Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Evidence of Your Call

Against the Wind - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

When we have received a call from the Lord, our lives will bear the fruit of it—the fruit of assurance, ownership, pure motivation and seeking only the Lord’s approval.

Assurance. When you know God has called you, you walk in that assurance. No person or difficulty can deter you or make you turn back. You are certain that He who called you will be faithful.

Consider Joseph as one example. He stayed assured of the promise of God even when his brothers threw him into the pit and sold him to the Egyptians (see Genesis 37:23–28). He ended up in the dungeon and many years were lost, but nonetheless, nothing could stop his brothers from bowing down to him as prime minister of Egypt for 43 years! Why? Because the Lord had placed that call upon his life!

Ownership. Not only is there that absolute assurance in the life of one called by God, but there is a sense of personal ownership as well.

The difference between someone who is called and someone who does something because it is a profession is this sense of ownership over the work. The one who is called says, “It is my Jesus’ kingdom. It is my burden. If I receive some kind of financial help, that’s great. If I do not, no problem. I don’t care. I will do it anyway.” It is the call that gives you the motivation to journey on. Salary and benefits do not compel you; difficulties do not sway you. The knowledge that God is faithful and that He has called you is enough.

Pure motivation. Those who know they are called serve because of the knowledge of that calling, not because of the benefits they may be able to receive in the ministry or because of the salary they are provided. If your salary were stopped and your benefits discontinued or if nobody encouraged you through the provision of material things, would you continue the journey, saying, “I will keep on going as long as I can until, though I fall and die, I have finished my job”? I am honestly asking you: What would your response be?

When we are motivated by the knowledge of our calling, it also affects our personal lives and our relationships with those we serve with. Oftentimes, “the ministry” is marked by bickering, murmuring, jealousy, arrogance, comparison of self with others and internal strife. Hundreds of workers are destroyed along the way because they rationalize and justify that kind of behavior. The character of such a workman is fallen and flawed, seeking and motivated by something other than the calling of God. The person who knows he is called by the Lord acts differently.

The Lord’s approval. The person who knows he has been called by the Lord for the work of the ministry seeks only the Lord’s approval in all the work he does. In 2 Timothy 1:3 (TLB), Paul says, “My only purpose in life is to please him.” Is that your goal too? Is pleasing God the compelling motivation of your life?

The Moravian movement of the 18th century, founded by Count N.L. von Zizendorf, has the following inscription on its seal: “Our Lamb has conquered. Let us follow Him.” In the middle of the seal is a little lamb carrying a flag with a cross across it.
The Moravian movement was known for its commitment and zeal in preaching the Gospel. It was said that for every church at home in Germany, they had three more overseas. The church was a fishing pond from which they sent out missionaries.

Earlier in his life, Count Zizendorf had been strongly drawn to the classical pursuits of art, music, painting and the acquisition of riches. But one day he was so gripped with the reality of Christ dying on the cross for him that he gave his life completely to Him and heard His call to serve Him. It was out of that call that he wrote, “I have one passion. It is He, He alone.”

Is Jesus your sole passion? Do you know you have been called by Him for the work of the ministry? Does your life show the reality of that calling and burden? May we all seek to please Him alone, that all of our decisions, emotions and daily steps would be controlled by this one factor: “I am called by the Lord. He has chosen me. I am not my own, but His. I will follow Him all the days of my life.”

Has He called you? Does your service reflect it? Can He count on you?

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Against the Wind (ISBN 978159589047X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Qualified by the Call

Against the Wind - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

When we know we have been called by God, we can have the assurance that, no matter what we may experience or the weaknesses we see in ourselves, He will equip us with everything we need to fulfill that call.

The youthful Timothy was one called by the Lord, even though Scripture reveals that by the world’s standards he did not seem like an adequate candidate to take on the responsibility of the ministry. Timothy was a young man, weak in body and shy by nature—not exactly the qualities we would particularly look for in one who was to take the place of the great apostle Paul.

One of the verses that reveals this is 1 Timothy 4:12, in which Paul encourages Timothy to not “let anyone look down on you because you are young.” Paul was aware that Timothy might feel inadequate for the ministry because of his age and lack of experience. But nonetheless, God had called Timothy to this task. The knowledge of his calling must be enough for him to rise up and take heart.

