Monthly Archives: February 2012

5 Minutes with K.P. – What Is It Worth to Me?

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

God’s desire to conform us to the very image of His own Son sounds like a good plan to us and a worthwhile pursuit. We immediately think of all the wonderful things Jesus did while He was on earth, and we feel privileged that God wants to use our lives in a similar way.

Some of the things we admire the most in Jesus include His love for even the worst sinner, His faith to move mountains, His authority over demons, His power to heal and His anointing to preach. We have no objections for God to conform us into such an image—until we find out that He is planning to accomplish this through breaking us by means of the cross. His goal goes even beyond brokenness when it comes to our dearly loved “self” that sits on the throne of our lives.

If there is one Scripture in the entire Bible that speaks volumes of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to experience the fullness of the Lord, to have rivers of living water flow unhindered and to be changed into His likeness, it is Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Think about this Scripture. The “I” that to each of us represents the most important person on earth, our own self, was nailed to the cross and died there. With it, the greatest obstacle for Christ’s life to be seen through me is removed. Someone explained it like this: There is a cross and there is a throne in all of our lives. If “I” is on the throne, Christ is on the cross. However, if Christ is on the throne, then “I” is on the cross.

God knows that there is no peaceful coexistence possible between “self” and Christ. That’s why He breaks me in so many areas of my life, until I willingly yield my “self” to death. Only in the measure in which I will allow this cross to operate in my life—to bring death to my own selfish ambitions, my ways, my rights, my reputation and my interests—will I be able to allow Christ to manifest His life through me.

Jesus Himself never tried to walk away from either the process of brokenness or the cross because He knew very well that only through His death would we have life. There were times Jesus had the opportunity to save His own neck, but each time He made a deliberate decision to choose brokenness and death instead. For example, one of those times was when the Greeks came to Philip with this request: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” (John 12:21).

Eusebius, an early Church historian, sheds a little more light on this story. In his writings, he mentions that the king of a small kingdom sent several men to carry an urgent letter to Jesus. In this letter the king wrote a message that went something like this: “Jesus, I have learned about You, and I understand that the Jews are plotting to kill You. I believe You are a good man and a good teacher. Why don’t You come and be part of my kingdom and rule with me? We will take care of You.” The historian continues his account by writing the reply that Jesus supposedly gave the king. Interestingly, the answer is very similar to the one Jesus gave to those Greeks, recorded in John 12:23–26:

“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified . . . 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. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also.”

Jesus was telling these Greeks, “If you really want to see Me, you must go where I go. My destination is the cross, where I will die in order to give life. If you truly want to see Me, you must choose the same road and die as well. Only through death will you find Me.”

How hard you and I try, even in our Christian work, to preserve our own lives and avoid the pain that accompanies the process of brokenness and death to our dear selves! Jesus said that we indeed have the choice of saving our own lives and remaining just as we are. If this is our course of action, we can study the Bible for the next 15 years and become experts, but we still will not see Him.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that only the pure in heart will see God. That purity comes not only when my sins are forgiven, but when I no longer fight to preserve my life but allow God to take me through the same lifelong process of brokenness and death through which He led Jesus His Son.

You and I must answer this question: What is it worth to me to see Jesus?

 

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. – You Must Choose

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

The meeting was over. It was one of the strongest messages I’d ever spoken on dying to self. Maybe that’s why I was shocked when a lady came up afterward and asked me to pray for her problems with smoking and having a short temper. In talking to her, I learned she believed these were caused by demons! I told her, “What you need to understand is that you must deal with your flesh—not demons. You cannot cast out your flesh. You must crucify it.”

Many today seek instant victory and spiritual depth through a crisis experience. They don’t want to pay the price of discipline and putting their old nature to death. Even when seeking God, they still want to be in total control.

Jesus came to set us free from our self-centered, lukewarm nature and to change us into His own image (Romans 8:29). Our changed character is much more important than the experience, spiritual gifts or miracles we often seek.

