Monthly Archives: December 2013

How Jesus Handled Money

Road to Reality - KP Yohannan Books

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Jesus had much to teach about money—how we use it and give it. He also left us a good example of how to handle funds. It is found in John’s account of the Last Supper. There the apostle makes a little aside that gives us vast insight into the priorities Jesus used for dispersing funds during His earthly ministry.

Judas, the treasurer, had finished his dialogue with Jesus and was about to leave the table to betray Him. The Lord makes a simple remark that is misunderstood by the other disciples. He says to Judas, “That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:27).

Now how did the others interpret that remark? They had been with Jesus for three-and-a-half years. They knew the job description of Judas—and they had carefully observed how Jesus spent money. So they thought Judas was going to go out and do what he always did. They figured the Lord was sending him out either to buy needed things or give aid to the poor. That was the way Jesus used money, to purchase immediate necessities and to help the poor. What an amazing insight into the mind of Christ and one that fits well into all the other teachings of our Lord about the proper use of earthly things.

Everything about Jesus and the apostles reinforces this strong impression. They were frugal men who had learned to master money and use it as a servant of the kingdom rather than as an end in itself.

Our problem today is that we believe all the money that comes to us belongs to us to spend as we please. We have the crazy idea that if God gives us a $100,000 annual income, He wants us to live a $100,000 lifestyle for ourselves.

May I dare you also to reverse your prayer-style when it comes to the way you spend your income?

How many Christians pray before they go into the supermarket? How many pray before they go to the mall or shopping center? Before they buy a book or a magazine or go to a movie? Before they go to a restaurant where the cost of the check would sponsor a national missionary for a month? How about you?

Yet the minute they are challenged to support the real work of God, things become very spiritual. Now they have to pray about sponsoring a national missionary, pray about responding to appeal letters for missions, pray about contributing to the offering!

I’m not saying we should be careless stewards in how we support missions, but I am saying that most of us apply a double standard that is not based on agape, sharing love. If the spending of our income is for our things and our pleasure, then the signal is “buy—buy—buy!”

But too often, when lost souls are at stake, we let greed and hoarding call the plays. Then we have to think about it and consider it.

And we don’t do this only in our personal lives. The same kind of thinking prevails when we make corporate decisions at church. When it comes to approving a ski trip for the youth group or new carpet for the sanctuary, the item passes through the budget committee without comment. But if it is Bibles for Myanmar or supporting a national missionary, then there needs to be debate. This is the opposite of how we should be thinking.

Excerpt from Chapter 21 of The Road to Reality (ISBN 9781595891136) © 2012 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Real Love Shares

Road to Reality - KP Yohannan Books

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The streets of India—especially in the bloated, overpopulated cities like Bombay and Calcutta—are maddening to Western visitors. Millions of homeless people are born, live and die in them. Part toilet, part barnyard, part roadway—they are also the bedroom, living room and marketplace for the poorest of the world’s poor.

In summertime’s furnace heat, the dust of centuries rises from them to fill your eyes, choking your mouth and nose. In the monsoon rains, the streets turn into vast seas of mud and sewage. In winter, the freezing pavements bring disease and death to those who have nowhere else to rest their starving bodies.

It was on one of these nightmarish streets of Bombay that I was surrounded by an army of begging children. Already late and on my way to an important meeting, I tried to ignore the pleading children as I waited for the light to turn green.

Suddenly from the sea of hungry faces I heard a voice so distinct from the rest that I was paralyzed. In crystal-clear tones, I heard her speaking in plaintive Hindi, “Sir, my father died three months ago of tuberculosis. My mother is too sick to beg anymore. My little brothers and sisters have not eaten for two days. Please, sir, they are hungry and crying. Can you please give me a few pennies so I can buy some bread?”

The light turned green. But I couldn’t move. I was arrested by the image of this little girl who must have been about 9 years old. Her face was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, perfectly shaped with big brown eyes and long black hair.

Through the tears on her cheeks, the dust and the sweat, I could see that in different circumstances this desperate little waif could easily have been a princess. Her filthy hair had obviously not been washed or combed for weeks. She was barefoot and dressed in rags. But I’m still sure she had the potential of being a winner in the Miss World beauty pageant.

