Pastor's Desk: Power Over Sin

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Forgiveness heals us of the deepest injuries and wounds inflicted on us by our sins.

He was paralyzed and he wanted to walk. He couldn't get to Jesus, so his friends had to bring him. On a mat. Through the roof. Then, before Jesus healed his body, He healed his soul. He said, 

"Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."

In Matthew 9:1-8, Jesus used an opportunity to heal a man of his paralysis, to heal him of a much deeper problem, his sin. The scribes who were present mistook His statement as blasphemy, an insult to God. And, it would have been, had Jesus not been the Son of God with power over sin and the authority to forgive. Jesus chose to demonstrate that power and authority, by first forgiving the man's sin and before making him walk again.

Which is easier to say to a paralyzed man? To say, "your sins are forgiven," or to say "get up and walk"? It's easier to say "your sins are forgiven" because those present are unable to disprove such a statement. So, proving the easier by also doing the more difficult, Jesus then told the man to get up and walk, leaving the crowd "filled with awe" and praising God.

But for Jesus to say, "your sins are forgiven," He would later also have to do something very difficult. He would bear the weight of the man's sin and ours. He would endure the agony and pain of being scourged, the shame and jeering of those who stood and mocked, the weight of an unbearable cross and the torment of hanging by his wrists and heels. He would literally have to offer His last breath to make that statement effective because "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).

Jesus' sacrifice: His death for my life, His righteousness for my sin.

We are all broken by sin to one degree or another. Wounded and scarred by our sins and the sins of our forebears. But, once we have received Jesus' healing touch and received His forgiveness, we can finally be made whole again. Healed, restored, renewed, forgiven. We all have a friend who also needs that healing touch in the deepest part of their soul. They need to hear that their sins are forgiven. Will you be bringing that friend to Jesus, too?

 

Pastor's Desk: Power Over Nature and Demons

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"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me." - Psalm 23:4

Have you ever experienced the fear of death? Passengers aboard Air France flight 66 last Saturday must have been very fearful when the A380's engine blew up at 38,000 feet above sea level. Parts of the engine came apart in mid-air over the Atlantic requiring the pilots to declare "May Day" and make an emergency landing in Goose Bay, Canada. Thankfully, they made a safe landing and everyone got off the plane unharmed. But, what if you were faced with such a fearful situation? Or, maybe not the fear of death, but the fear that comes with uncertainty, trials, difficulties and challenges?

Jesus wants to calm the storms of your life. Really? No, not really. 

When Jesus told His disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee, He took them through a life-threatening storm that suddenly raged against them and caused them to fear for their life. When He woke from His sleep, He first rebuked them before He rebuked the wind and the waves. He said to the disciples, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" before He commanded the winds and waves to calm down (Matthew 8:26, NIV). When the winds and waves died down immediately, you would expect the disciples to be very relieved and calm. Instead they were more afraid than before, asking themselves, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!"

Some preachers will say that Jesus wants to calm the storms of your life. But, I don't think that's the point of this incident and the reason it has been recorded in the Gospels for us. I believe this happened to demonstrate who Jesus really is by His power over nature. It was part of how the disciples realized they were following the Son of God. When God takes us through a difficult and fearful experience, I believe He wants us to have faith in Him instead of fear. And, I believe that He will demonstrate to us something about His character and abilities that will grow our faith and confidence in Him.

When they reached the other side, Jesus also demonstrated His power over demons who had possessed two men and held an entire village captive in fear. As the Son of God, Jesus also has power over the supernatural, spiritual forces of evil. His authority over them has also been delegated to His disciples and the demons are thus subject to us who speak in Jesus' name.

As you follow Jesus, remember that when you are with Him, you walk with the One who has power over all nature and all supernatural forces of evil and darkness. We will always be a threat to the Prince of Darkness because we walk with the Light of the World, and he will do his part to cause us to live in the fear of uncertainty, trouble and death. But, "the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4, NIV). 

Following Jesus means that we are always with the One with all power, authority and strength.

Are you going through something difficult or challenging right now? Does it seem like an uncontrollable storm is raging around you and you are afraid of drowning? God may or may not calm that storm. Through it, He expects you to keep trusting Him and He will soon show you what He is capable of. Remember, there is no room for fear when our faith is in God.

 

Pastor's Desk: Count the Cost

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"Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small. Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!" - Isaac Watts (1674-1748) - When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Matthew 8:19-22 (NIV84) - "Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, 'Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'

Another disciple said to him, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' But Jesus told him, 'Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.'”

COUNT THE COST

Too often, we sign up to do something without considering all that the commitment may require of us. In many cases, we trust the recruiter enough. In other cases, we figure that we can always back out of our commitment. 