Let us take Jesus as our example. Romans 15:3 tells us that “even Christ did not please Himself.” He laid aside all His privileges as God and lived on earth as a normal human being. He totally depended on His Father for everything.

Furthermore, the apostle Paul told those around him to follow him as he followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). How did Paul practice this in his life? “Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to” (1 Corinthians 9:27, TLB).

No one becomes godly without a deep commitment to a disciplined life. Dying to self is the door to godliness (Galatians 2:20). And it is a choice we must make.

Jonathan Edwards, the great American preacher and scholar, made 70 resolutions by which he patterned his daily life. He wrote this in his diary: “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.”1

Jesus asked us to choose to carry the cross. It is not imposed on us. Accepting inconveniences, fasting, praying, giving up our rights, living simply, seeking no honor or praise from men, giving sacrificially, being misunderstood, humbling ourselves and avoiding self-centeredness—these are things we must choose.

Similarly, no one forced Jesus to do anything. He Himself chose the poverty, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, rejection, loneliness . . . and finally, the cross. He exercised His freedom of choice to discipline everything in His life in order to obey His Father. As Hebrews 5:8 explains, “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”

Paul’s statement in Philippians 2:12, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” is taboo for many believers. God is not going to instantly make you holy—you must choose to obey so you can become holy. He will not make you godly without your commitment and work. For example, it took Moses 40 years to become Moses the deliverer. It took Joseph 13 years in prison to become prime minister of Egypt. It took years of discipline and commitment for Daniel to become someone who changed history. It took Jesus 30 years to preach the Sermon on the Mount.

Walk away from instant Christianity that offers no cross, hardship or responsibility! It is false. Without consistent discipline in life, we will remain dependent baby Christians.

The following paragraphs make up a list of practical disciplines compiled by a friend of mine to help develop a consistent, godly life.2 My prayer and hope is that this list of disciplines will become a blessing to you as it has been for me.

Begin with the simple things. A disciple will always seek to avoid making unnecessary work for others. So hang up your clothes. Make your bed promptly and neatly every morning. Clean up after yourself, and put your shoes in their proper place. Don’t despise these small things as irrelevant to becoming spiritual. They are the very essence of it. They indicate that extra touch of foresight, carefulness and thoughtfulness that makes the difference between a spiritual Christian and a carnal, lukewarm one.

Show respect to all—even to the poor and the lowly. When speaking or listening to someone, develop the habit of looking at him or her as if no one else mattered to you at that moment. When in a church meeting, discipline yourself to keep your eyes on the speaker instead of allowing your eyes to wander here and there. To gaze around at others or down at your feet is rude and discourteous, both to the Lord and to the speaker.

Tackle difficult tasks promptly. Do first the things that you would rather do last. Sit down right away and do the homework or write the letter (or article) that you have put off for so long. Welcome these difficult tasks. Cultivate a sense of responsibility in doing them faithfully. Ask yourself these questions:

•   Can I be depended on to fulfill any task assigned to me?

•   Am I quick to volunteer when a job needs to be done, or do I find myself slipping quietly away?

•   Do I accept responsibility for my decisions . . . and for my mistakes as well?

•   Can I be depended on in money matters?

Be punctual for meetings and appointments. The habit of being on time will never be acquired unless you are convinced that courtesy demands it and you plan ahead and allow yourself enough time to get to the appointed place. Don’t allow yourself to waste time in idle daydreaming. Bring every thought into captivity to Christ. Make use of your spare time to read quality books, fellowship with someone or help others.

When unexpected events throw your well-laid plans into confusion, don’t let stress conquer you—for that is only foolishness. Instead, choose to believe that what seems to be nothing but human blundering is really the gentle steering of God for your very best (Romans 8:28). So give thanks to the Lord for His ordering of your life.