You, too, may feel inadequate for the job you have been given. You may struggle just to maintain even the image of someone called by God. When the Lord called me, I was just 16 years old. When I first became a team leader, I was barely 19. If God could use me—fragile, weak and insecure—to lead others in the ministry, there is hope for every young person called by God, no matter what they lack.

If you feel discouraged because of a lack of experience or other things, please remember that if you know you are inexperienced, you are in good shape. Only when you think you are able and mature and can succeed on your own are you really in trouble. God gives grace to those who are weak and humble, using them in the mightiest of ways. But He opposes the proud who think they have it all together and can do the work on their own.

Not only was Timothy young, but he was also prone to illness. He lived continually with the problem of physical infirmity. We know this because Paul said to him in 1 Timothy 5:23, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”

You, too, may be living with physical deficiencies. Are you called to do something huge and significant but feel like saying, “My God, I am not able to handle it; I am tired and sick”? Well, Timothy was like that, and Paul encouraged him to press on to do the job God called him to do despite his illnesses.

Add to his young age and constant illnesses, Timothy was also timid and shy, an introvert. Many verses (such as 2 Timothy 1:7–8; 2:1; 3:14–15; 4:5) reveal that even after more than 15 years of training, Paul still had to tell him, “Get up! Don’t be shy! Don’t be timid! Don’t be afraid.”

Timothy was not, by makeup and temperament, a natural leader. If you had called him to lead, he would have said, “Please, not me. Let someone else do it. I will follow.” He didn’t want to be in the limelight. How different from so many today! People murmur and grumble and fight for position, saying, “I’ve been in the ministry for 10 years and I’m not yet promoted!” “I’m better able to teach than this fellow. Why has he been made a leader and I haven’t?” “Look at her! She’s teaching, but I have a better degree!” We live with all kinds of such imaginations about ourselves. May we learn from Timothy!

In his book Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders quotes A.W. Tozer, perfectly stating why Timothy was a good candidate to take on the ministry after Paul:

A true and safe leader is likely to be the one who has no desire to lead, but is forced into a position of leadership by the inward pressure of the Holy Spirit and the press of external situation. Such were Moses and David and the Old Testament prophets. I think there was hardly a great leader from Paul to the present day but was drafted by the Holy Spirit for the task, and commissioned by the Lord of the Church to fill a position he had little heart for. I believe it might be accepted as a fairly reliable rule of thumb that the man who is ambitious to lead is disqualified as a leader. The true leader will have no desire to lord it over God’s heritage, but will be humble, gentle, self-sacrificing and altogether as ready to follow as to lead, when the Spirit makes it clear that a wiser and more gifted man than himself has appeared.

God had called Timothy, and he must now step out in faith and be bold in the work of the Lord.

It may sound as if the odds are stacked against Timothy, but please see how his age, weakness and even his personality did not qualify or disqualify him for being a servant of God. The one determining and sustaining factor was the fact that he had been called by God for the work of the ministry. It was this that qualified him before God and man, and the reason Paul entrusted the church at Ephesus to him during his first arrest. In Philippians 2:20–22, Paul wrote of him:

I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.

Are you called? Take courage in the truth of that call, and let it be your assurance. Despite the weaknesses you see in yourself or the difficulty that may come in the work, you can fulfill the purposes of God. For “God, who has called you . . . is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:9, emphasis mine).

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Against the Wind (ISBN 978159589047X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

Knowing You Are Called

Against the Wind - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

There is great significance in the way Paul introduces himself at the start of 2 Timothy: “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.”

From the first letter he wrote to this his last, Paul knew this one thing: He was called by God. It was not man who called him, it was not the need that drove him, nor was it anything from or for himself. He is making this fact clear to Timothy, saying, “I want you to know that I have not been running this race for 30 years because I wanted to do it. I haven’t been doing it because Barnabas called me or because a church paid me. I am not in this because my parents said, ‘He will be a servant of God’ or because of some organization or Bible college. My ministry is by His will. I am doing this for one reason: God called me” (see Acts 13:1–2).

There is a distinct call into full-time ministry, and it is this call that both Paul and Timothy heard, along with many others who had gone before them. All throughout the Bible, we see those who were called by God for specific purposes. In Exodus 3–4:17, we see how Moses did not appoint himself to lead the children of Israel; the Lord called him.