What do we commit to when we respond to Jesus' call: "Follow Me"? 

In last Sunday's message, we saw how Jesus interacted with two individuals who wanted to follow Him. One was a teacher of the Law (i.e. a scribe), the other a "disciple." The scribe was ready to follow Jesus wherever He would go, but the disciple was asking permission to go and bury his father before he could follow Jesus.

Jesus' response to the scribe made it clear that following Him required careful consideration of the price he would have to pay. Following a teacher meant learning from them and becoming like them and Jesus was more than an ordinary teacher. He was the "Son of Man," who would be rejected and suffer humiliation and pain on a cross. Following Him would not have the prestige or recognition the scribe was expecting. Elsewhere (see Luke 14:25-33), Jesus explained to those who desired to follow Him what it meant to be a "disciple" of His: (1) They must be willing to forsake precious family members and even their own life, (2) they must be willing to endure suffering, and (3) they must be willing to forsake all their earthly possessions. In other words, if you are going to follow Jesus wherever He would go, consider first that you must pay the highest price.

The disciple who wanted to first go and bury his father revealed that he wasn't quite ready to follow Jesus at that moment. Maybe he was waiting until he would receive his inheritance, or maybe he had received word that there was an obligation waiting for him at home. Jesus' response to that disciple made it clear that following Him required immediate and complete obedience. Jesus is the Son of God who has the highest authority, so every other obligation, desire or intention needs to be surrendered to Him as our highest priority.

Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? Is there an instruction from Him that you have still been avoiding or neglecting? Are you being partially obedient or delaying your obedience in any given area that His Word addresses? Is there anything that keeps you too busy from spending time alone with Him?

Following Jesus means that He is worth the highest price we must pay and He has become the highest priority in our life.

As I consider my commitment to follow Jesus, I remember also, that whatever price I have paid or will have to pay to faithfully follow Jesus, I have been or will be rewarded with something far greater than I could have ever imagined!

 

Pastor's Desk: Power Over Every Sickness

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Henry Blackaby, about his experience when his child was diagnosed with cancer at age 16 (excerpt from Experiencing God - the Musical):

"The cancer treatments could have been very devastating for us, but did God still love us? Yes he did. Had his love for us changed? No it had not.

"When you face circumstances like this, you can question and ask God to show you what is going on. We did that. We had to ask Him what we should do. We asked all those questions, but I never said, 'Lord, I guess you don’t love me anymore.'

"At times I went before the heavenly Father and saw behind my child the Cross of Jesus Christ and I said 'Father, don’t ever let me look at my circumstances and question your love. Your love for me was settled on the Cross. That has never changed and it never will.'"

POWER OVER EVERY SICKNESS 

When we are in need of a healing miracle, many of us will turn to God. Some will come to Him and claim their healing, expecting to receive their miracle because they prayed for it and believed it would happen. But, if they do not receive their miraculous healing, either they will be disappointed in God and question His love, or they will reason it away as a lack of faith on their part.

What can we learn about the healing miracles of Jesus? (Matthew 8:1-17)

The leper who came to Jesus for healing did not doubt Jesus' ability to cleanse him, but was uncertain only about His willingness: "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." The centurion who asked Jesus for his servant to be healed believed that Jesus had the authority to heal by a simple command. His servant was healed the moment Jesus declared it, though nothing is said about his servant's faith in Jesus. Peter's mother-in-law was so completely healed of her fever that she was able to immediately serve her guests. And, the many sick who came to Jesus for healing that evening needed to be set free from evil spirits. Through those miracles, we know that God as all authority over all sicknesses and disease and that His healing miracles do not depend on our faith.

We so often misunderstand what is meant by "your faith has made you well." We certainly need faith in God, or we wouldn't bring our need to Him, and we certainly need to believe that He is capable of healing every disease. But, if He has the authority over everything that He has made, then He certainly also has the authority to deny us our request. God can have a variety of reasons to deny or accept our request for a healing miracle. Among the reasons to deny our request may be His desire to call us home to His presence in heaven. So before we claim our healing, let's remember to bring our needs to Him as requests, not demands. And, let's remember when we bring our requests, to say to God, "nevertheless, Thy will be done" and trust Him, both for His ability to heal and for His wisdom choose the right response.

When Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, we shared that news with just our family, our church family and a few close friends. We went to our good and loving Father in prayer and we followed the advice of our capable doctors. Thankfully, the lumpectomy and radiation treatments were successful and just recently, through follow-up scans and mammograms, Kim received the "all clear." We didn't receive a healing miracle but we are continually sustained supernaturally and we feel God's intimate presence. Like Henry Blackaby (quoted above), we never questioned God's power or His love for us throughout our experience, because we know that He sometimes allows His loved and chosen ones to suffer. After all, He let His Beloved Chosen Son suffer the Cross to give us eternal life and draw us into His presence.

