Monthly Archives: May 2011

5 Minutes with K.P. – A Gospel of Great Joy

Destined to Soar - KP Yohannan Books

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When I first saw a few clips from The Visual Bible’s Matthew, I didn’t like it. It showed Jesus laughing, celebrating after healing the sick and throwing children up in the air and catching them. He always seemed to be enthusiastic and happy when He was teaching or dealing with people.

You see, I come from a culture in which spirituality is measured by how solemn, dignified and holy your appearance is. This means that as a servant of God, you must wear white clothes, keep a serious face even if you are happy and carefully guard your behavior. You wouldn’t want to spoil your image by laughing out loud or running around playing with the kids.

All this actually comes from eastern mysticism, in which the way to holiness and spirituality is asceticism—the renouncing of all worldly pleasures, comforts and emotions. It is a counterfeit spirituality produced by Satan.

After viewing this film, I read through the four Gospels again just to see what Jesus was really like. For the first time, I gained an awareness of someone who was genuinely happy. There was a spirit of celebration, a positive note that I saw in His life. People felt drawn to Him, and in His presence, those with deadly diseases and even the worst sinners were filled with new hope.

Jesus came to this earth not to add gloom and hopelessness to people’s lives, but to bring light, hope, laughter and the joy of heaven to a sin-ridden world.

The angels didn’t announce His birth by saying, “Oh, what a sad and gloomy event. God’s Son is going to be persecuted and killed. Let us mourn and weep.” No! They were praising God and telling the shepherds about the good news of great joy for all people.

Jesus vividly illustrated for us with the parables of the lost coin, sheep and prodigal son how all of heaven breaks out in elaborate celebration over each sinner who turns to God (see Luke 15:7). He even portrays God the Father as the One who initiates the banquet, singing and dancing.

Above all, the joy, happiness and celebration will never come to an end in heaven. Psalm 16:11 says, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

What a place that will be!

As believers, we have something outstanding that the world yearns for. Think about it—why do people like to listen to music, watch comedy shows, tell jokes, read cartoons or storybooks and play games? There is something in human nature that longs to smile and be happy. Yet all the happiness the world can offer is short-lived.

Our joy originates from heaven and is therefore able to fill our hearts even in the midst of suffering and difficulties. Paul and Silas, severely beaten and in chains, were celebrating in prison. Why? Their joy was anchored not in their own strength but in the promises of God: that all things would work out for their best, that Jesus had gone to the Father to prepare a place for them and that He would return to take them there.

What about us? Do people encounter that overflowing joy, found in Jesus and the early Christians, in our lives as well?

There is no more powerful advertisement for the reality of the Gospel than a believer filled with the love of Christ and the joy of heaven.

Why is it, then, that our joy is so often nowhere to be found? We allow the problems of this world to overtake our heart and emotions. At the same time, we forget—or simply don’t believe—the promises of God that tell us not to be anxious for tomorrow and not to fear because He has overcome the world. We start counting our woes instead of counting our blessings. And we fail to recognize the goodness of God and His encouragement in our surroundings.

To begin to live a life filled with the joy of heaven, we must make a conscious decision to reverse all these trends.

One of the best ways to learn to smile is to go on a “God Hunt,” which is how my dear friend David Mains would describe it on his radio program. This simply means that I look every day to discover even the tiniest thing God deliberately arranged in my life to tell me of His love and care: Perhaps somebody writes a letter, calls on the phone or says a kind word, just when I need it. A motorist stops to let me safely cross the street. Someone offers to carry my grocery bag when I am exhausted. A total stranger smiles at me when I feel gloomy, as if God is reminding me, Be happy—I am with you.

Jesus, the One we serve, is the Light of the World. In Him there is no darkness, and there is so much to be happy about as we follow Him. Praise God!

What good things did God do for you today?

 

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. – I Choose…That Others Might Live

Destined to Soar - KP Yohannan Books

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When Jesus came to live on this earth, He entered a world in which everyone continually fought to preserve his or her own rights, reputation and life. How foreign it must have sounded to them when Jesus, in reference to the cross, replied to those who wanted to see Him:

“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:23–25).

