Monthly Archives: July 2013

Mighty man of God

Touching Godliness - KP Yohannan Books

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Paul, the Apostle—from a distance, he may come across as a self-made man who doesn’t bend before anyone or anything. But that’s really far from the truth. Paul was a broken, humble man who learned to live a life of submission before both God and man. And this was the key to God committing Himself to Paul.

Before he was the Apostle, he was Saul of Tarsus—a Pharisee, and as for legalistic righteousness, he was faultless. He was of the highest caste in society with both financial backing and a great education. Self-righteous, he was convinced that he was doing the right thing by killing Christians and opposing this Christ everyone was talking about.

But then on the road to Damascus, he met Jesus Christ Himself. There he was struck down with a bright light, and he heard those words, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? . . . It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

Saul immediately asked, “Who are You, Lord?” By calling Him Lord, Saul was saying in the literal sense of the word that he now belonged to the One he was addressing.

“I am Jesus,” was the response he heard.

Saul was dumbfounded. “Lord, what do You want me to do?” he stammered. His question was the beginning of a life of absolute surrender.

God instructed Saul to go to the city of Damascus. There, He said, “you will be told what you must do.” Think about this for a second. All Saul knows to do is to go to Damascus. God didn’t tell him where to go in the city or how long he would have to wait or even how he was to know the next step.

Then when Saul gets up, he opens his eyes and can’t see a thing. He is absolutely blind. Now the mighty, intelligent, rich and famous “Saul of Tarsus” has to be led by the hand like a child. In order for him to submit to his new Lord, he has to humble himself and take this road of brokenness. For three days, he waits sightless and helpless. God was using these first steps in submission to train Saul in godliness.

Next the Lord made contact with Ananias, a disciple living in Damascus. He gave him Saul’s address and told him to make a house call. The Lord adds, “He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:15–16).

The Lord could have done everything for Saul Himself. He could have opened his eyes, baptized him and filled him with the Holy Spirit. Instead, God chose to work through His delegated authority. It was Ananias who was divinely appointed to bring Saul healing and to guide him at this point in his journey. God was saying to Saul, “Submit yourself under My delegated authority.” Saul, who was such an intelligent, capable individual, had to put his life in the hands of Ananias, a simple unknown man mentioned only once in the Bible. Even so, Saul submitted to what was required of him, because he had met his ultimate Authority on the road to Damascus.

Excerpt from Chapter 7 of Touching Godliness (ISBN 9781595891211) © 2008 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Shipwrecked by pride

Touching Godliness - KP Yohannan Books

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Over the past nearly 30 years, I have observed a phenomenon common among those with great potential. Take a young person who is smart and talented. In the beginning, he or she may be given only minor leadership opportunities while waiting for maturity and character to catch up to his or her abilities.

So this person says to himself or herself, I know what I’m doing! I’ve read and studied. I can see my way! This young person sees a leader make a wrong decision and starts to give advice. Because the supervisor graciously receives the suggestion, in the subordinate’s eyes his or her importance grows. Self-promotion sets in, and negative comments about superiors begin. Pride and insubordination worsen, and disrespect for leadership surfaces.

Behind the scenes, the leadership team was actually thinking about promoting this person to greater responsibility. After they detected a rebellious attitude, however, they decide this person was not yet ready. Another is promoted, maybe not as smart or capable as the first person, but this individual is humble, broken and loyal. He or she is obedient and submissive.

Unfortunately, often the one with the most brains, instead of using the experience to learn humility, becomes even more arrogant. Until he or she chooses to submit and accept what God has designed, life will continue to unravel while this person thinks all the missed opportunities are someone else’s fault. In many cases such an individual may even be asked to leave or will leave on their own, going from one place to another, feeling the world is unjust.

How sad. God was planning a promotion. The leaders intended this. The Lord wanted to use this rising star in a greater degree, but this individual would not submit to God’s ways.

We all want God’s best for our lives. But how many times, without even knowing it was right around the corner, have we forfeited what was divinely planned for us? Is doing it our own way really worth it?

Excerpt from Chapter 5 of Touching Godliness (ISBN 9781595891211) © 2008 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

God’s Representative

Touching Godliness - KP Yohannan Books

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Imagine you are in rush-hour traffic in Bombay, India—one of the world’s most crowded cities with more than 18 million people. Streets are jammed. It’s like a swarm of ants—buses, trucks, cars, auto rickshaws, bicycles and pedestrians everywhere. I’ve heard it said, “Our traffic system in India is the most organized confusion in the world.” And this is what you’re looking at—this organized confusion.

In the center of this maze stands a skinny little man. Now you’re thinking, Does he want to get himself killed? What in the world is he doing in the middle of all this hubbub? But there is more to the picture. This is not just anybody—this man is dressed in a tan uniform, with the hat and badge of a traffic policeman, holding a sign that reads “STOP.”

