Monthly Archives: May 2014

Keeping Your Heart Alive

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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Nothing stays the same! Just one look at your car will confirm this. The tire tread is wearing thin, the muffler is rusting out and the engine will only go so many miles. Our houses have the same tendency. The paint peels off, the roof leaks after a few storms and the tile and carpet don’t seem to stay clean for more than a couple of days. In the kitchen the milk goes sour, the bread molds and the peach that looked so delicious three days ago starts to rot.

Even things we leave completely alone, like the pictures on the wall or the books on the shelf, collect dust, change color and become old. Half our time is spent washing clothes, cleaning house and repairing things that break down. We do this because we know that unless we continually work on maintaining our possessions, we surely will lose them to deterioration.

Exactly the same is true for our spiritual lives. Check it out for yourself by comparing your life and your ambitions with the ones you had when you first understood that Jesus wanted to use you to help win millions of people for His kingdom.

As time has gone by, your once-tender heart is now unmoved by the truth that, today alone, 80,000 souls will plunge into hell because they have died without calling upon the name of Jesus. Your eyes no longer have tears as you look at your world map and see the Muslim nations that are closed to the Gospel. You used to consider it a joy to write a check to support a native missionary, enabling him to reach his own people for Jesus. Today you’re almost sorry that you made that commitment because you would rather spend that money on yourself, like buying the newest CD from your favorite Christian music group.

You remember when you couldn’t wait to attend the prayer meeting for missions or to spend an hour alone in intercession for the lost world. Now you find it difficult to fit the prayer meeting in your busy schedule, and you have to kick yourself to get out of bed for a five-minute prayer.

Believe me, this is the situation for all of us: If our commitment and our call to serve God are left unattended, they will slowly deteriorate and be replaced with excuses and a thousand other things to do. We will then argue for our rights and our freedom and justify our lack of time and interest in the cause. Finally, our other involvements will become more important than the call of God on our lives.

Let me ask you, what caused a man like Adoniram Judson, America’s first foreign missionary, to be so different from us in his level of commitment and the achievement of his goal? What gave him the strength to go through incredible persecution and suffering, burying his first wife and three of their children on the mission field of Burma? Was it because he was a product of a different culture than ours in which the people and circumstances were more stable?

No, I don’t believe so. Each person has his own struggles and problems. I firmly believe Judson was able to bear even the greatest of losses and pay the highest of prices because he had made a lifetime commitment to win the Burmese to Christ or to die trying.

He deliberately kept his focus on his call and purpose, rejecting everything that would distract him from reaching his goal. God saw his heart and gave him the necessary grace to finish the race.

Our greatest problem is that we continually lose our focus. We allow ourselves to be sidetracked by the world, by our mixed-up motives and by our lack of discipline. It takes a radical commitment to live for the one goal God has set before us—to win the lost. Whatever part you have in it—be it to go, to intercede, to give, to send—make it the focus of your life. Start measuring everything that comes your way by this question: Will it further the cause God called me to, or will it be an extra weight and additional distraction in running the race? Learn to walk away from things and even people who will take up your time, your emotions and your money and thus hinder you from fulfilling God’s purpose for your life.

Wearing out the saints (Daniel 7:25) slowly is the master tactic of the enemy. Don’t let him!

Excerpt from Chapter 28 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Touching Heaven

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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We see in the Bible that one of the strongest agendas God has is to get people all alone. For example, Jacob ran 20 years or more. Finally, when God got him alone, He could make him into Israel.

You see, when it is only God and you, you are more apt to face your pride and your sins. With everyone else we argue these things away and look wonderful and smile. But when we are all alone before God, we face ourselves, and the cleansing and purification will take place.

We become less phony the more we are with the Lord. I cannot tell you strongly enough that each of us must develop a very strong habit of prayer; otherwise, our Christian walk will greatly lack reality.

But this is only the first step in God’s agenda for each of our lives. The next step is for Him to show us the desperate faces of more than 2 billion people who are unreached with the Gospel. Each of them is created in the image of God with a soul that lives forever. Yet they are bound in the chains of sin and heading toward hell without knowing there is a name to call upon for salvation. God searches for those people who will stand in the gap on their behalf and intercede for their souls.

This means going consciously into battle against the powers of darkness for the release and freedom of people who cannot help themselves and don’t have anyone else to fight for their deliverance.

It is basically the hardest, most agonizing and difficult job we can ever embrace—but the only one that guarantees absolute victory.