In this Scripture, Jesus talked about the prospect of a single seed producing many more of its kind. But the most important requirement for that single seed to multiply is this: It must fall into the ground and die.

In Mark 4, Jesus told the parable of the sower who went out to sow seed. Some of his seed fell on the wayside, some on the rocky ground, others among thorns and the rest on the good ground. Now just suppose the seeds that fell on the good ground didn’t actually die. How much harvest would they have produced? None! In fact, there would have been no difference, in terms of the end result, between these seeds and the ones that fell on bad soil.

Think about it. You can take the best seed and put it in the best soil, but if it will not crack open and die, what good is it?

With a grain of wheat, Jesus illustrated how very serious a matter it is that He and we, His followers, die in order to produce life. Even if we had every doctrine right, lived our lives beyond reproach and could move mountains by our faith, it would be insufficient to produce life in others. Without death there is no harvest.

Jesus, being 100 percent God, could have decided to lay down all His glory, become a man and later on go back to heaven . . . alone. But He saw that through death, He would bring many sons to glory. Out of His free choice, He willingly embraced the cross (see John 10:18; Hebrews 2:9–10, 12:2).

So it is with us. Paul wrote, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31) and “I am crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20, kjv). The death he talks about is a continuous present tense. It’s a choice I must make every day of my life to die to my own desires, rights, wishes and decisions for the sake of bringing fruit for the kingdom of God. There is no shortcut and no other way.

In the measure in which you and I are willing to die daily through the grace of God and the cross, in that same measure will life be produced in others. Paul put it this way: “So then death is working in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:12).

I am sure when Paul finished his race, he looked back on the death that worked in him—the bloody trail of suffering, hardship, loneliness, shipwreck, prison and rejection— and had no regrets. I am sure there was only praise to God who called him (see 2 Corinthians 4:17). He brought many with him to heaven, and even today, after 2,000 years, his choice to die continues to bring fruit through the words he left behind.

What about those of us who believe we must be so private and so protective of our time, energy, resources and reputation in order to further our own spiritual pursuits? You will find that in spite of all the knowledge and blessings accumulated, those lives would remain fruitless. Essentially, all that is happening is self-preservation.

A man who is willing to go the extra mile, carrying the burden for someone else, is at that moment dying to his desire for rest and more peace for himself. He sees the extra mile as a means to help that person see God’s love.

Someone who truly understands that death to himself will produce life in others will not watch the clock in his service to the Lord. When there is need, he will work alongside Jesus as long as it takes. He will pray for the lost world while others are sleeping. As he dies to his rights to stop working at 5:00 or to sleep an extra hour, he opens the way for thousands around the world—on the mission field and elsewhere—to find life.

Such a follower of Jesus will not hesitate to humble himself before others when he has failed. He will trust God that through his honesty and willingness to receive correction, life will be produced.

It is true if we superficially look at others who live for themselves, we can become jealous of the so-called “easy” life they live. We can begin to tell ourselves, “I have rights too.” The pressure grows especially when our friends, families, the media and churches counsel us contrary to Christ’s call to lay down our lives.

Paul said that he had the right to be married, just like Peter and the rest of the apostles. It wasn’t wrong; but he chose not to so that he could serve the Lord with undivided attention (see 1 Corinthians 7:7–8).

So the choice we make in dying daily is not between right or wrong. The choice is between my rights and a new way—Christ’s way. In other words, when we say no to many things and accept the cross, regardless of how much it hurts, that one seed can give life to hundreds more.

Death to your own wishes will mean life for multiplied others—what will you choose?

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. – The Power of Oneness

Destined to Soar - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

It didn’t take very long after the flood for Noah’s descendants to act independently from the Living God and band together to construct the Tower of Babel. When the Lord came down to inspect their ambitious and idolatrous building project, He made a very serious statement that teaches us volumes about oneness: “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” (Genesis 11:6).

These words reveal the incredible power that is found in unity, even if it is used for an evil reason.

We have seen the truth of this Scripture demonstrated over and over throughout history when people rallied around a leader with an ungodly ideology and joined together to spread it by force to the rest of mankind.

But the good news is that this power of oneness is equally true when we as believers unite together in doing God’s will: Nothing will be impossible for us.

