Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Devil Hates Prayer

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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If I could pick out one thing that Jesus—as well as Paul and the rest of the apostles—constantly emphasized, it would be prayer. In the Scriptures, we are charged to “watch and pray,” to “pray without ceasing,” that “intercessions . . . be made for all men” and so on.

Most followers of Christ are convinced that prayer is a vital part of our Christian life. Through prayer, we communicate with God. As we petition Him, in His love He meets our needs, heals our sicknesses and delivers us from Satan’s attacks. In fact, we know from Scripture that prayer is our mightiest weapon to defeat the enemy. As we pray, all heaven fights for us.

Amazingly, despite our vast knowledge about the importance of prayer, we struggle constantly to find time for it. Prayer usually ends up near the bottom of our priority list.

There is a reason for this! You see, the devil hates prayer. He hates it more than choir practice, seminars, conferences and Christian concerts. He will do everything in his power to stop us from engaging in this dangerous activity. In fact, prayer is so destructive to him that he is more than happy to see us choose instead to listen to a sermon, read a Christian book or work for charity.

However, if the devil can’t hinder us from praying, he uses several other effective tactics to zap the power out of our prayers. One of those tactics is this: Without us knowing, he slips in slowly and makes us believe that all these great victories have happened because of us and our prayers. For example, this endangered training center was saved because we knew how to defeat the devil. The radio broadcast received 10,000 letters this month because we made it happen through our intercession.

Unless we are very careful and extremely sensitive, we can end up at a place in which even our prayers can become a major trap. You see, when things are happening, the enemy tempts us to trust in our prayer activity, our expertise on spiritual warfare, our elite group and our dynamite church leadership. Suddenly our confidence is placed in ourselves and what we are able to accomplish instead of in the Lord alone. Thus, our prayers have turned into a work of the flesh, something God detests and always rejects.

Our prayers and intercession are vitally important to reach the lost world. There is no substitute for pulling down the strongholds of the enemy. Therefore, we must keep our weapon of prayer sharp and effective at all times, which happens only when we examine our hearts daily to see if we are placing our confidence in anything other than Jesus alone. God seeks followers and intercessors who believe with all their hearts that it is “ ‘not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

A few minutes of prayer with total dependence on the Lord are worth more than days of weeping in our own strength. Don’t forget the priorities. We may cry out all day long and see nothing happen, yet Elijah prayed a few words and fire came down from heaven!

Excerpt from Chapter 20 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Who Qualifies to Stand in the Gap?

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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Frightened and trembling, the people stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, watching one old man slowly climb up the rough terrain to reach the top and meet the Holy God face-to-face. Moses’ mission: to plead for mercy on behalf of several million people, to ask God to forgive their sin and continue to lead them to their promised land.

Moses himself must have felt the weight of the whole world on his shoulders. He knew God better than anyone alive. God couldn’t simply forget His righteous standard and pretend the people’s worship of the golden calf had never happened. He had to punish sin in accordance with His own character and His law, which demanded death for such a grave offense.

Considering all this, why did Moses even try to make this tiring hike and approach God in such a hopeless situation? I believe he must have said to himself: “I have no doubt that because the people have broken their covenant with God, He must punish them. But from all my previous encounters with Him, I have learned that He is also a merciful God who dearly loves His people. Perhaps there is a chance He will spare them if I stand in the gap for them.”

Chapter 32 of the book of Exodus contains the dialogue between God and Moses on Mount Sinai. The first part of their conversation had taken place when God gave Moses the tablets with the commandments and informed him of the idol worship that was going on in the camp of Israel. The second half happened after Moses went down to see for himself, smashed the tablets in the process, destroyed the golden calf and then came back up the mountain to plead for the lives of his people.

Here we see Moses standing in the breach of a broken dam, fighting to hold off the imminent flood of destruction that is about to wipe out an entire nation. Imagine with me, if you will, their conversation: God says, “Moses, step aside and let Me destroy them. They have gone too far—there is no hope for them. I will raise you up as a new nation instead, and your descendants will be My people.” But Moses simply answers, “Please, God, You cannot do that. These are Your people. You are the One who led them out of Egypt. If You are going to destroy them, then please kill me also. Wipe my name out of Your book.”

