life fashioned after the likeness of Christ.

Trust Him with His masterpiece—let the beauty of Christ be seen in you.

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.

5 Minutes with K.P. – Choose Humility

Destined to Soar - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

There was a time in my life when I would become quite impatient with others when they couldn’t discern things that were obvious to me regarding people, circumstances, ministries or decisions to be made.

I would think ugly words such as: How dumb can you be? Can’t you see this? What’s wrong with you? Two plus two is four. What does it take for you to see this? I would go on and on in my head, and my emotions would get all charged up.

By God’s grace, He didn’t kill me. Instead, He slowly began to show me my heart of pride. It was as if the Lord said, “You see, it was I who freely gave you the grace, gifts, abilities, discernment, understanding and skills you possess. But now you are using them to beat up on others, and you condemn, criticize and put them down. Do you want Me to allow you to become a vegetable, lying in your bed, unable to talk or move around?”

It was a frightening thought to entertain, and I knew all it would take was a car accident. This rebuke from the Lord made me realize that my worst enemy is not the devil, but my own selfishness and lack of humility.

Look at King Nebuchadnezzar, King Uzziah, King Saul. Some of them started so well. But once their hearts were lifted up, they fell just like it says in the book of Proverbs: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). If a time comes that we say like the Laodiceans, “We are rich, we are able, we got it made and we don’t need anything,” then the Lord will say back to us, “You are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (see Revelation 3:17). God opposes the proud (see James 4:6, niv). This statement from God’s Word should cause us to be sober.

Why is pride so damning? Why is pride so dangerous?

Pride will not allow us to love others. In Luke 15, the older brother of the prodigal son was so proud of his responsible behavior and hard work that he had no compassion or love left for his younger brother. In fact, because he saw himself as so much more important and superior, before his father he no longer referred to him as “brother,” but rather “this son of yours” (Luke 15:30).

Paul exhorted us in Philippians 2:3: “In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” There is no way we can have a heart of love and respect for someone, genuinely regarding them as better than ourselves, as long as there is pride in us and we feel that we are above others!

Pride seeks for man’s honor and for position, no matter what. We will even use our worship and service to God to achieve this goal. That’s why Jesus warns us: “Take heed that you 131 Choose Humility do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them . . . as the hypocrites do . . . that they may have glory from men” (Matthew 6:1–2). For what purpose do we seek this glory? Does it bring honor to the Lord?

We can no longer see our own faults or sin. Pride blinds us. The Pharisee standing in the temple next to the tax gatherer prayed, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men . . . or even as this tax collector” (Luke 18:11). Jesus called the Pharisees blind leaders of the blind (see Matthew 15:14). We will not be able to accurately see ourselves, others or even God when we are trapped in pride.

It is obvious that the right choice for our lives is to choose humility. Who wants to reap the consequences that the path of pride will yield?

The question is: How can we maintain a life of humility? The answer is simple. There is only one medicine for all sicknesses caused by our pride: Follow Jesus. He is our life and our example in all things. Instead of striving to figure out how to respond to a situation, the best we can do is to choose to follow Him.

We will find that Jesus chose to serve instead of demanding to be served. He instructed His disciples: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).

Giving up all His own ideas, Jesus saw all things from the Father’s point of view: “Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (John 18:11).

And He lived in total obedience to His Father, regardless of the cost to Himself: “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).

As long as we continue to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5), we will maintain lives of humility that God will honor and bless.

Choose to have this mindset of Christ.

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.

 

5 Minutes with K.P. – Expand Your Borders

Destined to Soar - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

“KEEP OUT” – “Genius at work, don’t disturb” – “Knock before you enter” – “Don’t touch” – “Private supply” – “Don’t bother me”—these are just a few examples of the signs you can pick up at the store to hang on your doorknob.

Some of them are illustrated with intriguing pictures, but they all convey the same message: “This is my world. Respect it, or I will treat you as an intruder.”

We live in a culture in which we are raised and taught to be independent, private and protective of our personal rights, space, time and comforts. Others should not cross the line we draw around ourselves or encroach upon our personal world. We are not thrilled when others interrupt or disturb our own pursuits with their concerns and problems.

The Lord, instead, tells us: “Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36) and “As the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies . . .” (Colossians 3:12).

Whenever close family members of mine travel to places that could be potentially unsafe, I think about them and pray for their safety with much compassion and deep concern. I am involved in their trip with my whole heart—my thoughts, emotions and imagination. And I am ready to help in any way I can.

Generally, we are prepared to show this type of compassion to our immediate family and close friends when they are sick, hurting or in danger. We take the interruption into our personal life in stride during their time of need.

But what about those outside our small circle? When new families join our growing church or ministry, do we expand our feelings of closeness and relationship to include them?

And what about those farther away: national missionaries who suffer persecution while preaching the Gospel . . . the Bible school student who was tortured by his relatives and barely escaped with his life . . . the teenage girl who received Christ and whose parents beat her daily, made her sleep outside the house and told her that she was no longer their daughter? Should we feel compassion toward these as well, even if we have never met them personally? Is it not enough if we stick with our efforts toward our own families?

