Monthly Archives: March 2014

Anyone Can Criticize

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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In our world, it seems impossible to escape criticism. If we do poorly at school or at work, people will criticize us. Should we do well and excel in business, we still face criticism from people who are jealous of our success. It seems to be a favorite pastime of the human race to take one person after another, good or bad, and “skin them alive” with criticism.

Most believers have accepted the fact that the world will criticize us regardless of how saintly we may live or how many charitable contributions we may make. However, I have found that the greatest shock and discouragement for believers come when they realize that they encounter this same heartless criticism from their brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. Of course, God never meant this to happen. But many Christians have never allowed the Lord to cleanse their lives from this destructive behavior. It’s a very serious problem; and if it is not dealt with, it easily can destroy a church.

Imagine this: Jesus, the sinless Son of God, faced His worst criticism—not from the Roman government or from ungodly people—but from the most recognized and pious religious leaders of His nation. Paul experienced the same thing. His worst critics were people inside the Church, not the heathen he tried to win. In fact, he deals very thoroughly with this problem in his second letter to the church in Corinth.

Whether criticism comes from the world or from within the Church, it is important for us to know how we should respond to it. The Bible clearly instructs us in Romans 12:17 not to pay back evil for evil, which means we must not lash out and respond in anger in the same manner we were treated. On the contrary, God wants us to respond differently. We are to maintain our love for the brothers and trust the Lord to handle our defense. Only if we do this will the cycle of destructive criticism be broken.

Let us take Jesus and the apostle Paul as our examples and act like they did when they were confronted with severe criticism. They never allowed these things to hinder or stop them from following God’s call. Their allegiance and faithfulness were to God alone and were independent from whatever others said. With their total focus fixed on the goal set before them, they were able to endure until the end and fulfill their calling.  The best we can do when we receive criticism is to look at it objectively. If the accusations are simply empty talk, we should dismiss them and by God’s grace go on with our life. On the other hand, if there is any truth in the criticism, let us be willing to change, improve and grow in that area.

As believers, we are commanded to love and serve one another, just as Jesus did. That doesn’t mean we’re supposed to close our eyes when we see a brother or sister err. The Lord has given us the responsibility to watch out for each other so that all of us will win the race. This includes helping one another to correct mistakes and overcome defeats. However, to accomplish this, we are allowed to use only constructive criticism and never any words that will destroy our brother or sister. Constructive criticism flows out of a deep love and genuine concern for the person who needs help. It’s never associated with gossip, revenge or anger.

Jesus used this kind of criticism with His disciples when they slept instead of prayed or totally lacked faith for a situation. However, He talked to them in private with gentleness and a readiness to forgive, bear their shortcomings and even wash their feet. He had their best interests in mind and was willing to lay down His life for each of them. His goal was to build them up in every way possible. Even when He had to correct them often and they felt terrible after they failed, they always knew He did it out of love so they could grow.

We must truly have the mind of Christ when we deal with other believers and the world around us. Anyone can criticize, but we have received the power of God to build up. Let’s use it!

Excerpt from Chapter 13 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

What Motivates You?

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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As a Christian, have you ever examined yourself and honestly answered the question, “Why do I give, pray or get involved in this or that activity for the kingdom of God?” Is it because the cause presented is so urgent or desperate? Is it because of some internal guilt feeling? Or is it because you are so overpowered by compassion or pity?

All these reactions are normal human responses; but according to the Bible, they are not good enough reasons to give to the Lord!

Then, of course, there is one more reason that probably motivates more believers to do good works than any of the above. This “reason” is that we are told that God is in terrible trouble and we need to help Him out! The appeal usually goes something like this:

“Things” are going to crumble…Christian media programs will have to go off the air…building projects will be shut down…social programs can no longer be…souls will go to hell, if you don’t give now.

This is actually an appeal to our unbelief. And worst of all, we are reminded that if these things happen, God’s glory will be gone, and the devil will win—unless, of course, we come to the rescue!

Now, I don’t doubt that a number of those projects would not be able to continue without these kinds of appeals! Sadly, we have been trained for decades to give to this kind of request—and too many Christians only give when they hear needs presented in this faithless way. But I also believe the main reason some of those projects would “go under” is because God never ordained them in the first place! Or maybe He is trying to get our attention because He wants to create something newer or better.

I’ve always believed that God is not in any financial trouble. We never need to panic, thinking that somehow we need to help Him out of a tight spot. He has made no promise that He is not able to keep. God is not helplessly looking at a lost world hoping that someone will finally feel guilty enough to do something. He promised that His kingdom will never fall—and the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. He has enough power to complete whatever He sets out to do.

God is not the One in trouble—we are. We don’t understand that He doesn’t want our money unless He can have our hearts first!

Let us once again return to loving the Lord above all our programs, possessions and our very lives. Then our service, our giving and our praying will turn from being a burden into the greatest privilege and joy we have on this earth.