Keep your emotions under control. In conversations with the opposite sex, maintain a courteous reserve; this is because friendship can become affection, and affection can lead to lust—to the shock of both involved. That which began innocently may end disastrously. Don’t let Satan make you say, “I couldn’t help it.” Pluck out the offending eye or cut off the offending hand or foot before it is too late. Your emotions may not immediately obey your will. But your actions must. In due course, your emotions also will follow the lead of your determined purpose and your decisive stand.

Master your moods. Discipline yourself to behave just as well when you “feel bad” as when you “feel good.” Discipline yourself to read God’s Word and do your work even when you “don’t feel like it.”

Discipline your tongue. Don’t blurt out everything that comes to your mind. Frankness is a virtue only when it is coupled with intelligent, loving tact and discretion. Otherwise, it is evil and unnecessary.

Subordinate less important things to the more important ones. Select the things you must do, and do them first. If you “major in the minors” and allow your friends, impulses and conveniences to dictate your priorities, you will end up as a mediocre Christian—useless to God and useless to men.

Submit graciously to God-given authority. Such discipline will round off your rough edges and also preserve you from much folly.

Control your curiosity. Don’t be a busybody in others’ matters.

Conquer gluttony. Eating is not a sin, but gluttony is. Paul said, “I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is . . . for the Lord” (1 Corinthians 6:12–13). One should eat heartily and with enjoyment. But we should know what and how much is good for us, and have the self-control to stop when we should.

Learn to wait. To grab for something before God’s time is to spoil it. There is a time in God’s timetable for all things—in the matter of marriage, for example. Wait for that time, and don’t rush ahead. Learn to respect the timetables that are found on life’s joys, responsibilities and privileges. We don’t help God by opening a rosebud—we only spoil the blossom.

Systematic prayer and Bible reading are prime essentials for a disciplined life. The discipline of getting out of bed a few minutes early—at any cost—to spend time for this, every day, will itself bring rich rewards.

Avoid unnecessary luxuries and don’t be wasteful in spending money. There are dangers in times of ease and prosperity that can be avoided only by some deliberate acts of self-denial on our part. Choose to miss a meal at times. “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

Our goal in life is Christlikeness, not a comfortable, self-serving, lukewarm life. Let us have a passion for improving the quality of our Christian life and fulfilling all of God’s will. Let us be ready for sacrifice or for service, applying ourselves faithfully at all times to the task at hand.

Do all for Jesus’ sake!

 

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. – How Can I Make a Difference?

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Did you realize that the Body of Christ lacks no funds to pay for the expenses of every one of God’s ordained plans, including taking the Gospel to all nations?

“But Brother K.P.,” you will immediately reply, “if this is true, what about all the desperate needs and heartbreaking stories we hear about the mission fields of Asia and other parts of the world?” The answer is simple: The money that God has entrusted to individual believers and local churches is tied up in properties, elaborate church buildings, houses, cars, boats, bank accounts, investments, fashion, entertainment and self-serving programs.

Billy Graham once said, “The hardest thing for a man or a woman to do is to give their money. A person’s money represents his time, his talents, his education, his sweat, his tears, his job, his toils; and when he converts them into currency and gives it, he is giving his life.”

However, if we understood what our money does on the mission field, that is, what God is doing with it, we would be amazed and more than willing to sell even the clothes on our back to reach the lost world. The following story perfectly illustrates the eternal value of the money we give.

In northwest India, a group of native missionaries was preaching the Gospel on the street. A man in his late 50s came and got a Gospel tract in his native language. This man was a Hindu Brahman landlord. He had cancer in his body; and in order not to bring shame to his family, he ran away from his home to commit suicide. Far away from his home now, he sat on the street corner and read about Jesus and how He had died for him on the cross 2,000 years ago.

There was a prayer he could pray at the end of this tract for forgiveness of sins and peace. For the first time in this man’s life, he not only read about Jesus, but he prayed to Him. He felt something happening to him—a peace began to fill his heart. He did not commit suicide that day, but instead he journeyed back home.

The next day he went to the hospital for the doctors to give him further checkups. To his amazement, the doctors pronounced that he was completely cured. The doctors could give no explanation of how it happened. He told them he knew—the tract he read had cured him.

