Choosing Not to Return

After we are saved and begin our relationship with God, we learn that our journey with Him has just started. We discover that even everyday, ordinary components of life-relationships, emotional security, accomplishments, our profession or position, financial stability or even our cultural or national heritage—can hinder us from fully giving our lives for His purposes and growing closer to Him. One by one, God calls us to walk away from them.

Abraham, Moses and Joseph—all those in the “cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us—were also called to walk away from “normal” lives. Let us see how they responded:

“All these people . . . admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16, NIV).

The “opportunity to return”—what a significant statement this is!

It is a challenge to follow His call to walk away from these things—but it is an even greater challenge to realize we always have the chance to turn around, to go back to a life that is more comfortable, perhaps, yet unsurrendered.

Our enemy, the devil, knows this, and he works hard to persuade us to do so. Let us look at four things he uses to try to make us return:

Material things

Demas, one of Paul’s co-workers, had this problem. This man traveled so many miles with Paul and shared hardships with him; he could have become another Timothy, but Paul says of him, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). We will always face financial struggles and difficulties of some sort, have friends who are better off than we are, and feel the need to do something to improve our lives and take better care of our families. The devil will use this. It’s a strong pull, but we must make a decision: Life or death, we will not return.

The fear of the unknown

The children of Israel suffered under terrible slavery in Egypt. Yet after God led them out and did mighty acts on their behalf, they longed to return, remembering the leeks and the garlic. What happened? They were afraid of what would happen to them in an unfamiliar land filled with giants. We, too, face unknowns; what we must remember is that God is bigger than the giants, our problems and our fears.

Losing our focus and vision

Paul’s earthly journey was marked with one focus: a passion to see people come to Christ. He kept this focus right up until the end of his life and was able to say with confidence, “I have finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7). You and I can only continue in this journey as long as we keep sight of the vision before us. Let us not allow the devil to use the day-to-day discouragements to take our eyes off our purpose. The passage in Hebrews promises us that God has prepared a heavenly city for those who follow Him in faith. But what good is a city that has no people in it? Our goal is to populate that city, to bring a world of souls with us into eternity.

Spiritual deception

So many Christians lose sight of God’s call when they become ensnared in self-focus and introspection—all in the name of godliness, deeper life and devotion. But only one theme runs through the entire Bible: Christ, the Savior of the world. The Old Testament promises the coming of the Redeemer; the New Testament narrates Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection to save the lost and gives instruction to believers on living and demonstrating Christ’s life to the world. It is a fact-knowing Christ and walking intimately with Him will produce a love and passion for the lost world. If our so-called “deeper life” doesn’t have this result, it is a counterfeit.

So as we face the pull of this world and the pressure from the devil to walk away from God’s call, let us remember that we are on earth for only a short time. We are strangers and aliens to this world; we only have a visa for this life, but our passport is from another country.

The men and women of Hebrews chose not to return to their earthly country because they recognized that God’s work went beyond time and space. Their true country was a heavenly one. May the Lord find us, too, focused on what is real and authentic—beyond circumstances, what we feel, what others say or what the enemy throws at us.

And if He were to write another chapter like Hebrews 11, may He find your name and mine as examples there for others to follow.

Dr. K.P. Yohannan
Founder & President of Gospel for Asia

Article published in Send! Magazine

Posted in K.P. Yohannan | Comments Off

Welcoming Jesus

Girlpraying

I stood one day at a busy Bombay street corner, waiting for the light to change, and I heard the voice of a young girl behind me.

“Sir,” she said, “my father is dead. My mother is sick and can’t beg anymore. I have a little brother, and he is very hungry. Would you please give me a few pennies so I can buy him some bread?”

Her words pierced my heart.

The light turned green. The crowd around me surged forward across the street, but I turned around to see who was speaking to me.

There she stood in rags, dirt under her fingernails and dust and sweat mingled on her face-one of the most beautiful little girls I had ever seen. Her big brown eyes were set in a small round face, and thick black hair fell the length of her body.

I dug into my pockets for all the change I could give her, and then I walked away weeping. The Lord spoke to my heart just then: “What do you think about that little beggar girl you just met?” He asked. “Is her life as dear to you as your own daughter’s?”