Then something else happened. It was as if another face came before my eyes right beside hers. It was another child, about 8, also with big brown eyes. But she had long, clean hair and a shining face. Her clothes were fresh and colorful—and she wore nice socks and tennis shoes. I knew her. She was the best student in her class. Each night she said her prayers and read the Bible. Her parents loved her. She had a comfortable home, air-conditioned from the Texas summer and heated in the cold winter. She had a comfortable bed with clean sheets every week. I didn’t know the name of the dirty little beggar girl, but I did know the name of the girl beside her. It was Sarah, my own daughter.

Then I heard a supernatural voice beside me ask, “What is the value of this beggar girl? Is she of less value than your daughter, Sarah?”

I knew the answer from the Bible. Instinctively, I answered, “No, Lord—Jesus loves all the children of the world.”

But even as I replied, I realized that God was not asking me the question I had answered. He was asking me something more personal and life-shaking. He was really asking me about my priorities. Was I willing to love this beggar girl as Jesus loved her—in the same way that I loved myself and my own wife and my children? Would I love her with real love, the kind that shares?

Excerpt from Chapter 20 of The Road to Reality (ISBN 9781595891136) © 2012 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

The Acid Test

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The acid test of our commitment to Christ is the depth of our involvement in what concerns Him the most—world evangelization.

How can we say He is Lord unless we are seeking to fulfill the greatest longing of His life—to carry out His orders and finish the task He began on the shores of Galilee?

Jesus said in Mark 16:15 that we are to go to the “whole world” with the Gospel. It would appear some people think this means just to people of their race who live on the right side of town. Others with a really “big vision” seem to think it means the country they live in. But Jesus gave a clear command. We must have a world vision that reaches to our own “Jerusalem” as well as our “Judea, Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”

The benchmark of your love of God is your burden and committed action for the whole world—not just for your small corner of it.

What clever, spiritual-sounding excuses I’ve heard in my travels.

One of the most interesting excuses blames God for our problems. It usually begins with, “But, Brother K.P., you don’t know my . . .” and ends with a sob story about some old defeat, hurt, sin or temptation. I call this the “wounded soldier” excuse.

With love in my heart, the only thing I can say to this excuse-maker is, “I understand. But no matter how badly you’ve been hurt, you’re in a million times better shape than any lost sinner walking down the road to hell.

Another excuse that has a nice ring to it goes something like this: “Brother K.P., what about my __________?” You can fill in the blank yourself: career, children, church, education, health, insurance, family, retirement. This excuse is based on the idea that God does not love us and will not provide for us if we serve Him.

There are as many other excuses as there are people, but one of these days, each of us will have to stand alone before God and repeat them if we dare.

Why not stop this minute and take a spiritual inventory of your life? Are you living for eternal realities, or is your life centered around getting more of the things of this world or protecting what you already have?

When was the last time you laid aside your shopping list, your problems, your needs, your family and said, “Here am I, Lord; send me!”

Excerpt from Chapter 17 of The Road to Reality (ISBN 9781595891136) © 2012 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Into the Heart of Jesus

Road to Reality - KP Yohannan Books

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I’m not sure where I read it, but one day I came across a little anecdote in a booklet about Jonathan Edwards, the great preacher of the 1700s. He was in a dry spell. The spiritual fire had gone out inside. His heart no longer beat with a love for the lost.

In desperation, he fell on his knees and cried out to God, “Please stamp eternity into both of my eyes!”

When I read that, I knelt right then and prayed the very same prayer with all my heart. What a change it has made.

Take your present age and add 100 years to it. Where are you now? Where is your car? Your house? Your library? Your furniture? Your clothes? Where are all the things you worry about, and pray for, and save for—where are they now?

Measured against eternity—nothing of this world makes much difference at all. A hundred years from now, it is unlikely that even one person in the world will remember what we looked like in this life!

But heaven is real. Hell is real. This is what gave Jesus such purpose and urgency in His ministry. Jesus knew the reality of eternal death where lost souls tumble year after year—forever—into a fiery bottomless pit where the flame is not quenched and the worm dieth not.

