The Opportunity to Return by K. P. Yohannan

After we are saved and begin our relationship with God, we learn that our journey with Him has just started. We discover every day that the 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 these things.

Abraham, Moses and Joseph—all those in the “cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us—were also called to walk away from their “normal” lives (see Hebrews 11:4–12:1). 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 phrase this is!

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.

Two Men by K. P. Yohannan

Two individuals came to Jesus, each with a deep spiritual problem. One found life, but the other lost it. What went wrong in this counseling session? The first person was a rich young ruler who approached the Lord with the most burning question of his heart: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18).

He was not seeking a religious debate as so many others did. He honestly wanted to know. When Jesus listed five of the commandments, the young man replied that he had a perfect record in keeping them all. Christ simply responded to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor . . . and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:22). Scripture tells us that the rich ruler went away sorrowful (see Matthew 19:22).

The second man was also rich, but he had gained his wealth by shamelessly defrauding others. Zacchaeus was a well-known crook. When Jesus came to his house, He said nothing to the man about selling his house or giving his money away. Amazingly, Zacchaeus freely made the decision to give half of his possessions to the poor and restore four times the amount he stole to everyone he’d cheated.

What was it that compelled Zacchaeus to respond so differently than the rich young ruler?

When Zacchaeus saw Christ, he saw the pearl of great price. He saw in Him everything, all things, completion. He realized, If I have Him, I can easily give away everything. What else do I need?

But when the young ruler saw Jesus, he didn’t see the pearl of great price. If we could know what his thoughts were that day, I imagine most of them were focused on what he would be giving up, more than what he would gain in Christ.

We very often make the same mistake as the rich young ruler. We truly want to follow Christ and experience His abundant life, but we focus on what we may have to give up and are afraid to let go of those things we have relied on for so long.

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.

The Religious Leaders by K. P. Yohannan

James and John were furious. These Samaritans had the gall to close their village to Jesus just because He was traveling to Jerusalem. Instead of being overwhelmed with gratitude that the Jewish Messiah would even set foot on their soil, they closed their doors.

Convinced that these heathens didn’t deserve another breath, the two disciples volunteered to call fire down from heaven, like Elijah, and wipe them out. Jesus rebuked them immediately with these words: “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of” (Luke 9:55).

Jesus’ closest followers reverted to serious carnality just days before His crucifixion. This incident tells us something. In our own selves, when we are rejected or mistreated, we are capable of forgetting all the spiritual things we have learned and responding with judgment and retaliation just like the rest of mankind.

What happens to us that we so quickly look down on others? Along with Jesus’ disciples, we as believers sometimes feel we are qualified and even called to judge others because we think we know the laws of God and are zealous for righteousness.

But Jesus didn’t judge those Samaritans who rejected Him. Neither did He judge the prostitutes, sinners and tax collectors who came to listen to His sermons.

The religious leaders brought Jesus a woman caught in adultery, convinced they had Him trapped. He was a Jew. He knew the Law of Moses. The stones were ready—He would have to pronounce the death penalty over her. But when He challenged those who were without sin to cast the first stone, one by one they left, each convicted by his own failures.

In the end, Jesus, the one and only One who could have passed judgment over her, sent her away with the words, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

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.

Choose the Hard Road by K. P. Yohannan

Christ set an example for those who followed Him then and for all who want to follow Him now. He said, “Where I am, there My servant will be also” (John 12:26).

You see, God is also asking us to do hard things. For example, Jesus said, “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” (Luke 14:26).

God is telling us there is a choice left before us. We have to make a decision between the hard road on which God asks us to go or the easy road everyone else travels.

For Noah, preaching 120 years without results meant choosing the hard road year after year.

Nehemiah, building the wall of Jerusalem, faced constant harassment by enemies from within and without. The easy road would have been to quit, to go back to Persia and live at the king’s palace in peace. But he chose the hard road because he was not seeking his own, but the things of God.

