WIC Weekly April 19th 2020
Warsaw International Church
Mobile +48 601 331 032
Worship every Sunday at ul. Miodowa 21 (near Old Town) at 11:00 AM
Entrance from Schillera Street
It was wonderful to have both the Good Friday live online service and then Easter Sunday worship on Zoom at 11 am CET! I am moved as I write that, with our previous record of participants again broken, we now have as many people attending the online services as we would on a normal Sunday in church! And that does not count the many others who didn’t join us live but read through the worship program in their own time. This is really encouraging for the future development of our church, and I believe the Lord is guiding us safely into a new era.
This week we will hold a live online Bible study (to be held on alternating Thursdays) on Thursday 16 April at 6 pm CET, as well as our service on Sunday at 11 am CET.
You can participate in these events on Zoom by clicking on the following links:
Warsaw International Church - Bible Study (every other Thursday @ 6:00 pm) Time: Apr 16, 2020 06:00 PM Warsaw Every 2 weeks on Thursdays Apr 30, 2020 06:00 PM May 14, 2020 06:00 PM May 28, 2020 06:00 PM Jun 11, 2020 06:00 PM Meeting ID: 416 626 997
Warsaw International Church - Weekly Zoom Service (Sundays @11:00 am) Time: Sundays @ 11:00 AM Warsaw Meeting ID: 375 882 822
Please also note that recordings of our Sunday services are available on our WIC Website website.
I am certain you are all using the present time to pray more than you usually do. There is so much to pray for: the safety of our loved ones and our own protection; the suffering of those who fall ill; the overstretched medical services; the almost hopeless situation, at least here in Poland, of some hospitals and homes for the elderly, where many staff and patients have caught the virus and died.
At the same time, we believe that God is allowing this disaster to happen to show the world that it cannot go on as before – living as if He didn’t exist and committing all the sins under the sun. God is calling us to repentance. We ourselves – the believers – need to repent of our unbelief and coldness of heart. Then we must pray for Christians all over the world (not forgetting our own particular nations) to fall on their knees and cry out to the Lord for forgiveness and awakening. When the global Christian community will turn to God in heartfelt prayer, an unimaginable revival will follow, and millions of unbelievers will receive the Lord. EACH ONE OF US HAS OUR PART TO PLAY!
Please also pray for several of our worshippers who have temporarily had their work suspended and may soon be experiencing serious financial problems.
Good Friday sermon
Reading: Mark 15, 1-39.
The atmosphere of tension and foreboding, which we are experiencing now in our strange new way of life, seems to agree perfectly with the atmosphere surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus. The normal order of things seems to be turned upside down. We don’t go outside to enjoy the Spring weather. We are afraid to touch door handles, products in shops, and even our own faces. The other day, my wife spent almost one-and-a-half hours standing in a queue to get into our local supermarket. Life suddenly seems so unreal.
At Jesus’ trial and crucifixion too, everything appeared to be turned on its head. The man called the king of the Jews was refusing to defend Himself. The crowd which, just a while earlier, had welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem and was fascinated by His miracles, now wanted to have Him crucified, and a murderer set free. Jesus Himself, who had all the time been a figure of authority and respect, was now being tormented, whipped, mocked, spat upon, and put to death. Suddenly, all confidence in Him had collapsed.
There was also a supernatural element present (as, indeed, there is now). The curtain in the inner sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. In the other Gospel accounts, a terrible earthquake is mentioned, and darkness comes over the land. Nothing is normal.
As I read through this story again, I am struck by the great difference in how people looked at Jesus – a difference which still exists today. Suddenly, for the Jews in Jerusalem, Jesus was a nobody: a fraud, who had made ridiculous claims about being the king of the Jews, and destroying the Temple and rebuilding it in three days. They lost all faith in Him because it seemed that He couldn’t save Himself. Yet we know that one of the criminals on the cross found a faith in Jesus. And the Roman officer who was there when Jesus died – a pagan soldier – became a believer, not because of anything Jesus said or did, but purely and simply because of the way He died. There must have been something really amazing about that death. It made the officer say: “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
But why does Jesus say: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me, abandoned Me?” Is this the cry of a desperate man? No. Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to Him – He had told His disciples about it. Jesus knew that His death would bring salvation to the world. So this is a much deeper cry. It’s the cry of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Imagine that you take someone else’s sin on yourself. You are now the one who’s experiencing their sin. You are now the sinner. Suppose you take upon yourself the sin of an adulterer. You become the adulterer in his place. You think his thoughts. You feel his desires, his guilt and his fears. You feel dirty and ashamed, and maybe aware that an angry God is staring at you. Now multiply this by all the sinners that Jesus died for. How would you feel? Totally abandoned by God. Totally evil. God was experiencing what it was like to be in the arms of Satan.