The Lord stopped me in my tracks that day in Bombay, and He taught me how precious children are to His heart.

How Do We Respond?

If we desire that God not only bless our lives but make us a blessing to others as well, our hearts must remain open to what concerns Him: the spiritually lost, the downtrodden of society, the poor and needy.

Today we are face to face with the child laborers of Asia, the street children roaming the cities, the tsunami orphans, the boys and girls who go hungry every night. How do we respond to these children who have been cast aside by society, trampled underfoot, ignored and traumatized?

Their need is staggering, beyond our scope of comprehension. Our resources are abundant and overflowing. We often sense the urge to take action simply out of obligation.

But Jesus plainly tells us that our response should begin with Him: “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me” (Mark 9:37). In essence, He says, “Reach out to these boys and girls, make room for them in your hearts, care for them and embrace them. Welcome them as if you were welcoming Me.”

Do you see how this changes our whole perspective? Now our prayers and gifts on behalf of these children become our highest privilege, for when we welcome these children, we gladly welcome Jesus Himself into our hearts and homes.

A Joyful Surprise

But this is only the beginning. This guiding principle is at the very core of our Bridge of Hope program. As we educate thousands of Dalit, low-caste and displaced children, we care for them as we would Jesus Himself. And in the process, we have been joyfully surprised.

As these boys and girls hear about Jesus and at the same time experience His love and compassion in a tangible way, they are finding Him as Lord and Savior. Parents wonder at the changes in their children’s behavior. Community leaders marvel to see literacy rates rise. Families and villages are impacted with the Gospel.

Where GFA missionaries were previously opposed, persecuted or run out of town, they are now gladly trusted and accepted. Gospel workers are seeing the Good News spread more quickly than they ever expected in areas completely devoid of any Christian witness. Flourishing churches with 100 or more members have sprung up in about a year, instead of the three or four years it would normally take to attain this growth in unreached communities.

God never despises small beginnings, and He will never walk away from a little child. When we share His heart and minister to these little ones, we make a twofold discovery: In welcoming Jesus and making it our privilege to touch the lives of children with His love, we also join with Him as He opens a way for the Gospel into villages and hearts once staunchly resistant. Thus, our highest privilege is also the answer to their deepest need-and it becomes our joy to share in the eternal fruit that results.

To learn more about GFA Bridge of Hope, or to sponsor a child, click here.

Posted in K.P. Yohannan | Tagged | Comments Off

The Father’s Love for Us

When I was growing up, I was very shy and timid. I never participated in any sports, and I never confronted anyone about anything. During class, I sat there afraid that the teacher was going to ask me a question.

After completing high school, convinced that Jesus wanted me to serve Him, I left home for North India, more than 2,000 miles away, to serve the Lord with Operation Mobilization mission teams. Every day I prayed and read the Bible. I was doing all the right things, but I was still shy, withdrawn and nervous.

But one day, I read a verse of Scripture that completely changed my life. Ephesians 1:6 told me that I was “accepted in the Beloved.”

This turned the whole world upside-down for me. I realized that regardless of what people thought about me, the circumstances I found myself in, my temperament, inadequacies, inabilities, failures or shortcomings, I was accepted by the living God, and I was somebody special. And I learned that in everything He allows in my life—even the worst situations—He has a purpose: preparing me to become more like His Son (Romans 8:29).

As we apply this understanding on a daily basis, we can look upon fears and despair with a different view. We can be freed from anxieties, anger and bitterness. Knowing and believing the truth that our Heavenly Father loves us just as He loves Jesus (see John 17:23) gives us the strength to do all we need to do, and to continue our journey.

This is my prayer for you, that you will find your rest in the perfect love of God as you offer your life to be used by Him.

Posted in K.P. Yohannan | Comments Off

Righteousness Is a Gift – Godliness Is Not

When a famous scientist, artist or celebrity is interviewed on television, the host will ask about his or her amazing talents and most outstanding achievements.

If Christ were on such a show, I believe He would simply answer: “The most significant thing in my life? I am broken, a nobody and a worm” (see Psalm 22:6).

“Come, follow Me and become like Me,” He would add, “and this is the way you get there: ‘Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart’ ” (Matthew 11:29).

