In 1998 the Lord gave me a key to success. He told me to look at both Matthew 6:33 and Luke 19:10 in the Amplified Version. Here is what the two verses say:
But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. (Matt. 6:33)
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)
Looking at these two scriptures together opened my eyes to something: Seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33) includes seeking and saving the lost (Luke 19:10). When we win the lost, God will give us the things we need as well.
In other words, if we need money or provision, we should win the lost—and God will meet our needs.
Wow, Riley, is it that simple? Yes, my friend, it is. When we make it our priority to seek and save the lost, God will give us everything we need to get the job done.
How does it work?
First, if we are going to win the lost, we must be followers of Jesus. Jesus told His disciples, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19, NKJV).
Jesus had to show the disciples what following means. One morning a crowd was pressing in on Jesus (see Luke 5:1–11). Jesus noticed Peter’s empty boat, so He stepped into it—without asking Peter if He could—so that He could teach the people without being crushed. Peter went along with this arrangement, and when he did, his boat became a tool for the preaching of the gospel.
Then, after Jesus used Peter’s boat to preach, He told Peter to go fishing. Peter and the others launched his boat, even though they were tired. They had already fished all night and caught nothing.
What was Jesus trying to show these guys? He was teaching them that following Him means going where He goes, doing what He does, saying what He says. If we are going to seek and save the lost, we have to follow Jesus and be willing to do anything He asks us.
Second, if we want to receive God’s provision, we must allow God to use our resources. Proverbs 19:17 says, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD—and He will repay you!”
Peter let Jesus use his boat to preach the gospel, and Jesus repaid Peter far beyond all he could ever ask or think. When the disciples gave their time and strength and headed out for one more round of fishing, they caught a boat-sinking load of fish!
Much later, after Peter had followed Jesus for many months, the same principle was at work. When Peter needed money to pay a tax, Jesus told him, “Go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first; and when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money: take that and give it to them for Me and you” (Matt. 17:27, NKJV).
In John 4:36 Jesus said, “The harvesters are paid good wages” (NLT). What kind of wages was He talking about? Well, the answer is twofold. Jesus went on to say that the fruit they would harvest is people brought to eternal life. Glory to God! But did Peter and the others receive only a spiritual wage from that boat-sinking catch they made? No! They turned that catch into provision for mission. They used it to become fishers of men. Where God guides, He provides.
A pastor friend of mine recently told me, “Riley, your breakthrough might be in the mouth of the next fish you catch.” Wow! I’d say it’s time to fish!
When you follow Jesus and let Him use your resources to win the lost—you are guaranteed to succeed!
In commercial airline travel, there are many flight options. Some flights are direct. Others connect through one or more cities on the way to their final destination. Sometimes flights are delayed or even cancelled.
Recently I was scheduled to speak at a church in Elmira, New York. I decided to arrive in Elmira a day early so that I would have plenty of time to prepare for my first service. I flew out of Dallas, Texas, and landed in Chicago for what was to be a short layover. After hours of delay, however, I was informed that my flight out of Chicago had been cancelled and that there were no flights heading anywhere near Elmira.
At this point I had a decision to make. I could take my shoe off and wave it threateningly at the airline staff while cussing, or I could find another way to my destination.
People ask me all the time, “How do I fulfill God’s calling on my life?” or, in other words, “How do I get to my destination?”
The answer is easy: cast all your cares upon God. Psalm 37:23 says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly” (nlt). Our problem is that too often we attempt to lean on our own understanding instead of trusting in the Lord.
Don’t believe me? How many times have you prayed, pondered and begged God in order to figure out your calling in life? As human beings, our flesh nature wants to be in control. We don’t just want to know all the details of our lives, we crave to know them. Regardless of our desires, however, God doesn’t want us to crave our destiny. He wants us to crave Him.
