Come Up Higher Part Two
by K.P. Yohannan
Road To Reality Radio
You know I tell myself, it’s such a privilege and honor in many ways to talk with you, because I really believe the Lord is not looking for a “majority” rather he is looking for what I call a “mighty minority”. Often it is difficult for us to believe, especially in this culture, that if we don’t have so many people with us, and our congregation is so small, maybe ten, fifteen, or twenty people, or six people, well you know maybe the Lord is not really with us, His blessing is not with us. As a people known as pragmatic, you know, don’t tell me it cannot be done. No, no it can be done, it must be done, we will succeed. This is the basic mindset of our nation, our people. Therefore, however it is, we want to see everything big and large and that seems to kind of make people believe that God is with us.
But do you realize that when you read the Bible, provided that you believe God’s Word is the basis of our faith and our decisions, you would be surprised that God would wipe out the whole world just to preserve one family. You read that about Noah and his family. We are conditioned to think that we must have everything big and large so we will compromise and make adjustments and do anything and everything in the world to attract the world and we erase sin from our pulpit. We don’t want to talk about anything negative so to say. Of course you know, sin and ungodliness and lust and greed and covetousness and laziness, self-centeredness, of course who wants to talk about that kind of thing, I mean it’s all negative. Talk about only good things and we’ll do that and then we’ll make our buildings and our infrastructure so attractive.
Like one of the national magazines wrote about a church. The preacher was boasting saying, you know what, we offer better facilities for our people in terms of the sports you know, and sauna and steam and whatever else he was talking about. There is nothing wrong with having nice facilities and have all these nice things, no that’s not the issue here. The issue is why are we doing all these things? What is the reason for it? Is it for people to come and fall on their face and repent and turn away from sin and self-centeredness and find the highway of holiness? Is it for people to come and have their hearts broken for two billion people that are heading toward hell and forever. Is it for people to come into the presence of God and experience the hurt, the pain and intercede and stand in the gap.
No please don’t write me off, I’m not after anyone or criticizing, condemning and putting anyone on a guilt trip. As a matter of fact, I’m totally opposed for people to come under the old covenant, that is, you know, doing all these things or don’t do certain things so we’ll find our peace with God. No, that is not in Scripture. But, here is a problem. We are conditioned to think that if everything is going well for us and everything is wonderful then that is a sign of God’s blessings. But please believe me, read the Bible. Maybe you should stop listening to a lot of preachers and stop reading a lot of books that kind of you know, give you some kind of encouragement for the bad feelings you have. Read God’s Word.
I mean, look at this, I was reading this week in the book of Jeremiah, chapter two. God says to his people by the way he says this: I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest (Jeremiah 2:2-3).
Think about those words. God’s saying, I remember, I remember the time when you came and surrendered your life to me. I remember the tenderness, the longing. You read the Bible not for knowledge, you just wanted to know me. You prayed not for all the material things, you sought me just for me, not for what you can get from me. I remember your love, your affection, your tenderness. I remember the tears, but now it is history.
Someone said this: the church is experiencing a serious crisis. For years we have preached a cheap Gospel and peddled a soft Savior. We have taught salvation without self-denial and crown without the cross. We have catered to the unsaved and compromised with the world and now we are paying the price. Our instant salvation message has dishonored God and confused men. Our faulty seeds have produced a flaky harvest. What a pitiful crop we are reaping. We as believers spend more hours watching television but minutes watching in prayer. Hungry for the sports page and have little taste for the Word. Spend more money on pet food than on foreign missions. Love to feast but hate to fast. Welcome God’s blessings, but are weary of his burdens. Is this what Jesus died for? Is this our new life in Him?
Stop for a moment and think. Anyone who spends more time playing video games than seeking God in prayer has no right to call Jesus Lord. Anyone who takes delight in today’s perverted soap operas and movies is serving another God. Anyone who cannot die to sports for a season is worshiping idols. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him because the friendship with this world is hatred toward God (1 John 2:15, James 4:4).
You know reality, the question is this. Whose friends are we? It is time for some serious soul-searching. What kind of born-again experience have we had if it calls for almost no personal sacrifice, produces virtually no suppression from the world, and breeds practically no hatred of sin. How can we claim to be born from above. Where is the evidence of our new nature. We call ourselves citizens of heaven yet our hearts are caught up in earthly treasures. We sing, we are the people of God but we are entertained by the worst of the devil’s children. We claim to be dead to the world yet we are more interested in temporal fashions than eternal souls. Something is wrong with our salvation experience. Bad fruits means bad roots.
We say, just confess Jesus as Lord and you are in. He says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Often you hear people say, just pray this prayer, it is done! But Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). We say, just come to the alter, it will only take a minute. Just say these words, if you did you are now born-again. But Jesus says, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to” (Luke 13:24).
I ask the question, who do you think is right? These false prophets that create their own, you know, massive world following, or Jesus, the one who said, I am the way, I am the truth (John 14:6) and he invites, he invites you and me to follow Him.
Jesus made it painfully clear to the crowd that sought to follow Him. We read in the Scripture the statement like this: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26). You know what, when I read the Scripture I say to myself, I mean I wish he stopped at that particular word, hating father, mother, children, brothers and sisters. I wish he kind of stopped there. No. he said, “even his own life, he cannot be my disciple”. Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Any of you who does not give up everything he has, cannot be my disciple. You read this in Luke 14:26.
