Monthly Archives: January 2012

5 Minutes with K.P. – Dangerous Ground

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Some time ago I found a colorful church flyer in my mailbox. It was an open letter from the pastor of a large congregation. He invited the whole community to attend a series of high-class, Christian concerts he had lined up at his church. In his letter he wrote, “Ever since I first came to this church, it has been my highest priority to offer the finest and best Christian entertainment to the people of [this city].”

This pastor is definitely not alone in his pursuit to draw and impress crowds with his outstanding programs. Other churches do the same with their advertisements of the largest auditorium in town, the best interior decoration and comforts, the most spectacular Christmas pageant, the biggest budget, the newest sound equipment or the largest church membership.

Two things are strangely absent in all this competition for numbers, glamour and success: the cross and the lost world! Once they were the center of the Gospel message; but for so many congregations and believers, there is very little room left in their lives or thoughts for these most vital conditions of discipleship.

Because they are no longer popular, they have been replaced with all sorts of self-centered activities. Quantity, size and success impress us, but they do not impress God. This is evident even in creation. The earth, compared to the other planets, is so tiny and insignificant. Yet this is where God chose to carry out His eternal plans.

From the beginning of time, God’s greatest concern has been to have a pure testimony to His name. This means His Word, His goals and His priorities cannot be changed by any man. It also means that whoever is called by His name must live by His terms and preserve the purity of His Gospel.

We tread on very dangerous ground if we don’t preach and teach the cross in fear that our membership will decrease. The same is true if we don’t speak up when our church spends millions of dollars on an elaborate auditorium but has no burden, no prayer and no money for the more than 2 billion people who sit in darkness—on their way to hell—having never been reached by the Gospel.

A.W. Tozer wrote: “Why do we build our churches upon human flesh? . . . For we teach men not to die with Christ but to live in the strength of their dying manhood. . . . But if I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity. . . . The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it.”1

In the Old Testament, God wiped out multitudes and once even the whole world population (except Noah and his family) in order to preserve a pure testimony. What would happen to us and to our churches if God dealt with us in the same way, judging our compromises with instant death?

Even if everything we do looks so successful right now, eventually it will have to pass the test of purity described in 1 Corinthians 3:13 when we get to heaven. What a shock it will be to watch our lives’ work and all our church programs go up in flames.

Today we stand at the crossroads and have a choice to make: Do we choose the purity of the Gospel with the cross at the center and the Great Commission as our number one task, or do we continue to fool ourselves with a gospel that has little to do with the New Testament? The pure Gospel says,

•   “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

•   “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. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26–27).

•   “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).

What is your answer?

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. – Walking in His Shoes

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

When I first came to the United States, I visited a large, well-known church where the pastor announced an evening prayer meeting. I came early that night, genuinely concerned that I might not find a place in the sanctuary. I waited and waited for the thousands of believers I had seen in the morning to come and intercede for the pastor, the church and the mission field; but in the end only seven showed up. It was an experience I will never forget, because on the mission field in India I had learned that, as a follower of Christ, prayer was the most important factor in life.

When you and I truly understand Jesus’ love for the lost world, then we will sometimes feel like Elijah did: left all alone with our concern for the unreached. We call out and urge believers to invest their lives so that people groups living in the 10/40 Window can hear the Gospel, but our voices are so often drowned out by all the other activities going on in the Christian realm.

Most of these activities are designed to make life on earth more enjoyable and comfortable. That’s what believers have come to expect, and that’s the reason very few will show up for events like prayer meetings. Sacrifice, suffering and intercession for the lost world are largely unpopular in many of our churches because they involve hard work and giving up comfort, time and money.

When we look at the world situation, however, we can hear Jesus say loud and clear in His Word: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). Jesus is asking us to be in His place, to walk in His shoes and to become deeply concerned about the lost in our generation in countries like Afghanistan, India and Mongolia.

There are people—thank God—whom He is calling to stand in the gap and who are willing to pay the price. If you have answered His call, don’t get discouraged, feeling that the job is so huge and that only a handful of people share your burden. Remember, Jesus had only 12 disciples, yet they impacted their entire generation.

