Tag Archives: gospel

They Never Really Knew Him

Selfish and materialistic, that’s what they were.

Jesus fed a crowd of 5,000 men, plus women and children, with five loaves and two fishes. After this miracle, they wanted to seize Him by force and make Him king. They said, “This is the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

Jesus came to another conclusion: “Truly, truly I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” In other words, they viewed Jesus as a fellow with magical powers who would fulfill their material needs and desires, someone like Aladdin.

They based Jesus’ value to them on what they could get out of Him. They had no idea of who He really was. What they expected from Him was wrong.

Are we any different? Do we value Jesus for who He is, or for how He meets our expectations? Do we interest ourselves in His view of things or do we want Him to fulfill our agendas? We should not answer this question too quickly.

At this writing, the US presidential election is not yet settled. Christians seem as divided over this matter as they were over slavery during the Civil War. A lot of hateful words and accusations go forth from Christians on both sides as they did long ago.

During that traumatic time, Abraham Lincoln said, “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; each invokes His aid against the other…the prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.”

Whoever wins in the end, whoever loses, lies in God’s will, and may take place for reasons that have nothing to do with why we voted as we did. We may believe we know God’s will in these things but may discover in eternity we knew nothing of what was going on. Jesus’ twelve disciples walked with Him for three years. They thought they knew Him, but in the end, after Jesus died and He did not meet their expectations, they discovered they never really knew Him.

All their expectations had to die. During that agonizing time, they hid out in the room where they ate their last meal together before the Jewish religious establishment seized Him and the Romans crucified Him.

Only after His resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit did it finally make sense to them. Only then did they truly come to know Him. First, they had to admit they were wrong. Only then could they emerge from behind locked doors and take their message to the world.

I am always amazed that a great evangelist like Billy Graham felt the need to confess his sins daily before the Lord. He credits his remarkable team for many times saving him from himself. If that was true about a great man like Billy Graham, what does that say about the rest of us?

These humbling experiences helped to make Billy Graham the outstanding evangelist he became.

Let us take these uncertain times to come to know Him more truly than we ever knew Him before. Let us humble ourselves and set aside all unworthy expectations. The more we know Him, the more clearly we will proclaim His Good News, not just our limited version of it.

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Peace

Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, came into the world to restore peace with God and peace among human beings. Throughout India and the world, billions of people search for peace. Most people look for peace in the wrong places.

Christians say the only true way to peace is through Jesus Christ. Why do they say this? Such claims to exclusivity are considered politically incorrect both in India and the western world. In India, there are many paths to salvation. Why claim Jesus Christ as the only way?

In John 5, Jesus claims to be the only way to God because God is His Father, and He works His Father’s works. His work is seen especially in bringing new life to those who are spiritually dead. This regenerate life in the average person is the biggest proof of Jesus’ uniqueness and authority over all others.

The new life of Christ is the creative work of God in a human being, making something new where there was nothing before. This is not just a theological idea but living reality. What does this “new life” mean?

I think of a man in my past, known to us in India as Pastor Yesudas. He began life as a poor, sickly, almost-illiterate Dalit, an insecure child with a serious stuttering problem. He lay at death’s door with tuberculosis and other ailments. Then he heard the gospel. He committed his life to Jesus Christ and received prayer for healing.

Immediately, he was healed. He hungered for more of the life of Christ. He thirsted for the Word of God. Because of near-illiteracy, he lacked the educational requirements to enter the Bible school. He was allowed to sit in class, but because of educational deficiencies, he could not understand.

After much prayer and fasting over this obstacle, the Lord gave him a photographic mind to receive the scriptures read to him. Now, he not only understood what instructors told him, but he could also give Bible insights of great wisdom that astounded even people with advanced degrees. God took away his stuttering problem, giving him dynamic gifts of preaching, healing and a prophetic ministry like few others.

Many people followed Christ because Pastor Yesudas exhibited the life of Christ. He pioneered a number of churches in new and unreached places. In all his fruitful ministry, he remained a near-illiterate man.

When I was an infant, Pastor Yesudas already sensed God was calling me for ministry. Before I can remember, he prayed daily prayers over me, preparing me for the ministry I have today. I owe my calling and ministry to the prayers of this man with the new life of God.

The life of God is more than religion or morality. It is the power and peace of God. We cannot force it or fake it. It is the final proof of our faith. It is the reason we say Jesus Christ is the only Way. Who else can duplicate these things?

