WIC Weekly April 5th 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
Our church services and Bible studies continue to be suspended. Consequently, I now send out the order of service together with readings, hymn words, the sermon, prayers of intercession and notices to our regular worshippers as a PDF file on Saturdays. If you would like to receive this as well, please write to me at: email@example.com
Thanks to the know-how and enthusiasm of some of our worshippers, I was overjoyed to be able to lead a live online worship service on Zoom last Sunday at 11 am CET. It was basically a live delivery of the written program, but going live at the exact time of our usual Sunday services made all the difference, as we really felt we were meeting together as a church. We could see each other on the computer screen and continued our fellowship after the service (online coffee hour?). Seventeen people took part in this first service, including three in other countries, so we’re becoming even more of an international church! Our services can be accessed via an e-mail you would receive, so, as with the written program, if you are interested in taking part, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add you to the e-mail list. Other online developments are also planned.
One of our worshippers has been putting her free time and organizational skills to excellent use. I include her report as a stimulus for us to praise God and maybe undertake similar initiatives in our own neighbourhood:
Dear Fellow Members of WIC and Friends,
My name is Magda and I’ve been a member of WIC for about 2 years. When Pastor Harry called last night to check on me during the coronavirus isolation most of us are undergoing in Warsaw, I couldn’t contain my excitement and tell him about the social initiative project I started along with some young people in my building.
We live in high-rise residential buildings in Warsaw’s city centre where many of our neighbours are senior, sick, and afraid to leave their houses or simply lonely. A few weeks back we hung the first colourful poster downstairs informing people that help is one phone call away. At the same time I furnished the kiosk downstairs with a notebook for both young volunteers and vulnerable seniors to sign up on, so I can then contact them and pair up each senior with one main volunteer to take care of their living needs. We help with grocery and medicine shopping, coordinating doctors’ appointments, even caring for their pets! The idea quickly spread through 4 other buildings and we are not finished yet!
To keep things in order, I have a WhatsApp communications group started for all volunteers in their respective buildings, so that we quickly help each other and communicate safely. While our governments and medical staff work 24/7 to help contain the virus, our small gestures bring back hope and keep seniors safe. For the volunteers it brings back the sense of community and I hear from the seniors that they feel most grateful knowing they have someone to turn to.
I send you many blessings from Warsaw and I hope your community stays safe!
With best regards, Magda
I know you are praying more than ever for this global crisis to be over soon, because so many people are falling ill, dying, and suffering the consequences of lockdown. They need our prayers, as do the courageous medical services, especially in countries which are most badly affected. You yourselves are going through a difficult time, and perhaps one or two of you have fallen ill with the virus too (if you have, feel free to send me an e-mail and I’ll put out a prayer alert for your healing in our next bulletin).
Please also pray for our worshippers who have lost jobs or had to have their pay reduced. Pray for those of us having to make difficult decisions because of the crisis, and for the students among us to be able to continue their studies online. And let’s pray for the safety of each one of us, that the Lord may protect us.
I’m no prophet, but in a dream I had just before Christmas, I was trying to put out fires with a cup of water. As I was despairing that I would get nowhere with that little cup, a cool rain started to rain in my dream. I awoke and immediately knew the Lord was telling me He would send revival. This dream has come true within a couple of months (!) – thousands are turning to the Lord for the first time. My dream made me realize that the point of the pestilence is not to kill people off, but to turn them to God. That’s why I would urge your principal prayer focus to be on REVIVAL – first and foremost of ourselves, that we may no longer be so sluggish in our faith, and then of nominal Christians throughout the world. And finally, let’s pray for “vival” – i.e. a coming to Christ for the first time, by those who have never known Him. When the church really prays, a harvest is brought in.
Last Sunday’s sermon
Reading: Ezekiel 37, 1-14; Romans 8, 6-11
Both of today’s readings show very clearly the contrast between the only two possible states of being which a person can be in: either spiritually alive, or spiritually dead. All through the Bible, we see this sharp contrast between spiritual life and death, between the Holy Spirit and human nature, between an animated body and dry bones. In Ezekiel’s vision, the bones are lying around in the valley. They are useless, good for nothing. But then Ezekiel sees them stirring, rattling, and coming together to form a body with flesh and skin. A body might be beautiful to look at, but it still needs the breath of life to be alive.