He traveled to the nearest mission station at the address on the Gospel tract and told our brothers what had happened to him. As they explained to him more about the Lord Jesus, he began to weep. Finally he said, “Now I know this Jesus is my God.” Then he said to them, “I am the landlord in my village. Would you please come and make all my people Christians?” How innocent, how naive and how little he knew about sharing the Gospel.

Two brothers went with him and began to preach the Gospel in this village. Dozens of people gave their lives to Christ and were publicly baptized. As they continued sharing, a strong church was developed in the community. The transformation of this village happened through one simple Gospel tract that cost less than what it costs to buy one pack of chewing gum.

Would the individual who gave that $1 or $10 have ever thought a few pennies of that money would be used to print a Gospel tract that in turn would touch the life of one individual, saving him, healing him and as a result reaching a whole village with the Gospel? Probably not.

Consider the thousands of underground churches in mainland China. Most churches there are privileged if they have one or two Bibles for the entire congregation. Several years ago I was in China. I was totally amazed as I listened to the Chinese brothers explain the scarcity of Bibles. When I asked how they manage, they told me that they tear the Bible into sections and hand out 10 pages per family. Each family will copy down these pages and bring the portion back, and then they are traded around so each family gets a different 10 pages.

What an incredible joy it will be for a person to stand before the throne of God and meet thousands of Chinese brothers and sisters whose church received Bibles through his faithful sacrificial giving. Can you imagine the joy, the thrill that will be?

Here’s a third example: Consider the 60 adults who came to the Lord Jesus Christ through hearing the radio broadcast in the northeast India state of Orissa. No missionary had ever gone into the community. The people had never seen a copy of the Bible or a Gospel tract. But now, in their native language, they heard the Gospel presented through the Gospel for Asia Athmeeya Yathra radio program. After weeks of listening to the program, the news began to spread from one individual to the next, and finally more than 60 people gave their lives to Christ. The families of these new believers were deeply impacted by the change that came into their lives. One of them wrote a letter to Gospel for Asia’s office requesting “that book” our brother was talking and reading from. Soon we sent two missionaries to them. They were overjoyed when our missionaries came with the Bible and explained to them more about the Lord. The believers were baptized, and a glorious church was established.

That broadcast they heard was made possible through the support of an individual, family or congregation that was willing to give its resources to reach the lost world by faith.

During World War II, Winston Churchill called Franklin Roosevelt over the telephone and said, “Give the tools, and we will complete the job.” Today that is exactly what tens of thousands of brothers and sisters scattered in the most unreached parts of our planet are crying out to us—to help them with our prayers and resources so they can complete the task.

We must take this request very seriously. I pray that we will ask ourselves the question, “What can I give or sell so I can give to reach the lost?” Selling out for Jesus is not a new doctrine. Read Acts chapter 2, and you will find that these people sold everything. They had one thing on their mind—to declare to the whole world that Jesus is alive.

I think about the man in Oklahoma City who called me one day weeping over the telephone. He had just finished reading my first book, Revolution in World Missions. He told me of his two expensive Mercedes Benz automobiles, his mansion and all the other stuff he owned. He explained how brokenhearted he was when he realized that millions are lost without Jesus. Finally, he told me he had made a decision with his wife and children that they would sell these expensive cars and home and live modestly so they could spend the resources to preach the Gospel and to reach the lost.

First John 3:16–17 says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

A day is soon coming in which we will stand before God to give an account for the way we squandered our resources on our own self-centered living. We are the prodigal church that squanders away the Father’s wealth on the affair of an adulterous relationship with this present, passing world.

Your money today can be turned into eternal souls. Don’t wait for someone to come and pester you for it, but look for ways to invest it as a good steward. Don’t forget that soon all you have—everything—will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10). If you hold on to your resources tightly now, you will walk into eternity empty-handed—but with a lot of regret. On the other hand, if you give away what you have now to reach the lost souls, you will walk into eternity with an inheritance that will never perish. Jim Elliot aptly stated this irony: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”1

What will you do now? You must decide.

