WIC Weekly March 15th 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
Last Sunday we were pleased to welcome Lynn and her daughter Gianna, as well as Bridget, all from Kenya; Samuel from Rwanda; and Małgorzata from Poland. We also caught our first glimpse of baby Arnold – Anna and Justin’s son.
With the coronavirus on the increase in Poland, and considering that we are a church full of foreigners from all over the world, our worshippers are advised to take particular care in matters of commonsense hygiene. A notice about hygiene and what to do if you suspect you have the virus will be read out in church at future services.
We praise God that Brother Jacob has managed to get a visa and is back in Warsaw. However, please remember Brother Ashwyn in your prayers, as he is still waiting for his visa to arrive.
Please pray for our young worshippers John and Stephen, who have both caught flu.
Last Sunday’s sermon
Romans 4, 1-5 and 13-17; John 3, 1-17
A man comes to see Jesus at night. Not just any man – Nicodemus is a ruler of the Jews. A VIP. And he’s a Pharisee. Very religious – a God-fearing man. He’s not a pagan. He respects Jesus, and he knows that Jesus has come from God, because of the miracles that Jesus does – healing miracles. Nicodemus is a believer – he demonstrates that he has some faith.
But Jesus has a message for him: “You must be born again. You have to be born of the Spirit. And this happens only by the grace of God – the wind of the Spirit blows wherever it wishes. You are sensitive, upright and religious. But you need to be revived”.
We normally think of this passage as being a powerful message to unbelievers: “You must be born again”. But as I said, Nicodemus already was a believer – even believing in Jesus, to a certain extent. He would have practised religious rituals; he would have said the prayers he was supposed to say; and he would have done many good works, to please God. He believed in the same God as Jesus. But he didn’t have the same level of communication with God. He was obviously spiritually hungry and had a need to come to Jesus.
I’ve always been surprised at how reluctant people are to pray in public. Surely, if we have a living relationship with God, we should find it easy to say our prayers out loud. I notice it particularly at Thursday meetings, when we’re in a small, friendly group. Some of us have known each other for years. Yet hardly anyone prays during prayer time. How can we possibly have a prayer meeting? At first I thought it was because people didn’t feel comfortable praying in English. So I said: “Pray in your own language”. But still, hardly anyone does so. And that worries me.
It worries me, because it could be that many of us, in our church, don’t actually know how to pray – and do not pray. We don’t communicate with God. Many of us could be used to praying set prayers, like the Lord’s Prayer. But that means that we are still at the level of Nicodemus. We may sincerely believe in God – but we don’t have a personal relationship with Him. We don’t talk to Him all the time, like a child to its parents. And if we don’t talk to God, that’s not real faith, is it? Because faith involves communication. If we don’t communicate with God, how can we trust Him? How can we lift Him up in our lives? Jesus said: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of God be lifted up”.
Do you know what Jesus is referring to, when He talks about Moses lifting up the serpent? The story is in the Book of Numbers – the fourth book of the Bible – in chapter 21. The Israelites are still wandering around in the desert – they are not yet in the Promised Land. And they are complaining again: complaining against God and against Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?”, they cry. “We have hardly any food or water”.
So God punished the people, because they were complaining. He punished them by sending serpents – poisonous snakes – to bite them. Many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said: “We have sinned, because we have complained against God. Please pray to God, that He may remove the snakes”. You see, the people were believers – but they could not pray. They had no living relationship with God. They had to ask Moses to pray for them – and he did.
And God said to Moses: “Make a bronze snake, and put it on a pole. And then, whenever anyone is bitten, let them look at the bronze snake, and they will live”. And that’s what Moses did.
Now, here we are, with our life on earth. It’s not always easy, is it? So we complain. We complain about the weather. We complain about our blood pressure. We complain about our work. We complain about prices and earnings. We find it hard to accept that God has put us in this wilderness for a purpose: to lead us into the Promised Land. To fill us with His Holy Spirit.
What does complaining show us? It shows us that we don’t trust God. It shows us that we have no personal relationship with Him. It shows us that we don’t have faith that He’s actually leading us. And so God punishes us. It’s a warning punishment, not a final punishment. God simply wants people to turn to Him. In 2 Chronicles 4:7, God says: “If I send pestilence among My people, and My people humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, I will hear from heaven and will heal their land”. The coronavirus is an opportunity for people everywhere to turn to God. God sends us floods and fires. He sends us wars. He sends us the virus. Only when they can no longer handle the situation do the people form a personal relationship with God, as they cry out to Him: “Forgive us! We have sinned! We have ignored you! Somebody who knows how to pray, please pray, that this terrible catastrophe may be removed!”