The reason for the vision is that God has given Ezekiel the task of telling the Israelites – who are feeling dead and useless like those dry bones – that God will not only bring them to Israel from their exile in Babylon, but will also breathe His Holy Spirit into them, and they will become spiritually alive. That is exactly what happened: the Israelites were able to return to their land over a hundred years later, and a spiritual revival took place under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, whose very interesting stories we can read in those two books of the Bible.
What the Book of Ezekiel shows us, all the way through, is that God is totally sovereign; and what He says, He will do. There is a purpose in this: the sentence “Then they will know that I am the Lord” occurs 65 times in that book! In other words, God at times enters human history in such a dramatic way that people can only be amazed at His actions – and it leads them to fall to their knees in awe and even fear, and worship Him.
You must all, by now, surely know that the world has suddenly entered such a period. People can no longer ask “where is God?”, unless they are totally blind and foolish. Only “the fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God’” (Psalm 14, 1). People are already coming to God in their thousands, as there is a growing sense that the world might not be able to contain this particular crisis. We read horror stories of hundreds of new deaths every day in many countries, and no one knows if this might not happen on such a large scale in Poland as well. What will happen if the economy and basic services collapse? No one knows, except the Lord. In our everyday life, we are not discerning enough to be able to distinguish clearly between spiritually dead and spiritually alive people: some people seem alive, when in fact they are dead, while others appear dead, when in fact they are spiritually alive. The world judges people differently from God. But today’s text from Romans makes it clear that the all-important thing is to be spiritually alive. A spiritually dead person is hostile towards God, and cannot please Him. A spiritually dead person does not have the Spirit of Christ, and does not belong to Him. A spiritually dead person will perish, unless God steps in to save him.
I’ve said this before: people should not think that Christianity – as a religion to practise – can save them. Nominal Christians who don’t have God’s Spirit in them are really a pile of dead bones, just like unbelievers. The only true Christians – and the only spiritually alive people – are those who have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within them. They are on fire for Jesus, love the Bible, love their prayer time alone with God, and are aware of their own unworthiness and God’s great mercy in saving them. They are bones brought to life by the Spirit of Christ. They are the ones who will prevail, and not perish.
There’s a Polish saying: “Fear has big eyes”. This present crisis is making many people fearful. Like the Egyptians, they fear the angel of death. They want everything to return to “normal”, as it was before: dead churches, destruction of the planet, exploitation of the helpless, greed, and above all, ever-increasing godlessness. If God did not intervene in such a situation, He would indeed be unmerciful. I know it sounds illogical to some, but we have to remember our Saviour’s words: “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10, 34). The great spiritual writer Oswald Chambers put it like this: “Never mind what havoc it brings, what upsets, what crumblings of health, rejoice with divine hilarity when once His voice is heard. You may often see Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it”.
Chambers was not a theorist with his head in the clouds. He was a military chaplain writing during World War One and he knew exactly what he was talking about. Disasters like wars and pestilence are sent by God (2 Chronicles 7, 13) as special opportunities for non-Christians to turn to Him, and for Christians to be strengthened in their faith and to feel His powerful presence. If a window has opened for people to turn to God, who am I to pray for it to be shut?
Beloved Friends, many things could happen to each of you before this crisis ends. It’s really only just unfolding in Poland, but already my wife and I have had a couple of upsets. Let me share with you, because you could find yourselves experiencing similar problems.
Over a week ago, my old health complaint returned: a very rapid and irregular heartbeat. It hadn’t stopped after four days, so a cardiologist advised me to go to hospital. Yes, but all the hospitals are virtually closed, except for serious cases! By a miracle, they admitted me at one hospital, placed me in a two-bed room, fed and cared for me, and after a couple of days my pulse was back to normal. I also had an amazing room-mate: an elderly, truly Christian professor who was feeling of no use to anyone and was worrying about his unbelieving family. God put us in there together! We had great spiritual fellowship, and I could impress on him that he had a crucial role to play in praying for his family right now.
And then, a couple of days ago, a large chunk broke off my wife’s front tooth. What to do? – all the dentists are closed! By God’s grace we found a tiny dental surgery which was open, six minutes’ walk from our apartment – and Ania had an appointment 15 minutes later!