Maybe, maybe you actually, truly came to Jesus, you meant it well, but my question is this: are we following Him? Maybe we have believed the good news, but are we daily carrying the cross? Are we committed to walk with him, abide with him, listening and obeying. And unfortunately, I mean I’m sure you agree, today Christianity at large, it has boiled down to, sins forgiven, have a wonderful home, and finally with all the blessings and riches and comforts and ease finally we make it to heaven. So, the best of everything here, and the best for the world to come.
Jesus has become someone who is a kind of, “magic stick”, you know, who caters to us. We are the one in control of the situation. But that’s not the Jesus of the New Testament by the way. The Corinthians had a problem. Paul said, you people, you created your own Christ, another Jesus. And the Jesus of the New Testament he is the Lord and he is the Master and he gave his life on the cross. Blood was the price he paid to purchase you and me. It says in 2 Corinthians 5:15, since he died for me, I am no more my own. I have no right to run my own life. I must seek and learn, listen, what is it that he wants, and then follow in his footsteps.
I know, I know, these are words that sound so spiritual, but how do you live this out? My recommendation to you is this, and to my brothers and sisters that I minister to often I say this: so many voices. So many people talking, full of noises, and we are confused so much. Until we stop listening to so many voices, so many books and so many “stuff”, so busy, and we stop, and listen, and pray. Seek God. Seeking him not for material things and this and that. But seek him for God alone and you will find the meaning of the word when Jesus says, Father, this is eternal life: to know you, and the one you sent (John 17:3).
Of course you know when you hear about eternal life all of a sudden people think about, “ya someday when I die I’m going to be in heaven”. No. It is much more than that. Right now we experience the quality of heaven. God’s life on earth, in our mortal bodies. The reality of the kingdom, which is not food and drink and music and lavishness and materialism, all the stuff people talk about, but it is the joy, the peace, the life, the supernatural life, the value of the kingdom right now here on earth. And this can be ours only when we live in this fellowship with the Lord, which often, more than you and I realize, is hated by the world, and the world will not understand it, your family members will not understand it, you best of friends may not understand it, because the way of the cross is never, never understood by those who do not want to follow the Lord with sacrifice.
Someone said this, none are more formidable an instrument of temptation then well meaning friends who care more for our comforts, than character. How true it is. And this is the reason why Jesus said, unless you love me more than all the people around you and more than what you want, your own very life. You know the Scripture in the book of Peter, it says, and Jesus suffered for us leaving this example that we may follow in his footsteps (1 Peter 2:21). Now again, the moment we hear about that, we think about the cross, and the blood and the suffering, the agony of Christ on the cross. No. If that be the case, the example he left for us to follow then would be, you and I need to go somewhere and get crucified. No. It’s talking about something else, that is, throughout Christ’s life, the man Christ, God living here on earth as a man, giving us the example, throughout his life, he chose to say no to himself, so that he will follow the Father’s will.
So the Scripture says in Hebrews, and Jesus learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8). What do you mean by that? It is a daily choice saying no to sin, no to self, no to things that I want that pleases me. It’s a silly illustration but maybe it will make sense. It’s been forty-three years since I’ve been serving my Lord, and even after all these years, I find within me the desire for honor and appreciation from other people, what do they think about me? And I still find within me the temptation to take it easy, and protect my life, my honor, my reputation. I still find in me the temptation to make sure, you know, somehow there is resources for the future. And I have to choose daily saying no to myself. And I must choose to trust Him. My tomorrow is in His hands not my hands. My flesh wants to sleep more and take rest more. I need to sleep and take my rest enough, I need it for my body but I must choose against my own flesh and my wish to be there in that room, to kneel and to pray. How I wish my life would be easier after all the years of journeying with the Lord. No. I still find myself wanting that and this and a little more comfort and ease.
But as Paul said, I must choose to buffet my body, and bring it under subjection (1 Corinthians 9:27), that I, from inside, choose the narrow road. Embrace the cross. For what? To make me more spiritual? No! If that be the case then we are no better than people who lived under the law under the old covenant. Paul that’s what he talked about in Philippians, he said, I gave up seeking my own righteousness. I don’t do any of this stuff so that I’ll become more spiritual or a better person no. I do this so that I may understand the Lord, and this earthen vessel be so completely his, for him to live his life through me. Jesus lived with daily embracing the cross, difficulties, and that is the reason why he could fulfill the Father’s will, desire, in him and through him.
So, I know, I know, this is not a popular message in today’s Christianity, just like in the time of Jeremiah. All the prophets are saying everything is going to be great and wonderful, things are going to be wonderful, send in your money and I will pray for you and you will be blessed and all this stupid nonsense and I’m telling you, it is not true. Look around you, listen, it is getting too late. Let us get serious about the Lord. Let us say no to sin and wickedness but that is not good enough. Let us commit ourselves for prayer and fasting not only on our behalf, our family, our community, for our nation, for the body of Christ, for a world out there, some two billion people still waiting to hear Jesus died on the cross. Over 162 million child laborers dying daily, abused, brutalized around the world. Let us not be so callous and hard-hearted and blind and deaf, that the Lord says, I don’t know what to do, I’m longing for my people to understand me so they can be the light and be mine in their generation, but he is not able to find enough people. My question, will you be one of those people. Will you make the decision to say Lord, I want to be that individual. Teach me your way O Lord. I assure you, He will.