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. – Selfishness

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Here is an excerpt from a letter I recently received from the mission field:

Many times we were stoned while preaching, forced to leave the place where we ministered and the village we lived in, threatened not to win souls, denied a place to sleep or food to eat, commanded and forced by the army to public labor such as building railroad tracks. High inflation, sickness, lack of transportation and the hot climate are constant hardships we face on our mission field. But we are assured by the Holy Spirit that the more we suffer for Him, the more rewards will be arranged for us in heaven.

Three of my coworkers lost their lives within this last year and a half while serving the Lord in the villages. Among them was Brother Kwang Wa, one of our most effective workers. Though they are now gone to be with the Lord, the seed they have sown will bring forth plenty of good fruit: souls for His kingdom.

It almost sounds like an excerpt from a letter written by the apostle Paul 2,000 years ago, doesn’t it? But this one just came from Gospel for Asia’s leader on the Gangaw mission field in Myanmar. During the preceding few years, our brothers there had been able to establish 25 churches with 345 baptized believers, mostly from strong Buddhist and Animist backgrounds.

How was this possible in the midst of all the hardship, suffering and death? We can easily detect the answer in their letter: They simply understood what it means to follow Christ and put the souls of others ahead of their own desires, safety and comfort. They had no resistance to paying the price it took to win these people to Jesus.

I am constantly shocked when I travel to Western churches and discover how little people know about the most basic call of Christ: to lay down our own desires, pick up our cross and follow Him. In the average church and through most Christian media, we are brainwashed with a selfish gospel. We are exhorted to first watch out for ourselves, our families, homes, health, security and rights. Then, when all these things are well taken care of, perhaps we can consider others.

I strongly believe that the number one enemy that keeps us from reaching the lost world is not the devil, but our self-centeredness.

Normal Christian life in the New Testament was always other-centered. Even when Paul was sitting in prison, he hardly talked about his own agony and suffering, but in all his letters he expressed much more concern for the churches, coworkers and believers across Asia. The letter he wrote to Philemon is a wonderful example of this Christlike attitude. He poured out his heart on behalf of Onesimus, a runaway slave whom he had led to Christ. For Paul, prison seemed to be only incidental, not worthy to lament about or devote more than half a sentence to in his letter. He was serving His Lord and others, no matter where he was and regardless of his circumstances.

William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, lived by the same principle. When he was old and too sick to travel to a convention where 5,000 of his leaders and followers had gathered, he sent a telegram with his message to be read to the whole assembly. Everybody expected a special sermon because he was supposed to be their main speaker. However, when they opened the telegram, there was only one word on the page: “Others!”

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that just because we live in an affluent nation and our children don’t have to beg for food on the streets of Bombay, God must especially favor us. We must be so careful to avoid becoming self-centered; because if we live for ourselves, God will find no time or space in our lives in which we could think about the lost world and invest our lives for the salvation of others.

I have been walking with God and serving Him for more than 30 years, and still my greatest struggle is my selfishness. I do not want to pay the price often. You will have the same battle in your own set of circumstances. The grain of wheat just doesn’t like to die! But I have found that following Christ is not a matter of whether we enjoy doing something, but rather a deliberate decision of consistent, constant obedience. That’s where the victory is won and where the fruit will follow.

“Oh to be saved from myself, dear Lord, oh to be lost in Thee. It is no more I but Christ that lives in me.” How easy it is for us to sing these words but so hard to live it. Are you choosing the way of the cross today? What about giving up some meals to fast and pray for the lost people groups in our generation? How about burning the wish list and “stuff” you plan to buy and spending that money for the preaching of the Gospel? What about giving your vacation time to go to the slums of Mexico City and minister for Jesus? More suggestions on how to live this radical life are mentioned in my book Road to Reality. Get a copy and read it. It will change your life.

It is time for us to die—but you must choose it.

 

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.