Category Archives: 5 Minutes with K.P.

Five minutes with K.P. Yohannan is featured in every issue of SEND! Magazine.

5 Minutes with K.P. – When We Have Failed —What Next?

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

When I was young, my friends and I would often run to the potter’s house near our school. We little fellows would stand under the tall coconut tree in front of the potter’s work shed and watch him and his wife make clay pots. Many times I saw the potter forming a beautiful vessel out of the lump of clay he had placed on his wheel. But all of a sudden, the pot would become marred, and the potter would take it off the wheel and throw it away.

Many people start out in their Christian life and in their service for God with wonderful dreams, incredible commitment and great vision. No one around them can match the zeal and fire they have in their hearts. But somehow, whether through circumstances or by their own deliberate decision, knowingly or unknowingly, they make a wrong move—and everything in their life collapses. Regretting their loss, they sit in agony, wishing a thousand times that what they did had never happened. Often because of their failure, they feel that God has cast them aside, just like the potter discarded the marred clay pot.

Having been in ministry for over 30 years, I have confronted, counseled, talked with and wept with many of God’s people who made terrible mistakes in their lives. Some of them were servants of God who had been known for their strength, their uprightness and the incredible ways God had used them. It was extremely painful for me to see them cut down by the enemy. I discovered that their despair over their failure was much deeper than what others felt because they realized the shame they brought on the name of the Lord and His Church. Their struggle was not whether God would forgive their sin but believing that He still could, or even desired to, use them in His kingdom.

We Christians, who are supposed to be recognized by our love for one another, are very quick to judge, condemn and write off completely those whose failures have become the talk of the town or the focus of the news media.

However, each time we write off one of our brothers or sisters who has failed so publicly, Jesus takes a long look into our hearts and says, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone” (John 8:7, NASB). The truth is, we all have failed. The only difference is that our sin cannot be printed in the newspaper headlines because it’s hidden in our hearts. We are so confident that we would never murder someone who offended us. But Jesus said that if we become angry with our brother—not just externally, but internally—we have already committed murder (Matthew 5:21–22).

The longer we walk with the Lord, the more we realize how far we are from God’s standard. As He sheds His light in our hearts, we learn to see our lives with His eyes, and we recognize that even our so-called “small” failures are major hindrances to our spiritual growth.

One of my own struggles in life is with discouragement after God puts His magnifying glass on an area in which I’d thought I was doing so well. The failures He reveals to me have become a major reason for some of the darkest valleys I’ve been through. Many times I’ve wept alone or cried myself to sleep over my sins and failures. By His grace, I have learned to return to the cross again and again to find strength to continue in the battle.

In light of God’s perspective, even after 20 years of preaching, the great apostle Paul calls himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). The truth is, we all live with failure, no matter how old we are or where we are in life. The devil uses this fact as a powerful weapon to discourage us and keep us down. Because of past sin and failure, many of God’s people live with an incredible amount of self-rejection, self-pity, guilt, condemnation, hopelessness and remorse. They blame themselves or someone else and, as a result, lack the inner strength to go on. They can’t find any answers to devastating questions like the following, which trouble their hearts:

•   What can a woman say in her own defense when she is caught in adultery and brought before the court to be stoned to death? (John 8:3).

•   How could this disciple ever repair the damage he did after he denied Christ—never even imagining this would happen? (Luke 22:61).

•   What does a man do if his wonderful beginning ends with adultery and then murder to cover it up? Is there life after that? (2 Samuel 12:9).

•   What happens when someone becomes physically sick because of sin? How can he ever find the courage to ask God to heal him, since he brought it on himself? (Psalm 32).

•   How can a young man hope to ever make it in the ministry when his coworkers look down on him because he didn’t perform well and the most famous apostle of all has labeled him as halfhearted? (Acts 15:38).

•   How can a woman ever expect to stop hurting and be free of guilt and inner turmoil, having been through several marriages and divorces? (John 4:18).

Even if we cannot find any answers or solutions to our marred and hopeless situations, the Bible has good news for us: God is in the business of making total failures into beautiful people. He does not rejoice over our failures—neither does He ignore them. But in His great mercy, He turns that which the devil meant for destruction into a stepping stone toward His purpose.

As a matter of fact, failure in our life is one of the most important tools God frequently uses to break, melt and mold us so we can become more like Jesus on the inside.

Should there be any among us who think they are able, perfect, upright and strong in themselves, they must know that God cannot use them to fight in His army in their own strength. Before picking up any of them, He must first lead them through deep valleys until they are broken and realize how helpless they actually are. That’s what happened to Paul. With all of us, God will only begin on level zero, where we know by experience that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

Yet for all those who have failed, the most painful questions of all remain: “What do I do when the vessel is marred and the original purpose is lost? Even if God should decide to give me a second chance, will He make something different and a little lesser out of my broken vessel than the original dream on His heart? Can I still fulfill God’s perfect plan—the best He had for me—and not the second best? Where do I go from here? Is there a way out of this mess?”

Is it possible to recover, and recover fully? The answer is a thousand times “Yes!” . . . if only you can believe.

The Lord says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). Whenever it looks to us like the end, it’s only the beginning for God. In God’s workshop, the marred clay pot is not thrown away and forgotten. Rather, with great care, the Potter removes the impurity from the clay and later makes it into a better and more valuable vessel than before. You see, Jesus came to “give . . . beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:3).