Mind you, he’s no celebrity or public figure. He may have never been to college, but the moment he holds up his sign, you can hear the screeching of brakes. All the vehicles stop—Mercedes-Benzes, taxis, BMWs, trucks, you name it. It makes no difference whether the people in the vehicles are politicians, truck drivers, movie stars or taxi drivers, Sardarjis, Malayalees, Oriyas, Europeans or Americans. Everybody comes to a halt. When the man in the uniform waves them on, off they go once again.

Let’s say the following week this same individual comes to the same spot, but he’s wearing his pajama kurta while standing in the middle of this crazy Bombay intersection. Now what do you think is going to happen? “Oh!” you say. “This time he will get killed!”

What’s the difference? When he stands there as an officer, he’s not just representing himself. His uniform, badge, cap—they all indicate he works for a higher authority. He represents the laws of the land, the judges and the punishment that awaits those who disobey. If you choose not to follow his directions, you will have more than just him to deal with. As a policeman, he has the backing of his superiors’ power. He is not the authority himself. He simply represents it.

If we truly realized that the authorities—in our nation, at work, in the church and in our homes—are actually God’s delegates and not just the people we see or read about every day, we would have less difficulty obeying them. If we could picture them as that policeman in the Bombay intersection—with a uniform and badge indicating they represent the authority of the living God—it would change everything for us.

Excerpt from Chapter 5 of Touching Godliness (ISBN 9781595891211) © 2008 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

One Step at a Time

Touching Godliness - KP Yohannan Books

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Consider this: Christ started His public ministry at the age of 30. Why did He have to wait until then? On top of that, why was there another three-and-a-half years before the cross? Couldn’t He have started His ministry when He was 18?

When I was a boy, my mother took me to kindergarten. There were about 30 lads like me who sat in a circle with our guru (teacher), who taught the alphabet to us in our native language. Each year I passed on to the next grade and eventually on to high school and college.

A primary-school student learns subtraction and multiplication, but the college student deals with calculus. In the lower grades, a child draws pictures or writes papers on simple subjects. But at a university, the scholar reads a 2,000-page book and writes a 10-page paper. It’s a whole different world.

So why did Christ have to wait 33 years before He went to the cross? For Christ the man to choose absolute surrender to the point of death on the cross, He needed time to grow in obedience. The Bible actually says that Jesus learned obedience (see Hebrews 5:8).

When His parents made mistakes and Jesus suffered, instead of sinning against them, He grew in obedience. Like this, He learned obedience through the years until He came to the place at which He was ready to lay down His life.

So it is in our own lives. God does not start us out with calculus and a 10-page paper. We can trust that the opportunities He gives to us to learn obedience—whether to Him directly or to a delegated authority—are at our current level of growth.

As we submit in our hearts, step by step the Lord will bring us to a place where we hold nothing back from Him.

Excerpt from Chapter 4 of Touching Godliness (ISBN 9781595891211) © 2008 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

The Lesson of the Yoke

Touching Godliness - KP Yohannan Books

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“Come to Me” and “learn from Me,” Jesus told His disciples. But there is a condition: “Take My yoke upon you.”(1) You cannot learn of Him unless you take His yoke. What does His yoke represent? When I was growing up in my village, there were paddy fields everywhere. To plow these fields, farmers used a set of buffaloes with a yoke placed over their necks. The rear of the animals had several burn marks on them, like stripes. I remember as a youngster asking a man, “Why do all of these animals have burn marks?” He said, “It is the sign that they are broken and submissive.”

When Jesus said, “Take My yoke,” it means He had a yoke. He was broken and submissive. Now He invites us to come under that yoke of submission next to Him, choosing to give up what “I want,” even in good and right matters, for His will.

Once we are willing to do that, we begin to manifest the nature of Jesus. A.W. Tozer says it this way, “If we cooperate with Him in loving obedience, God will manifest Himself to us, and that manifestation will be the difference between a nominal Christian life and a life radiant with the light of His face.”(2) In the measure by which we open our life to Christ and bend our necks to the yoke, dying daily to our self-centeredness, independence, pride and reasoning, and instead depend on God, in the same measure we will manifest His nature in our lives.

1  Matthew 11:28–29.

2  A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, Inc., 1982), p. 64.

Excerpt from Chapter 4 of Touching Godliness (ISBN 9781595891211) © 2008 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Christ, Our Life

Touching Godliness - KP Yohannan Books

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While the Old Covenant is all about rules, regulations and obedience to laws, the New Covenant is God’s invitation for us to be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). Through the life and death of Christ, we are restored to God’s eternal purpose for man—to manifest His nature. His death was the means for our redemption, but by His life as a man, He showed us how God intends for us to live. John says of Jesus, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). His life—His character and His example—is the “light of men.”

 This does not mean we just imitate Christ. Many people, such as Mahatma Gandhiji, imitated Christ.

 It is not to be like those who join the army. They come in with long bushy hair and their own look. But soon, they end up in the barber’s chair, and their long curly hair is gone. Their fancy civilian clothes are replaced with an army uniform, and all the soldiers now look the same. As long as they are in the army, they will behave as they are told. They are just copying behaviors. On the inside, however, they may still be something else.