Jesus had that total oneness of spirit with His Father. That’s why everything God wanted to do through His Son here on earth was fulfilled—unhindered. What was the key to such unity? It was the love they had for one another.

Think for a second how you take care of yourself. You won’t get a hammer and bring it down on your thumb. You won’t deliberately hurt yourself. Obviously, you care about what happens to you. When we truly love one another, what affects someone else, affects us. We won’t do something to deliberately hurt someone else. We want them to do well even if they’ve hurt us deeply. Jesus desires this kind of oneness in His Body. It far supersedes any unity the world could produce for its cause.

The devil knows this fact well, and he is afraid of the damage his own kingdom would suffer should God’s people succeed in becoming one in spirit. That’s why he fights so very hard to divide the Body of Christ and to keep believers from loving each other.

In fact, whenever God does something significant through His people, the most likely—and severe—counterattack will come in the area of unity, specifically broken relationships.

Nehemiah’s biggest problem in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem was not the outside enemies who were trying to kill the Jews, but rather disunity among his own people. Instead of giving themselves to one another and to the building project, they were trying to bring division. Nehemiah had to spend crucial time sorting out problems and rebuking with painful words the very people he had come to help.

In the New Testament, much of the Apostle Paul’s energy was consumed in dealing with divisions within churches and between individuals.

In his first letter to the Corinthian believers, he addresses their selfish conduct during the Lord’s Supper, which he pointed out was a clear indication of disunity—that they didn’t discern the Body of Christ, the Bride of Jesus. Paul warned them that their self-centeredness and lack of love for each other were bringing them judgment (see 1 Corinthians 11:17–22).

The Lord’s primary goal in any local fellowship is for all His people whom He placed there to sincerely love and care for one another, producing such oneness that His purposes can be fulfilled through their lives. In fact, Jesus told His disciples in John 13:34–35 that this would be the key to conquering the world with the Gospel: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

May the Lord challenge our hearts afresh and cause us to reexamine ourselves that we not be unloving toward anyone. Let us be people who will choose to go down and take that extra step to care for others and demonstrate Christ’s love to them. When we do this, we will make it obvious that we are His disciples, and He will draw this world to Himself.

Whom would God have you become more loving toward?

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. – Destroying Deception

Destined to Soar - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

In The Silver Chair, one of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series, author C.S. Lewis vividly illustrates what happens when someone falls under deception.

Prince Rilian, the king’s son and heir to the throne of Narnia, is held captive by the enchantments of a wicked witch who poses as a beautiful and kind lady. He can’t remember who he is and where he came from. For 10 long years, he has lived in the witch’s castle, not recognizing that she has made him her slave. In fact, he thinks she is his greatest benefactor and gladly obeys her wishes and counsel.

Each night, there is an hour during which his mind experiences flashes of memory from his real past. However, the witch convinces the prince that during those times a spell turns him into a vicious and murderous serpent. To protect him and others, she graciously provides a magic silver chair that she claims will eventually break the spell. Believing her words, the prince allows himself to be tied to this chair every night until the dreadful hour passes.

The real truth is that the witch’s sorcery weakens each night. The prince could regain his identity and complete freedom were it not for the silver chair that once again reinforces the power of the enchantment.

It is possible for us as Christians to lose touch with our true identity—if Satan succeeds in deceiving us!

There is no greater threat to Satan’s kingdom than Christians who know and live their identity as sons and daughters of Almighty God. Satan is unable to stop or defeat such followers of Christ, unless he succeeds in stealing their knowledge of who they are in Him.

How does he do it? Through lies and deception.

The Lord Jesus tells us about Satan’s tactics and his nature:

“He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. . . . The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 8:44, 10:10).

For example, when a believer sins in any way, Satan immediately whispers to his or her mind: “Even if God forgave you, you will never recover from what you have done; God has laid you aside; you are a disgrace.”

If the believer is not firmly grounded in the Word of God and does not reject the Enemy’s words, those whispered lies would plunge him into a vicious cycle of deception. He would no longer see himself as a conqueror and ambassador for Christ but would assume the false identity the devil gave him and live in it.