To give us hope as well as instruction, the Bible is filled with illustrations of people who failed miserably. God worked with their failure, sin and frailty and still was able to fulfill His perfect plan in their lives. Many of them became heroes of faith and examples for us to follow.

God’s work began with creation. In Genesis 1:1–2, we read that the earth was formless, void and full of darkness. God never created anything void, chaotic or evil. It became that way through the fall of Lucifer. So what was God going to do with it—throw it away?

No, He began re-creating it with the words, “Let there be light.” After each step, He paused and declared, “It is good—it’s marvelous, wonderful, first-class!”

God re-created this planet that had been so filled with chaos and that had lost all its original beauty. He renewed it in such a way that it became the home for His Son’s bride. It was definitely not a second-best place.

Adam and Eve were God’s most precious creation. He took the clay in his own hands and, with great care, formed man in His own image (Genesis 1:27). The plans He had for their lives were incredible and wonderful. But the man and his wife failed miserably and had to be driven out of the Garden of Eden. An angel with a flaming sword was posted at the entrance to the garden so they would never be able to come back (Genesis 3:24). What was God going to do now after the whole purpose of man’s creation—fellowship with Him—was lost?

He immediately gave them the most wonderful prophecy in Genesis 3:15, the promise of the seed of the woman, who is the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.

Does this mean the cross is God’s second best because He lost his first plan for mankind when Adam fell? If we say that the Messiah and the cross (and what Jesus accomplished there through His death) are an inferior choice to God’s original plan, it would be blasphemy! God’s gift, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8), was God’s greatest revelation of His love toward mankind, greater than what Adam ever experienced before his fall. And think about this: The original plan made man only in the image of God, whereas the second one made him a child of God (John 1:12). No, the cross is not the second best—it is the very best!

Moving through the book of Genesis, we encounter Abraham; what a mighty man of God! He was not only the father of the nation of Israel, but of Christianity as well. The Bible declares in Romans 4:16 that all those who believe are the children of Abraham. But this legacy began with lies and deception. Twice, to save his own neck, he put his wife’s life and future in jeopardy by telling others she was only his sister. Then he had relations with a young woman—who was not his wife—and got her pregnant. All along, Abraham hoped God would be pleased with this detour and accept the child as the son of promise.

After all this, God picked Abraham up, used him and even brought His own Son into the world through Abraham’s line. When was the moment in Abraham’s life in which God took this marred clay pot and remade it into the most beautiful vessel? It was when Abraham finally realized and admitted he was a hopeless case (Romans 4:19).

Then there was Jacob. Jacob is the classic example of a messed-up clay pot! Even before he was born, Jacob was chosen by God, as his parents were told, “The older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). What more could Jacob want? But he wasn’t content to wait until God worked out the details of His promise. Jacob became a deceiver in order to get what was already his through God’s plan. He had the audacity to pretend before his father and say, “I am Esau your firstborn” (Genesis 27:19).

As a result, Jacob wasted 20 precious years of his life. He became a nomad; lived in constant pain, agony and turmoil; and missed out on every blessing he could have had in his home and with his family for all those years.

Finally, Jacob came to the end of the road. He wrestled with an angel, who asked him, “What is your name?” (Genesis 32:27). For the first time, he said, “[My name is] Jacob” (Genesis 32:27). With those words, he admitted that he was a deceiver and a failure. And that’s where his name was changed to Israel, meaning “prince with God.”

In the Bible, it is interesting to note that God often introduces Himself like this: “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and . . . Jacob.” Why does God identify His almighty name with “Jacob,” the deceiver who wasted 20 years of God’s time, and not with the new name “Israel”?

The answer is this: Through His name, His very identity, God wants to say to you and me, “I am still the God who makes failures into princes. I am still the God who picks up broken lives, failed marriages, people sick in body because of sin, those who’ve been in prison for 20 years, men and women labeled as losers, nobodies and outcasts—and restores them beyond even their original beauty and purpose.”

Another hero of the Old Testament is Moses, one of the greatest leaders who ever lived. According to God, he was the meekest, most humble man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3). But Moses didn’t start out that way.

When God called Moses to do something, he was so naturally able that he ruined everything and became a murderer. For 40 years he had to live with that loss, left out and forgotten by the rest of the world. Finally, when God called him to deliver the nation of Israel, his answer went something like this: “God, I am a total failure. I can’t even speak” (see Exodus 4:10). When God picked up Moses there in the desert of Midian, He remade this broken vessel into such beauty that God Himself declared, “There has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses” (Deuteronomy 34:10).

Then we read about Samson. What incredible physical strength Samson had! Yet he totally lacked moral convictions, and even common sense, when it came to women. Above all, Samson took the call of God on his life much too lightly. There came a day in Samson’s life when he lost it all, when his vessel was not only broken but shattered into a thousand pieces as well. Then why do we find his name listed in Hebrews chapter 11? While forced to grind at the mill of his enemies—a prisoner, blind and without hope—Samson must have surrendered his wasted life to the One who gives beauty for ashes. God testified that Samson accomplished more when he was blind and in his dying moments than when he was a free man and had his sight (Judges 16:30).