When you were seven years old, did you ever guess that your life would pan out the way that it has? Have you made good decisions as well as some bad ones, and have you walked through things that seemed out of your control? You see, though, God planned for all those “unexpected” detours in your life. He is the One who gave you the freedom to make choices, whether good or bad. But thankfully, God also so carefully designed His plan for your life that He provided you more than one way to arrive at the destination He has in mind for you.
God wants you to trust Him, no matter where you are, because His perspective is bigger than yours! He wants you to arrive at your destination. But the journey you are on as you make your way there is forging you into the person you will need to be when you arrive at your stopping place.
So what did I do when I found myself stuck in Chicago? While everyone else started a small riot at the ticket counter, I calmly left, rented a car, drove seven hundred miles to Elmira and made it on time to the service. It wasn’t the way I had hoped to get to my destination, but God was faithful to get me where I needed to be as I committed myself to trust Him, one step at a time.
You know what I mean. The alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. You stumble to the coffee pot, get dressed, get the kids ready for school, make and eat breakfast, fight the morning traffic, work all day in your cubicle, see your co-workers, go home, make dinner, watch TV, go to bed—and the next day you hit the repeat button. Sure, some things may differ a bit from day to day, but by and large you could probably traverse your daily routine without even thinking about what you’re doing.
People often say that they want change in their lives, but for all our alleged desire for change, what happens when something messes up our routine? What happens when things don’t go exactly the way we expect or want them to?
I recently had such an experience. It had been a long day, and I had gone to a restaurant with my friends. I just wanted to get my food and relax. The restaurant, however, was packed. Once we were seated, our waitress had so many patrons that she could barely keep up with them all. When my order didn’t arrive exactly as I had placed it, I got a bit upset that she hadn’t been paying more attention to me and my selfish “needs.”
At this point one of my friends noticed that our waitress needed prayer for healing. He asked her if she wanted prayer, and she responded, “I can always use prayer.” So my friend said, “Riley, why don’t you pray for her?”
Now I was having a temper tantrum in the restaurant that day. I didn’t want to pray for our waitress. But I did it anyway. I grabbed the woman’s hand and prayed that the Lord would remove any sickness in her body.
Not only was our waitress healed, but she prayed then and there to rededicate her life to the Lord. I had almost missed the opportunity to be a blessing to our waitress that day!
I truly believe that most Christians want to see the lost saved and the sick healed. But at times we get so busy with our own lives that it’s as if we’re stuck on autopilot. We pray for God to give us opportunities to reach out to others around us, but we fail to see the opportunities He gives us because all we see is ourselves.
My prayer for you is that God would give you eyes to see the lost and the hurting on a daily basis. Join me in this prayer: “Lord, give me eyes to see beyond my wants and my needs, and use me to reach the lost and hurting around me. Amen.”
I was at a church one weekend leading evangelism training sessions, and after the Saturday morning meeting, we went out into the city for the day to minister to people about Jesus. That evening, as we continued walking the streets, I started hearing in my spirit the letters “VFW” over and over again. The impression persisted, so I asked one of the ladies who lived in the city if they had a VFW there. She told me that they did.
I told the group that I felt like we should go to the VFW, so off we went. As we walked into the building, we saw people playing pool. Others were standing at the bar, and there was a big group sitting at a table.
I walked up to the people at the table and began ministering to the whole group. At first they all listened, but when I started quoting Scripture, half of them started talking among themselves. But there was one woman standing near me who was listening intently. This woman was holding a beer mug and a lit cigarette, both in one hand, and she kept right on smoking and drinking as I talked. I was astonished that she could do all that with one hand!
But this lady heard the gospel message, and when I finished talking, she prayed to receive Jesus! I knew that God’s word would not return void and that it would prosper in her life.
Several months later I saw the pastors from the church where I had taught, and they told me that they had seen the lady from the VFW. She told the pastors that at the time we had seen her, she had been going to church and also going to the bars. She had been riding the fence with her faith. When we came into the VFW that night, this woman said she knew it was a sign from God. She rededicated her life to Jesus that night, quit going to the bars and has been in church ever since. Glory to God! I believe the Lord sent us there for that one lady!