We must never lose the freshness of the privilege the Lord has given us—out of millions of people—to share His heart and be concerned about the lost world. We are given the opportunity to pray, to give, to go, to send missionaries and to make a huge difference for millions of people for all eternity. As we intercede for the unreached, we must allow God’s love and compassion to fill our hearts. Our prayers will be so much more fervent and real if we identify with the people for whom we pray. That’s what Daniel, Jeremiah and Nehemiah did, and God answered them in a powerful way.

As you read news reports about events like the cyclone that hit the coast of Andhra Pradesh, put yourself in the place of that mother whose child was swept away by the tidal wave or that man who found his wife and children dead under the rubble of their collapsed home. You will feel their pain, desperation and hopelessness at not knowing the name of Jesus.

Pray for the people and events you read about in the newspaper or hear about over the radio and TV as if it were your own life. When you intercede for the unreached, don’t let your prayers be in neutral. Like a gearshift in a car, let us shift into active faith and watch God give us whole nations! All things are possible for those who believe.

One day, thousands from the heathen lands will stand before the throne of God worshiping the Lamb. We will meet them and rejoice with them. That moment will be worth all our prayers and sacrifice on their behalf.

Jot down prayer points from the news you hear, and start praying for the world today.

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. – “ I Will Not Come Down ”

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Two students flung from a speeding train in Gujarat . . . our Nepali leader arrested and standing trial for preaching the Gospel . . . one native missionary stabbed to death and another critically wounded in Nagaland . . . our Tamil language broadcaster dead as a result of a bus accident . . . a church burned to the ground in Karnataka . . . Bible college students and teachers attacked by a gang of angry Muslims in Andhra Pradesh . . .

These are just a few of many incidents Gospel for Asia experienced in a single 10-month period. Interestingly, these things happened almost simultaneously with tremendous victories and progress for the Gospel in previously unreached areas of the 10/40 Window. Is this just a coincidence, or is there more happening than we can see with our physical eyes?

The apostle Paul explains such happenings in Ephesians 6:12: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

You see, we are engaged in spiritual warfare with none other than Satan himself and his demon forces, whose only goal is to stop any advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible reveals to us that Satan has a highly organized system with which he controls and manipulates nations, world systems and individuals for their destruction.

Unless we are fully conscious that we are engaged in spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness, we will not be able to accurately discern the attacks on our personal life and our ministry. Furthermore, our response to these events will be ineffective and powerless. The devil wants us to believe that we are not dealing with spiritual issues and that we can solve our problems with human wisdom such as education, psychology and philosophy. But these are big lies to keep us from using the weapons God has provided for us to destroy the attacks of the devil and to be victorious.

Paul tells us to “put on the whole armor of God” and then describes each of the weapons given to us: “having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:11, 14–16).

The life of Nehemiah is a powerful illustration of how to engage in spiritual warfare dressed in the full armor of God. When God laid the need to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem on Nehemiah’s heart, Nehemiah never compromised the truth of God’s Word. We see a man who faced tremendous battles—physical hardship, deception, opposition, agony, misunderstanding and discouragement. Many of Nehemiah’s problems were caused by the very people he tried to help, yet he confronted his people with their sins and showed them a way to repent and live for God. He trusted the Lord for the impossible and overcame all the obstacles and enemy attacks through his faith in the God of Israel.

Nehemiah never allowed fear to sidetrack him from his goal. When a false prophet urged him to hide in the temple, Nehemiah immediately recognized him as an enemy agent. He knew he would sin against God if he allowed fear to enter his heart. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him.” As soon as fear replaces faith, God can no longer answer our prayers or fight on our behalf, because His promises will not work apart from faith.

Furthermore, Nehemiah never permitted any person or any circumstances to stop his work or slow him down. He consistently kept his focus in spite of threats, hardship and offers of compromise. The only answer he had for those who tried to distract him or stop him was this: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down” (Nehemiah 6:3). Without his immovable focus on the end result, the wall never would have been completed.

Finally, in the face of increased enemy attacks, Nehemiah’s response was never to retreat. Instead, he had his men fully armed and ready for battle at all times: “With one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon” (Nehemiah 4:17).

But Nehemiah was not insensitive to the fears and worries of his people, especially after the wall was joined together and their enemies conspired to wipe them all out. He knew what to do in such a dangerous situation: “Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God” (Nehemiah 4:9). We, too, have no other alternative than to come to the Lord in prayer, asking Him to defeat for us the powers of darkness that seek to destroy us and the work of God.