The new life of Christ has been replicated in men, women and children of every background for two thousand years. One day, this Good News will reach all peoples everywhere.

Let us make sure that we do our part in making sure all have heard of this Prince of Peace who comes with new life. This is the real meaning of Christmas.

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What Makes Jesus Mad?

What makes Jesus mad?

In John 2, we find Jesus cleansing the temple, driving out merchants, moneychangers and cattle. He must have shown real rage that day. By Himself, he drove out all of them with only a small whip. We find similar accounts in the other three gospels. Most of the time, we don’t think of this angry side of Jesus—nor do we like to.

In his book, “What Made Jesus Mad?”, Pastor Tim Harlow observes the recorded times when Jesus showed anger. Pastor Harlow notes that at no time does Jesus exhibit anger against “sinners,” but only against religious people and His own disciples.

In every case of Jesus’ recorded anger, we find him directing His wrath against those who claimed to know God but blocked others from God’s grace. When we examine the accounts of the temple cleansing in detail, we find that the Jewish religious people were blocking God’s grace from “the nations,” or Gentiles. He rebuked His disciples for blocking the children from seeing Him.

Jesus’ love does not permit anyone to turn away those who need Him. That is also the message of the torn veil in the temple—all peoples have access to a holy and loving Father.

How do we block others from God? We block them by judging them less than worthy when they don’t meet our standards. We create spiritual “elites.” We block others by legalism, by trivializing what is essential and making essential what is trivial. We block them by pretending to be holier than we are—the word is “hypocrites.” Jesus had a lot to say about that.

Do our own churches block others from hearing the gospel? Our churches should be filled with homosexuals, prostitutes and the homeless. Why do we so rarely find them? Our churches should be sharing the light and bringing people out of darkness, but most churches do not support missionaries to the unreached. Are we examining the reasons for this failure to win others?

Do we block the Good News from those who have never heard? “Unreached peoples” are “the nations” of our own day—those who cannot hear the gospel until someone goes to them (or are sent by those with kingdom vision). They cannot absorb the gospel by osmosis from neighboring cultures. According to Bethany Global University, 3.14 billion people remain “unreached.” Of the 400,000 missionaries worldwide, only about 13,000 focus upon reaching “unreached peoples.”

What about the churches? Bethany Global University finds that 99.99% of all church money goes to causes other than reaching the unreached. Here, Jesus’ people have dreadfully failed, and yes, Jesus has every right to be mad.

Isobel Kuhn, missionary to the unreached Lisu people of China, has written, “I believe that in each generation God has called enough men and women to evangelize all the yet unreached people of the earth. It is not God who does not call. It is man who will not respond.”

The Pharisees did not learn their lesson. Instead, they rejected the rebuke of Jesus, and the temple was destroyed. The disciples, slow to learn, finally learned their lesson. The Spirit-filled church expanded throughout the known world, and you and I are their legacy.

What will future generations—and our Lord Jesus—say about us in our generation?

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COVID-19, What Do We Do?

As I write this, COVID-19 or coronavirus has now spread to 164 countries with 8,727 dead worldwide and more than 200,000 infected. It is a global crisis and has been declared a pandemic. Most governments have declared an emergency asking all to take precautionary measures.

I had to cancel and change my ministry travel plans within India and return earlier than planned. We had to cancel all scheduled large gatherings. We postponed the special 90-year anniversary celebrations at India Bible College & Seminary and the outdoor graduation service where we were expecting 4,000 guests and held the graduation with just the students, faculty and staff inside the chapel. Similar things took place at other training centers as well.

Now is the time we do things differently yet strategically to fulfill the Great Commission. We use the tools that God has given us and yet remember the most powerful ones are the personal connection and communication we maintain to share the Gospel.

How do we communicate the Good News while maintaining social distance? What do we do?

Let me suggest five things that we all must do:

1) PRAY: The Bible says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7 NLT)

Prayer is essential and it shows we are dependent on His Grace. We communicate with Him day and night and express our confidence and trust in Him in the midst of this crisis. Pray that He will use this crisis for His glory and all people will turn to Him and receive His Grace and experience His peace and eternal life.

Prayer will help you to trust and not panic as those who have no hope. Pray for opportunities to instruct people to humble themselves and seek the help of God for His supernatural intervention and the healing of our land and nations. This should be a time of self-examination, reflection on the Word and timely action. This should be a time of intense and fervent intercession.