Being led by God’s Spirit is the most adventurous and rewarding life! Open your heart to hear what the Spirit is saying to you today!
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about the prodigal son in Luke 15.
“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. (Luke 15:20 NLT)
I love that “filled with LOVE and COMPASSION” he ran!
The Father in this story had every right to be mad and offended at his son. He had every right to disown him. The young boy had stooped to the lowest level of society. He could have demanded a full repayment of the money that had been spent. I believe everyday the father was looking out into the field saying to himself, “that son of mine is coming home.” While the son was out in the world partying up to his neck in sin, the father was watching, waiting, longing for his son to come home.
Compassion sees a problem and has an overwhelming desire to alleviate the suffering.
The father when he saw his son, covered from head to toe in pig slop didn’t turn up his spiritual nose! No! He gave him a big hug and a kiss. He told the servants to restore him! He never gave up on his son. He didn’t stop believing, and he never gave up.
We cannot lose our compassion for those who are lost. The bible says “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe.” (2 Corinthians 4:4 NLT) They don’t even know what they are doing because they’re not in their “right mind.” In verse 17 it says “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself…”(Luke 15:17 NLT) It’s our job to pray for the lost not to judge or condemn.
God never gave up on us when we were out in the world in sin. We should never give up on our family members. Never give up on our co-workers. Never give up on or friends. Never stop believing for them. God will show you how to minister to them. Like the father, fill yourself with love and compassion concerning the lost and soon you’ll see yourself running after them bringing them home.
I hope you’ve kept your New Year’s resolution so far. But maybe, if you are like a lot of people I’ve met, you have let a few of them slip. If you are already feeling discouraged this year about falling short of your goals, I want to let you know today that God’s mercies are brand new every morning.
You might say to me, “Riley, my mercy tank is on E.” Well, guess what? Every morning your mercy tank gets a fill-up! Glory to God! No matter what your yesterday looked like, today all things are made new!
I want to encourage you: I have heard it said that 2013 will be a year of great grace. If you have fallen at the very beginning of this year, get back up and start again. All you have to do is to receive God’s grace by faith! Every day when you wake up, say, “Lord, I thank You that I have all the grace I need for today.”
Do you want God’s favor in your life in the coming year? If you do, let the beginning of your year rest in Jesus. Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end” (Rev. 1:8, NLT). And in John 1:1 it says, “In the beginning was the Word”—the Word being Jesus. Don’t focus on your mistakes—find out what Jesus wants you to do today, and do it.
If you want to keep Jesus first throughout your year, put Him first at the beginning of every day. We should begin each day with the Word of God. As you take the time to pray and read your Bible at the start of every day, your mercy tank will overflow, and you will watch God’s favor manifest in your life in this year of great grace.
Great grace spiritually! Great grace in your soul and body! I’m standing in faith with you for 2013 to be a year far beyond all you could ask or think!
As another year closes and a new year begins, it is so important to take a moment and reflect on the many blessings we have been given. Although believers in Jesus Christ may understand the “reason for the season” the holidays, for many, can be a painful reminder of all the obstacles life has thrown against us.
It began with our “Thanksgiving Reach,” Kenneth Copeland Ministries’ holiday outreach in Fort Worth, Texas, at the Joseph Storehouse. On the day of the event, dozens of workers arrived before sunup to set up an outdoor stage, a sound system and 2,000 chairs as well as bounce houses and other fun stations. As morning broke, thousands of locals lined up to receive a frozen turkey and a twenty-dollar voucher for groceries.
Before we distributed the food, we held a worship service. It was wonderful for me to see both of my daughters and many close friends onstage worshiping the Lord. Hundreds of the people who attended the event responded to the message that was shared, many coming forward for a healing prayer or to pray the prayer of salvation.