It is amazing how easily we can get people in the Body of Christ motivated to demonstrate, to wear T-shirts, to collect signatures or to raise money for a worthy cause. But it is the hardest thing to get them to pray for a world that is lost without Christ.

Why are our views and priorities so distorted? Why are we so easily distracted from the one thing that really would get the job done? The answer is because we are up against an enemy who knows what can hurt him the most! The devil is well aware that prayer is our most powerful weapon—it defeats him every time. With it, we touch heaven and cause the hand of God to move in a mighty way. Therefore, the devil would rather see us doing every other Christian activity instead.

Prayer is the quickest shortcut to victory. What would take us 50 years of struggles to accomplish, God can do in no time at all.

But how can you start, and what can you pray for? Just watch the news on TV or read the international page of a newspaper. Scribble on a piece of paper what is happening in Myanmar, Afghanistan, China and other nations. Start praying for the needs of these nations.

Soon you will discover that 30 minutes, one hour or two hours will not be enough to even scratch the surface.

It is the incredible wisdom of our God to ordain prayer to be the most powerful weapon of the church. If He had chosen anything else—like preaching, singing, money or education—many of us could never participate in fighting the war.

But prayer doesn’t require any talent and can be done anywhere, anytime and by anyone. A housewife, a poor person, a child, a 90-year-old grandmother, an executive or a lonely believer in a nursing home all are able to change the world and help change the destiny of millions of people through prayer.

If the Lord has spoken to you today, please respond by doing just one thing: “Pray!”

Excerpt from Chapter 26 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Pure Motivation to Serve Our Lord

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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It was an exciting day for the Christians in Antioch. The whole church had gathered together to pray for Paul and to send him off on his second missionary journey.

Everybody was curious to see who would be on his team this time. You see, just a few days before, there had been quite a heated dispute between Paul and Barnabas, who had accompanied Paul on his first trip. Barnabas wanted John Mark to join them again so the young man could have a second chance as a missionary candidate. On the last trip, he had deserted them when things got rough, but Barnabas believed that John Mark had now changed and would do better.

But Paul’s list of qualifications to serve on his elite team didn’t include such generosity! In fact, if Paul had lived in our days, the advertisement he might have published in Christian magazines would read something like the following:

TEAM MEMBERS WANTED
for Mission Work in Asia Minor and Europe

Job description: Serving, praying, preaching, teaching and church planting.
Qualification: Love Jesus more than life itself.
Terms and conditions: Hard work; 24-hour shifts; difficult travel; storms; shipwrecks; nakedness; poverty; hunger; constant danger from Gentiles, false brothers, robbers and wild animals; misunderstanding; loneliness; desertion by coworkers; persecution; beatings; stonings; imprisonment and possible martyrdom.
Job does not include the following benefits: Salary, position, title, promotion, securities, health or life insurance, secure future, good health, long life or retirement fund.
Send your application to: Paul of Tarsus, apostle to the Gentiles.

I am certain that very few of us would have dared to venture out and join Paul’s “death squad” missionary team! However, when we read the Gospels, we are surprised to discover that Jesus made the same offer to His disciples when He asked them to follow Him. He even told them, “You must love Me more than your own life.” We read the results in the book of Acts and in Church history: Nearly all of His disciples lost their lives for the sake of the Gospel they preached.

On that day when Paul headed out for his second missionary journey, “a few good men” had actually made his team! Everyone in the church knew that these men had to be the cream of the crop, the best of Christianity: men full of faith and the Holy Spirit, mavericks, steadfast, fearless and invincible.

Paul and his team were incredibly successful. Everywhere they went, they drew people’s attention with the message they preached and the miracles God performed through them. People were saved, churches were established and together, this team actually turned the known world upside-down (see Acts 17:6).

Years later, however, Paul wrote an interesting paragraph in his letter to the Philippian church: “But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father” (Philippians 2:19–22, NASB).

And with sorrow, Paul wrote to Timothy at the end of his life: “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica” (2 Timothy 4:10).

What strange things is Paul writing about in these letters? He’s actually talking about his own coworkers! How is that possible? What happened to his elite team, the ones he handpicked and personally trained?

In the beginning, it was fantastic how everyone worked hard and gladly sacrificed and suffered together. No one asked for a title or claimed a position. Each one was eager to serve Paul and the other team members. But as time went by, something shifted in their hearts. They became secretly concerned about their own career as Gospel workers. One after another, each man said to himself: “I love the Lord, the ministry and Paul, but if I go on working for Paul, I’ll miss my chance to build my own ministry and make a name for myself.”