These two amazing incidents have taught me one thing: God will not abandon His children who are covered by the blood of Jesus. When something like that happens to you, DON’T PANIC, BUT PRAY CALMLY TO THE LORD TO RESOLVE YOUR PROBLEM (HIS PROBLEM!). He will! Many will tremble with fear. But we Christians – Spirit-filled, not dry-bone Christians – will experience God’s protection, and He will embolden us to proclaim the Gospel to those He brings us into contact with.
Our Gospel message is simply this: “Repent of your sins; believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who died for you; and you will be saved”. Repent – believe – be saved.
We may never have a better opportunity to proclaim it. Amen.
This Sunday’s readings
5 April is the Fifth Sunday in Lent. Verse for the week: “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with wickedness” (Genesis 6, 11). Psalm: 118, 1-2 and 19-29. Old Testament reading: Genesis 6, 11-14. Genesis 7, 6-10. 17 – Genesis 8, 1. New Testament reading: John 12, 12-19.
Food of the Spirit
Praying The Word Over The Coronavirus Crisis (IMPORTANT!)
Does it seem to you that life is out of control right now? Many believers are worried and concerned as the coronavirus ravages the earth. And yet, we have an All-Powerful Father who was not surprised in the least by this seemingly catastrophic event in world history. The coronavirus has sparked fear, stress, uncertainty, hoarding, greed, panic, hostility and more! All of these things are not God’s desire for His people. In fact, Jesus calls us to courage, peace, boldness, generosity, level-headedness and kindness! If the people of God begin to exhibit the characteristics of the world in this hour, our enemy, Satan, will win a great victory! However, if those who are committed to being Christ-followers will stand firm and seek His face in this moment, God will receive great glory! Let us resolve to lean into greater faith, asking God to revive and awaken us, His people. How then, should we pray in the midst of this “unknown” evil that has overtaken our entire world? Let us look to God’s Word to inform our prayers:
- Pray that a repentant people would turn to God seeking revival. “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Psa. 85:6). John Avant of Life Action Ministries recently said, “…Since this mighty God has invaded our hearts, since He inhabits our lives, we are not out of control. We live in His control. We are empowered with His purpose. We are a part of His plan. “BUT…we have departed from Him. I have and you have. We will feel out of control as long as we stay distant from Him, numb to His call to repent. We will continue to point fingers and fight among ourselves until we find ourselves more astonished by God than we are afraid of a disease or anxious to return to our past patterns. We will feel out of control until we give up our own control and humbly cry out in brokenness, ‘I am the problem!’” He continues, “If there is one thing above all else that is more important in these days (of dealing with coronavirus) than washing our hands, it is to return to God and let Him wash our hearts!” Prayer: Father God, Creator of the Universe, we bow our hearts before You in repentance. We have tried to control our own circumstances and figure everything out in the midst of the unknown rather than placing our trust in You. Forgive us, Lord, and turn our hearts back towards Yours. May we relinquish control of this harsh reality we are currently living in and trust You to work in the midst of it so that all the world is astonished at Your power and goodness. Help us to emerge from our brokenness before You as holy and purified followers of Jesus, ready to return to active duty on the front lines of Your kingdom instead of trying to control it or figure it out. We bless You, Lord, and ask for Your mercy as we humble ourselves before You.
- Pray for God’s people to resist the devil and have the abundant life Jesus gives us so that others might have it too. We have an enemy who wants to destroy the people of God as well as take out those who have yet to put their faith in Jesus. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” And, James 4:7 says, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” This is an exciting time for the church to live up to the expectations and commands of Jesus Christ! Loving and serving others flows from intimacy with the Father. Abundant life results! Prayer: Lord Jesus, You came to this earth to give those who follow You life…and not just any kind of life – abundant life! Strengthen us to be the church You have called us to be so that we might draw others into this amazing abundant life. Help us to stand firm with Your spiritual armor in place (Eph. 6:10-18), having great faith so that we might extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one (v. 16). Help us to live extraordinary lives of service, compassion, and generosity so that those outside of Christ will want what we have more than they want their own selfish desires.