After the service we handed out the food as the kids played in the bounce houses and enjoyed face painting and clowns.
The testimonies of the day were astounding! One lady told me that her family would not have had a Thanksgiving meal if we hadn’t provided it for her. By the end of the week, we had handed out 1500 turkeys, and 272 people had prayed to receive salvation. Read more…
Recently I ministered at a church in Milwaukee. During our evangelism training, I encouraged the people in the congregation to make phone calls to unsaved friends and family members. I suggested that all of us go through the address books in our cell phones, see who needs the Lord and then call those people.
I told them to say, “Hey, Mom, this guy named Riley told me to call you. He wanted me to tell you that Romans 3 says, ‘All have sinned,’ Romans 6 says that ‘the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life,’ and Romans 10 says that ‘all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ Mom, Riley said to pray this prayer . . .” I had told them to lead the person in the prayer on our Pocket Reference Card.
The next day a lady who had attended the evangelism training walked up to me. “Riley,” she said, “I did what you told us to do. I called my Momma. I asked her the questions, and I read her the Scriptures, but she started cussing and wouldn’t pray. So I told her, ‘Riley said to pray this prayer.’” The woman’s mom retorted, “Then tell Riley to come over and pray with me!”
I told this lady that on Saturday afternoon I’d make a house call to see her mother.
On Saturday, around noon, we all went to Momma’s house. When we arrived, Momma was asleep on the couch, but as we walked through the door, she woke up! “We’re here!” her daughter called. “Hey, Momma,” her daughter continued. “Do you remember the other day when we talked on the phone and I told you that Riley wanted you to pray a prayer?”
“Yes,” Momma said. “Well,” replied her daughter, “Riley’s here!” So I sat down on the couch and ministered the love of Jesus to this lady.
And guess what? Momma got saved!
Jesus was a friend of sinners. I like how the New Living Translation puts it: “Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!” (Luke 15:1–2, NLT).
Jesus was a friend of “notorious sinners.” If Jesus cared for objectionable people, so should we.
But as Christians, we sometimes get caught up in our own little bubble. We watch Christian TV. We send our kids to private Christian school. We listen to Christian radio. We do business with Christians and have Christian friends—the whole time never associating with the world around us. We can get so caught up in the me-and-my-three syndrome that we fail to reach out to our neighbors, friends and co-workers.
Once, as I taught on this passage at a church, I asked the group, “Who in your city could be labeled a notorious sinner?” I wasn’t looking for a public response, but someone shouted out, “The mayor!” The county in this area had been a dry county and had just turned wet, and the mayor had played a big part in that decision. So I encouraged the church to become friends with the city officials!
There’s a scripture in Jude I like that illustrates how we are to respond to sinners: “Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives” (Jude 1:23, NLT). We are supposed to hate the sin, but not the sinner. We aren’t to condemn or judge sinners—we are to love them. John 3:17 says, “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world but to save the world through him” (NLT). Continue reading…
“Riley, I would love to do what you do, but I don’t have the gift of evangelism.” The words came from a well-meaning Christian who was referring to my street ministry. At the time I was training people in evangelism at my church every Friday night. We were taking teams into the city and seeing fifty to one hundred people pray to receive Jesus every weekend. I told that man that he could do what I do—because he was a believer.
The Bible says, “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord kept working with them and confirming the message by the attesting signs and miracles that closely accompanied [it]” (Mark 16:20, AMP). Amen. Signs and miracles will follow us as believers!
God has given certain gifts of service to us as believers. Take a look at them: “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (see Ephesians 4:11–12, NLT).
The Bible tells us that these five-fold ministry gifts are for the “perfecting of the saints” to do the work of the ministry. Based on what we just read, the job of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers is to teach, train and equip you as a congregation member to do the work of building up the body.
But there is no such gift called “the gift of evangelism” recorded in the Bible. It’s not your pastor’s job to fill the empty seats in your church. It’s not your pastor’s job to reach your city.