Reading on in the Old Testament, we read about Rahab, a prostitute, who used to stand every night at the street corner of the “red-light district” of Jericho, waving at potential customers. How did her name get into Matthew chapter 1? How was she chosen to be the great, great, great . . . grandmother of Jesus Christ? The only answer is that God’s grace and ability to save, deliver and make new are far beyond our comprehension.

Then there was Jonah. Jonah was a rebellious preacher up until the end of his Nineveh episode and perhaps even beyond. Why would the Son of God identify His name with Jonah’s (Matthew 12:40)? The man had a real problem with deliberate disobedience and considered himself qualified to argue with Almighty God. In the end, Jonah got mad at God for accepting the repentance of the inhabitants of Nineveh and not striking them dead. God tried to teach him a lesson about mercy, but Jonah didn’t get it. Finally, God quit talking to him on the subject, and the whole book of Jonah ends without any answer. We are not told what else transpired in his life, but surely God must have taken this disobedient vessel and turned Jonah into something so wonderful that Jesus could attach His name to him.

More examples abound in the New Testament. Peter, the apostle to whom Jesus gave the key to open the kingdom of the Church to the Jews and to the Gentiles, never imagined that he would qualify for such a task after he had denied Jesus three times in a row. He must have thought that if anyone should be given this honor, it should have been John, the “beloved” disciple.

In fact, even after the resurrection, Peter didn’t think he was good enough for any ministry at all. Deeply disappointed with himself, he said to the rest of the disciples, “I am going fishing” (John 21:3). However, even when Peter had given up on his usefulness to God, Jesus stepped in and in the most loving way restored him to the ministry and to a relationship with Him (John 21:15–19).

Thank God that one of Christ’s disciples, the so-called “doubting Thomas,” came to my village of Niranam, India, in A.D. 52. Would we have accepted him for missionary work with our organization? From all I read in the Gospels about Thomas, he would have never made it past the application form! But Jesus selected Thomas to go to one of the worst regions on earth to plant His Church. What power and love the Lord has to transform someone so unqualified into a mighty apostle!

John Mark—what a blessing this man became to the whole Church by writing the story of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. He was the one who was rejected from Paul’s ministry team because on his first assignment he deserted his teammates. In Paul’s opinion, John Mark was a failure and didn’t deserve a second chance (Acts 15:36–38).

How devastated and useless John Mark must have felt after the apostle Paul himself declared him unfit for his mission team. But God didn’t give up on him. Rather, He used this failure to do a deep work in John Mark’s life. The change must have been obvious, because even the apostle Paul was convinced that John Mark had become a different man and sent for him (2 Timothy 4:11).

There are so many others we could mention whose lives were marked by failure . . . and by God’s grace, remade into the most beautiful vessels. Take time and read through Matthew chapter 1, and underline the names of all those who were total failures. You’ll find prostitutes, crooks, those who committed incest, liars, murderers and just about everything you can imagine—all that in Jesus’ family, the line through which He chose to come.

The Bible tells us all these unedited life stories of God’s heroes to give us this one message: When we have failed and all seems ruined, God is still able and willing to make the best out of our lives, not the second best. All He asks is that we repent, accept His forgiveness and never look back. When God forgives us, it is as though the offense was never committed.

In the lives of those who once were broken vessels, whom God picked up and in His mercy restored to beauty, we will find wonderful qualities such as real gratitude, a longing for holiness, deep humility and compassion for others.

Please understand me correctly: We will not become better Christians in the end by sinning and failing as much as possible (Romans 3:8). Neither does God need or depend on our failures to work in our lives and teach us valuable lessons. If that were the case, He would not have been able to do any work in Jesus’ earthly life because He never failed.

Even if we fail again and again, God is faithful to remake our vessel each time. However, it is not part of His plan for us to take His grace lightly and carelessly continue to produce failures. He is expecting us to learn from our past mistakes, walk in humility and honor Him with a life of obedience to His Word.

However, we must remember that as long as we live on this earth, the devil will try his best to trip us up. None of us should ever presume to have “arrived” and to be strong, experienced and holy enough to never fail. Not even a spiritual rock who has been faithful for the past 50 years is immune to failure or the worst of disasters. The Bible warns us in 1 Corinthians 10:12: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

In the 18th century, Robert Robinson was saved under George Whitefield’s preaching and became a wonderful man of God and a spiritual rock. He was the one who wrote this well-known hymn:

Come, Thou Fount of ev’ry blessing,

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;

Streams of mercy, never ceasing,

Call for songs of loudest praise.

Sadly, Robinson, who had blessed and encouraged so many with this song, wandered far away from those streams of life and the God who saved him. Like the prodigal son, he became involved in all the wickedness and worldliness of his society.

Years later, he was traveling by stagecoach and was sitting next to a young woman who, he noticed, was deeply fascinated by the book she was reading. When she came across a lyric she considered especially beautiful, she read it to Robinson and asked him what he thought of it. This is what she read:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,

Prone to leave the God I love, . . .2

He broke out weeping, and with tears running down his face, he replied, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.”

This encounter brought Robinson back into the outstretched arms of the living God. The Lord restored to him the long years that the cankerworm and the locusts had eaten (Joel 2:25).