Learning from Jesus how to be broken and lowly is authentic New Testament Christianity. It is so alien to our modern version that conditions us to become strong, independent and able to articulate theology.

Both God’s work and ours

Next to the Bible, there are a handful of books that have changed my life, and Roy Hession’s book The Calvary Road is one of them. Listen to what he says about brokenness:

“The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through us until the proud self within us is broken. This simply means that the hard unyielding self, which justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seeks its own glory, at last bows to God’s will, admits its wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and discards its own glory—that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all. In other words, it is dying to self and self-attitudes. . . .

“Being broken is both God’s work and ours. He brings His pressure to bear, but we have to make the choice.”

People are mistaken if they think they can become instantly holy and godly by praying for it. You see, righteousness is a gift, but godliness is not. Godliness can only be gained through dying to self and obedience to Jesus, learning from Him how to walk in humility. That’s the reason He stands at the door and knocks, continuing to speak to us through His Word and many other ways. But because the only door to godliness is brokenness and yielding, He must wait until we choose the way of the cross.

We see Him

Usually the last thing we want to do is to give up our cherished self. What then will motivate us to desire to be broken? It’s when we behold the willingness of Jesus to choose the cross for our sake.

We see Him “who, being in the form of God . . . made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6–8 ).

“We see Him willing to have no rights of His own,” says Hession, “willing to let men revile Him and not revile again, willing to let men tread on Him and not retaliate or defend Himself. Above all, we see Him broken as He meekly goes to Calvary to become men’s scapegoat by bearing their sins in His own body on the Tree.”

It didn’t come easy for Jesus, who knew no sin, to humble Himself to the point of being completely cut off from God there at the cross. The very thought caused Him such agony that His sweat became like drops of blood. In anguish He asked His Father if there was any other way for us to be saved than for Him to drink this cup of suffering—but then He responded, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

No other way than surrender

Likewise, there is no other way to godliness than through brokenness and dying to our self. We, too, must come to a place where we surrender our self-love and self-preservation and say to the Lord, “I am ready to take Your yoke upon me and learn from You how to die to myself, to pick up my cross and follow You.”

Many believers mentally understand the importance of brokenness, and they recognize that it is the only door to the life of godliness they desire. However, in their hearts they cannot find the motivation or willingness to embrace death to self.

If you find yourself in this place, I encourage you to spend time reading and meditating on the passages of Scripture that describe what it took Jesus to become the sacrifice for your sin. Then, ask God to open the eyes of your heart to truly see Him as if you were there, watching Him suffer and die for you. This internal vision will help create the desire in you to follow Him on this path of brokenness that leads to godliness.
Dr. K.P. Yohannan
Founder & President of Gospel for Asia

Article published in SEND! Magazine

 

Posted in K.P. Yohannan | Comments Off

God-fearing people by K.P. Yohannan

I had never heard anything like it.

In a village on the Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh border in India, 50 families came to know the Lord within a short period of time. These were very simple but God-fearing people who heard the Gospel and responded to Jesus—Jesus who forgave their sins and set them free from bondage.

In the midst of their celebration and joy, they received an ultimatum. Their village chief and a band of others rounded up these 50 families and told them that they could no longer live in the village.

These new Christians hurried to pack their tattered clothes, pots and pans and other few belongings, and then they walked away from everything they had known. Like refugees from a war zone, they trudged out of the village, along with the elderly who could hardly walk, little children and pregnant women.

As they were leaving, the village chief told them that they would be allowed back only on two conditions: payment of a 500-rupee penalty per family, plus each would have to deny Christ.

But not one of them returned. They walked until they finally crossed over the border into Madhya Pradesh, finding shelter under trees in the jungle.

I thought about these people and the suffering and hardship they went through just to survive and find a place to settle down. They were so new to the faith. None of them had any theological background or had had a chance to attend seminars, retreats or Bible studies.

They had never even heard about some of the most elementary truths of the Bible, much less complex issues such as eschatology with its pre-, mid- or post-trib viewpoints. I doubt that any of them knew the books of the Bible. In fact, most of them were illiterate.

What made them willing to walk away from their huts, fields, friends and relatives?