The tragic thing is that a person who is deceived does not know it. Like Prince Rilian, he will believe a lie to be the truth and subject himself to actions that only strengthen his bondage and deepen his imprisonment. In the case of a believer who loses his identity as an overcomer, each time he meditates on his failure, he reinforces the deception that God can no longer use him.

The only way to recognize deception is by the un-Christlike fruit it produces in our lives: We are discouraged and live with self-condemnation, the past haunts us, our inner strength wanes, our hope diminishes and problems seem to be invincible mountains. Our estimation of ourselves is that we can’t make it, and we become spiritually paralyzed.

All this is exactly what Satan is after. He knows he can’t take us to hell, so he deceives us to make us ineffective and fruitless for the kingdom of God.

What we must do is call out to the Lord and then do what Prince Rilian did: He took up his sword and destroyed the silver chair.

In our case, we must take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. With it, we destroy every one of our imaginations and the lies of the devil that are contrary to what the Bible says about our identity as Christians. The Apostle Paul instructed us to do this: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4–5).

This will set us free once again—free from the deceptive words of the Enemy and free to follow Christ as He called us to.

Get your verses ready and don’t let the Enemy keep you bound!

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. – It Takes Time

Destined to Soar - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

One of the struggles we sometimes face as followers of Christ is seeing where we want to be in our walk with God in contrast with where we currently find ourselves.

There are all kinds of reminders around us to tell us of our fallen nature and the spiritual maturity we have not yet attained. The Enemy is an accuser of the brethren, and he actively takes every opportunity he can to accuse us (see Revelation 12:10). His accusations leave us despairing and hopeless. Sometimes we just don’t want to try anymore, and we are ready to give up.

If we turn to Christ in those times instead of lingering on the Enemy’s words to us, we’ll hear another story. Christ causes us to look up and to stop thinking of ourselves. He draws us to repentance and encourages us to believe Him for a greater work through our lives. With Him, there is hope and a brighter tomorrow.

When we are confronted with our failures, it’s important that we realize the process of becoming like Christ takes time. There is no microwave for godliness. It takes years upon years of patient, hopeful perseverance. As we let Him live through us—one day, one moment, one choice at a time—we are becoming more like Christ, a little more today than we were yesterday.

What happens to us when we don’t realize that this is a long-term journey?

The first obvious implication is that we are impatient and frustrated with ourselves. And then if we don’t realize the foolishness of our “instant Christianity,” we’ll try our own quick fix. We’ll simply try to “act” our way to the godliness we want. Or we’ll make a “plan of achievement.” Often people think that knowledge is what they lack. If they only “knew” more, they would perform better.

But all these attempts of the flesh play right into the Enemy’s hands. Others sense our hypocrisy, as we do ourselves, and we can’t help but loathe it. “Our plans” to be better, if initiated in our flesh, either end in failure and more discouragement or in success and pride. And knowledge itself will not produce godliness. It can actually puff up or discourage us if it’s not what God has for us in our current season.

The fact is that none of these responses draws us any closer to our original goal of becoming more like Jesus. They all lead us into the Enemy’s trap—thinking about ourselves continually. There is no faster way to sink into the pit of despair than to spend all our time thinking about ourselves and how we’re not measuring up. We’ll end up at a buffet of self-pity, condemnation and an equally critical spirit toward others.

So what’s our answer? Believe that the Lord will complete us.

We must cling to the reality that God is doing His work in our lives (see Philippians 2:13) and stand on His promise that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Jesus embodied this for us in His life on earth. He lived for 30 years under the authority of His parents before beginning His ministry. The Bible tells us that “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). Day by day, Christ chose to die to Himself, to say no to His own will and yes to His Father’s will. He needed that length of time to grow in obedience and come to the point at which He would choose absolute surrender—surrender to the point of death on the cross.

Let us also have patience—with ourselves as well as with others. God is much more concerned about our honesty before Him and our attitude of grace and mercy toward others than He is about us doing everything correctly.

So let us remember: It takes time for God to do His work. We do not have to lose heart because of any spiritual lack we discover in ourselves.

“Commit your way to the Lord,” Psalm 37:5 encourages us. “Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” The Almighty God is at work in our lives. We can certainly trust Him for the journey He has set for us!

He is completing His work in you. Believe 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.