God has a Father’s heart, and each time we fail, He feels our pain and the agony we go through. Above all, He wants us to know that no matter how deep we fall or how badly our vessel is shattered, He is still greater! There is no failure in this world, no matter how severe and devastating it might be, that could prevent Him from fulfilling His perfect plan in our life—if we believe.

The overcomers are not the ones who have never failed but rather those who overcame by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11) that was shed for sinners and total failures.

It is time to get up and go home—Father is waiting for you (Luke 15:20–24).

 

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

5 Minutes with K.P. – What Is It Worth to Me?

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

God’s desire to conform us to the very image of His own Son sounds like a good plan to us and a worthwhile pursuit. We immediately think of all the wonderful things Jesus did while He was on earth, and we feel privileged that God wants to use our lives in a similar way.

Some of the things we admire the most in Jesus include His love for even the worst sinner, His faith to move mountains, His authority over demons, His power to heal and His anointing to preach. We have no objections for God to conform us into such an image—until we find out that He is planning to accomplish this through breaking us by means of the cross. His goal goes even beyond brokenness when it comes to our dearly loved “self” that sits on the throne of our lives.

If there is one Scripture in the entire Bible that speaks volumes of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to experience the fullness of the Lord, to have rivers of living water flow unhindered and to be changed into His likeness, it is Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Think about this Scripture. The “I” that to each of us represents the most important person on earth, our own self, was nailed to the cross and died there. With it, the greatest obstacle for Christ’s life to be seen through me is removed. Someone explained it like this: There is a cross and there is a throne in all of our lives. If “I” is on the throne, Christ is on the cross. However, if Christ is on the throne, then “I” is on the cross.

God knows that there is no peaceful coexistence possible between “self” and Christ. That’s why He breaks me in so many areas of my life, until I willingly yield my “self” to death. Only in the measure in which I will allow this cross to operate in my life—to bring death to my own selfish ambitions, my ways, my rights, my reputation and my interests—will I be able to allow Christ to manifest His life through me.

Jesus Himself never tried to walk away from either the process of brokenness or the cross because He knew very well that only through His death would we have life. There were times Jesus had the opportunity to save His own neck, but each time He made a deliberate decision to choose brokenness and death instead. For example, one of those times was when the Greeks came to Philip with this request: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” (John 12:21).

Eusebius, an early Church historian, sheds a little more light on this story. In his writings, he mentions that the king of a small kingdom sent several men to carry an urgent letter to Jesus. In this letter the king wrote a message that went something like this: “Jesus, I have learned about You, and I understand that the Jews are plotting to kill You. I believe You are a good man and a good teacher. Why don’t You come and be part of my kingdom and rule with me? We will take care of You.” The historian continues his account by writing the reply that Jesus supposedly gave the king. Interestingly, the answer is very similar to the one Jesus gave to those Greeks, recorded in John 12:23–26:

“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified . . . Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also.”

Jesus was telling these Greeks, “If you really want to see Me, you must go where I go. My destination is the cross, where I will die in order to give life. If you truly want to see Me, you must choose the same road and die as well. Only through death will you find Me.”

How hard you and I try, even in our Christian work, to preserve our own lives and avoid the pain that accompanies the process of brokenness and death to our dear selves! Jesus said that we indeed have the choice of saving our own lives and remaining just as we are. If this is our course of action, we can study the Bible for the next 15 years and become experts, but we still will not see Him.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that only the pure in heart will see God. That purity comes not only when my sins are forgiven, but when I no longer fight to preserve my life but allow God to take me through the same lifelong process of brokenness and death through which He led Jesus His Son.

You and I must answer this question: What is it worth to me to see Jesus?

 

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

5 Minutes with K.P. – You Must Choose

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

The meeting was over. It was one of the strongest messages I’d ever spoken on dying to self. Maybe that’s why I was shocked when a lady came up afterward and asked me to pray for her problems with smoking and having a short temper. In talking to her, I learned she believed these were caused by demons! I told her, “What you need to understand is that you must deal with your flesh—not demons. You cannot cast out your flesh. You must crucify it.”

Many today seek instant victory and spiritual depth through a crisis experience. They don’t want to pay the price of discipline and putting their old nature to death. Even when seeking God, they still want to be in total control.

Jesus came to set us free from our self-centered, lukewarm nature and to change us into His own image (Romans 8:29). Our changed character is much more important than the experience, spiritual gifts or miracles we often seek.

Let us take Jesus as our example. Romans 15:3 tells us that “even Christ did not please Himself.” He laid aside all His privileges as God and lived on earth as a normal human being. He totally depended on His Father for everything.

Furthermore, the apostle Paul told those around him to follow him as he followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). How did Paul practice this in his life? “Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to” (1 Corinthians 9:27, TLB).

No one becomes godly without a deep commitment to a disciplined life. Dying to self is the door to godliness (Galatians 2:20). And it is a choice we must make.

Jonathan Edwards, the great American preacher and scholar, made 70 resolutions by which he patterned his daily life. He wrote this in his diary: “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.”1

Jesus asked us to choose to carry the cross. It is not imposed on us. Accepting inconveniences, fasting, praying, giving up our rights, living simply, seeking no honor or praise from men, giving sacrificially, being misunderstood, humbling ourselves and avoiding self-centeredness—these are things we must choose.

