Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Character Inside

Against the Wind - KP Yohannan Books

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It only takes one person to rout the forces of darkness and establish a testimony for the glory of God.

History bears witness to this truth as it reminds us of individuals—Martin Luther, Pandita Ramabai, Sadhu Sundar Singh, Moses, Elijah. The list could go on and on. In every generation, there are the individuals who chose to rise above the easy norm, set their face like flint and thus accomplish great things for God.

From the beginning of time, God has sought for these kinds of individuals, those to whom He can show Himself strong and through whom He can bring about His plans and purposes on earth. Consider what 2 Chronicles 16:9 (NLT) tells us—“The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

If God were searching among us today, would He find in you the kind of person He is looking for?

Well, God is searching among us today, searching for the one among His people who will make the choice to seek Him and conform his life to His principles, following Him regardless of what kind of compromise or complacency may surround. God is not looking for the majority who claim to be His, but for those authentic few, who, by their character, demonstrate that they are His and that they follow Him above all else.

Satan has done a masterful job of deception within the Body of Christ. Christianity has been redefined to fit modern society. It is now a good moneymaking business. The Christian music and entertainment industry skyrockets, while the Word of God is peddled for profit and the authentic Christian life of surrender and obedience is tossed aside as legalism. More than 2 billion people who do not know Jesus head toward hell to perish for eternity, while the Church laughs its way to hysteria, claiming this is the sign of the last days’ outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Instead of laying down our lives to serve the purposes of God, we try numerous ways to make the Almighty God our servant to fulfill all our dreams and desires. My brothers and sisters, this is not Christianity.

We have settled, content with the fact that we have at least started the race. We have forgotten what Scripture makes clear—it is not how we started the race, but how we run and how we finish. “As Christ’s soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in the affairs of this life, for then you cannot satisfy the one who has enlisted you in his army. Follow the Lord’s rules for doing his work, just as an athlete either follows the rules or is disqualified and wins no prize” (2 Timothy 2:4–5, NLT).

I wonder how many in the Church today would be disqualified in the end. It is a sobering thought.

This was Paul’s same concern for the Church in his day. In his years of ministry, Paul had seen an element of digression in the Body of Christ. That is the reason his epistles address a wide variety of sins, all that had crept into the churches over time. He had seen many fall away, as well as many who physically stayed a part of the Church but in their hearts and their actions were far from God. Soon Paul would no longer be around to address these issues and bring the necessary correction and encouragement, keeping the churches on course. This task is the one to which God had called Timothy.

So Paul, having pressed on for 30 relentless years to fulfill the call of God, now sits in his last prison cell, awaiting his death. Looking back over the years and knowing the seriousness of the task to which God has called his son in the faith, Paul sets out to leave Timothy with a guidebook on how to fulfill the ministry.

However, the essence of Paul’s message did not focus on particular topics as much as it did on this one sole element—Timothy’s character. You see, Paul knew that good infrastructure was not what was needed to ensure the growth and stability of the Church in the years to come, nor was it any external element. It is upon character that people and movements either rise or fall. If Timothy’s character was solid and true, all else would fall into place, and Timothy would finish well the race the Lord Jesus had called him to run.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Against the Wind (ISBN 978159589047X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

The Process of Godliness

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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Paul’s statement in Philippians 2:12, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” is taboo for many believers. God is not going to instantly make you holy—you must choose to obey so you can become holy. He will not make you godly without your commitment and work. For example, it took Moses 40 years to become Moses the deliverer. It took Joseph 13 years in prison to become prime minister of Egypt. It took years of discipline and commitment for Daniel to become someone who changed history. It took Jesus 30 years to preach the Sermon on the Mount.

Walk away from instant Christianity that offers no cross, hardship or responsibility! It is false. Without consistent discipline in life, we will remain dependent baby Christians.

The following paragraphs make up a list of practical disciplines compiled by a friend of mine to help develop a consistent, godly life. My prayer and hope is that this list of disciplines will become a blessing to you as it has been for me.

Begin with the simple things. A disciple will always seek to avoid making unnecessary work for others. So hang up your clothes. Make your bed promptly and neatly every morning. Clean up after yourself, and put your shoes in their proper place. Don’t despise these small things as irrelevant to becoming spiritual. They are the very essence of it. They indicate that extra touch of foresight, carefulness and thoughtfulness that makes the difference between a spiritual Christian and a carnal, lukewarm one.

Show respect to all—even to the poor and the lowly. When speaking or listening to someone, develop the habit of looking at him or her as if no one else mattered to you at that moment.

Tackle difficult tasks promptly. Do first the things that you would rather do last. Sit down right away and do the homework or write the letter (or article) that you have put off for so long. Welcome these difficult tasks. Cultivate a sense of responsibility in doing them faithfully.

Be punctual for meetings and appointments. The habit of being on time will never be acquired unless you are convinced that courtesy demands it and you plan ahead and allow yourself enough time to get to the appointed place. Don’t allow yourself to waste time in idle daydreaming. Bring every thought into captivity to Christ. Make use of your spare time to read quality books, fellowship with someone or help others.