Excerpt from Chapter 12 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Standing on Empty Ground

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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Each one of us would be absolutely terrified if we were asked to walk along the edge of the Grand Canyon during a pitch-dark night without any light. After all, we could fall off the cliff and die. We might be more willing to do it if we had a travel plan and a bright light that would allow us to see every detail ahead of us.

In the same way, we want to plan and control our lives while we walk with the Lord. We want to be sure of tomorrow, and we want to be certain how He is going to take care of us before we ever dare to step out on His Word. We don’t mind that He is our King as long as His actions are predictable and He shows and explains to us His schedule ahead of time.

On the other hand, we feel helpless, frustrated, and almost angry if all we hear from Him is “follow Me, trust Me” and “walk by faith, not by sight.” We have waited for details, plans and especially security, but all He gave us was His promise that He is all we need.

True walking with the Lord requires us to be totally stripped of everything that is of ourselves and in which we had put our trust, as well as our expectations of acceptance, approval, security, importance, abilities and our rights.

Being stripped does not at all mean to renounce the world and go somewhere to live in a cave. It simply means that we look at ourselves and recognize that we have nothing in us to stand on and nothing to hold on to. All we have is total emptiness. Once we recognize this truth, we are then in the right position to follow Him, totally depend on Him and trust completely in His sufficiency.

God deliberately waited until Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90 before He gave them a son. He waited until there was no doubt that Abraham was aware of his own emptiness and therefore was totally dependent on God. Isaac became the son of the Spirit and not of the flesh.

Throughout the Bible we find examples of how God had to wait until His people came to the place of recognizing their own emptiness before He was able to lead them, give them victory and show Himself mighty on their behalf. At times God had to intervene to speed up this process, such as in the story of Gideon. God reduced Gideon’s army to 300 men to make it impossible for them to win the battle in their own strength.

How about you? Have you stepped on empty ground?

• Is there something the Lord has asked you to do but you have put it off, either because you feel unqualified or because you fear you will lose control of the situation?

• What has hindered you from giving unselfishly to reach the lost in our generation?

• Can you honestly say, “This world is not my home. I am just passing through”?

• If someone were to point a gun at you and say, “Deny Christ or I will kill you,” what would be your response? Can you say as Paul did, “Nor do I count my life dear to myself” (Acts 20:24)?

• Is your prayer life proof of your total dependence on the Lord? Do you ask the Lord to show you His plans with a willing heart to obey them, or do you just ask Him to bless your plans?

God has never accepted the product of the flesh, and He never will, however good it might look in our sight. Our plans, our strength and our works, based on anything we find in ourselves, will all burn up. Only that which is of the Spirit will remain eternally.

If we want to follow Him, we must stand on empty ground.

Excerpt from Chapter 9 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Keep the War in Mind

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Can you imagine an airline pilot flying a 747 over the Atlantic Ocean and in the middle of the flight forgetting his destination?

One of the strongest and most successful attacks of the enemy on the work of God is to cause us to forget our purpose and our goal. All of a sudden we find ourselves totally wrapped up in “normal living,” no longer able to answer the questions, “Why are we here? What are we doing?”

The Bible very clearly tells us that we are here not for ourselves but for the cause of a lost world that has never heard the name of Jesus and for its multiplied millions of souls who are heading for hell.

During World War II, the people of England saw that if they didn’t win the war, they would lose their land, their freedom and everything that was dear to them. This realization caused them as a nation to scale down their lifestyles to the barest of essentials. For this one goal—to save their nation—they gladly sacrificed all they had: money, gold, silver, even their sons to fight the war.

This type of single-focused sacrifice is often manifested on the mission field. Shankar was born in a leper colony to parents stricken with leprosy. In order to save him from contracting the disease, a native missionary raised him in a home he had built for the children of lepers. Shankar received a good education and with it a chance to make a better life for himself.

Along the way Shankar gave his life to the Lord and received a call to full-time ministry. Just before Shankar graduated from Bible college, the missionary brother told him that he was free to go to a new place and start a new Gospel work. Shankar replied, “No, I will work among my own people, the lepers, and tell them how the Lord has changed my life and how He can save them.” Today Shankar has laid down everything he has gained and his chance for a better life to live and work as a missionary in the leper colonies of India.

He remembered the war.

We too must keep the war in our mind—at all times. Let us not forget why we are here. God is looking for people with a wartime commitment that will save our generation.

What about you? Are you willing to stand in the gap for a person, a village, a state or a nation? The Lord was looking for a person who was willing to make such a commitment when He spoke through the prophet Ezekiel and said, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30).

Make a list of 10 people who don’t know the Lord and pray for them daily—fast and pray. Witness to people about the Lord wherever you are. Carry Gospel tracts or booklets and pass them out. Find out about the unreached nations and people groups of the world and adopt them as your prayer focus. Pray and believe for their salvation.

You are called. What are you waiting for?

Excerpt from Chapter 8 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.