Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Bare Soul - Expectancy - December 27, 2009

John 16:21 - Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.

To hear someone say they are "expecting" needs no or very little explanation. A slight smile may form as one might whisper to another that this one or that one is expecting a child. If the pregnancy is well-advanced there is no need of any type of declaration. It is quite evident as the blush of anticipation and expectation is clearly seen on the prospective mother's face as well as the unmistakable evidence elsewhere. I can truly attest that a similar blush of excitement and anticipation was brooding over approximately 70 of us as we converged on Reynosa Mexico on the 18th of December 2009. We had all come from various parts of the country and from different backgrounds including pastors, homemakers, students, ex-convicts, and business people. How could such a variety of mixed backgrounds have anything in common? What drew us all together was the love of Jesus and the desire to share that profound relationship with the people of Mexico. The driving dynamic of this wonderful impetus was the very expectancy that God was going to birth "life and life more abundantly" in those whom we touched through Him. Consequentially, we often became the receivers as we freely gave away what He had so graciously given to us.

During our few short days in Reynosa, we saw God do great things. Many of us gave "birth" as we saw many saved, healed, and touched. Words of knowledge, healings, and various manifestations of God's power were evidenced in every gathering. The team that went to the juvenile detention center reported that out of 13 youths incarcerated, all 13 gave their lives to the Lord! Many were prayed over for salvation and succumbed to the power of the Holy Spirit as they lay on the dusty, concrete floors of the rural churches praising Jesus for His salvation! Several men denounced their lives of drug addiction and alcoholism as they gave their lives to the Living Lord. It was a joyous time with tears of gratitude flowing from both their eyes and ours as we ministered the love of Jesus and His transforming power. Even as we prayed and travailed in our early morning prayer meetings before each day's outreach, God was now birthing His life in demonstrable ways even as we looked on with great joy. Those of us who were not directly involved in praying others through to salvation or healing were as mid-wives that experienced the same joy while witnessing the miracles coming to life all around us.

The Lord Jesus had given us all a hope and a desire to be in Reynosa to be a part of something much bigger than ourselves as individual Christians. He desired to join us together to bring a bright flame to areas of this impoverished city that desperately needed a touch from the Lord. As we allowed God to use us, stirring up the spiritual gifts within us, we then went forth in faith and hope that God was truly going to move (which He did). God's love never fails (I Corinthians 13:8) and hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5). Going forth in His love and with the hope of expectancy creates a dynamic that is explosive and charged with God's dunamis or dynamite power. Hell quakes when believers will unite their hearts in love for the lost and then venture forth in faith and hope that they will birth the seeds being germinated by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, we see the results quickly. In other cases, the seeds may only be lying dormant at this time for another to harvest in our absence. No matter. Only that the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified as he births sons and daughters into his kingdom through an expectancy of his great mercy and love. Oh, the joy of child birth! May we all go forth to our respective mission fields with great expectancy, making ourselves available to be used of God to birth true, lasting fruit that will remain forever and ever! Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

The following is 18 minutes of selected video featuring door-to-door evangelism, gift and food distributions, rural church ministry, drama, and a special Christmas program presented by the children of the Josiah & Bethany Children's Home in Reynosa Mexico

Additional Audio Sermons Below

The Shepherd's Gift
Sermon by Rick Roeber
The Shepherds Gift - Reynosa Mexico - December 20, 2009

Joyous Authority
Sermon by Rick Roeber
Joyous Authority - Reynosa Mexico - December 21, 2009

A Christmas Story
Sermon by Rick Roeber
A Christmas Story - Kansas City Rescue Mission - December 24, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Bare Soul - The Gaze of the Soul - December 20, 2009

Exodus 19:21 - Then the LORD spoke to Moses, "Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through to the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish."

It's a remarkable thing when a man or woman begins to gaze intently on the Lord and all His goodness. Without exception, the old man within will perish as the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). Even as Moses warned the people before Mount Sinai regarding the holiness of the Lord, even so the Holy Spirit tells us that if we are indeed serious about approaching God, that we will certainly never be the same. Our mandate from God is to be like Him -- to change into His very image as we behold the Lord Jesus Christ within. The sentence of death to self is executed every time we are obedient to the wooing of the Holy Spirit to behold the Lover of our souls. The loving caress of our imagination energized by the supernatural working of Christ's Spirit need never lapse. He is always there to put the beauty of His Person ever before those who would but desire His beauty.

