This month I am blessed to be ministering at an all-Korean speaking church's annual family retreat in New Jersey. I will be speaking through a translator much like I do when I travel to South Korea to minister each year. This church has a monthly publication titled "The Bethany Beat" and they asked me to write an article concerning the theme of the retreat. I think the article will bless you also.
I am told that the theme of the Family Retreat this year is to be based on the following scripture:
John 7:37-39 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
That is very exciting because Sue and I have many testimonies of how our lives have been changed since we learned to tap into those rivers of living water that flow from the Holy Spirit. Even though we were both born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1980, in those days we did not know much about how to receive the Holy Spirit's guidance. We were so grateful to be born again. We were so consumed in our love for Jesus that we wanted to serve Him in every way that we could.
We well remember those early days of worship and prayer and seeking God. The Holy Spirit would manifest the love of Christ to us and we would enjoy the sweet presence of God, as tears of adoration would flow from our eyes. Those were wonderful days, but at the same time it seemed that when we would pray and ask for specific direction, what He wanted us to do to serve Him, there would be only silence.
Not wanting to be simply idle, we began serving the Lord wherever we found opportunity. Besides attending a local church, we began holding Christian bible studies in the prison system in Oklahoma. For six years we traveled at our own expense to the various prisons in Oklahoma, teaching and preaching the Word of God. Many prisoners were saved. Many were filled with the Holy Ghost. We also taught bible studies in homes around our city. Again, people were saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, and more and more people were being healed and delivered from oppression. For a short time I even led the worship services at the little church we attended (trust me when I say, this was only in God's permissive will. I have no voice for singing). In other words, we were very busy for the Lord even though we both worked full time secular jobs at the same time.
But all the while there was this "knowing" deep down on the inside of us that what we were doing to serve the Lord was primarily the result of our own decision making. It seemed like our lives were based on this attitude, "Lord, this is what we have decided to do for You and your kingdom. Please bless it." And He did bless what we were doing because He said a person cannot even give a cup of cold water in His name and lose their reward. We could always feel His presence and His blessing no matter what we were doing for the Lord, but always there was that "knowing" deep down within us that a higher level of leadership was possible than what we were walking in at the time.
When Jesus was explaining to His disciples that He was about to leave planet earth and ascend up into heaven to be with the Father, He told them not to worry because He was going to send them the Holy Spirit to be with them forever.
John 14:16-18 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
The original word translated "comfortless" in verse 18 is the Greek word "orphanos." Just as you would expect, it means "orphans." Orphans have no parents to provide for them, to protect them, or guide them in the affairs of life.
Jesus said He did not leave us as orphans to have to find our own way through a lost and dark world, but to be perfectly honest with you … in those early days it seemed to us that we could not discern the leadership that was supposed to come by the Holy Spirit. To a degree, we did feel like orphans having nobody to guide us. We were just going along and doing what "we" thought best to do, and "hoping" that it was pleasing to the Lord. From the scripture we could see that there was a more precise leadership available than what we were experiencing. For example, look at this passage from the book of Acts:
Acts 16:6-10 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
How precise is that? Like all of us, Paul and Silas had the written commandment from the Lord to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel," yet in this passage we see that the Holy Spirit had been sent to give them specific, "present hour" leadership to help them fulfill that general commandment. Is not Asia and Bithynia "in the world?" Of course they are. (At a later time, as a matter of fact, Paul did preach the gospel in Asia).
The point is, even though they had a "blanket" commandment to "go into all the world" it was the "present hour" mind of the Lord that they first go and preach the gospel in Macedonia. This was "present hour" leadership from the "living Christ" who sits upon the throne in heaven. The question for us is, how do we receive our own "present hour" instructions from the living Christ?
In 1992 we began learning more about those "rivers of living water" that flow from the Holy Spirit. Think about a swift-flowing river with a strong current. As you begin to wade out from the shore deeper into the river, at first you can feel the pressure of the current flowing against your ankles. As you walk deeper into the river, you can feel the pressure flowing against your knees, and then against your hips. As you continue to walk deeper you eventually come to the place where the river has become "waters to swim in" and if you take one more step, your feet will not be touching the river bottom and you will no longer be in control of where you go. There is a place in the river where you no longer control your own direction, but where the river begins carrying you according to its own flow.
So it is with the Holy Spirit. We learned how to walk out deeper and deeper into the rivers that flow from the Holy Spirit and as we did He began directing our paths according to the mind of the living Christ who sits upon the throne. More and more we relinquished control from our lives and bowed the knee in obedience to the instructions we were being given. Many of the things we were doing were "good works," but they were not really part of the plan Jesus had for our lives. One by one, we stopped doing what "we" had chosen to do, and began doing what "He" has chosen for us to do. He soon led us into full time ministry in order that we could devote all of out time to service in His kingdom.
What has been the difference? For the first twelve years, from 1980 until 1992 we had served the Lord without the specific guidance that comes from the Holy Spirit. We simply "did our best" according to our own reasoning. Was there fruit for the kingdom during that time? Oh yes; people were saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, and healed. But the numbers were always so very small. Doing things according to our own direction produced fruit, but not very much fruit.
During the next twelve years, from 1993 through 2005, following the instructions we received from the Holy Spirit, we have ministered the Word of God to thousands upon thousands of people all over the world. Not only have we personally traveled and ministered all over the United States, but also in Europe, Africa, and South Korea. He originally gave us wisdom how to send cassette teaching tapes freely into 53 nations. Think of sending free cassette tapes to more than 8,000 families … for free … again and again … and doing it for years … without ever sending out a single appeal letter for finances.
And now, as we continue to follow His instructions He is also using the Internet to spread the Word of God even more rapidly than ever before. Using our own wisdom, we were able to touch dozens of people at a time with the gospel. Using the wisdom that flows like a river from the Holy Spirit, we are now touching thousands upon thousands with the gospel of Jesus Christ every day.
And … what really excites us is … "THE BEST IS YET TO COME!"
I am looking forward to sharing with you what we have learned over the years about the rivers of living water that flow from the Holy Spirit.
Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!
Your friend and co-laborer,
Gary Carpenter Ministries|
© All Rights Reserved.
P.O. Box 9667, Tulsa, OK 74157