Similarly, no one forced Jesus to do anything. He Himself chose the poverty, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, rejection, loneliness . . . and finally, the cross. He exercised His freedom of choice to discipline everything in His life in order to obey His Father. As Hebrews 5:8 explains, “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”

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.2 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. When in a church meeting, discipline yourself to keep your eyes on the speaker instead of allowing your eyes to wander here and there. To gaze around at others or down at your feet is rude and discourteous, both to the Lord and to the speaker.

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. Ask yourself these questions:

•   Can I be depended on to fulfill any task assigned to me?

•   Am I quick to volunteer when a job needs to be done, or do I find myself slipping quietly away?

•   Do I accept responsibility for my decisions . . . and for my mistakes as well?

•   Can I be depended on in money matters?

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.

Keep your emotions under control. In conversations with the opposite sex, maintain a courteous reserve; this is because friendship can become affection, and affection can lead to lust—to the shock of both involved. That which began innocently may end disastrously. Don’t let Satan make you say, “I couldn’t help it.” Pluck out the offending eye or cut off the offending hand or foot before it is too late. Your emotions may not immediately obey your will. But your actions must. In due course, your emotions also will follow the lead of your determined purpose and your decisive stand.

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.

Avoid unnecessary luxuries and don’t be wasteful in spending money. There are dangers in times of ease and prosperity that can be avoided only by some deliberate acts of self-denial on our part. Choose to miss a meal at times. “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

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!

 

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

5 Minutes with K. P. – How Can I Make a Difference?

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Did you realize that the Body of Christ lacks no funds to pay for the expenses of every one of God’s ordained plans, including taking the Gospel to all nations?

“But Brother K.P.,” you will immediately reply, “if this is true, what about all the desperate needs and heartbreaking stories we hear about the mission fields of Asia and other parts of the world?” The answer is simple: The money that God has entrusted to individual believers and local churches is tied up in properties, elaborate church buildings, houses, cars, boats, bank accounts, investments, fashion, entertainment and self-serving programs.

Billy Graham once said, “The hardest thing for a man or a woman to do is to give their money. A person’s money represents his time, his talents, his education, his sweat, his tears, his job, his toils; and when he converts them into currency and gives it, he is giving his life.”

However, if we understood what our money does on the mission field, that is, what God is doing with it, we would be amazed and more than willing to sell even the clothes on our back to reach the lost world. The following story perfectly illustrates the eternal value of the money we give.

In northwest India, a group of native missionaries was preaching the Gospel on the street. A man in his late 50s came and got a Gospel tract in his native language. This man was a Hindu Brahman landlord. He had cancer in his body; and in order not to bring shame to his family, he ran away from his home to commit suicide. Far away from his home now, he sat on the street corner and read about Jesus and how He had died for him on the cross 2,000 years ago.

There was a prayer he could pray at the end of this tract for forgiveness of sins and peace. For the first time in this man’s life, he not only read about Jesus, but he prayed to Him. He felt something happening to him—a peace began to fill his heart. He did not commit suicide that day, but instead he journeyed back home.

The next day he went to the hospital for the doctors to give him further checkups. To his amazement, the doctors pronounced that he was completely cured. The doctors could give no explanation of how it happened. He told them he knew—the tract he read had cured him.

He traveled to the nearest mission station at the address on the Gospel tract and told our brothers what had happened to him. As they explained to him more about the Lord Jesus, he began to weep. Finally he said, “Now I know this Jesus is my God.” Then he said to them, “I am the landlord in my village. Would you please come and make all my people Christians?” How innocent, how naive and how little he knew about sharing the Gospel.

Two brothers went with him and began to preach the Gospel in this village. Dozens of people gave their lives to Christ and were publicly baptized. As they continued sharing, a strong church was developed in the community. The transformation of this village happened through one simple Gospel tract that cost less than what it costs to buy one pack of chewing gum.

Would the individual who gave that $1 or $10 have ever thought a few pennies of that money would be used to print a Gospel tract that in turn would touch the life of one individual, saving him, healing him and as a result reaching a whole village with the Gospel? Probably not.

Consider the thousands of underground churches in mainland China. Most churches there are privileged if they have one or two Bibles for the entire congregation. Several years ago I was in China. I was totally amazed as I listened to the Chinese brothers explain the scarcity of Bibles. When I asked how they manage, they told me that they tear the Bible into sections and hand out 10 pages per family. Each family will copy down these pages and bring the portion back, and then they are traded around so each family gets a different 10 pages.

What an incredible joy it will be for a person to stand before the throne of God and meet thousands of Chinese brothers and sisters whose church received Bibles through his faithful sacrificial giving. Can you imagine the joy, the thrill that will be?

Here’s a third example: Consider the 60 adults who came to the Lord Jesus Christ through hearing the radio broadcast in the northeast India state of Orissa. No missionary had ever gone into the community. The people had never seen a copy of the Bible or a Gospel tract. But now, in their native language, they heard the Gospel presented through the Gospel for Asia Athmeeya Yathra radio program. After weeks of listening to the program, the news began to spread from one individual to the next, and finally more than 60 people gave their lives to Christ. The families of these new believers were deeply impacted by the change that came into their lives. One of them wrote a letter to Gospel for Asia’s office requesting “that book” our brother was talking and reading from. Soon we sent two missionaries to them. They were overjoyed when our missionaries came with the Bible and explained to them more about the Lord. The believers were baptized, and a glorious church was established.