Nehemiah and his people experienced God’s presence in the midst of their trials and won a tremendous victory in the end. As we live for Jesus and fight the battle to advance His kingdom, we, too, will encounter the same opposition Nehemiah faced from the enemy. Let us determine to wear the full armor of God and carry the weapons of our warfare at all times. Only then will we be able to defend ourselves and win the battle through God’s grace.

Rise up and shake off anything that’s holding you down. You are a follower of Christ, a soldier enlisted by the Master Himself for His kingdom. You have been given all authority by your Lord. Be what He called you to be—an overcomer.

Don’t forget that you are in a battle.

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. – The Greatest Motivator of All

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

It’s amazing how many Christian activities average believers participate in at one time or another during their Christian life. They feed the hungry, sing in the choir, teach Sunday school, collect clothing for the homeless, visit prison inmates, witness on the streets, volunteer in a nursing home, demonstrate for a moral issue, collect money for sick children, support a missionary, help the elderly and so on.

Surely all of these good causes are a help and blessing to others. However, often I have wondered what the true motivation is behind an individual’s involvement in the kingdom of God. For some it is the challenge and excitement of being involved in something significant. For others it is the need for fellowship and love. Some like the honor and glamour that come with the action. Others are motivated by guilt because they have so much more than those poor people on the street or in prison. Then, of course, there are always those who hope that their faithful service will ensure them a sizeable reward in heaven. Last, there are those believers whose hearts are truly burdened and touched by the suffering of others and the needs of a lost and dying world.

However, when we look in the Bible, we find that none of those motivations is good enough to get us through the hard times ahead, which Paul describes so clearly in 2 Timothy 3:1–4. They are insufficient to keep us committed until the end.

Jesus was filled with compassion when He saw the widow whose son had died and when He encountered the sick, the blind, the demon-possessed and the multitude who were lost like sheep without a shepherd. But when it came to Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, it wasn’t just compassion that motivated Him. It was His love for His Father in heaven! Out of this love relationship came the motivation to be obedient unto death and to say, “Lord, I came to do Thy will” and “Not my will be done, but Thine.”

You see, our commitments are so short-lived and we change from one worthy cause to another because as soon as difficulties and disappointments come our way, our motivation is also gone. Furthermore, excitement, honor and compassion will not carry us very far, but love will.

Remember Jacob, who served Laban for 14 years in order to receive Rachel’s hand in marriage? It was an enormous price of service he had to pay. Yet, amazingly, the Bible says that it seemed to him like just a few days because he loved her (Genesis 29:20).

The apostle Paul wrote at the end of his life to Timothy, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). What was the motivation behind such a life? It was this: “The love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, was working hard for many years and struggling to keep his commitment until he discovered “the exchanged life,” which means to be motivated by love for the Lord rather than by duty. A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian Missionary Alliance, tells us how he learned this lesson in his own life. As a young pastor, he struggled to serve the Lord in his own strength, until he was broken down in health. Finally, he met with God in such a way that it changed his whole outlook on ministry. He expressed his experience in these powerful words:

Once it was the blessing, now it is the Lord;

Once it was the feeling, now it is His Word;

Once His gift I wanted, now the Giver own;

Once I sought for healing, now Himself alone.

Once ‘twas painful trying, now ‘tis perfect trust;

Once a half salvation, now the uttermost;

Once ‘twas ceaseless holding, now He holds me fast;

Once ‘twas constant drifting, now my anchor’s cast.

Once ‘twas busy planning, now ‘tis trustful prayer;

Once ‘twas anxious caring, now He has the care;

Once ‘twas what I wanted, now what Jesus says;

Once ‘twas constant asking, now ‘tis ceaseless praise.

Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;

Once I tried to use Him, now He uses me;

Once the power I wanted, now the Mighty One;

Once for self I labored, now for Him alone.

Once I hoped in Jesus, now I know He’s mine;

Once my lamps were dying, now they brightly shine;

Once for death I waited, now His coming hail;

And my hopes are anchored safe within the veil.

All in all forever, Jesus, will I sing,

Everything in Jesus, and Jesus everything.

Once I met a young native missionary in Rajasthan, India, during a workers’ conference. His name is Par. When he first came to his pioneer field, he encountered severe opposition. Several of his enemies held him up in the air by his legs and told him, “We will tear you in half if you ever come back!”

