Monthly Archives: December 2011

5 Minutes with K.P. – Fighting the Law of Attrition

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Nothing stays the same! Just one look at your car will confirm this. The tire tread is wearing thin, the muffler is rusting out and the engine will only go so many miles. Our houses have the same tendency. The paint peels off, the roof leaks after a few storms and the tile and carpet don’t seem to stay clean for more than a couple of days. In the kitchen the milk goes sour, the bread molds and the peach that looked so delicious three days ago starts to rot.

Even things we leave completely alone, like the pictures on the wall or the books on the shelf, collect dust, change color and become old. Half our time is spent washing clothes, cleaning house and repairing things that break down. We do this because we know that unless we continually work on maintaining our possessions, we surely will lose them to deterioration.

Exactly the same is true for our spiritual lives. Check it out for yourself by comparing your life and your ambitions with the ones you had when you first understood that Jesus wanted to use you to help win millions of people for His kingdom.

As time has gone by, your once-tender heart is now unmoved by the truth that, today alone, 80,000 souls will plunge into hell because they have died without calling upon the name of Jesus. Your eyes no longer have tears as you look at your world map and see the Muslim nations that are closed to the Gospel. You used to consider it a joy to write a check to support a native missionary, enabling him to reach his own people for Jesus. Today you’re almost sorry that you made that commitment because you would rather spend that money on yourself, like buying the newest CD from your favorite Christian music group.

You remember when you couldn’t wait to attend the prayer meeting for missions or to spend an hour alone in intercession for the lost world. Now you find it difficult to fit the prayer meeting in your busy schedule, and you have to kick yourself to get out of bed for a five-minute prayer.

Believe me, this is the situation for all of us: If our commitment and our call to serve God are left unattended, they will slowly deteriorate and be replaced with excuses and a thousand other things to do. We will then argue for our rights and our freedom and justify our lack of time and interest in the cause. Finally, our other involvements will become more important than the call of God on our lives.

Let me ask you, what caused a man like Adoniram Judson, America’s first foreign missionary, to be so different from us in his level of commitment and the achievement of his goal? What gave him the strength to go through incredible persecution and suffering, burying his first wife and three of their children on the mission field of Burma? Was it because he was a product of a different culture than ours in which the people and circumstances were more stable?

No, I don’t believe so. Each person has his own struggles and problems. I firmly believe Judson was able to bear even the greatest of losses and pay the highest of prices because he had made a lifetime commitment to win the Burmese to Christ or to die trying.

He deliberately kept his focus on his call and purpose, rejecting everything that would distract him from reaching his goal. God saw his heart and gave him the necessary grace to finish the race.

Another model of focused commitment is the life of George Whitefield.

George Whitefield, the great British evangelist, was often falsely accused and maligned. The clergy spoke out against him, artists painted mocking portraits of his meetings, and slanderous tracts were published to attack him. But when his friends urged him to defend himself against the lies he refused. “I am content to wait till the judgment day,” he said, “for the clearing up of my character. When I am dead I desire no epitaph but this, ‘here lies G. W. What kind of man he was the great day will discover.’ ” He had committed himself to the Lord. He was looking beyond this world.

“Though [Whitefield] wrote Journals of his ministry during its first three years, he thereafter refused to take any steps towards making a correct knowledge of his life available. With his eye fixed on his accounting in heaven, he sought no justification of himself on earth” (Arnold Dallimore). What a contrast with the hypocrites who justified themselves in the sight of men—but God knew their hearts (Luke 16:15). And He knows our hearts too.1

Our greatest problem is that we continually lose our focus. We allow ourselves to be sidetracked by the world, by our mixed-up motives and by our lack of discipline. It takes a radical commitment to live for the one goal God has set before us—to win the lost. Whatever part you have in it—be it to go, to intercede, to give, to send—make it the focus of your life. Start measuring everything that comes your way by this question: Will it further the cause God called me to, or will it be an extra weight and additional distraction in running the race? Learn to walk away from things and even people who will take up your time, your emotions and your money and thus hinder you from fulfilling God’s purpose for your life.