 As followers of Christ, we cannot copy behavior, imitate and therefore become godly. Godliness, becoming like Christ, is not an objective list of rules. In fact, a purely intellectual knowledge of Christ will leave us proud and self-centered still. Rather, godliness is born out of a growing and alive relationship with our Lord. Hence, we read in John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you.” In Ephesians, the phrase “in Him” is repeated again and again.(1) Our life only makes sense when we understand that our very identity and source of life come from Christ. We are not on the outside. We are on the inside. It is no longer our life, but Christ’s life manifesting itself in us and through us.

 (1) See Ephesians 1:4, 1:7, 1:10–11, 1:13, 3:12.

 Excerpt from Chapter 3 of Touching Godliness (ISBN 9781595891211) © 2008 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Good Measure Returned

Touching Godliness - KP Yohannan Books

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In the late 1960s, I was on a ministry mobile team along with about 10 others. I remember one particular morning when we were stationed near the city of Jhansi in northwest India. Our leader called me to his side and said, “You know that we are stuck.”

I said, “I know.” You see, our old vehicle, packed with crates of Bibles, tracts and personal belongings, had two flat tires, and we had no spares. We also had no money to buy new tires.

My leader then told me, “You are the only one who has a watch. So why don’t we sell your watch, and we can buy the needed tires?”

At first I couldn’t believe he would ask me to do something like this. Though it was difficult for me to handle his request, I had been told, “Obey your leader.” Honestly, it was a hard decision for me. But I prayed about it, and God said, “Obey him.” So even though I didn’t like it, I took my watch and gave it to him. He smiled while I cried on the inside. The watch was sold, we bought the tires, and the team went happily along its way.

I didn’t remain without a watch. Actually it’s amazing how many watches people have given me over the years. God has paid me back for my watch many times.

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down . . . running over” (Luke 6:38). This verse is not just about money. When we give away our rights and surrender our wills, when we give our obedience, our return is “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”

Excerpt from Chapter 3 of Touching Godliness (ISBN 9781595891211) © 2008 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Welcome Home!

Touching Godliness - KP Yohannan Books

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[In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son], the younger son chose to rebel and walk out from under his father’s covering. He rejected the authority over him and did what he pleased. In the end, however, what he got was waste and ruin. His inheritance was squandered until nothing was left. Then famine came. The last scene of Act One has him feeding swine while going hungry himself. He lost his dignity and his honor. It was then he started thinking, I am no longer worthy to be a son. But maybe I could ask to be one of my father’s servants. He was willing to come under the authority of his father again.

A.W. Tozer remarks on this story: “At bottom of his restoration was nothing more than a reestablishing of the father-son relation which had existed from his birth and had been altered temporarily by his act of sinful rebellion.”(1)

When this drama ends, the son has returned. But he is not treated as a servant. Instead, he is honored as a son, with great love and celebration. Blessings are showered upon him. His father had been waiting for the day that he would return so that he could bless his son again.

Submission to God’s delegated authority is one of the most wholesome and liberating truths ever given to us by God. It affects our lives positively at every level. This truth, however, remains hidden from most of us because Satan has taken this concept and twisted it into a negative term.

Granted, submission may not be easy on our flesh, but the benefits that we receive far outweigh the struggle involved. We experience what Jesus said: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24, NASB). When we die to our pride and submit to God’s authority, the benefits will follow.

Before their rebellion, Adam and Eve had every blessing—all that is of God without the pollution of sin. To the extent we submit, we too will know God’s restoration to that life of blessing. Likewise, to the degree we allow rebellion in our hearts, we repeat the scenes of chaos and confusion that Satan introduced into the world.

(1) A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, Inc., 1982), p. 100.

Excerpt from Chapter 3 of Touching Godliness (ISBN 9781595891211) © 2008 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Strength and Beauty

Touching Godliness - KP Yohannan Books

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Horses are animals of great strength and beauty. If you have had a chance to watch a horse and rider at full gallop, you know it is an awesome and sometimes terrifying sight to behold. Only recently did I realize that some horses weigh as much as 2,000 pounds and can pull up to 9 tons.

I am sure you have seen or heard stories of horses that have been spooked by something. They rear up on their hind legs and kick, or they race away recklessly. It is extremely dangerous to be on the back of a horse in such a situation.

Think with me about warhorses that are found in the heat of battle. Imagine the yelling and the clashing of armies, all the sudden movements, even the animals being struck, yet they maintain themselves and aren’t spooked. Neither do they run from battle. Only horses that are prepared for battle can respond in this way. Because their great strength is directed by their master, they prove a great help.

The historical meaning of the word meekness is “strength under control.” The Greek word for meekness was often used to describe a wild animal that had been tamed. In many ways this meekness is precisely what we find in someone who is truly submissive. I fear that too often people link submission with weakness, which is entirely wrong. No one lies down and becomes a doormat when they submit. We don’t give up the strength and ability God gave us. Instead, we allow Him to channel all this strength and ability in His way instead of our own way.

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Touching Godliness (ISBN 9781595891211) © 2008 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.