Many left Paul and his team for various reasons. Paul was sad and hurt, not because he didn’t want his coworkers to be used by God elsewhere but because he recognized that the motivation of their hearts had changed. The driving factor in their ministry decision was no longer love for Jesus but rather their own interests, dreams and ambitions.

Paul, on the other hand, ran the race and kept his faith and motivation intact until the end of his life. Time did not seem to affect him. What did he do to live victoriously until the end? I am very sure he applied Proverbs 4:23 literally to his life: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

Paul watched over his heart with the eyes of an eagle, alert and ready to detect any early warning signs that he was losing his pure motivation. If this started to happen, he immediately corrected his course.

Above all, Paul never considered himself more than a bondservant or slave of Jesus Christ. As such, he had laid down every right to his own life along with every ambition he ever had. His only remaining desire was to please His Lord and live for Him. He entertained no dreams beyond that.

In the light of all this, seeking recognition, titles, position, a pat on the back, salary or benefits in the Lord’s work, whether secretly or openly, must be an alarming warning sign for us. If we choose to pursue these things, it will be only a matter of time before we have lost a pure motivation of the heart. Our enemy is our own self-centeredness.

Excerpt from Chapter 24 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

What Is Normal?

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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I believe the devil laughs when he sees us sitting down with our calculators, logic and expertise to figure a way out of our problems and battles. He knows very well that even if we held 10 Ph.D.s, we couldn’t outsmart him. I imagine he actually enjoys watching us depend on our great knowledge, the latest management strategies, and human psychology to run our churches, evangelize the world and heal our ills. You see, as long as he can keep us believing that we can find answers and solutions in the realm of the natural, we are not much of a threat to him.

God, on the other hand, urges us to live in the supernatural. This means walking by faith and believing His Word, even if it defies everything our five senses tell us.
Faith has nothing to do with human logic, mathematics or what we can see, hear, feel, smell or touch. But it has everything to do with how God operates! Faith disregards the obvious facts and trusts that God will do the impossible.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” meaning that when I walk by faith, I believe without a shadow of a doubt that God’s promise to me is the absolute truth. I then act and live at that very moment—before I ever see the evidence—as if I have already received the fulfillment. If I do this, the Bible declares that I will have my request.

To our human logic it sounds as if God wants us to lie about our real situation. It sounds so foolish, so opposite of reality and so unscientific! But according to Hebrews 11:1, we are not lying at all; and we haven’t fallen into a trap of hopeless self-deception. No, we are just acting normally—by the laws that govern heaven!

None of this makes sense to our human perception. It blows our minds just trying to figure it out.

The most important thing for us to remember is this: It is impossible to apply the laws of the natural realm to the realm of the supernatural.

Jesus said in John 17:14 that we are not of this world, just as He is not of this world. We are born of the Spirit of God and belong to another kingdom that is not a part of this earth. For us as citizens of heaven, it should be only normal that we live according to the laws of our home world!

Perhaps some of us are reluctant to enter such a walk of faith as described in Hebrews 11:1. We have seen a lot of fraud with a pretense of faith, and it has scared us off.
True faith has nothing to do with lies, foolishness, manipulation and claiming wild things God never intended for us to have. True faith first receives a clear promise of God that is within His revealed will and then acts on it.

Once we have determined to walk by faith, we will encounter severe opposition from the devil. In fact, our greatest battle will take place between the time we decide to believe God’s promise and the actual, visible moment of fulfillment.

That’s the time the enemy fights the most. He attacks our mind and tells us, “What kind of a fool are you to believe God would heal your sickness, restore your marriage, save your son or provide for your needs? It’s already been three weeks since you decided to pray by faith. Take a look at your situation. Has it changed? Nothing has happened—nothing at all!

“How long do you want to continue deceiving yourself? You are way off course with your religion. Even if God does such miracles for others, what makes you think He would do them for you? Just look at you. You are not good enough to qualify. You don’t even pray enough. . . .”

Satan tries his best to discourage us with all these doubts. He wants us to give up walking by faith and consequently never see the fulfillment of God’s promise to us. We must resist the devil and his attack on our minds, and he will flee from us.

As we continually walk by faith and not by sight, we live in the supernatural. God’s very life flows through us unhindered, and we become a mighty weapon in His hand.

All things are possible if only you believe.

Excerpt from Chapter 22 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.