And yet, this whole procedure that Jesus went through – in fact, His entire life – was nothing but one big intercession: interceding for you and me. Praying.
Let me ask you: what’s your greatest enemy towards achieving spiritual peace? Think about it. What hinders you most in having total inner peace? I would say that this present crisis reveals the answer to us: rush. The rush of the world. We’ve been like hamsters on a treadwheel. We have failed to realise how evil rushing around can be. It robs us of our time, our relationship with God, and our prayers for others. We cannot pray properly in five minutes. We have always been in a hurry to go somewhere, do something, with no real peace of mind. Now, suddenly, for very many people, it has all stopped. Bliss! God is forcing us to quieten down and take stock of our lives. We now have time for worship, time to cultivate a living relationship with the Lord. Even though we must keep a physical distance from others, we can actually get closer to them, as we have time to pray for them.
Brothers and sisters, that is precisely when God works His miracles – when we pray for people! That is our unique global situation today. We don’t have revival yet. Revival is a spiritual occurrence that spreads as rapidly and mysteriously as the coronavirus – we don’t have that yet. But we do now have a pre-revival state. We now have the ideal condition for revival: millions of Christians having a golden opportunity to pray for others, and millions of non-Christians getting more and more scared. It’s up to us to take that opportunity! We must intercede for others, just like Christ intercedes for us. And God gives us people to intercede for, every single day: members of our church; relatives; acquaintances; religious leaders; politicians, and so on.
Let me come back to what I said earlier, about the difference in the way that people regarded Jesus. For most of those in Jerusalem, He was now just a failed man. “Ecce homo” – behold, the man. But to one or two select people, He revealed Himself as the Son of God: the Lord in person. It’s exactly the same today. For most people in the world, Jesus was just a man. I once met a lady in the Czech Republic who had no idea what was celebrated at Easter. Most of the world isn’t interested in Jesus. When I did street evangelism a few weeks ago, one man said to me: “Jesus? I have no contact with Him”.
Yet Jesus reveals Himself to others. He somehow revealed Himself to us, otherwise we wouldn’t be believers. Notice that we can’t force Him to reveal Himself – He gives us His Spirit purely and simply by His grace. There’s only one thing we can do – and as believers, we must do it, especially now. Pray, pray, pray for Christ to be revealed in the lives of others all over the world. Then the world, like we ourselves, will see and trust in the Son of God – just like the criminal, and just like the Roman soldier.
This is why Jesus died – so that the world might be saved. And this is why our prayers are so important right now – that we may be His instruments in His saving work. Amen.
Last Sunday’s sermon
Readings: Colossians 3, 1-4; John 20, 1-18.
Easter Sunday – a day of joy and triumph for all Christians! But today, millions of people all over the world are spending Easter away from even their closest relatives. Has something like that ever happened before? I don’t know. We are social creatures, and to be separated from one another on a special day like this is very hard to bear, for many of us.
At the very beginning of this day 2,000 years ago, still in the dark hours of night, the disciples and the women accompanying Jesus, as well as His relatives, were also separated – separated from their beloved friend, teacher and leader. As far as they were concerned, He had suffered, died and would no longer be with them. Like others who have been bereaved – whether victims of the virus or not – they were in shock and grief. Jesus had meant all the world to them. They probably wouldn’t even have been able to sleep, they were so upset.
Mary Magdalene had been especially attached to Jesus, ever since He drove seven demons out of her. She had followed Him faithfully, and was just like a disciple. She saw Jesus being crucified, and was about to anoint His body early that Sunday morning, when she discovered the empty tomb. She would soon also be the first to see Jesus after He rose from the dead, though she was thinking He was the gardener. And she was the one who broke all this amazing news to the disciples. Jesus had been alive; then He was dead; and now He was alive again. From the disciples’ point of view, He had been present, then absent, and now present again.
As our coronavirus crisis wears on, people are contacting me to say they are getting more and more stressed. No one knows how long it will last. Our leaders are no longer saying it’ll be over in a month. People who claimed to have faith are feeling afraid. The economy is in danger of collapsing. But if the restrictions are relaxed too early, another wave of sickness will hit us. We thought the Lord was with us – but now perhaps we’re not so sure. Our faith is being challenged. Like the disciples, we experienced God’s presence – but now He seems absent.