When unexpected events throw your well-laid plans into confusion, don’t let stress conquer you—for that is only foolishness. Instead, choose to believe that what seems to be nothing but human blundering is really the gentle steering of God for your very best (Romans 8:28). So give thanks to the Lord for His ordering of your life.

Master your moods. Discipline yourself to behave just as well when you “feel bad” as when you “feel good.” Discipline yourself to read God’s Word and do your work even when you “don’t feel like it.”

Discipline your tongue. Don’t blurt out everything that comes to your mind. Frankness is a virtue only when it is coupled with intelligent, loving tact and discretion. Otherwise, it is evil and unnecessary.

Subordinate less important things to the more important ones. Select the things you must do, and do them first. If you “major in the minors” and allow your friends, impulses and conveniences to dictate your priorities, you will end up as a mediocre Christian—useless to God and useless to men.

Submit graciously to God-given authority. Such discipline will round off your rough edges and also preserve you from much folly.

Control your curiosity. Don’t be a busybody in others’ matters.

Conquer gluttony. Eating is not a sin, but gluttony is. Paul said, “I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is . . . for the Lord” (1 Corinthians 6:12–13). One should eat heartily and with enjoyment. But we should know what and how much is good for us, and have the self-control to stop when we should.

Learn to wait. To grab for something before God’s time is to spoil it. There is a time in God’s timetable for all things—in the matter of marriage, for example. Wait for that time, and don’t rush ahead. Learn to respect the timetables that are found on life’s joys, responsibilities and privileges. We don’t help God by opening a rosebud—we only spoil the blossom.

Systematic prayer and Bible reading are prime essentials for a disciplined life. The discipline of getting out of bed a few minutes early—at any cost—to spend time for this, every day, will itself bring rich rewards.

Our goal in life is Christlikeness, not a comfortable, self-serving, lukewarm life. Let us have a passion for improving the quality of our Christian life and fulfilling all of God’s will. Let us be ready for sacrifice or for service, applying ourselves faithfully at all times to the task at hand.

Do all for Jesus’ sake!

Excerpt from Chapter 36 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Others

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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Normal Christian life in the New Testament was always other-centered. Even when Paul was sitting in prison, he hardly talked about his own agony and suffering, but in all his letters he expressed much more concern for the churches, coworkers and believers across Asia. The letter he wrote to Philemon is a wonderful example of this Christlike attitude. He poured out his heart on behalf of Onesimus, a runaway slave whom he had led to Christ. For Paul, prison seemed to be only incidental, not worthy to lament about or devote more than half a sentence to in his letter. He was serving His Lord and others, no matter where he was and regardless of his circumstances.

William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, lived by the same principle. When he was old and too sick to travel to a convention where 5,000 of his leaders and followers had gathered, he sent a telegram with his message to be read to the whole assembly. Everybody expected a special sermon because he was supposed to be their main speaker. However, when they opened the telegram, there was only one word on the page: “Others!”

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that just because we live in an affluent nation and our children don’t have to beg for food on the streets of Bombay, God must especially favor us. We must be so careful to avoid becoming self-centered; because if we live for ourselves, God will find no time or space in our lives in which we could think about the lost world and invest our lives for the salvation of others.

I am constantly shocked when I travel to Western churches and discover how little people know about the most basic call of Christ: to lay down our own desires, pick up our cross and follow Him. In the average church and through most Christian media, we are brainwashed with a selfish gospel. We are exhorted to first watch out for ourselves, our families, homes, health, security and rights. Then, when all these things are well taken care of, perhaps we can consider others.

I strongly believe that the number one enemy that keeps us from reaching the lost world is not the devil, but our self-centeredness.

I have been walking with God and serving Him for more than 30 years, and still my greatest struggle is my selfishness. I do not want to pay the price often. You will have the same battle in your own set of circumstances. The grain of wheat just doesn’t like to die! But I have found that following Christ is not a matter of whether we enjoy doing something, but rather a deliberate decision of consistent, constant obedience. That’s where the victory is won and where the fruit will follow.

“Oh to be saved from myself, dear Lord, oh to be lost in Thee. It is no more I but Christ that lives in me.” How easy it is for us to sing these words but so hard to live it. Are you choosing the way of the cross today? What about giving up some meals to fast and pray for the lost people groups in our generation? How about burning the wish list and “stuff” you plan to buy and spending that money for the preaching of the Gospel? What about giving your vacation time to go to the slums of Mexico City and minister for Jesus?

It is time for us to die—but you must choose it.

Excerpt from Chapter 34 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

The Greatest Motivator

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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It’s amazing how many Christian activities average believers participate in at one time or another during their Christian life. They feed the hungry, sing in the choir, teach Sunday school, collect clothing for the homeless, visit prison inmates, witness on the streets, volunteer in a nursing home, demonstrate for a moral issue, collect money for sick children, support a missionary, help the elderly and so on.