In our fast-paced society, we often can not fully appreciate the need for our souls to gaze upon their Redeemer. It is very much like a flower or a plant needing the sunshine for growth that we likewise need to sit and be given life-giving injections of His holy love. Without these times of refreshing, we too will wilt and droop without the proper stimulation from His magnificent Sonlight. We may pursue these times faithfully for a season, but then the cares of this world will often encroach and demand once again to the point where we languish. It is at this point that we must confess that we are dead to God, but alive to self and that we need a reversal. We need to once again "perish" as the old man dies under the gaze of the soul. This is a discipline that we will all be honing until we go to be with the Lord. A.W. Tozer in his book "The Pursuit of God" wrote regarding the discipline and regular exercise of training oneself to look intently with the gaze of the soul:

Believing, then, is directing the heart's attention to Jesus. It is lifting the mind to `behold the Lamb of God,' and never ceasing that beholding for the rest of our lives. At first this may be difficult, but it becomes easier as we look steadily at His wondrous Person, quietly and without strain. Distractions may hinder, but once the heart is committed to Him, after each brief excursion away from Him the attention will return again and rest upon Him like a wandering bird coming back to its window.

His loving hand will always bring us back to that place of abiding if we will but only submit our affections to do so. The devil will seek to dissuade by his lies, telling us that God no longer can be found because He has become impatient with our failings and many attempts to remain in God's presence. The enemy of our souls will desire our complete dissolution and to despair of attaining any future communion with God, thereby telling us to give up any further attempts. Of course, this could not be anymore further from the truth. Our Heavenly Father is full of patience and mercy toward our sometimes awkward approaches and there is such a rejoicing in His heart when we draw near! He will always reward us with an inward manifestation of His loving, approving countenance if we will but approach Him in faith.
It can be truthfully stated, that whatever we behold or gaze at with intent in this lifetime will kill us! If we stare and lust after sinful desires such as sordid gain, perversion, or any number of things that the world might seek to entice us, then these will certainly lead to a death of our inner spirit, soul, and eventually our own body. This spiritual and physical death devoid of identification with the Lord will most certainly lead to everlasting death. However, if we seek to die to carnal things and to perish from a life lived for self, then the ironic and supernatural begins to happen. Through our perishing to the things of this world we live to God and to the fullness of His life within (Romans 6:11). By gazing intently on the Lord and identifying with His death, we then allow the Lord's resurrection to empower us in every instance. The choice is ours on whom we desire to gaze, for we are hard-wired to gaze upon something. Our Heavenly Father desires that we bring every thought captive in our imaginations (II Corinthians 10:5) and gaze at the Restorer of our Souls, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will lovingly give us life, even as we perish to self in His Holy presence, if we will but only turn both our attention and our affections toward Him.

Heavenly Father, teach us to gaze with intent at your holiness. In so doing, we desire to put to death all that is not of You by taking our imaginations captive to Your beauty. Help us to continually turn toward You, knowing that You are longing to draw us near. Thank You Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Bare Soul - Joyous Authority - December 13, 2009

The following is the message text and audio recording of a sermon titled "Joyous Authority" delivered to the homeless at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on December 10, 2009.

Joyous Authority - December 10, 2009

Luke 10:19 - I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

When the seventy returned from their commission to the cities where their Lord would soon preach the Gospel, they were overjoyed with the results. The scripture tells us in Luke 10:17 that they returned with joy stating that even the demons were subject to them in Jesus' Name. Quite possibly, this group of disciples went forth with the desire to minister in their Lord's Name, yet did not come into the true realization of their ministry until they stepped out in faith. Once they began to minister in the Name of Jesus, they were both surprised and delighted that even the demons were subject to them in the Lord's mighty Name. To experience this epiphany, they merely had to obey Jesus as He sent them out to perform the miracles of God with the same authority that He received from His Father in heaven.

In our opening scripture, Jesus doesn't say that He will give us authority to timidly tip-toe around the enemy of our souls with fear and intimidation. He doesn't say that we should create some sort of detente' with the power of hell, establishing a sort of quasi-truce with respect to one another. He DOES say that He HAS GIVEN all power by His jurisdiction to tread or to literally trample upon demonic strongholds of serpents and scorpions. There is no possibility of negotiation or diplomacy with the enemy of mankind. Nothing is to move us to the right or to the left from our walk with the Lord and the ministry He has called us all to fulfill. We are to trudge confidently and with determined resolution a straight path, not concerning ourselves with what might be ready to strike at our heels, for it has no power over our lives. In ancient Palestine, serpents and scorpions were a source of constant fear and continual vigilance to protect both human and livestock from their deadly poison. A variety of snakes such as puff adders, pit vipers, and cobras were a constant plague to farmers and shepherds. Of the various Middle Eastern scorpions, many possess more venomous toxicity then those in any other area of the world. So, when Jesus proclaimed that His authority commanded the ability to trample the most notorious and nefarious creatures afoot, He was comparing these loathsome reptiles and arachnids to demonic principalities. Our ability to exercise God's authority over the so-called powers of hell renders them powerless in comparison to the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe (Ephesians 1:19).