But I’ll tell you one thing: it’s good to be aware that in reality we are always in the presence of the Lord. Always. Not just on Sunday mornings, or when everything is going well and we feel uplifted. Jesus has risen from the dead, and is now with all His children. His Holy Spirit is poured out all over the world. If we think the Lord is absent, we are wrong. No force on earth can prevent Him from being with us. Don’t think God is absent just because there’s a crisis – the opposite may be true. He is very present!
The other day, I was reading about some Christian workers who visited a Muslim country in North Africa. In that country, the number of Christians is growing, but they have little freedom. The workers had brought Bibles for those Christians, which they tried to smuggle into the country, but customs officials found them and confiscated them. So the workers came to those North African Christians with empty hands.
On the last day of their visit, they went to a tiny Bible Society store in a backstreet of the city. The only window had been barricaded, because Muslims liked to throw bricks and stones at it. The workers spoke to the guy who ran the store – a convert from Islam. Do you know what he told them? His father was a customs official, and one day he brought home a Bible he had confiscated, even though he was a deeply religious Muslim. His son started to read it – and became a Christian!
So those workers were no longer despairing! They were now praying that their confiscated Bibles would be read by other Muslims, who would give their hearts to Christ. Nothing we do to serve God is ever wasted. No prayer of ours ever remains unanswered. That’s the joyful Easter message! It’s good to be aware that we are always in the presence of the risen Lord.
You and I have been praying for a global revival, which I am 100 percent certain God wants to send through the coronavirus catastrophe. But you might ask, how can there be a revival when people can’t even meet their relatives for Easter, let alone go to church or attend evangelism events or prayer meetings?
Let me ask you: can there be an online revival? Yes, there can. Why? Because with God all things are possible. The coming revival will be the first online revival in history. In our church, we must realize that we are in a unique situation to go global. We worship in English – even people in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia speak English. We are international – people of all races and nations belong to our church. And we are nondenominational – we don’t represent the theological thinking of a particular church, but we just keep to Christ and the Bible. Our website can be seen by anyone in the world, who can now even visit us for worship in one form or another.
Also, anyone can be converted through online worship. About a year ago, an Iranian sister told us how her teenage daughters became Christians in Iran, online, by listening to Christian messages. We must be increasingly aware that our audience is becoming more global.
So you see, just like the Christian workers in that North African country, so in the present situation, a tragedy can develop into a great blessing. God is not absent, and then present, and then absent again. We are always in the presence of the Lord, and He really does have a greater plan: to prosper and bless us. Our job is to keep focused on that greater plan – namely, that very many people will receive Jesus into their hearts before this crisis is over. So let’s try and look beyond suffering and hardship. Let’s praise God for turning the horror of suffering and crucifixion into the triumph of the resurrection, the rising from the dead, so that the world might be saved.
But our part is to pray for this to happen. Our prayer is God’s way of achieving His will on earth. We are called to be a “house of prayer”. “My house shall be a house of prayer”, says the Lord to Solomon, in reference to the new Temple which Solomon had built. But the worship in the Temple has come to an end. Now each follower of Jesus is a temple of God, a temple of the Holy Spirit.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul shows us what the Christian’s attitude should be. He says that we too have been raised with Christ – God has raised us from spiritual death to spiritual life. Therefore we must not get depressed and stressed about the present, but must “set our hearts and minds on things above” – not on earthly things, like troubles and worries. It’s not easy. But if Christ has been crucified, then, says Paul, we have been crucified with Him. In other words, we must be dead to the world and its uncertainties – its ups and downs. It doesn’t become us to be worrying and getting scared.
Are you in danger of losing your job? Are your savings drying up? Are you having health problems because the health service isn’t working properly? Are there some goods or services you cannot buy? Do not panic. The blessing will come to you, if you turn to God in trusting prayer. Look beyond your setback. And be conscious that you are always in the presence of the Lord. Always. Wherever you are. And whatever may be happening to you. Amen.
This Sunday’s readings
19 April is the Second Sunday of Easter.
Verse for the week: “He [Jesus] breathed on them [the disciples] and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20, 22).
New Testament reading: 1 Peter 1, 3-9.
Gospel reading: John 20, 19-31.
Food of the Spirit
Meet God’s Conditions For Revival And Revival Is Sure
We are to expect God to answer prayer for revival as much as we expect Him to answer prayer and give us good crops. God is as desirous to give us food for our souls as He is to give us food for our bodies. When we prepare the ground, and uproot the weeds, and plant the seed – we expect a crop.