We cannot honestly, authentically, reasonably and deliberately serve our Lord without our willingness to accept difficulties and inconveniences—the hard road.

Consider some of the stories of national missionaries in our ministry: two brothers who became porters, carrying heavy loads in a Nepali mountain region in order to win a tribe to Jesus . . . a young man from Myanmar, who walked 17 days through the jungle to get to Bible school, leaving his family behind . . . Bible school graduates who have made the slums their mission field.

Why are they choosing such difficulties? They are following in the footsteps of a Savior who didn’t hesitate to lay down His life for a lost world.

Amy Carmichael, pioneer missionary to India, wrote a poem that is actually a prayer. In it, she asks for nothing less than deliverance from her self-seeking nature so that she may serve Jesus freely and totally.

From prayer that asks that I may be

Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,

From fearing when I should aspire,

From faltering when I should climb higher,

From silken self, O Captain, free

Thy soldier who would follow Thee.

From subtle love of softened things,

From easy choices, weakenings,

(Not thus are spirits fortified,

Not this way went the Crucified)

From all that dims Thy Calvary,

O Lamb of God, deliver me.

Give me the love that leads the way,

The faith that nothing can dismay,

The hope no disappointments tire,

The passion that will burn like fire;

Let me not sink to be a clod;

Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.

If there is anything that is holding you back from giving your all to Jesus, following Him and choosing the hard road, you need to start calling out to the Lord for His help just as Amy Carmichael did.

Freely give it to Him.

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.

Suffering and Comfort by K. P. Yohannan

We live in a culture in which, unless we consciously and deliberately seek to swim against the current, we will hardly make it as followers of Christ . . . at least, not the Christ of the New Testament, who said, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).

The Church at large has adapted to the trends of the culture. Frequently the Christian message is presented in a way that caters to people’s perceived needs and their desire for an easier, better life. Man and his comfort have become the main focus, and God is obligated to meet these expectations.

This has created a generation of Christians who know little or nothing of sacrifice, suffering and self-denial for the sake of Jesus. We have become conditioned to always seek for a soft cushion, at the least a thin one, if we are asked to sit on a hard bench. Even in the work of God, we avoid difficult tasks, and we question anything that demands physical and emotional discomfort or spiritual battles.

This is in sharp contrast to Jesus, who rebuked Peter for counseling Him not to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die, and later for trying to rescue Him with his sword in Gethsemane. Commanding Peter to put his sword away, Jesus said, “Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (John 18:11).

Jesus was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, and He came to suffer and die for our sins. Knowing His purpose and submitting to the Father’s will, He chose the hard road, the one that led to Calvary.

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.

The Nature of Christ by K. P. Yohannan

In my own life, there was a particular time when I was going through great difficulty. In the midst of that season, the Lord asked me the question: “Are you willing to give up your reputation?” Then I said to myself, Oh my goodness! He is the One who didn’t care what people thought about Him. He didn’t defend Himself when people said all kinds of evil about Him. He’s asking me if I’m willing to identify with Him and have His nature in me. And I said back to Him, “Lord, I didn’t see this before. I’m happy to do it.” Then I was able to find such peace and release from my personal anguish.

Look for Him in your own situations that you are facing right now. Listen to the things He speaks to your heart. Look at His life on earth and consider what it was like for Him. Look for Him in His Word. If we see Him in every part of our lives, we will become like Him.

We will have His attitude toward the Father that says: “I do nothing of Myself” (John 8:28) and “I say whatever the Father tells me to say” (John 12:50, nlt). We will walk in the humility that yields our rights for others and is respectful toward those He created. We’ll have His mind to suffer and not be fearful of it. We will manifest His passion to seek and save the lost.

If you have ever read books by Madame Guyon, Andrew Murray, Amy Carmichael, Brother Lawrence, John Hyde, Bakht Singh or Sadu Sundar Singh, you’ll find people marked by the nature of Christ. What they write is not just doctrines and theses. Their writings are magnets that pull us to Jesus. There is something about their life so sweet, so precious, so gentle, so humble, so other world. And our hearts in turn say, I want to be like this person. They are saturated with the aroma of the gentle, meek, victorious Jesus.

This is the kind of life Christ wants for us. It is a journey. We won’t get there tomorrow or the next, but each day as we see Him, we will become more like Him.

Will you seek Him out today? He promises that you will find Him.

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.

The Heart of God by K. P. Yohannan

Once I watched a program on which a reporter interviewed passersby on a busy city street, asking each one the same question: “How can someone get forgiveness of sin and receive salvation?” You wouldn’t believe the answers people gave just off the cuff. Most of them spoke totally out of their vivid imaginations.

The Bible has very definite and unchanging answers to these crucial issues. However, it seems people either don’t know the Word of God or they just prefer their own opinions on the subject.

Unfortunately, this attitude is not just confined to those who don’t know the Lord! Multitudes of believers cling to their own ideas when it comes to serving the Lord and exercising faith.

But this is of huge consequence. God cannot bless us, change our circumstances, heal our bodies, fulfill His promises or put His stamp of approval on our service to Him until we align our thinking with His thinking.

We can mark it down—God will wait and work with us until we change and come to a place where we abandon our own ways of thinking and accept His. However, we can only accept His ways if we know what they are. It takes us deliberately seeking to understand God’s heart through the passages we read in His Word.

Let’s look, for example, at the church of Ephesus in the book of Revelation.

On his second missionary journey, the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel in this city. Incredible miracles happened, and many who received Christ publicly confessed their sins and burned a mountain of costly witchcraft books. The believers born out of this mighty move of God suffered severe persecution and became known for their great love for Jesus, their perseverance and their hard work.

By all New Testament standards, they were far ahead of most of us, especially in the areas of love, dedication and spiritual discernment.

But as time went by, they became cold in their hearts toward the Lord. And we read in Revelation 2:4–5 these frightening words of warning from the lips of Jesus, the Head of the Church: “I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.”

If we are honest, it looks rather unfair to us that Jesus threatens to put the light out in this exemplary church. Why would He want to burn the whole barn down for one small rat? After all, this church in Ephesus had 99 things right and only one thing wrong.

What, then, is God’s real reason behind pronouncing such a severe judgment? God’s heart concerning work, sacrifice and service sharply differs from ours.

To God, everything we live, say or do as believers is valued by the underlying motive found in our hearts. When He looked upon the situation in Ephesus, He saw that the reason for their faithful service had changed. Their true motivation was no longer love, but duty. For them, the visible service had become most important, but for God, it was the internal condition that counted.

God saw an empty shell void of the wonderful life the church of Ephesus once had, and He was going to remove their lampstand. Yet in His mercy, He revealed to them His thoughts and showed them the way to recover their loss: Repent and do the first works.

Outwardly they didn’t have to change anything, for they had always practiced the first works. But inwardly they needed to give up their own ideas about what successful ministry was all about. They had to realize that it was not work and more work, but loving the Lord—and then serving Him motivated by this overflowing love in their hearts.

The Lord knows that we so easily impress ourselves by the outward appearance of our accomplishments for Him: the hours we spend in prayer, the knowledge we acquire about spiritual things, the money we give for Christian causes, the position we hold at church or in a ministry and the number of people we teach or to whom we witness.

I believe the Lord wants us to examine closely the reason why we do all these wonderful things. After all, like the Ephesians, we also could end up building a structure made of wood, hay and stubble (see 1 Corinthians 3:10–15).

What, then, is the only safe measuring scale for our work for the Lord? It is finding God’s heart about our service for Him—as revealed in His Word. His thoughts should permeate every aspect of our lives. God does not want us just to change our behaviors, but our very being. As we change our heart to His, He will change our attitudes, our actions and our very lives. Our life will then bring forth lasting fruit.

Today, seek to know your Lord’s heart.

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.