Like Judson and Whitefield, we must continually work on keeping our focus to be able to run our race with endurance—and win it.

Wearing out the saints (Daniel 7:25) slowly is the master tactic of the enemy. Don’t let him!

 

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 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 Can Be Done

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

A few months ago, when my family was with me in India and Nepal, my wife and a couple from our Indian office staff took a two-day train ride to another state.

When my wife came back, she shared with me about her trip. She said, “While we were traveling in the train, I was sitting up late in the evening looking out of the window into the dark night. As the countryside was flying by, I could see tiny lights coming from thousands of little huts scattered everywhere. In my heart I began to wonder how we would ever be able to reach all those people with the Gospel.”

I told my wife, “It is true that India is a huge country with an enormous population. We must reach them one person at a time and one village at a time.”

Our confidence and encouragement are this: God will never ask anything from us that cannot be done! If there is a thought of impossibility, it is always with us—never with Him. He has solutions and ways prepared in His infinite wisdom about which we would never even dream. Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

For example, who could have ever imagined that when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, God’s plan was to part the Red Sea as they were being pursued by Pharaoh’s army with no evident way out? Or who else other than this wonderful God could give His servant Joshua the confidence to pray for the sun and moon to stand still until the battle was won?

We serve this same God today. His thoughts and ways are still higher than ours. He already has answers and solutions about how to reach these billions of people with the Gospel. We can be confident that His ideas are much better and more effective than any of ours.

But how can we know the mind of God? The answer is by walking so closely in obedience to Him each day that He can guide and direct every single step we take.

Jesus is our example. The Son of God became the Son of man and demonstrated for us what it means to live a life that brings glory to the Father.

Jesus was not motivated by the desperate needs around Him. In fact, when He heard that Lazarus, the one He loved dearly, was sick, He could have easily gone and instantly healed him. But instead, He simply said that His time was not yet come. True, it was the Father’s will for Lazarus to be raised up. But according to the Father’s plan, it was not yet time. So Jesus waited for several more days for the exact moment to come. Jesus never acted out of urgency but out of His obedience to His Father’s plan and purpose.

Jesus told us that just as the Father sent Him, He is also sending us. First Peter 2:21 says that we are called to follow in His footsteps.

Even so, much of Christian activity today is done in the energy of the flesh. The day of judgment will prove that it was nothing but wood, hay and stubble. All will be turned into just a pinch of ash. God will make sure that no product of the flesh will remain in eternity, even things that were done in the name of the Lord.

After three and a half years of teaching His disciples, the Master finally summed up all He had tried to teach and demonstrate to them—that without Him they could do nothing (John 15:5). Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). How much salt does it take to flavor food? Not much at all. But if the salt is without its saltiness, you can pour a mountain of it on your meal, and it will be useless. You see, the saltiness in us is the life of the Lord that flows through us unhindered. The mountain of activity that is done with our genius inventions, budgets, schemes and plans all means nothing because His very life is missing. It is all contaminated with our soulish strength and carnal reasoning. It is useless.

In the first century, a handful of people made a huge impact on their society because the life of the Lord flowed through them—when one community saw them, they simply cried out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6).

Turning our world upside-down—world evangelism and proclaiming the Lord’s kingdom in our generation—will never become a reality if we depend on the thousands of conferences, organizations, schemes and plans developed with specialized computer programs and Madison Avenue techniques. God is still looking for a minority of people who will seek His face with all their heart and do the work in His strength.

In one of his children’s books, C.S. Lewis describes a land cursed by a witch to have an endless winter. It is a difficult, cold time for all the creatures who live there. There is much suffering and hopelessness. But one day everything changes. A thaw begins. The birds, animals and flowers appear everywhere. Life bursts forth once more because Aslan—the great Lion, the Son of the great Emperor over the sea—is coming. It is His land, and He comes to set it free. The creatures are heard saying, “Aslan is on the move.” And then they sing: “When He shakes His mane, we shall have spring again.”1 The whole scene changes as the Lion advances into the cold, wintry land, and the power of the witch is finally broken.