The prophet Amos is another example. He was just a simple farmer, with no one in his family ever having served the Lord. When those God sent him to questioned what he was doing, he defended himself, saying, “I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel’” (Amos 7:14–15, NKJV). He knew God had called him for that ministry.

And, of course, Jesus called His disciples. In Mark 3:14 we are told that “He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.”

On and on, from Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah and Paul, we see how those in the ministry are those whom God has called.

However, in the kingdom of God today, there are many ministries and organizations with hundreds of staff members seeing that the work is done. But there is a definite difference between a profession and a call:

A job, a profession, is one you choose; a ministry is one Christ chooses for you.
A job depends on your abilities; a ministry depends on your availability to God.
In a job you expect to receive something—a salary; in a ministry you expect to give.
A job well done brings you self-esteem; a ministry well done brings honor to Jesus Christ.
In a job you give something to get something; in a ministry you return something that has already been given to you.
A job well done has a temporal reward; a ministry well done has eternal rewards.1

Author unknown

I want to ask you: Are you called? Have you heard the Lord Jesus call you, saying, “Come, follow Me, be with Me and I will send you out for ministry”? The person you become, the decisions you make, the manner in which you behave and your attitude toward the Lord’s work all depend on this deep conviction that you have been called by God.

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Against the Wind (ISBN 978159589047X) © 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia.

But for You*

Against the Wind - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

*Translated from the Greek su de, meaning ‘But for you . . .’ (see 2 Timothy 2:1; 3:10, 14; 4:5).”

“Timothy, within the Church there will be a decline in godliness. People are going to be arrogant and lovers of money. They will be greedy. They will not be submissive, but rebellious. False teachers will rise up. But for you . . .

“There will be carnal reasoning among believers, backsliding, laziness, self-centered living and self-seeking. But for you, Timothy, be different! Be bold as a lion; don’t be afraid. Be authentic and genuine. Be unselfish. Don’t follow the crowd. If need be, Timothy, stand alone. But for you, be faithful until the end. There is a crown waiting for you.”

This call to live by godly character is the same message we in this world of compromise and casual Christianity need to hear today. That is why I bring Paul’s words to remembrance and say: My brothers and sisters, but for you, be different. It is only the one “who overcomes and does [His] will to the end” (Revelation 2:26) who will receive the reward. Full-time Christian workers all around us may grow cold and their love for Christ may fade. Many will pursue money, honor from men, position and power, and will seek their own. But for you, stay on the narrow road. Walk alone if need be. Always remember there is a higher call.

A few years ago, I heard of one brother from Tripura who remembered this higher call and pursued the narrow road. By the grace of God, he planted seven churches in three months’ time. When asked his secret to such success, he replied, “I pray as much as I work and work as much as I pray.” This small statement gave a glimpse into the solid, godly character within this man.

It was not merely his actions that made me remember him or that made the difference in his ministry. Most anyone can discipline themselves to perform all the right actions. What matters is where these actions flow from. And for this man, it was a heart that was committed to Jesus. Like Paul, he sought to be well-pleasing to God and run strong the race He had set before him.

It is this kind of life and character that makes the difference. If you were to ask this brother, “How much does your church pay you for working five hours and praying five more? How much do they pay you for being like your Master, who stayed up all night to pray?” He would surely reply, “What did you say? What do you mean, ‘How much do I get paid for praying during the night?’ ”

You see, this question has no meaning for him. His life is hidden in Christ, and he lives for Him alone, not for recognition, not for a salary and not for personal gain. He serves and lives by godly character, knowing that it was God who called him and it is God alone whom he must please.

This kind of living is a choice that only you can make. Only you can choose to press on. God’s grace will meet you at the point of your decision. When others around you, even those you may have once esteemed, look for an easier, more relaxed road, only you can make the choice to press past that and continue your pursuit, pressing on toward the mark. No matter what others may be doing or what may be accepted as the norm, hear the Lord Jesus saying, But for you, you follow Me. Set your hand to the plow, and My grace will be there to keep you, if only you choose to stand against the wind and press on toward the higher call.

May you be given strength to run strong in His grace and join in the great line of men and women who set their faces like flint and accomplished great things for God. Will you be one to stand out from the rest and be remembered in heaven and on earth for the impact you made upon your generation? Will you choose to stand against the wind and be recognized by God in His search for men?

The choice is yours.

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