To first comprehend and then to walk in the authority that the Lord has given to all who call upon His Name, is to begin to experience the joy of the Lord and the strength of that position. Even as the seventy "returned with joy", so we too can live in a place of joyous victory once we begin to walk as the Lord has ordained for us all as believers. The Holy Spirit is present in our respective lives to fulfill His great commission through us. He is a joyous being that rejoices in the vanquishing of Satan as we move with faith and power against our ancient foe. To be in God's presence is to understand the fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). To know His authority and to walk in it, trampling upon all the power of the evil one, is joyous authority. It is a place of victorious understanding that God has already won the battle and He rejoices with us over the defeat of our enemy (Zephaniah 3:17). And a remarkable phenomenon occurs once we begin to live in this new found authority. The joy we experience from the presence of the Most High God gives us a spiritual strength that defies explanation. We will find that our spiritual confidence and boldness to minister the Lord Jesus will take on a new power and resoluteness. The joy of living in His authority will energize our lives and strengthen us to live for Christ in a whole new way (Nehemiah 8:10). Quite literally, it will propel us into a new dimension of Christian living that we never dreamed possible.

So, how does one get to this higher existence in Christ? How does one begin to live in His authority to trample upon all the power of the evil one without injury? The answer is simple but it's not necessarily easy -- we must believe! One might say that they have sought God on this very point and yet He failed them. I would counter that they did not believe until the breakthrough or the epiphany flooded their life with this truth. God is not a respecter of persons. He has given us the same authority as He did to the seventy, but we must believe. Like the disciples He sent forth, it will take a walk of faith to begin to materialize before the realization of the reality becomes a part of our lives. Satan fears that we would even start to make movement towards this end. He trembles when a believer begins to agree with God's word that he has Jesus' authority on this earth. When believers start stepping out in faith and speaking life and hope into a dying world, it causes the demons to run for cover in anguish. Conversely, those who set out with the power of God have Holy Spirit joy as their strength. What would this world look like tomorrow if today every saint (true believer in God) would speak boldly the Gospel to the lost, lay hands on the sick and trust that God would heal them, or pray over those demonically oppressed? We would see a world turned upside down for Jesus in short order.

If joy is the evidence of being in God's presence (Psalm 16:11), then we should all desire a continual dwelling place close to His bosom. As the seventy demonstrated, joy came by exercising Jesus' authority to a devil-ridden world. In like manner, the Holy Spirit desires to bear witness to Jesus Christ's victory over sin and the devil by continual shouts of joys through the accomplished work of Calvary. He can only do this as we submit to the joyous authority established for us through Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. What could be simpler? To walk with joyous confidence, trampling down all devils and demons as one would not give a thought to crushing serpents and scorpions with the steps of our feet! He has given all who know the Risen Lord this authority. It is our responsibility to then exercise this authority with the joy that comes from abiding with Him.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for Jesus' authority to live as our Savior lived when He walked this earth. Anything less than this is an affront to what Jesus and the Holy Spirit accomplished. Lord, help us to believe that we are "authorized" to command hell to do the bidding of heaven -- that we are empowered with the authority of Jesus to trample down all the power of the evil one in our respective lives. Thank you Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Bare Soul - Consecrated to God - December 6, 2009

James 4:8 - Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

It is quite easy to confuse our responsibility in working out our salvation regarding God's promises in our lives as believers if we are viewing things in a carnal manner. Sanctification, or God setting us apart for His will and desire and empowering us to live a holy life on this earth has never been our task. We could no more make ourselves holy (even by an infinitesimal amount) then if we were able to justify ourselves before God the Father outside of the blood of Jesus and the work on Calvary. The spiritual work of justification, sanctification, and one day glorification when we will one day be like Jesus in all respects (I John 3:2), will always be the work of the Holy Spirit. However, there is an important distinction to understand regarding how God draws us to Himself while we are in these mortal bodies. He will not draw us if we have not invited him to do so. This is the act of consecration, to literally set oneself apart thereby denouncing the sins that so easily beset us and asking God to use us even in our imperfect state. We can never clean ourselves up. That is God's desire and He does it very effectively through the work of His Spirit. We can only come before Him, confessing our faults and giving ourselves to Him and his will.