2) BELIEVE: God is in control of every situation. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us faith to trust Him in uncertain times. Remind yourself that He came to this world, died for our sins, rose again from the dead, ascended to heaven and He will come again to rule this world. Jesus who is Sovereign and Ruler is with you and He has promised never to leave you nor forsake you. Jesus has power over any situation and will grant you His peace and assurance.

Jesus said “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” Think of it, nothing will crush, defeat, conquer or eliminate the church. Nothing, even plagues or viruses. The church will remain, even into eternity. The church is you and I, who have been cleansed and redeemed by Jesus Christ, a body of believers. We as believers in Jesus Christ unite, live, face challenges and love together. Our hope and connection are both found in Jesus Christ. He holds us together.

3) CONNECT: This is a great time to connect with your non-Christian friends and neighbors via phone, Skype, FaceTime, email, etc., and share the Good News of Jesus Christ and what He can do when we place our trust in Him.

4) MODEL: You have a role to play in stopping this virus—by faith, through prayer, as a church—we want to be obedient citizens, responsible believers as we practice good hygiene, social distancing, and even exercising restraint as we avoid panic in the hoarding of food and goods.

5) SUPPORT: We are called to fulfill the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are to proclaim who Jesus Christ is and share what He has offered when people place their trust in Him. He will liberate people from their fears and anxieties and He alone can give hope and assurance of eternal life.

We are to send and support those who proclaim the Good News. This is what IGO evangelists do all the time. They need your help and regular support.

Pray for all needs to be met for every IGO evangelist and his family who are engaged in sharing the Gospel and establishing communities of faith where they have never heard about Jesus Christ.

Let’s proclaim the good news of hope that we have in Jesus Christ “in season and out of season.”

May the power of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ fill your hearts with hope, joy and peace.

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True or False: Teachers

Blackboard with chalkA man looks at a sore on his neck that does not heal. He worries—is it cancer? Someone tells him, “Go to a doctor you feel comfortable with.”

The man decides he most wants a doctor who will tell him what he wants to hear. The medical practitioner he contacts is a very pleasant man with an impressive looking diploma. He assures the man he does not have cancer. He covers the sore with a bandage so the man doesn’t see it, and says, “Don’t worry.” Elated, the man goes home. However…

Six months later, the man dies of an aggressive and painful cancer that spread throughout his body. The doctor who gave him the “good news” is a charlatan. If the man had gone to a real doctor, he would have heard unpleasant news. He would have faced surgery, but he would also have lived a normal and useful life.

In spiritual matters, this same kind of foolishness happens repeatedly when we seek our teachers in false messiahs who tell us only what we want to hear.

The Bible portrays Jesus as the Great Physician. He tells us uncomfortable things. We don’t like to hear we are all sinners before a holy God, on our way to hell. We don’t like to hear we have terminal cancer of the spirit and only Jesus Christ, the Great Physician, can remove it.

Like surgery, Jesus’ crucifixion for our sins seems too bloody, ugly and primitive. We know we need help, but we seek our help in people who claim to be divine, even Jesus Himself, who tell us the easy way to the good life that fits our preconceptions.

Jesus Himself warns us about the dangers of following those who promote a different gospel from the one He taught—a “gospel” that leaves out sin, the cross and repentance, judgment and hell. He warns us about people who preach God’s love but not His holiness, His forgiveness but not His hatred of sin and the penalty for sin.

Jesus warns us that some false teachers may awe us with great miracles. But if they deny the gospel of the cross, Jesus says, “Stay away from them.”

How will we know when the real Christ appears? We will know by the manner of His second appearing which He makes very clear in Matthew 24:27: “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

He will come “in the twinkling of an eye.” He will appear in glory, with myriads of glorified men, women and children from every time and place. His Second Coming will surpass all power to imagine or describe. (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 1:7; 6:15-17; 19:16). No other so-called “christ” can match it.

Those who undergo the surgery of the gospel will welcome the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It will come as a terror to those who refused His spiritual surgery. The Second Coming dwarfs all other so-called “christs” and reveals them as fakes.

How vital for us to know our Bibles, both Old Testament and New Testament, to find the true Jesus. The more we know the “real thing,” the easier for us to spot the counterfeits.

Let us tell others about Him, that they may also stand before Him in joy and gladness.

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The Accessible King

2016-12-through-jesusQueen Elizabeth has reigned for almost 65 years. We all know her face, but if any of us sought to enter her private quarters at Buckingham Palace without proper credentials, we would be arrested and jailed. No one enters the presence of royalty without the right credentials.

God is King of the universe. None of us can enter God’s presence without the right credentials either. Without right credentials, access to God is impossible. Then what are those credentials?

Paul tells us, “Through Him [Jesus Christ] we have access…to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18).

This is the message of Christmas—we have access to the King through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ makes the King our Father as well. It all began in a manger, was accomplished on the cross and confirmed in His resurrection.

By giving us access to God, He made the King personal. If we received a personal phone call from Queen Elizabeth, inviting us to dinner, we would never forget it. What Jesus Christ provides for us surpasses anything Queen Elizabeth can offer. This access is available, not just to special people, but to all who trust Jesus Christ, whatever our backgrounds and stations in life.

Through Jesus Christ, God the King becomes both a Friend and a Father, but He is not like any other. Just as we would never treat the Queen with casual familiarity, so we would never take God for granted, but honor Him for who He is.

We live in a world increasingly out of control. Our hearts fail from fear. We may suffer with frail bodies. We may struggle with deep problems in our families and marriages. We are subject to accidents and other mishaps. We may find our minds slipping away from us. We may wrestle with drives and desires that get the best of us. We all bear loads beyond our ability to bear alone. Our lives are full of unrest and worry. Even as believers, certain things drive us to despair.

Only the King can help us. We need to know we can access Him at any time, and that He wants to dwell with us and us with Him. We need to know He welcomes us, that He will hear us and take us seriously. We need to know we are not just faces in a crowd.

We need to know He will regard us as members of His family whatever our failings. We need to know we make a difference to Him. When we have taken time to seek Him, we need to know that He is always waiting for us.

We cannot know our purpose in life or successfully face life and death apart from our access to the King. We would never gain access to Him apart from His taking the initiative to provide us the right credentials. He has willed that His Son, Jesus Christ, come into the world and become our access to Him.

Thank the King He has made it possible for us to approach His throne with confidence and boldness through Jesus Christ. Millions of people are waiting to hear this message. In the coming year, let us join together to make Him known.

May you and your loved ones have a blessed Christmas and New Year.

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When Our Children Don’t Succeed

All of us who have children want them to succeed in life. We become overjoyed when they do, and we proudly tell others of their accomplishments. Their success reflects upon us. In a very real sense, we regard their success as our success.

What if they don’t succeed? What if their accomplishments are few, or worse, what if they fail and become burdens to our family and to society? Whose fault is it? Most parents tend to blame themselves. They spend endless hours asking themselves where they went wrong and where they failed God, not always able to arrive at solid conclusions.

May I offer a word of comfort to such parents: God the Father is the most perfect of parents, but all of His children (you and me) are abject failures in His sight. Is it possible that God the Father does not judge us as parents on whether our children succeed in life but on the way we live out His love and grace toward them? None of us will ever have a perfect family this side of heaven. So what is God looking for?

Christian family counselor Emmerson Eggerichs suggests a worthy biblical model for a good parent in the father of the prodigal son and his ungrateful older brother. In their own ways, both sons are miserable failures.

In this parable, Jesus clearly wants us to imitate the father’s grace toward his sinful sons. Throughout this parable, the father demonstrates remarkable patience in the face of outrageous behaviors and attitudes. As we study this parable, we become amazed that the father does not disown both of them for their insulting and ungrateful ways.

The father in Jesus’ parable represents God Himself. This means that to become successful parents, we must learn to first love God even more than we love our children. When we learn to love God first, we soon become overwhelmed by His grace. When we see the powerful grace of God working in our own sinful lives, we begin to take a different attitude toward our children and their failures. We begin to see them from God’s perspective.

Rather than see (and even resent) our wayward children as imperfect reflections of ourselves, we begin to think of them in the way that God regards us. Rather than judging or even rejecting our children, we begin to show them the same grace of God that He has displayed toward us. Like the prodigal son, some of our wayward children may return “home,” humble and repentant and ready to serve God and their fellow man.

Even if our children do not return, we will have the peace of knowing we succeeded in demonstrating the grace of God toward them.

Let us all learn to become overwhelmed by the grace of God. Let that growing experience of His grace make us the best parents. It will also help us to submit to our husbands, give ourselves to our wives, and do things that encourage rather than discourage our children. It will also make our gospel message more credible to a world filled with failure.

God’s grace helps us to accept others’ failures when we see how God receives us in spite of our failures.

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