If you think you can twist God's arm, by claiming your healing miracle in faith, then you can't also be expecting to see His mighty hand and outstretched arm.

 

Introducing The All New 'Pastor's Desk' Online!

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Hello Friends, and welcome to the new online 'Pastor's Desk.' I will try to post some thoughts on this blog each Wednesday (sometimes I'll ask others to share here as well). My hope is that these ideas and reflections will be an encouragement and a challenge to you during your week - ideas that you can discuss around the dinner table, on your morning commute, or in your LIFE groups. So, here it goes, I hope you are encouraged. -Pastor N. Erik

FIBC DAY 2017:

Wow, what a weekend! FIBC Day last Saturday was well attended despite the threat of rain and the potluck table under the tent was chock full of delicious dishes and desserts. It quickly became a well-known fact that it was also my birthday. But what we really were celebrating was our FIBC family of many nations, a body of Christ with many members.

“Where do I belong in this body?”

A body consists of many interdependent parts and a church has many members. It is vital for a body’s parts to belong to the body and be actively functioning. Equally important, a Christian must belong to a local body of Christ and be actively functioning in that body. That was our theme, and on Sunday, we explored in greater detail Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12 about the body of Christ. It is critical that we understand how God’s Spirit, which we have in common because of our confession that “Jesus is Lord,” has distributed a wide variety of Spiritual gifts to the church’s members. Those gifts are given “for the common good,” not our own benefit. They are intended for the body of Christ to remain healthy and grow to maturity. So, if a local church like FIBC is to become everything that God wants it to be, each member must remember that (1) our body is made of many parts and (2) that those parts depend on each other. The body needs each member, and each member needs the body. Plain and simple, it means that if a Christian decides to stay away from a local church, he or she is either saying, “I am not needed” or “I don’t need the local church.”

But we should be asking, “where do I belong in this body?” Because I need others to become the person God made me to be and because I care about others, I should belong to a local church like FIBC and be an actively functioning member.

*Today's Spiritual Challenge: Do you know how you have been gifted? Are you helping a local church like FIBC achieve its mission and fulfill its purpose? Are you currently serving on a ministry team? Find out where you belong. Today.


Special thanks to Styfens for this lovely FIBC DAY video, feel free to share on Facebook!

 

“We look for God to manifest Himself to His children: God only manifests Himself in His children.” (Oswald Chambers)

Practices of the Christian Faith Returns Sept 26th

New discipleship class beginning this month!

FIBC's 'Practices of the Christian Faith' returns this month, beginning Tuesday, Sept. 26 at Café Cadeau (dinner is served at 7pm, discussion / course to follow).

In this interactive, 9-part course on being a C.H.R.I.S.T.I.A.N. you'll learn the basic disciplines and practices of the Christian life. It is free and open to all, but we ask that you RSVP to let us know if you will join (write to Bruno at bkbainy@hotmail.com).

FIBC Day 2016

You're invited to join us for our annual FIBC Day fellowship event, taking place this Saturday, September 24 from 11:00am - 15:00 and which will feature an international potluck picnic, games, and activities. The event will be held at Slotsalleen 15 in Klampenborg (there is street parking available and Klampenborg Station is only a short walk from the party).

Please note that, unlike in past years, we will not be grilling meat as the 'main course' of this year's picnic, so if you'd like to bring a potluck meat dish, go for it! Otherwise, please bring tasty sides, drinks, salads, and desserts to share! The event is 'rain or shine' and we hope you will plan on joining us on September 24th for this very special FIBC tradition. You can email pastors@fibc.dk with any questions.

*Other items to bring: picnic blanket, football, and/or a swimsuit for a post picnic plunge!

See you on Saturday!

QUEST STUDENT STUDY RETURNS

After the summer holiday break, QUEST IS BACK (FIBC's Bible study for students ages 12 - 15)! This semester's theme is 'Counterculture' and the meeting dates will be September 18, October 9 and 30, November 13 and 27, and December 4. We have a great team of Quest teacher-leaders lined up and we hope all our middle grade students can join us this semester.

Foundations of Faith Returns Sept 20th

FIBC's 'Foundations of Faith: 9 Conversations About Christianity' returns this month, beginning Tuesday, Sept. 20 at Café Cadeau (dinner is served at 7pm, FOF discussion / course to follow).

The interactive, 9-part Foundations course is free and open to all, but we ask that you RSVP to let us know if you will join (write to Jeroen at jjbunck@gmail.com).