If you asked them, this is what they would tell you: “We are walking away because of one reason—Jesus.”

This entry was written by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, 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.

Posted in K.P. Yohannan | Comments Off

A Servant Of God by K. P. Yohannan

When I first saw a few clips from The Visual Bible’s Matthew, I didn’t like it. It showed Jesus laughing, celebrating after healing the sick and throwing children up in the air and catching them. He always seemed to be enthusiastic and happy when He was teaching or dealing with people.

You see, I come from a culture in which spirituality is measured by how solemn, dignified and holy your appearance is. This means that as a servant of God, you must wear white clothes, keep a serious face even if you are happy and carefully guard your behavior. You wouldn’t want to spoil your image by laughing out loud or running around playing with the kids.

All this actually comes from eastern mysticism, in which the way to holiness and spirituality is asceticism—the renouncing of all worldly pleasures, comforts and emotions. It is a counterfeit spirituality produced by Satan.

After viewing this film, I read through the four Gospels again just to see what Jesus was really like. For the first time, I gained an awareness of someone who was genuinely happy. There was a spirit of celebration, a positive note that I saw in His life. People felt drawn to Him, and in His presence, those with deadly diseases and even the worst sinners were filled with new hope.

Jesus came to this earth not to add gloom and hopelessness to people’s lives, but to bring light, hope, laughter and the joy of heaven to a sin-ridden world.

The angels didn’t announce His birth by saying, “Oh, what a sad and gloomy event. God’s Son is going to be persecuted and killed. Let us mourn and weep.” No! They were praising God and telling the shepherds about the good news of great joy for all people.

This entry was written by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, 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.

Posted in K.P. Yohannan | Comments Off

As a follower of Christ by K. P. Yohannan

The truth is that no one person can hinder our spiritual growth or destroy us if we walk with the Lord and put our faith in Him. He will be our shield and defender just as He promised. Even God cannot destroy us, if we have trusted in Jesus as our Savior and our hearts are completely His. He will eternally abide by His own Word that says, “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Ultimately, I am the only one who can destroy me. By my own choice to reject Jesus as my Savior, I can send myself to hell. As a follower of Christ, if I violate God’s principles, I will bring destruction upon my marriage, my home, my work and myself. And if I don’t walk by faith according to the Scripture, I can prevent God from fulfilling His promises toward me.

How can we detect the real hindrance and remove it? The Apostle Paul advised the Corinthian Christians to examine and judge themselves (see 1 Corinthians 11:31–32).

It starts with us being willing to be honest with ourselves. Instead of blaming others, we should search our own hearts when we find that we are not making progress in our Christian walk.

But it shouldn’t end there because “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind . . .” (Jeremiah 17:9–10). Our hearts can appear innocent to us so that we don’t suspect our troubles could be self-inflicted.

We must involve the Lord on this quest. We must be willing to be honest with ourselves and then invite God: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24). Only He can tell us the truth and help us see ourselves as we are. That’s why each of us needs to follow David’s example— coming in humility to the Lord and asking Him to perform the examination.

God was always faithful to point out a sin or a wrong attitude in David’s heart that compromised his relationship with God and hindered his spiritual progress. David responded by humbling himself, repenting and accepting God’s correction.

It is the grace of God when He opens our eyes and shows us our true condition. And if we respond as David did, the hindrance that held us back will be gone, and we will be set free to make progress on our spiritual journey.

Lord, search our hearts and try us.

This entry was written by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, 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.

Posted in K.P. Yohannan | Comments Off

Pride and Humility by K. P. Yohannan

Two men went to the temple to approach God in prayer and seek His favor. One, a Pharisee very sure of his outstanding spiritual achievements, recounted to God his flawless service record. He even thanked the Lord that he was better than others, especially that tax gatherer over there. This other man didn’t dare lift his head. He stood at a distance and pleaded guilty as a sinner, asking God for mercy (see Luke 18:9–14).

It is obvious that the Pharisee, though his outward behaviors may have looked good, was full of pride. And in contrast, the tax collector was quite aware of his unworthiness and was sincerely humble.

It is important to note: Lack of humility is the proof of counterfeit spirituality. The Pharisee thought he had everything so right, but his “spirituality” was not authentic. So many people have so many things to say about the Lord and their walk, but there is a sense that there is nothing real in the spiritual life they’re portraying. The mark of humility is missing. True spiritual maturity will be marked with humility. After 20 years of preaching and a life of hardship and sacrifice, Paul said with a sincere heart, “I am the chief of sinners” (see 1 Timothy 1:15).

Having that mark of humility is God’s plan for all of us as believers. But often we all still experience a lack of respect and love for mankind. We can be insensitive to people’s feelings and indifferent to their circumstances. It can show up as hidden anger, impatience, irritation, bitterness and a tendency to quickly pass judgment. If we analyze these feelings and actions, we find that all of them have their roots in pride. Like the Pharisee in Jesus’ story, we feel superior in some area, and we aren’t able to manifest the long-suffering love of Christ in our relationships.

In contrast, Christ dealt with people in humility. During His earthly life, He sought to lift others up, even when He confronted them with their problems. He never looked for opportunities to gain a higher position, more respect or greater honor for Himself. That’s why He could tell His disciples to follow His example and be servants of all, to choose the last seat instead of the first and most prestigious.

This entry was written by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, 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.

Posted in K.P. Yohannan | Comments Off

What Do We Lack? by K.P. Yohannan

I believe the Lord looks for that “one thing” we grasp so tightly and depend on. It could be anything: our strength, our abilities, our education, a meaningful relationship, our years of Christian experience, our connections, the good reputation we have established, our position, our extraordinary discernment and other spiritual gifts, our plans for marriage or the things of this world like the rich young ruler.

In the New Testament book of Revelation, we encounter a group of people in the church of Laodicea who were convinced that they were rich and lacked nothing. Yet the Lord told them that they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. Why did the Lord think they lacked everything? It is because they had become self-reliant, which prevented them from experiencing the genuine life of Christ.

As long as we hold on to that one thing in which we trust, we will never be able to surrender fully to Christ. Consequently, there will always be a distance between the Lord and us. Such lack of closeness results in frustration and discouragement on our part. In addition, that one thing will be a constant hindrance for the rivers of living water to flow freely out from us and give life to others.

How do we recognize the “one thing” still lacking in us? We will know it by the discouragement, tension, bitterness, frustration and irritation that fill our hearts, when that “one thing” is tampered with. God will open our eyes, and we will recognize it if we truly desire to. We will then have the grace to surrender it to the Lord, not by looking at what we are letting go, but by looking at all that we have in Christ— the pearl of great price.

You see, if “our riches,” that which we value most, are the Lord and what we have in Him, then no raging storm can cause any disturbance. Amy Carmichael once wrote, “A cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.”

I believe the Lord wants us to live in a continual state of seeing Him as everything and being content in Him alone. Those whose life is full of joy and the unhindered presence of the Lord are the ones who experience a continuous feast on Him. Nothing else will matter to them, and abandonment to Christ alone is their obvious choice.

Will you believe that He is truly the pearl of great price? Step out. You’ll find Him to be so much more than you imagine.

This entry was written by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, 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.

Posted in K.P. Yohannan | Comments Off

Christ is the Answer by K . P. Yohannan

We cannot manufacture humility. The moment someone tries to be humble, we notice it like a bad taste in our mouth. The outside actions may look right, but their spirit doesn’t match. Humility manifests itself from the reality and understanding we have within us. Natural man with all his knowledge and determination cannot simply be humble.

Christ is our answer. He must be our focus. It is Him working within us and us responding to Him by which we will truly become humble. When we humble ourselves before Him and desire His work in this area, He has the open door to work with us. And He will.

Then in our relationships with others and our daily events of life, we will have many chances to humble ourselves in response to His promptings. Each of these moments is an opportunity for us to be conformed into the humility of Christ and have that mark of humility on our lives.

James 4:10 exhorts us: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord.” For our transformation into Christlikeness, this is where it starts. Will you make a commitment today to practice this Scripture? You will find that your love and compassion for others will grow tremendously, and you will experience the joy of being a servant like Jesus.

Don’t wait.

This entry was written by K .P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, 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.

Posted in K.P. Yohannan | Comments Off