God heard Moses’ prayer as he pleaded for millions of people who had walked away from the living God. Amazing! His standing in the gap allowed the entire nation of Israel to be saved.

What was it that compelled God to listen to Moses? Why did God accept him and grant his request? God looked at Moses’ heart, and He saw a man who was totally unselfish in all his ways. His heart was pure. His motives were without hidden agendas. God could say this about him: “Moses, My servant, with whom I share all My secrets.” He walked with God in such a way that he could go up the mountain and sit and talk with God, and then go down and speak to the people. He was able to identify with them yet at the same time remain God’s faithful servant.

We can learn a valuable lesson from Moses’ life. When souls are hanging in the balance, it is not the majority of the crowd that will make the difference. All God needs and looks for is one individual whose heart is pure. My brothers and sisters, this means you and I can make the difference in our home, our workplace, our community, our state and our nation. Please believe me, we can—if our hearts are right.

For all of us who desire to serve the Lord and are committed to reach our generation with the Gospel, my deepest concern is that we have a pure and authentic heart before the Lord. We must never work and serve because of a challenge, money, a title, a position or even because millions of people are going to hell and we have to do something about it. It is my prayer and hope that we serve the living God for one reason, and no other: deep down in our hearts, we love Jesus more than anything else in this life, and His love is our only motivation for action.

Only those things done out of sincere love will last in eternity.

Excerpt from Chapter 19 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Choosing Christ over Comfort

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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Whenever you decide to live radically committed to Christ and His call to win the lost, watch out! Immediately you will find well-meaning people rallying around you to help you stay “balanced.” They’re not your enemies—but your friends, your family members and your brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.

These people are truly concerned about your welfare. They give you heartfelt council: “Don’t overdo it. Think about your future. What about your family? You have rights too. You will burn out. This can’t be God’s will for you. God never wants you to go overboard with this commitment. Think about your wife and children. You will regret it later.”

The hardest decision you will ever have to make is to firmly tell those who love you, “I have decided to follow Jesus. Today I have put my hand to the plow and cannot look back. I have determined to give my life for the more than 2 billion people who are unreached by the Gospel and are dying without Christ. Don’t hold me back or feel sorry for me. My heart is fixed. Don’t hold me back from pursuing the cross.”

Unless you make a firm stand to choose Christ over comfort, you will sooner or later end up on the sidelines. The temptation to give in is powerful because of the relationship and love that bind you to these well-meaning people. Jesus knew this very well. That’s why He told His disciples, “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).

Why do so many of our Christian brothers and sisters try to persuade us to seek our own comfort instead of laying down our lives? I believe the reason stems from a basic misunderstanding—they don’t recognize that following Christ means to embrace the cross and, with it, death to our own self.

A careful study of Hebrews 11 reveals that everyone in the “hall of faith” paid a tremendously high price to be mentioned as our examples. Some left their countries, others high positions and riches. Many were persecuted, faced loneliness and rejection. A great number were beaten, killed, sawn apart, imprisoned or burned alive. Yes, God rescued some of them to demonstrate His power, but many of them died at the front lines in the battle. The Bible says the world was not worthy of them.

When we look at the disciples and many of the Christians down through the centuries, we see thousands who died as martyrs while others suffered severe persecution for their faith. Paul’s proof of his apostleship was not his “successes,” but the price he paid for preaching the Gospel. His account in 2 Corinthians 11:23–28 lists scourging, imprisonments, beatings, a stoning, shipwrecks and being betrayed by his own countrymen and false Christians. He could boldly say, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

If we want to be serious about taking the Gospel to the more than 2 billion unreached people of our generation and the 80,000 who die every day without Christ, then we must come back to this kind of Christianity. We must be determined at all cost to stay on the front lines until Jesus comes back. We must encourage one another daily to reject the temptation of choosing comfort over Christ. We must walk into the fire of battle with everything we have, paying the price as Jesus did.

Excerpt from Chapter 18 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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A few months ago while on the mission field, I met a brother who has a death warrant on his life for preaching the Gospel. He has been imprisoned many times, beaten, stabbed, shot at and on the run for months at a time. Yet he is eager to endure all these things in order to win one more soul to his Savior and King. “My life is nothing,” he says. “It all belongs to Jesus.” This brother has a wife and children who suffer alongside him—willingly. For them, Jesus is worth it all—the best reason to live.