This is why He could stand and weep over Jerusalem. This is why He kept pressing on relentlessly from one village to the next. This is why He became homeless and hungry and faced danger and rejection. It is why He finally chose to go voluntarily to the cross. This is why He left us with His Great Commission.

You see, Jesus lived with eternity in view. He had come from eternity, and He was going back to eternity. He never was out of touch with spiritual reality. No wonder He could live a life for others as a selfless servant.

Jesus knew that He was “the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Yes, our Lord knew there is a heaven and there is a hell. He knew that He was the only way to get to heaven and not go to hell. That’s why He loved lost souls so desperately and was willing to spend His ministry reaching out to sinners of all kinds—bigots, drunks and prostitutes, as well as respectable religious folks who were just as lost as the rest.

Many times I have struggled with this fact: Jesus is the only way to God—and without Him, lost sinners will spend forever in hell. I have wished it weren’t so, but it is so. Jesus taught it, and that fact sent Him to the cross. Jesus was gripped by a passionate love for the lost, and we need to let ourselves be consumed by the same spiritual reality.

This is the only way we can enter into the reality of His life of love. We have to see the lost world as Jesus sees it.

Excerpt from Chapter 17 of The Road to Reality (ISBN 9781595891136) © 2012 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Peoples of Privilege*

Road to Reality - KP Yohannan Books

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Most of us are already vaguely aware of our material privileges, although we rarely pause to thank God for them. But we may be less aware of our spiritual bounty.

First of all, we know about Jesus. Even if His beautiful name is used as a curse word or joke, virtually everyone has at least heard the Christmas story.

In the developed nations, 98 to 99 percent of the population is evangelized. Evangelized means that they have heard the Gospel message and have had the opportunity to respond. I am not saying that nearly everyone is a Christian, but that they have heard the Gospel at least once. Most people, in fact, have heard the Gospel many times. How different this is from millions in Asia.

For nearly seven years, I wandered from village to village and street to street in North India as a missionary evangelist. Everywhere I would ask the same question, “Have you heard of Jesus?”

I cannot tell you how many times I would hear the reply, “Sir, there is no Jesus Christ living here. Maybe he lives in the next village. Why don’t you try there?”

More than a billion people in Asia are unevangelized—they have not heard the Gospel clearly even once. They have never seen a Bible, a tract or a Christian video. Hundreds of millions have never heard a Christian radio broadcast or even met a believer—let alone spoken with a trained missionary evangelist.

Hundreds of thousands of villages are without a Christian witness, and there are 10,000 unreached people groups in the world still without a church! Most of these are in Asia.

Imagine a soccer stadium with 30,000 seats filled with the populations of Asia and the evangelized countries. There are 24 hotdog vendors serving the crowd; these represent the full-time Christian workers serving in these areas of the world. Of the 24 vendors, 20 are set apart to serve the 6,000 spectators sitting in the front rows, but only 4 vendors are serving the 24,000 spectators in the back.

And it’s worse than that, because only a few of the well-fed spectators in front are even interested in hotdogs, having brought in ice chests loaded with other food. By contrast, thousands of people in the back rows are on the verge of starvation, perishing for lack of food! However, the 20 front vendors do not even venture back to help their 4 exhausted fellow vendors save the lives of the starving people. Instead, they continually walk back and forth in front, asking the privileged spectators over and over again if anyone is hungry. Some well-fed spectators are concerned enough to pass a little food toward the back, but most simply enjoy the game.

That’s what is really happening in Christian missions today. In addition to keeping the lion’s share of the Christian workers for themselves, the evangelized nations also consume the vast majority of Christian literature. Through the Internet, they enjoy a boundless supply of Christian resources for evangelism, discipleship, worship and Bible study. They are also the primary recipients for well over 90 percent of all Christian radio and television. And they have thousands of Christian schools, colleges and seminaries. No wonder they’re stuffed!

Our first reaction, I suppose, should be to fall on our knees and thank God for the privilege of living in nations that are super-saturated with the Gospel. But next, we need to ask ourselves seriously why God has given us such tremendous material and spiritual resources.

* Cited data are from Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, AD 30-AD 2200.

Excerpt from Chapter 16 of The Road to Reality (ISBN 9781595891136) © 2012 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.