Priority Shift by K. P. Yohannan

Sadly, this self-centeredness has prevented multitudes from hearing the Gospel. Even though many countries are closed or severely restricted to outside missionaries, millions of people could still be reached and thousands of churches planted by sending and supporting national missionaries. However, for much of Christianity, the deciding factor in their involvement is still, “What can we get out of it?”

At the root of their decision is this mindset: “Will the name of our denomination be on these churches? Can we initiate, execute and control the work by sending our own people? If not, we are not willing to get involved or share our resources. If the doors are closed to the traditional approach, we will be satisfied with sneaking in a few people to represent our group under the disguise of social work or tourism. Even if they get kicked out after a few months after having spent $20,000 to train and get them there, we will not change our policy.”

We must recognize that we will lose this generation of unreached people if we don’t have a significant commitment to share the love of Christ regardless of what we get out of it. I am not saying there is no place for short-term missions. Especially for young people, such an exposure to the lost world will have a far-reaching and powerful effect on their own lives and on their home churches as well. But what we need is a crucial priority shift.

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.

Unity by K. P. Yohannan

When the Lord calls us to serve Him, our hearts are overjoyed. We are excited and eager to do our best. But very soon we discover that things would go a whole lot smoother if circumstances would be more favorable—if finances weren’t so tight, if John Doe with his strange ideas wouldn’t be in leadership, if we wouldn’t have to work beside Mary Major with her overbearing personality.

As time goes by, our initial excitement wears off, and the irritations, disappointments and conflicts with others seem to grow stronger. We can get to the point, at which we can’t take it anymore, and we either start fighting for our rights or we quietly walk off with hurt and bitterness in our hearts.

If we began with such willing and sincere hearts, how do we get to the place at which we are ready to walk away from this great privilege?

Could it be that we forgot we were in a battle that is not against flesh and blood? Instead, we end up fighting John and Mary instead of our real enemy. Did we arm ourselves correctly for the spiritual battle we entered, as Paul describes in Ephesians? If our answer is yes, what are we still missing?

I believe our answer is found in the letter the Apostle Peter wrote near the end of his life: “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind” (1 Peter 4:1).

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.

Keep Going by K. P. Yohannan

You see, our desire for self-preservation—for securing our future and for making sure we personally get something out of what we do—whether secret or openly expressed, prevents us from thinking long or deeply enough to find godly answers. Instead, we cling to the traditional missions approach, no matter how ineffective it might be. And in our personal lives we seek to exchange the uncertain “follow Me” by leaving His calling or replacing our service to the Lord with something that guarantees security. Elisha’s servant Gehazi and Demas, the co-worker of the Apostle Paul, are both examples of this.

Suddenly, it’s our personal struggles and the question “What do I get out of it?” that take priority over millions of lost souls, eternity and our calling. Immaturity is our problem—little squabbles, difficulties, discouragement and unfulfilled expectations. These are the major reasons why people get out of the battle.

It takes godliness, spiritual maturity and faith to look past such things to the good ending that is still yet to be realized. Jesus saw beyond all His impending suffering on the cross to the joy of bringing multitudes into the kingdom, and He was willing to pay the price (see Hebrews 12:2).

One family had such vision and gave money for a van for one of our Bible colleges in India. They didn’t ask what was in it for them. And God used this vehicle to become instrumental in seeing the church in that area grow from 85 to 227 people.

Four of our national missionaries were severely persecuted and almost killed in an Indian village. Yet all of them requested to return to the same place. If you would ask these young brothers what they would get out of it by going back, they would answer, “We can see by faith a church and people worshiping the Living God.”

When we follow Jesus and serve Him, looking ahead by faith, we don’t have to be anxious about what we will get out of it. He has already promised to meet our needs, and He remembers our labors on behalf of His kingdom: “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name” (Hebrews 6:10). He even tells us that whatever we have done to the least of His brothers, we have done to Him.

Keep your hand to the plow and don’t look back. It is well worth it.

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.