Surely all of these good causes are a help and blessing to others. However, often I have wondered what the true motivation is behind an individual’s involvement in the kingdom of God. For some it is the challenge and excitement of being involved in something significant. For others it is the need for fellowship and love. Some like the honor and glamour that come with the action. Others are motivated by guilt because they have so much more than those poor people on the street or in prison. Then, of course, there are always those who hope that their faithful service will ensure them a sizeable reward in heaven. Last, there are those believers whose hearts are truly burdened and touched by the suffering of others and the needs of a lost and dying world.

However, when we look in the Bible, we find that none of those motivations is good enough to get us through the hard times ahead, which Paul describes so clearly in 2 Timothy 3:1–4. They are insufficient to keep us committed until the end.
Jesus was filled with compassion when He saw the widow whose son had died and when He encountered the sick, the blind, the demon-possessed and the multitude who were lost like sheep without a shepherd. But when it came to Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, it wasn’t just compassion that motivated Him. It was His love for His Father in heaven! Out of this love relationship came the motivation to be obedient unto death and to say, “Lord, I came to do Thy will” and “Not my will be done, but Thine.”

You see, our commitments are so short-lived and we change from one worthy cause to another because as soon as difficulties and disappointments come our way, our motivation is also gone. Furthermore, excitement, honor and compassion will not carry us very far, but love will.

The apostle Paul wrote at the end of his life to Timothy, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). What was the motivation behind such a life? It was this: “The love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

Once I met a young native missionary in Rajasthan, India, during a workers’ conference. His name is Par. When he first came to his pioneer field, he encountered severe opposition. Several of his enemies held him up in the air by his legs and told him, “We will tear you in half if you ever come back!”

But Par went back and preached in the streets, witnessed to people and passed out Gospel tracts. Wasn’t he afraid? Did he not take the warning seriously? Oh yes, he was afraid, and he knew his enemies meant what they said. So what gave him the strength and the motivation to risk his life? It was his love for Jesus, nothing else.
Today there is a church there.

Love is the greatest motivator of all. John 3:16 tells us, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” He gave Jesus not out of compassion or pity, but out of love.

We, too, will have the strength to follow the cross and be faithful unto death if our motivation is love. One of the tests that reveals our heart’s condition is to ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this or saying this? Is it for something I can get out of it, even a ‘thanks’ from others, or simply because I love Him?”
Love Him more than life itself, for He is your life.

Excerpt from Chapter 30 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Beyond Our Little World

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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While overseas recently, I experienced discouragement. When taping my broadcasts, I sometimes start at 3:30 A.M. One morning when the alarm went off, I didn’t want to get up. I began to complain, “Why me? This is not fair. I went to bed late, and now after only two hours of sleep I must get up.”

Then I sat up and spoke out loud. “I am in a battle. What I do today will touch the lives of millions. Lord, you promised that those who wait on you will renew their strength. Lord, I wait on you, and I know my strength will be renewed.” Ten to 15 minutes went by with me praying and saying God’s Word out loud. By the time I was ready to get back to the studio, I was a brand-new person with excitement, peace and His strength.

What made the difference? I took my eyes off my own struggle and saw the big picture. I saw in my mind the battle that rages all around the world with this generation being enticed by the powers of darkness, bound by Satan’s chains and moving hopelessly toward eternity. I saw a picture of a mighty army filled with the Holy Spirit moving all over the world preaching the Gospel and calling millions to repentance, and I saw those millions responding and giving their lives to Jesus.

When the enemy attacks us as we are serving the Lord, we must remember that there is more going on than what we see around us. We must interpret our little pond, our little world, in light of the much bigger world.

I will never forget what Narayan Sharma, Gospel for Asia’s leader in Nepal, said: “Sometimes it’s so unbearably hot. Sometimes it’s so cold that you don’t want to move; but by any means, it is good to serve the Lord.” This man lives with the reality of the big picture.

In your life you will face days in which you won’t want to pray. Your emotions will be dry. This is the time when you need to stand up by faith and say, “I hang on to God’s Word and will not drown in my own small pond.” Perhaps you will be tempted to stop supporting your native missionary. But look at the big picture! That one native missionary you pray for and support will touch many villages, and hundreds of thousands will come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Someday you will stand with that multitude rejoicing around the throne.

Are you discouraged? Do you want to give up? Are you having a difficult time looking beyond your own little world? If so, stick close to Jesus. Look into His eyes and receive His strength. Don’t let the devil keep you intimidated, discouraged and focused only on your own little world. God’s kingdom is bigger! Let us rise up and shake off the deception of the enemy. Like Paul, let us never lose sight of the big picture, and let us gladly give our lives so that others may come to know Jesus.

One look at yourself and 10 looks at Jesus will keep you going.

Excerpt from Chapter 29 of Reflecting His Image (ISBN 978159589005X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.