How much more should we expect a spiritual crop when we prepare the soil of our hearts, "break up our fallow ground," and plant the seed of God’s Word in our hearts and then look for God’s showers and God’s sunshine of blessing – that His own Word may bring forth a spiritual crop – a real Holy Ghost revival!
The use of worldly means and worldly expedients for getting the presence of God in manifested power into the midst of the people will not work. Some must face the responsibility as their own and shoulder the burden for revival and carry it through with real, fervent prayer. "As soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children" (Isa. 66:8).
And there must also be the planting of the Gospel seed – the giving forth of the Word of God. You cannot have a crop without planting the seed. "The Gospel of Christ…is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth" (Rom. 1:16). "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). There must needs be a sowing before there can be a reaping. "The seed is the Word of God" (Luke 8:11).
"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psa. 126:5-6).
Notice here the words "shall doubtless." There is no question about it. Meet God’s conditions for revival – and revival is sure!
Revival Is Coming!
And revival is on the way. It has taken time to prepare the soil of our hearts. We have indeed learned to be patient – to "cheerfully endure" as we press on for revival. But it has all been for our own good. Revival is coming – revival IS coming – because God’s people – hosts of them throughout the world – are meeting God’s own conditions for revival.
"And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily" (Luke 18:7-8).
Delay Is Not Denial
The farmer must needs have patience till the rains come, and till the seed sprouts and grows, and the grain is brought to maturity. (See James 5:7-8.) Even after David had been anointed to be king, before he was prepared to sit on the throne, he must needs go through years of severe training – as Saul chased him like a partridge over the mountains and sought to kill him (1 Sam. 26:20).
Although Joseph had a revelation from God through a dream to the effect that God was going to bless him mightily – yet he must needs suffer agonies – be separated from his brethren, be sold into Egypt, be falsely accused and cast into prison – before God saw fit to fulfil to Joseph the dream that had been given. God’s ways are not our ways.
Brother, Sister, keep on believing, "without wavering" (Jas. 1:6) that what God has promised you, He is able to perform (Rom. 4:21). Abraham had to wait, in faith, believing for many years before God fulfilled His promise to him – that He would give him a son and heir.
To some of us God has made known the fact that He is going to send a revival again – a real, a mighty Holy Ghost revival. Let us then cast not away our confidence, but remember that we have need of patience, that after we have done the will of God we might receive the promise (Heb. 10:35-36).
"Men ought always to pray and not to faint" (Luke 18:1).
"Exhort one another daily" (Heb. 3:13). Believe for revival! Talk revival! Preach revival! Sing revival! Sow the seeds of faith – sow the Word of God on revival and expect our faithful God to send a revival – miraculous and mighty!
It Has to Be God!
After all, revival is a work of God, the Holy Ghost. It has to be God who sends revival. "Elisabeth was barren" (Luke 1:7). It had to be a supernatural work of God for John the Baptist to be born. "Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bare him no children" (Gen. 16:1). "But Sarai was barren" (Gen. 11:30). It had to be God who gave her supernatural power to bring forth Isaac. Abraham was "as good as dead" (Heb. 11:12; Rom. 4:19) when Isaac was born.
God has promised to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17-20). God is faithful (1 Cor. 10:13). He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). The Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35).
Moses was not at all able to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage in his own way, by his own self-directed efforts. He must needs go for a forty-year training period onto the back side of the desert – that God might deliver Israel – through the meek man, Moses!
It Is by Faith
As we continue to believe God for revival – revival is sure, for God always answers the prayer of faith. After years and years of waiting – in faith – Sarah gave birth to Isaac – according to the promise of God – which she believed. "Through faith…Sarah…received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age…" (Heb. 11:11). "Thus saith the Lord God …they shall not be ashamed that wait for Me" (Isa. 49:22-23).
Ask for revival – and continue asking – until revival comes! It is not enough that God has promised to pour out His Spirit – we must be labourers together with God (1 Cor. 3:9), and ask Him to fulfil His promise. "Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain…" (Zech. 10:1). God gives the Holy Spirit to them that obey Him (Acts 5:32) – and to them that ask specifically for Him (Luke 11:13). And the context in the 11th chapter of Luke shows that importunity is one of the elements of prevailing prayer.
"Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of…to do it" (Ezek. 36:37).
"For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa. 57:15).
W. C. Moore
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