That broadcast they heard was made possible through the support of an individual, family or congregation that was willing to give its resources to reach the lost world by faith.

During World War II, Winston Churchill called Franklin Roosevelt over the telephone and said, “Give the tools, and we will complete the job.” Today that is exactly what tens of thousands of brothers and sisters scattered in the most unreached parts of our planet are crying out to us—to help them with our prayers and resources so they can complete the task.

We must take this request very seriously. I pray that we will ask ourselves the question, “What can I give or sell so I can give to reach the lost?” Selling out for Jesus is not a new doctrine. Read Acts chapter 2, and you will find that these people sold everything. They had one thing on their mind—to declare to the whole world that Jesus is alive.

I think about the man in Oklahoma City who called me one day weeping over the telephone. He had just finished reading my first book, Revolution in World Missions. He told me of his two expensive Mercedes Benz automobiles, his mansion and all the other stuff he owned. He explained how brokenhearted he was when he realized that millions are lost without Jesus. Finally, he told me he had made a decision with his wife and children that they would sell these expensive cars and home and live modestly so they could spend the resources to preach the Gospel and to reach the lost.

First John 3:16–17 says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

A day is soon coming in which we will stand before God to give an account for the way we squandered our resources on our own self-centered living. We are the prodigal church that squanders away the Father’s wealth on the affair of an adulterous relationship with this present, passing world.

Your money today can be turned into eternal souls. Don’t wait for someone to come and pester you for it, but look for ways to invest it as a good steward. Don’t forget that soon all you have—everything—will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10). If you hold on to your resources tightly now, you will walk into eternity empty-handed—but with a lot of regret. On the other hand, if you give away what you have now to reach the lost souls, you will walk into eternity with an inheritance that will never perish. Jim Elliot aptly stated this irony: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”1

What will you do now? You must decide.

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

5 Minutes with K.P. – Selfishness

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Here is an excerpt from a letter I recently received from the mission field:

Many times we were stoned while preaching, forced to leave the place where we ministered and the village we lived in, threatened not to win souls, denied a place to sleep or food to eat, commanded and forced by the army to public labor such as building railroad tracks. High inflation, sickness, lack of transportation and the hot climate are constant hardships we face on our mission field. But we are assured by the Holy Spirit that the more we suffer for Him, the more rewards will be arranged for us in heaven.

Three of my coworkers lost their lives within this last year and a half while serving the Lord in the villages. Among them was Brother Kwang Wa, one of our most effective workers. Though they are now gone to be with the Lord, the seed they have sown will bring forth plenty of good fruit: souls for His kingdom.

It almost sounds like an excerpt from a letter written by the apostle Paul 2,000 years ago, doesn’t it? But this one just came from Gospel for Asia’s leader on the Gangaw mission field in Myanmar. During the preceding few years, our brothers there had been able to establish 25 churches with 345 baptized believers, mostly from strong Buddhist and Animist backgrounds.

How was this possible in the midst of all the hardship, suffering and death? We can easily detect the answer in their letter: They simply understood what it means to follow Christ and put the souls of others ahead of their own desires, safety and comfort. They had no resistance to paying the price it took to win these people to Jesus.

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.

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 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? More suggestions on how to live this radical life are mentioned in my book Road to Reality. Get a copy and read it. It will change your life.

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

 

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

5 Minutes with K.P. – Dangerous Ground

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Some time ago I found a colorful church flyer in my mailbox. It was an open letter from the pastor of a large congregation. He invited the whole community to attend a series of high-class, Christian concerts he had lined up at his church. In his letter he wrote, “Ever since I first came to this church, it has been my highest priority to offer the finest and best Christian entertainment to the people of [this city].”

This pastor is definitely not alone in his pursuit to draw and impress crowds with his outstanding programs. Other churches do the same with their advertisements of the largest auditorium in town, the best interior decoration and comforts, the most spectacular Christmas pageant, the biggest budget, the newest sound equipment or the largest church membership.

Two things are strangely absent in all this competition for numbers, glamour and success: the cross and the lost world! Once they were the center of the Gospel message; but for so many congregations and believers, there is very little room left in their lives or thoughts for these most vital conditions of discipleship.

Because they are no longer popular, they have been replaced with all sorts of self-centered activities. Quantity, size and success impress us, but they do not impress God. This is evident even in creation. The earth, compared to the other planets, is so tiny and insignificant. Yet this is where God chose to carry out His eternal plans.

From the beginning of time, God’s greatest concern has been to have a pure testimony to His name. This means His Word, His goals and His priorities cannot be changed by any man. It also means that whoever is called by His name must live by His terms and preserve the purity of His Gospel.

We tread on very dangerous ground if we don’t preach and teach the cross in fear that our membership will decrease. The same is true if we don’t speak up when our church spends millions of dollars on an elaborate auditorium but has no burden, no prayer and no money for the more than 2 billion people who sit in darkness—on their way to hell—having never been reached by the Gospel.

A.W. Tozer wrote: “Why do we build our churches upon human flesh? . . . For we teach men not to die with Christ but to live in the strength of their dying manhood. . . . But if I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity. . . . The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it.”1

In the Old Testament, God wiped out multitudes and once even the whole world population (except Noah and his family) in order to preserve a pure testimony. What would happen to us and to our churches if God dealt with us in the same way, judging our compromises with instant death?