Speaking of family, Jesus, our brother and Lord, clearly defined for us who our family members are: “For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother” (Mark 3:35).

This means that those suffering missionaries are my brothers and sisters; the Bible school student who barely escaped with his life is my son; and the teenage girl living on the street—rejected and forsaken by all—is my daughter.

The Lord wants us to expand our borders. He wants to weep, touch, feel, pray, fast and show compassion through us to more than just our close circle of friends and family. As believers, we have given Him our lives, which include our hearts, minds, mouths, ears, eyes, hands, feet and everything we are. Though He has bought us with a heavy price, we may have not consciously surrendered all these aspects of our lives to His leading.

Instead of being totally available to Him, we can often find ourselves self-centered, calloused and disconnected toward the crises we hear about. How do we transition to the place at which the Lord’s heart of compassion flows through us freely?

Before the inception of this ministry, my heart had become cold, and I found I was more concerned about the small things in my life than I was about the lost world. That’s when I desperately prayed: “God, You have to change me; I cannot change on my own.” And by His grace, He began to break my heart and make it tender and compassionate toward others.

If you hunger to have the Lord’s compassion flow through your life, I encourage you to ask God to do for you just what He did for me. I am confident He will.

However, I want you to know that He will bring you to a place at which you must die to your own self, your freedom and your attitude of self-preservation. One book that greatly helped along this line and taught me to understand how to love others is The Calvary Road by Roy Hession.

God not only wants us to expand our capacity of love and compassion to the rest of the Body of Christ but to the lost world as well. We must continually let His heart flow through us; otherwise, we will not be able to embrace even one additional person or maintain the increased number of our relationships. For this reason, we must constantly yield our hearts to Him so that He can continue to break them and fill them with genuine compassion toward others.

In my own life journey, one of the things I pray on a regular basis is, “Lord, always keep my heart soft.” There is a Scripture in Job 23:16 that says, “For God maketh my heart soft” (kjv). The Lord is more than willing to accomplish this in each one of us.

God, break our hearts with the things that break Your 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.

5 Minutes with K.P. – God Watches Out for Us

Destined to Soar - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

It was fall while I was visiting Germany. Rev. Wolfgang Mueller, our senior leader there, took me for an afternoon ride in his car to show me the breathtaking countryside.

The weather was beautiful, the air was crisp, and many trees were loaded with fruit nearly ready for harvest.

As we were driving along, we passed by an apple orchard. I was amazed at the enormous amount of fruit each tree carried. But to my bewilderment, many of those trees had collapsed, limbs and branches were broken off, and the fruit was rotting on the ground.

Brother Wolfgang stopped the car, and we both just looked at the tragedy. There must have been hundreds of apples on each of those tree branches; but now, because they were broken off, none of the fruit would ever reach harvest time.

“This is really bad,” I said. “What happened?” Rev. Wolfgang answered simply, “The owner didn’t take care of these branches.”

Then he drove on and showed me another orchard. These trees were as huge as the first ones, and their branches bore even more apples. But strangely, none of the trees had collapsed, and not even a single branch had broken off.

What made the difference? The owner had carefully put wooden props under each branch to help carry and support the tremendous weight of the fruit.

This memory is forever etched in my mind, and God used it to teach me an important truth.

John 15 teaches us that Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. God prunes us countless times. Throughout this process, our character has become more Christlike, and we have gained a deeper understanding of the Lord and His Word. We are no longer the kind of person we were 5 or 10 years ago.

God is then able to entrust us with greater responsibilities and more fruit. When this happens, God in His care puts a support under our branch to prevent it from breaking off. But God’s support for our branch is not joy, peace, acclamation or the applause of men we might hope to receive. It is instead pain, trials and difficulties—something God chooses in His wisdom to keep us from getting proud and not being able to support the weight of the fruit.

Look at the Apostle Paul. He came to a point in his life when he could say, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). His character was so transformed and his life was bearing so much fruit that God could entrust him with tremendous insight and revelation. But strangely, at the same time, the Lord also appointed a thorn in the flesh to bother him. Paul thought it was a hindrance to his ministry, and he prayed three times for God to remove it.

But God didn’t grant his request. Instead, He told Paul that His strength was made perfect in Paul’s weakness. The thorn in the flesh kept him from pride and arrogance in his insight and accomplishments. God was saying, “The revelations I gave you are so high and you bear so much fruit that your branch needs My strength to support it; otherwise, it will break off.”

The moment Paul understood that this thorn was not his enemy but rather his support, he said yes to it and was grateful that God was watching out for him.

As an expression of His love for us, God seeks to support us in all that He’s called us to do. He ensures that our inner life keeps pace with the task He has assigned to us, for unless He “supports” us, we would become proud and arrogant. Ultimately, He prevents us from becoming spiritual casualties. As a good gardener, He watches out for us!

Say yes to the support He lovingly sends your way.

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.