To be confronted with the reality that over 2 billion unreached people will plunge into hell unless they receive a chance to hear the Gospel is irritating, troublesome and uncomfortable to many believers. Why? Because their desire is to enjoy their salvation, families, church fellowships, seminars and conferences without such a painful interruption.

When Jesus was telling the story about the rich man and Lazarus the beggar, He illustrated very clearly that the two had nothing to do with each other. The rich man was in his mansion enjoying the best of life, while the sick beggar was outside the gate hoping for a handout. It wasn’t Lazarus’ fault that there was no interaction between the two. He had positioned himself strategically at the door where the rich man could see him clearly every time he went in and out of his gate. However, the rich man chose to ignore the beggar for a very calculated reason. If he looked at Lazarus and the dogs licking his sores, he wouldn’t be able to enjoy his steak dinner in peace!

What was his sin? He was selfish with his life and with all God had entrusted to him.
Similarly, when the apostle Paul described to Timothy why the last days would be so difficult, his number one reason was: “For men will be lovers of themselves” (2 Timothy 3:2).There is no statement that more accurately describes the mindset of our present generation. We are constantly bombarded and counseled to be protective of ourselves, our possessions, our rights and our wants. Everywhere we turn we are told that we deserve the best. In fact, we are offered self-help books and services on every conceivable subject.

What about the Church? It is sad to say that this self-centered mindset has infiltrated much of the Body of Christ, especially in more affluent countries. Our worship, our teaching and our spiritual desires are primarily focused on, “Lord, bless me, give to me and let me enjoy.”

Whatever happened to the war we are supposed to be in and to the command: “And do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2)? Jesus taught us that the laws of the kingdom of God are in sharp contrast with the mindset of this world. For example, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). We are fooling ourselves if we attempt to practice a Christianity without embracing the cross and death to our own selves. Winning this world for Jesus will never happen until we have the mind of Christ: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Having the mind of Christ sets us free from our self-centeredness and enables us to minister to the Lazarus in front of our door!

How can we get that mind of Christ? Jesus gave the answer: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

It starts with a deliberate decision to walk away from the mindset of self-preservation and allow the Lord to pour out our lives for the millions who have never before heard the name of Jesus.

Excerpt from Chapter 16 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Faith Is the Key

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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Whenever Jesus taught His disciples about prayer and serving God, He listed two specific groups of people they were not to imitate. The first group was the Pharisees, whom He often labeled as hypocrites. The second group was the Gentiles living across the border.

I have no doubt that the disciples immediately understood why the Gentiles were totally off course with their idol worship, long and repetitious prayers, and unholy lifestyle. But when Jesus marked the Pharisees as bad examples, He must have shocked everyone who heard Him.

After all, the Pharisees knew the Scriptures like no one else. In fact, they devoted their whole lives to studying the law. They faithfully prayed, fasted, gave alms and tried to keep every requirement they could find. For Peter and the rest of the disciples, it was inconceivable that God could require an even higher level of commitment and service from them. No one could do more!

But Jesus was not looking for a greater number of good works from His followers. Rather, He desired their lives and service to be more effective than that of the Pharisees.

First, He wanted them to be real and to serve God out of love and with all of their hearts. Second, He wanted them to do everything by faith.

That’s where the Pharisees had their blind spot and were dead wrong. They believed God accepted them on the basis of their own righteousness, generated by their effort to keep the law. They never understood Genesis 15:6, “And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Hebrews 11:6 makes it even more plain: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him [God].”

For us who have received salvation through faith in Jesus, to continue walking by faith should be easy. But that’s where we miss it the most. Whenever we fail to enter the realm of faith in our prayer life and service to God, everything we do or accomplish remains in the realm of the physical: our own selves.

The Bible contains hundreds of promises that God is eager to fulfill in our lives as we walk with Him. Yet we will never see a single one come to pass unless the Word we have received from Him is united by faith in our hearts.

Only those who are weak in themselves can believe God for the impossible.

Excerpt from Chapter 14 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.