Even if everything we do looks so successful right now, eventually it will have to pass the test of purity described in 1 Corinthians 3:13 when we get to heaven. What a shock it will be to watch our lives’ work and all our church programs go up in flames.

Today we stand at the crossroads and have a choice to make: Do we choose the purity of the Gospel with the cross at the center and the Great Commission as our number one task, or do we continue to fool ourselves with a gospel that has little to do with the New Testament? The pure Gospel says,

•   “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

•   “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).

•   “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).

What is your answer?

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

5 Minutes with K.P. – Walking in His Shoes

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When I first came to the United States, I visited a large, well-known church where the pastor announced an evening prayer meeting. I came early that night, genuinely concerned that I might not find a place in the sanctuary. I waited and waited for the thousands of believers I had seen in the morning to come and intercede for the pastor, the church and the mission field; but in the end only seven showed up. It was an experience I will never forget, because on the mission field in India I had learned that, as a follower of Christ, prayer was the most important factor in life.

When you and I truly understand Jesus’ love for the lost world, then we will sometimes feel like Elijah did: left all alone with our concern for the unreached. We call out and urge believers to invest their lives so that people groups living in the 10/40 Window can hear the Gospel, but our voices are so often drowned out by all the other activities going on in the Christian realm.

Most of these activities are designed to make life on earth more enjoyable and comfortable. That’s what believers have come to expect, and that’s the reason very few will show up for events like prayer meetings. Sacrifice, suffering and intercession for the lost world are largely unpopular in many of our churches because they involve hard work and giving up comfort, time and money.

When we look at the world situation, however, we can hear Jesus say loud and clear in His Word: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). Jesus is asking us to be in His place, to walk in His shoes and to become deeply concerned about the lost in our generation in countries like Afghanistan, India and Mongolia.

There are people—thank God—whom He is calling to stand in the gap and who are willing to pay the price. If you have answered His call, don’t get discouraged, feeling that the job is so huge and that only a handful of people share your burden. Remember, Jesus had only 12 disciples, yet they impacted their entire generation.

We must never lose the freshness of the privilege the Lord has given us—out of millions of people—to share His heart and be concerned about the lost world. We are given the opportunity to pray, to give, to go, to send missionaries and to make a huge difference for millions of people for all eternity. As we intercede for the unreached, we must allow God’s love and compassion to fill our hearts. Our prayers will be so much more fervent and real if we identify with the people for whom we pray. That’s what Daniel, Jeremiah and Nehemiah did, and God answered them in a powerful way.

As you read news reports about events like the cyclone that hit the coast of Andhra Pradesh, put yourself in the place of that mother whose child was swept away by the tidal wave or that man who found his wife and children dead under the rubble of their collapsed home. You will feel their pain, desperation and hopelessness at not knowing the name of Jesus.

Pray for the people and events you read about in the newspaper or hear about over the radio and TV as if it were your own life. When you intercede for the unreached, don’t let your prayers be in neutral. Like a gearshift in a car, let us shift into active faith and watch God give us whole nations! All things are possible for those who believe.

One day, thousands from the heathen lands will stand before the throne of God worshiping the Lamb. We will meet them and rejoice with them. That moment will be worth all our prayers and sacrifice on their behalf.

Jot down prayer points from the news you hear, and start praying for the world today.

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

5 Minutes with K.P. – “ I Will Not Come Down ”

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Two students flung from a speeding train in Gujarat . . . our Nepali leader arrested and standing trial for preaching the Gospel . . . one native missionary stabbed to death and another critically wounded in Nagaland . . . our Tamil language broadcaster dead as a result of a bus accident . . . a church burned to the ground in Karnataka . . . Bible college students and teachers attacked by a gang of angry Muslims in Andhra Pradesh . . .

These are just a few of many incidents Gospel for Asia experienced in a single 10-month period. Interestingly, these things happened almost simultaneously with tremendous victories and progress for the Gospel in previously unreached areas of the 10/40 Window. Is this just a coincidence, or is there more happening than we can see with our physical eyes?

The apostle Paul explains such happenings in Ephesians 6:12: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

You see, we are engaged in spiritual warfare with none other than Satan himself and his demon forces, whose only goal is to stop any advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible reveals to us that Satan has a highly organized system with which he controls and manipulates nations, world systems and individuals for their destruction.

Unless we are fully conscious that we are engaged in spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness, we will not be able to accurately discern the attacks on our personal life and our ministry. Furthermore, our response to these events will be ineffective and powerless. The devil wants us to believe that we are not dealing with spiritual issues and that we can solve our problems with human wisdom such as education, psychology and philosophy. But these are big lies to keep us from using the weapons God has provided for us to destroy the attacks of the devil and to be victorious.

Paul tells us to “put on the whole armor of God” and then describes each of the weapons given to us: “having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:11, 14–16).

The life of Nehemiah is a powerful illustration of how to engage in spiritual warfare dressed in the full armor of God. When God laid the need to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem on Nehemiah’s heart, Nehemiah never compromised the truth of God’s Word. We see a man who faced tremendous battles—physical hardship, deception, opposition, agony, misunderstanding and discouragement. Many of Nehemiah’s problems were caused by the very people he tried to help, yet he confronted his people with their sins and showed them a way to repent and live for God. He trusted the Lord for the impossible and overcame all the obstacles and enemy attacks through his faith in the God of Israel.