This is what Jesus does. We can strive with all our own strength, energies and resources to do His work and reach this generation with the Gospel, but in the end it will all be for nothing. The little that we can do will be a total waste because it will have been produced in the energy of the flesh. If, on the other hand, we can come to the place of total submission to His Lordship—doing what He wants us to do in the way He wants us to do it—then we will have accomplished the task. God told Jeremiah: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). I believe this challenge is meant for us as well. God wants to share His thoughts and plans with us for winning these nations for Jesus, but He expects us to ask Him how.

We will have confidence in the Lord’s strength as we face seemingly overwhelming or impossible goals set before us, because we will have His thoughts and not our own. And the fruit of our labors will not only be effective but eternal.

A man or woman who knows God intimately will never be intimidated or controlled by anyone or anything.

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 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. – Touching Heaven “Alone”

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Unless we are praying and spending time alone with God, we really can’t understand what it means to follow Christ. We are deceived by thinking that dynamic preaching, a good worship service, special music, great choruses and an outstanding church program are where it’s all at. But they’re not.

We see in the Bible that one of the strongest agendas God has is to get people all alone. For example, Jacob ran 20 years or more. Finally, when God got him alone, He could make him into Israel.

You see, when it is only God and you, you are more apt to face your pride and your sins. With everyone else we argue these things away and look wonderful and smile. But when we are all alone before God, we face ourselves, and the cleansing and purification will take place.

We become less phony the more we are with the Lord. I cannot tell you strongly enough that each of us must develop a very strong habit of prayer; otherwise, our Christian walk will greatly lack reality.

But this is only the first step in God’s agenda for each of our lives. The next step is for Him to show us the desperate faces of more than 2 billion people who are unreached with the Gospel. Each of them is created in the image of God with a soul that lives forever. Yet they are bound in the chains of sin and heading toward hell without knowing there is a name to call upon for salvation. God searches for those people who will stand in the gap on their behalf and intercede for their souls.

I am not talking about a little phrase we say at the dinner table: “Lord, please bless our food and our family, and save the poor heathens in Africa.” I am talking about entering into incredible spiritual warfare. This means going consciously into battle against the powers of darkness for the release and freedom of people who cannot help themselves and don’t have anyone else to fight for their deliverance.

It is basically the hardest, most agonizing and difficult job we can ever embrace—but the only one that guarantees absolute victory.

It is amazing how easily we can get people in the Body of Christ motivated to demonstrate, to wear T-shirts, to collect signatures or to raise money for a worthy cause. But it is the hardest thing to get them to pray for a world that is lost without Christ.

Why are our views and priorities so distorted? Why are we so easily distracted from the one thing that really would get the job done? The answer is because we are up against an enemy who knows what can hurt him the most! The devil is well aware that prayer is our most powerful weapon—it defeats him every time. With it, we touch heaven and cause the hand of God to move in a mighty way. Therefore, the devil would rather see us doing every other Christian activity instead.

At Gospel for Asia, both on the mission field and in the home office, we consistently experience that prayer is the quickest shortcut to victory. What would take us 50 years of struggles to accomplish, God can do in no time at all.

But how can you start, and what can you pray for? Just watch the news on TV or read the international page of a newspaper. Scribble on a piece of paper what is happening in Myanmar, Afghanistan, China and other nations. Start praying for the needs of these nations. Put up a world map in your house and get the book called Operation World by Patrick Johnstone, which gives you a lot of information on the spiritual conditions of each country. Take Gospel for Asia’s SEND! newsmagazine and other mission publications; go through them and make every article a matter of your intercession. Soon you will discover that 30 minutes, one hour or two hours will not be enough to even scratch the surface.

It is the incredible wisdom of our God to ordain prayer to be the most powerful weapon of the church. If He had chosen anything else—like preaching, singing, money or education—many of us could never participate in fighting the war.

But prayer doesn’t require any talent and can be done anywhere, anytime and by anyone. A housewife, a poor person, a child, a 90-year-old grandmother, an executive or a lonely believer in a nursing home all are able to change the world and help change the destiny of millions of people through prayer.