- Pray that God’s people will overcome fear and anxiety with peace. It is very easy to get overwhelmed and fearful in the midst of the unknown, but God’s Word says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Prayer: Prince of Peace, You calmed waves and storms and people wherever You went. May we be carriers of Your peace even when we cannot comprehend the scope of this destructive virus that threatens the lives and livelihoods of many. Help us to spread peace and not fear wherever we find ourselves. Guard our hearts and minds so that our emotions and thoughts are tuned into You instead of the uncertainty that swirls around us. Help us to be overcomers who help others through this crisis rather than those who live in fear and do nothing but help ourselves. We want You to be made famous because of how we represent You, Lord Jesus.
- Pray for the church to rise to the opportunities God is giving us to show compassion, creativity and unity that will show off the power of Jesus. During this uncertain season, people are looking for help from the government and from the medical community, but it seems the church is perceived as a superfluous entity affected by the virus through having to close its physical doors to contain the spread of the disease. What if the church became the shining light on the hill, a beacon of hope and transformation, the Living Gospel of Jesus to our neighborhoods and communities? If ever there was a time, this is it! Let’s ask God for the church to do extraordinary things through our Extraordinary God!
Prayer: Compassionate Christ, help Your church not to shrink back from doing whatever she can to meet needs, to bring hope, to give encouragement, promote unity and creatively reach people with the Gospel. Give us courage and strength to do the extraordinary. Bring us into unity with one another across different faith traditions to help in whatever ways we can, coming alongside of our local, state and federal government officials, first responders, the medical community and social services to meet the needs of people in unprecedented ways. May all that we do be done in the power and strength of Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of the Father!
Pray Jesus’ prayer that He prayed over us in John 17:21-26. “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
- Ask God to protect the elderly and those in compromised health situations who are the most vulnerable to this virus. We all know people who fall into the high-risk group for being susceptible to Covid-19. Maybe you are in that group and are concerned. If so, a powerful and encouraging passage of Scripture to pray over your life is Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Let’s join together and ask God for protection of anyone of any age who is at risk. Ask Him to bring healing to those who are ill as well. Here is a good blessing to pray for those you know in this high-risk group: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2).
Prayer: Lord our God, You are good and filled with mercy. You are filled with compassion and love all You have made (Psa. 145). We ask You to remove sickness from our midst: “So you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you” (Ex. 23:25). You love us beyond what we can imagine and have our best interests at heart. Please protect those who are elderly, have compromised immune systems, or have other health issues that put them at high risk for this disease. We ask for Your divine intervention and protection and that You will help healthy people to take great care to protect others and serve them.
- Come against depression for those who have lost jobs, whose children are out of school, or who feel helpless or isolated. Being separated from loved ones and/or friends causes many people to struggle with feelings of being left alone and lost. Please consider how you can be an encourager and to pay attention to the situation of others who might be quarantined. For those whose work situations have changed, please be sensitive and creative. Consider hiring people who are out of work or find ways to support businesses that are working differently such as restaurants that are delivering food instead of serving food in a sit-down restaurant. Pray for parents of children who are out of school and may not be able to go to their jobs or get a good childcare situation. With the unknown comes uncertainty and fear. Ask God to use you to be an instrument He can use to be the hands and feet of Jesus for others.
Father, thank You that we can cast all of our anxieties on You because You care for us (1 Pet. 5:7). You know the plans You have for us…plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). Thank You that You heal those who are brokenhearted and bind up their wounds (Psa. 147:3), whether physical, spiritual or emotional. When the righteous cry for help, You hear them and deliver them out of all their troubles. You are near to the brokenhearted and save the crushed in spirit (Psa. 34:18). We are grateful that when those who labor come to You with heavy burdens, You will give them rest (Matt. 11:28). Lord, Your Word says that You give families to those who are lonely and for that we are to be thankful (Psa. 68:6). Please do this for those who feel that they have no one and feel depressed and alone. We pray for those families whose children are out of school for an uncertain amount of time. Provide for these families, Lord. Give them all that they need. Most of all, help us to remember that You have commanded us, to “be strong and courageous” and not to tremble or be dismayed for You, the Lord our God are with us (Josh. 1:9).
May the Gospel of Jesus be made famous in the midst of this virus. May the enemy be defeated and may the church experience spiritual awakening that transforms individuals, families, businesses, schools, and our entire culture here in this nation and across the earth! In Jesus’ powerful Name, Amen! Harvest Prayer Ministries
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