Nehemiah never allowed fear to sidetrack him from his goal. When a false prophet urged him to hide in the temple, Nehemiah immediately recognized him as an enemy agent. He knew he would sin against God if he allowed fear to enter his heart. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him.” As soon as fear replaces faith, God can no longer answer our prayers or fight on our behalf, because His promises will not work apart from faith.

Furthermore, Nehemiah never permitted any person or any circumstances to stop his work or slow him down. He consistently kept his focus in spite of threats, hardship and offers of compromise. The only answer he had for those who tried to distract him or stop him was this: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down” (Nehemiah 6:3). Without his immovable focus on the end result, the wall never would have been completed.

Finally, in the face of increased enemy attacks, Nehemiah’s response was never to retreat. Instead, he had his men fully armed and ready for battle at all times: “With one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon” (Nehemiah 4:17).

But Nehemiah was not insensitive to the fears and worries of his people, especially after the wall was joined together and their enemies conspired to wipe them all out. He knew what to do in such a dangerous situation: “Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God” (Nehemiah 4:9). We, too, have no other alternative than to come to the Lord in prayer, asking Him to defeat for us the powers of darkness that seek to destroy us and the work of God.

Nehemiah and his people experienced God’s presence in the midst of their trials and won a tremendous victory in the end. As we live for Jesus and fight the battle to advance His kingdom, we, too, will encounter the same opposition Nehemiah faced from the enemy. Let us determine to wear the full armor of God and carry the weapons of our warfare at all times. Only then will we be able to defend ourselves and win the battle through God’s grace.

Rise up and shake off anything that’s holding you down. You are a follower of Christ, a soldier enlisted by the Master Himself for His kingdom. You have been given all authority by your Lord. Be what He called you to be—an overcomer.

Don’t forget that you are in a battle.

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

5 Minutes with K.P. – The Greatest Motivator of All

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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.

Remember Jacob, who served Laban for 14 years in order to receive Rachel’s hand in marriage? It was an enormous price of service he had to pay. Yet, amazingly, the Bible says that it seemed to him like just a few days because he loved her (Genesis 29:20).

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).

Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, was working hard for many years and struggling to keep his commitment until he discovered “the exchanged life,” which means to be motivated by love for the Lord rather than by duty. A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian Missionary Alliance, tells us how he learned this lesson in his own life. As a young pastor, he struggled to serve the Lord in his own strength, until he was broken down in health. Finally, he met with God in such a way that it changed his whole outlook on ministry. He expressed his experience in these powerful words:

Once it was the blessing, now it is the Lord;

Once it was the feeling, now it is His Word;

Once His gift I wanted, now the Giver own;

Once I sought for healing, now Himself alone.

Once ‘twas painful trying, now ‘tis perfect trust;

Once a half salvation, now the uttermost;

Once ‘twas ceaseless holding, now He holds me fast;

Once ‘twas constant drifting, now my anchor’s cast.

Once ‘twas busy planning, now ‘tis trustful prayer;

Once ‘twas anxious caring, now He has the care;

Once ‘twas what I wanted, now what Jesus says;

Once ‘twas constant asking, now ‘tis ceaseless praise.

Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;

Once I tried to use Him, now He uses me;

Once the power I wanted, now the Mighty One;

Once for self I labored, now for Him alone.

Once I hoped in Jesus, now I know He’s mine;

Once my lamps were dying, now they brightly shine;

Once for death I waited, now His coming hail;

And my hopes are anchored safe within the veil.

All in all forever, Jesus, will I sing,

Everything in Jesus, and Jesus everything.

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 in this village with more than 100 believers.

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.

 

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

5 Minutes with K.P. – The Small Pond and the Big Picture

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

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The fishing boat was turning to shore after a night of fishing when a kingfisher swooped down and snatched a tiny fish out of the water. Suddenly, the bird lost its grip, and the small fish fell into a pond. Half dead, it struggled back to life. Meanwhile, a large fish approached and said, “What are you doing in my kingdom?” The large fish boasted that he was king over the only kingdom where fish live.

Hearing this, the little fish replied, “If only you could see where I’m from.” And the little fish tried to explain about the vastness of the ocean, all the different kinds of fish, the ships and the whales. The larger fish looked at him in disbelief. And the little fish said, “Well, how would you know? You’ve never left this tiny pond.”

This story humorously illustrates how we become so used to “our” tiny corner of the world that we easily forget the big picture. As soldiers enlisted in the army of Jesus Christ, we too tend to think that our little battle is the only one going on, when in reality it’s just a very small fraction of the global war we are called to fight.

Take a look at the life of the apostle Paul. Here is a man who wouldn’t take no for an answer, regardless of the opposition. He endured imprisonment, beatings, shipwrecks, starvation, loneliness, abandonment and a host of other problems, yet he went forward with one thing on his mind—to preach the Gospel to those who had never heard.

How did Paul and the other apostles survive without giving up hope? They did not allow themselves to get caught up in their own struggles, and they never lost sight of the big picture. In Romans 8:18 Paul says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

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.

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.