Even as we may find ourselves in a place of initial humility to God, asking Him to take our lives and use it for His glory, we may later find that we have mistaken a consecrated life for a life of sanctification. As previously stated, God is the one who changes us, sometimes in an instant and other times over the course of days, weeks, months, or even years. For instance, God may have put His finger on an area of our lives, such as sloth. A believer that God has challenged in this area may with exuberance begin to attack the problem by rising an hour earlier and by placing more diligence on their work. After a few weeks or months if they gain some success in this area, it is quite easy to not give God the glory for these apparent victories and to believe that now they've gotten a lot "better" in this area of sloth. When one takes this attitude, they have withdrawn the sacrifice of their consecration from the altar, telling God that their improvement is all that is needed. In this sad reality, this man or woman has not allowed God to finish the work but has settled for a fleshly, carnal substitute. We often do a quick inventory of our seeming weaknesses and then work with a flurry on the obvious, when we should be waiting on the Lord for Him to put His finger on the root cause. Obvious character defects are easy to work on and often show quick results, so we are drawn to seek to please God by getting a supposed handle on these. However, God wants us to submit to him in areas that we KNOW we can't commandeer as easily as rising early or adding a bit more pep to our jobs. He wants to get to the heart of the sin of sloth within our hearts. A life of consecration means a life that is daily presented on the altar of sacrifice so God can speak to the heart and thereby change the heart. It is so much like the flesh to gain the victory in a couple of areas and to self-congratulate oneself with the "seeming" victory. In reality, these are the very things that Jesus accused the Pharisees regarding, that they were beautiful on the outside but inside they were full of dead men's bones (Matthew 23:27).

James the brother or our Lord gives us a concise, step-by-step plan to first consecrate ourselves and then to live in the sanctifying power of the Lord Jesus Christ (James 4:8). We have already discussed the importance of drawing near to God in humility, thus He will draw near to us. In order to not grieve the Holy Spirit once He has drawn close to our present need, we must acknowledge TWO important realities:

Number One -- We are sinners
Number Two -- We are double-minded

The unspeakable joyous reality that Jesus Christ has dealt sin a final blow on Calvary is forever an accomplished fact in heaven and a looming reality in hell for those who do not receive His sacrifice. However, there are still those areas of sin that we live out in the carnal flesh that God wants to deal with as we serve Him on this earth. As we acknowledge that we are indeed sinners, daily, in need of His grace, then we are "cleansing our hands" as James states or we are consecrating ourselves to God and submitting to His sanctifying power. There is no stronger position as a believer to daily come before the Lord and to know that we are consecrating ourselves for God to have His way with us. This is only a strengthened position as we approach the Lord with "single-mindedness", intent on His sanctifying work and all that He can do. If we will but focus on Him and wait for his grace to isolate the root cause of our "sinning", then we will understand that the purifying of heart that James speaks of is merely the work of the Holy Spirit as we consider ourselves as God does. When we see our sin as God sees it, with no excuses or denial, then He will bring the purifying work of His Spirit into our hearts. Paul stated what James said in a different but similarly compelling manner in Romans 12:2. For if we are "transformed by the renewing of our minds", then certainly we shall be purified by the work of the Holy Spirit as He fills our hearts with what we have agreed to with God in our minds.

Beloved, God does not desire any of us to change outward behaviors as the "end all" for what He desires. Those things that we seek to change should be getting at the heart of the matter -- the very root cause of the sin that would so easily beset us. If the changes we affect are not driving toward this final goal, then we are no better off then the Pharisees of Jesus' day. If, however, we allow these changes that we seek to be springboards, showing us how we can never clean up our own hearts, then the Holy Spirit has accomplished His desire by shining the light of understanding into our hearts and minds. Once we truly agree with God through our consecration, then He can and will in His magnificent power, begin to transform us more and more into the image of His Son through sanctification. Glory be to to God!

Heavenly Father, as we draw near to you and consecrate our lives to you once again, allow us not to work merely on the "outward" manifestations, but show us the heart of the matter. Take our lives and point out the roots of selfishness, fear, anger, and any other that might be the cause of our "stalled out" sanctification. Give us single minds and clean hands in humility to Your Divine plan for each and everyone one of us. Thank you Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick