"Twenty five cents, fifty cents, sixty cents..." I will never forget that night in 1995 when I was counting out the change in my pocket to give into the offering during a Wednesday night service at the Prayer Center. Those were difficult days for Sue & me. We had stepped out full time into the ministry at the instruction of the Lord, but we did not know our Provider very well in those early days.
This particular night Pastor Dave had waited until the end of the service to take up the offering. He was making no special "pull" for money (he never does), but the message he had taught us from the Word had filled my heart with so much gratitude to the Father for being saved that I so wanted to give something back to Him. The motive in my heart that night was not to "give to get," but rather I simply wanted to give as an expression of my gratitude to Him for saving me from hell.
The problem was, all the money we had to our name at the time was the change I had in my pocket and the six or seven dollars which Sue had in her purse. I did not think it proper to take from Sue what little she had to buy groceries with. Our bank account was depleted. I had no folding money at all. The loose change in my pocket was it. It was probably just human ego, but I was never willing to give pennies to God. It just did not seem like a worthy offering to me. I remember that I was sort of bent over in my chair to hide from the sight of others as I separated the pennies from the rest of the change I had. I admit I was also ashamed for others to see how little Sue and I were going to be able to put into the offering. My heart's desire was to give BIG to our God, but all I could give Him was what I had.
Being bent over like that while I was counting out the change, I could not see that Pastor Dave walked right over in front of where we were sitting. He could not see what I was doing, but he said, "Gary, the Lord sees your heart. He says the day will come when you will be able to give according to what is in your heart ... not according to what is in your hand tonight." My, how tenderly the Lord watches our heart.
Since that time we have sought to grow in the Lord and have endeavored to obey His voice step by step in the ministry. By spending many hours in meditation of the Word and praying in the spirit, we have come to know our Provider better and better. The instructions He gave us for how to operate the ministry seem ridiculous to the world, yet He has continued to provide abundantly for all of our needs.
When I was gathering together the information needed to file our taxes for 1997, my eyes fell on the column of numbers that totaled our giving into the work of the kingdom last year. I was astonished! In only our third year of ministry, the Lord had made it possible for us to give more into the work of the Kingdom than I had earned the first year that I had driven trucks for a living. GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!
What caused this tremendous turn around in our finances? Was it our legalistic giving? No, we had been tithers and givers for years according to all the formulas that we had been taught. It was not our giving that had produced this change. It was the change in the motivations and intents of our hearts that produced it. Listen to what the Lord told me only last month,
"My people have been trained to work on their giving. I have called you to train them how to work on their heart."
It is as our heart is molded and shaped to conform to the will of the Father that His hand of blessing can be fully extended to us. In the story of the Prodigal Son, the elder brother was only concerned with the "formulas."
Luke 15:29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
He knew the commandments and had devoted his energy to not breaking any of them, yet his "heart" was far from the heart of his father. Because he did not take the time to come into the house and simply fellowship with his father, he did not know that his father's heart was broken over the loss of the prodigal son. He assumed that the father was furious concerning the prodigal's rebellion. Without fellowship with his father, the elder son had no way of knowing what was truly in his father's heart.
It is the same with us. All of those years when I was consumed with trying to "keep all the commandments" (formulas) concerning my giving, it never seemed that many blessings came our way. It was only after I began spending quality time with my heavenly Father by spending extended hours praying in the spirit and meditating the Word that the motivations of my heart began lining up with His. As my "heart" has become increasingly molded to conform to His, my "actions" have also been transformed to conform to His will.
Our Father's heart yearns for the lost. Our Father's heart is grieved when His children are overcome by the tyranny of the devil. Our Father's heart yearns to heal the sick and to set the captives free. These are the things that matter to Him! As we spend time in fellowship with Him through prayer and meditation, they become the things that matter most to us. Our actions, our lives, become conformed to His will through these times of fellowship. That is the path of true prosperity.
Since Sue and I make everything we have available to you freely, we know that every gift you send is from the heart. Our lives are completely given to the birth, nurture and development of His children. Your giving is a reflection of your desire to flow with our Father's heart to set all of the captives free. We thank you so very much for your gift of AMOUNT. God bless you as you co-labor with us. We thank God for you.
Your friend and co-laborer,
Gary Carpenter Ministries|
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