But Par went back and preached in the streets, witnessed to people and passed out Gospel tracts. Wasn’t he afraid? Did he not take the warning seriously? Oh yes, he was afraid, and he knew his enemies meant what they said. So what gave him the strength and the motivation to risk his life? It was his love for Jesus, nothing else.

Today there is a church in this village with more than 100 believers.

Love is the greatest motivator of all. John 3:16 tells us, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” He gave Jesus not out of compassion or pity, but out of love.

We, too, will have the strength to follow the cross and be faithful unto death if our motivation is love. One of the tests that reveals our heart’s condition is to ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this or saying this? Is it for something I can get out of it, even a ‘thanks’ from others, or simply because I love Him?”

Love Him more than life itself, for He is your life.

 

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. – The Small Pond and the Big Picture

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

The fishing boat was turning to shore after a night of fishing when a kingfisher swooped down and snatched a tiny fish out of the water. Suddenly, the bird lost its grip, and the small fish fell into a pond. Half dead, it struggled back to life. Meanwhile, a large fish approached and said, “What are you doing in my kingdom?” The large fish boasted that he was king over the only kingdom where fish live.

Hearing this, the little fish replied, “If only you could see where I’m from.” And the little fish tried to explain about the vastness of the ocean, all the different kinds of fish, the ships and the whales. The larger fish looked at him in disbelief. And the little fish said, “Well, how would you know? You’ve never left this tiny pond.”

This story humorously illustrates how we become so used to “our” tiny corner of the world that we easily forget the big picture. As soldiers enlisted in the army of Jesus Christ, we too tend to think that our little battle is the only one going on, when in reality it’s just a very small fraction of the global war we are called to fight.

Take a look at the life of the apostle Paul. Here is a man who wouldn’t take no for an answer, regardless of the opposition. He endured imprisonment, beatings, shipwrecks, starvation, loneliness, abandonment and a host of other problems, yet he went forward with one thing on his mind—to preach the Gospel to those who had never heard.

How did Paul and the other apostles survive without giving up hope? They did not allow themselves to get caught up in their own struggles, and they never lost sight of the big picture. In Romans 8:18 Paul says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

While overseas recently, I experienced discouragement. When taping my broadcasts, I sometimes start at 3:30 A.M. One morning when the alarm went off, I didn’t want to get up. I began to complain, “Why me? This is not fair. I went to bed late, and now after only two hours of sleep I must get up.”

Then I sat up and spoke out loud. “I am in a battle. What I do today will touch the lives of millions. Lord, you promised that those who wait on you will renew their strength. Lord, I wait on you, and I know my strength will be renewed.” Ten to 15 minutes went by with me praying and saying God’s Word out loud. By the time I was ready to get back to the studio, I was a brand-new person with excitement, peace and His strength.

What made the difference? I took my eyes off my own struggle and saw the big picture. I saw in my mind the battle that rages all around the world with this generation being enticed by the powers of darkness, bound by Satan’s chains and moving hopelessly toward eternity. I saw a picture of a mighty army filled with the Holy Spirit moving all over the world preaching the Gospel and calling millions to repentance, and I saw those millions responding and giving their lives to Jesus.

When the enemy attacks us as we are serving the Lord, we must remember that there is more going on than what we see around us. We must interpret our little pond, our little world, in light of the much bigger world.

I will never forget what Narayan Sharma, Gospel for Asia’s leader in Nepal, said: “Sometimes it’s so unbearably hot. Sometimes it’s so cold that you don’t want to move; but by any means, it is good to serve the Lord.” This man lives with the reality of the big picture.

In your life you will face days in which you won’t want to pray. Your emotions will be dry. This is the time when you need to stand up by faith and say, “I hang on to God’s Word and will not drown in my own small pond.” Perhaps you will be tempted to stop supporting your native missionary. But look at the big picture! That one native missionary you pray for and support will touch many villages, and hundreds of thousands will come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Someday you will stand with that multitude rejoicing around the throne.

Are you discouraged? Do you want to give up? Are you having a difficult time looking beyond your own little world? If so, stick close to Jesus. Look into His eyes and receive His strength. Don’t let the devil keep you intimidated, discouraged and focused only on your own little world. God’s kingdom is bigger! Let us rise up and shake off the deception of the enemy. Like Paul, let us never lose sight of the big picture, and let us gladly give our lives so that others may come to know Jesus.

One look at yourself and 10 looks at Jesus will keep you going.

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.