If the Lord has spoken to you today, please respond by doing just one thing: “Pray!”

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 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. – Are We Seeing Through the Eyes of Jesus?

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Things aren’t always as they appear to us at first glance. It’s true, isn’t it? Let me explain what I mean: You make a phone call to an old friend just to say hello, but he responds with harsh words and shows no interest in talking with you. By the time you hang up, you are convinced he is upset with you. A week later, you find out that his wife was diagnosed with cancer just hours before you made your phone call. The situation was not at all as it appeared, and you had to revise your earlier judgment.

How easily we judge others every day, without actually knowing the full story! In the book of Samuel, we read the story of Hannah, a lonely, heartbroken woman who came to the temple to pour her soul out before the Lord. In her pain and heaviness of heart, she wept bitterly and could barely utter a few words in prayer. The priest Eli, who watched from a distance, only saw her lips tremble as she sobbed her request to God . . . and he promptly accused her of being drunk. When she explained her story, Eli no longer condemned her, but with a heart of compassion he blessed her in the name of Jehovah.

Eli made the mistake of basing his quick judgment of Hannah on her outward appearance. God corrected him by making him look at her heart and take time to listen to her whole story.

What Eli did is exactly what we do to others: We pass judgment without knowing the real condition or situation, and we end up condemning others. Furthermore, we often use harsh, sarcastic words and expressions in our “verdict” and end up hurting others deeply. Although they may respond to our sarcasm with a smile, deep down in their heart they are weeping. We must never forget that when we carelessly hurt the least of our brothers and sisters, we are hurting the Lord Himself.

Why is our perception of others and their problems often so inaccurate and insensitive, even if we consider all the facts? Because we lack God’s perspective on their situation. As human beings, we are so limited in our ability to understand one another. We don’t see the world through the eyes of our fellow man, but only through our own. Subsequently, our own experience, traditions and values are the measuring scale for our judgment and the reality we perceive in the world around us. If we use ourselves and our circumstantial views of reality as final authorities for assessing others, we will inevitably make hopeless and inaccurate judgments.

Because each person on earth lives and judges by his own perception of reality, how can we ever respond to a situation in the right way? We can’t—until we recognize that God alone is the measuring scale for all things and that without the guidance of the Holy Spirit we are incapable of discerning the hearts of men, their true needs and God’s answer for their situations. In other words, we must learn to see others through the eyes of Jesus.

The story of Peter in the 10th chapter of Acts is a classic example of how Peter’s view of reality, which was created by his upbringing, traditions and convictions, became a major hindrance to his ability to do God’s will. Being a Jew, he could have no dealings whatsoever with Gentiles. But here we see Peter throwing out his lifelong judgment on Gentiles and traveling to the house of Cornelius to lead him and his entire family to Christ. What happened to Peter? He allowed the Holy Spirit to replace his own faulty conception of reality with God’s perfect one; and as a result, he was able to respond as Jesus would.

I believe the most disturbing reason we are so quick to judge others is our deep-seated pride. We don’t want to admit it, but we often secretly delight in their flaws and problems. Their failures give us something to talk about and at the same time make us look holy. In reality, our hearts are so wicked that we actually feel elevated when someone else falls! If we could see them with the eyes of Jesus, we would intercede with tears for their restoration.

Do we judge the motives of others? This is one of the worst things we can do. Without even asking one question, we make up our mind and say things like, “I know why he is saying this or why she is doing that.” When we do this, we seat ourselves on the throne of God, because He alone can judge the motives of men’s hearts.

The Word of God clearly warns us, “So be careful not to jump to conclusions before the Lord returns as to whether someone is a good servant or not. When the Lord comes, he will turn on the light so that everyone can see exactly what each one of us is really like, deep down in our hearts. Then everyone will know why we have been doing the Lord’s work. At that time God will give to each one whatever praise is coming to him” (1 Corinthians 4:5, TLB).

Remember, by the judgment you give, you will be judged also.

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 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.