But you know what? We are the people of God! We are the ones who should be praying! We are the ones who should be talking to God! Why aren’t we? Why are we expecting a few leaders to do that? God is calling us all to pray!
We were reading about the faith of Abraham. Why was Abraham made right with God? Was it because of his obedience to God’s law? No. Was it because of all the good deeds he did? No. Was it because he could say his prayers off by heart? No. It was because he had faith, and could talk to God – any time, any place, just like a child, in a natural way.
I’ve mentioned Jim Cymbala before – the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York. He tells how he was at a prayer meeting, and heard a woman praying softly, on his left hand side. She was talking to God as if God was standing next to her! “You know, Lord, I’m going to lose my son” – and she started crying, and prayed a bit louder. “He’s going to join those criminal gangs, unless You help him. I can’t do it myself”. She was praying desperately. “You’ve got to do something, God! You know his father is dead. I’m trying to raise him on my own – it’s too much for me to keep him out of trouble. If You don’t help me, no one can!” She couldn’t pray anymore because she was crying so much. That – my friends – is intercession. That is prayer. That is how we should be praying – boldly and desperately. Because that is how we move God to help us.
I believe, that when Jesus talks about being born again, He’s talking about us. We are the Nicodemuses, who are not bold enough, and so we come to Jesus by night. We must be revived; we must be born again; we must have faith – strong faith. We ourselves must communicate with God. Moses lifted up the bronze snake, and the people were healed. When the Son of Man is lifted up, we are healed.
Are you lifting up Christ? Is He reviving you? Are you calling upon His name? When the oceans are rising, and the waters are getting deeper, are you trusting Him? Are you keeping your eyes above the waves? Are you resting in His embrace? Only there will you be safe. Because the waves are getting higher and higher. We can all feel it. Get into Christ’s safe ship now, and really start praying. Amen.
This Sunday’s readings
15 March is the Third Sunday in Lent. Verse for the week: “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17, 7). Responsive reading: Psalm 18 (excerpts). Old Testament reading: Exodus 17, 1-7. New Testament reading: Romans 5, 1-11. Gospel reading: John 4, 5-26.
Food of the Spirit
Knowing God Through Prayer
Prayer is much more than merely asking God for something, although that is a very valuable part of prayer if only because it reminds us of our utter dependence upon God. It is also communion with God – talking with Him, not only to Him. We get to know people by talking with them. We get to know God in like manner. The highest result of prayer is not deliverance from evil, or the securing of some coveted thing, but knowledge of God. “And this is life eternal, that they should know Thee, the only true God...” (John 17:3). Yes, prayer discovers more of God, and that is the soul’s greatest discovery. Men still cry out, “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him! that I might come even to His seat!” (Job 23:3). The kneeling Christian always “finds” Him, and is found of Him. The heavenly vision of the Lord Jesus blinded the eyes of Saul of Tarsus on his downward course, but he tells us, later on, that when he was praying in the temple at Jerusalem he fell into a trance and saw Jesus (Acts 22:18). Then it was that Christ gave him his great commission to go to the Gentiles. Vision is always a precursor of vocation and venture. It was so with Isaiah. “I saw the Lord...high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple” (Isa. 6:1). The prophet was evidently in the sanctuary praying when this happened. This vision also was a prelude to a call to service, “Go....” Now, we cannot get a vision of God unless we pray. And where there is no vision the soul perishes.
A Thirst for God Alone
A friend of Horace Bushnell was present when that man of God prayed. There came over him a wonderful sense of God’s nearness. He says: “When Horace Bushnell buried his face in his hands and prayed, I was afraid to stretch out my hand in the darkness, lest I should touch God.” Was the psalmist of old conscious of such a thought when he cried, “My soul, wait thou only upon God”? (Psa. 62:5). I believe that much of our failure in prayer is due to the fact that we have not looked into this question, “What is prayer?” It is good to be conscious that we are always in the presence of God. It is better to gaze upon Him in adoration. But it is best of all to commune with Him as a Friend – and that is prayer. Real prayer at its highest and best reveals a soul athirst for God – just for God alone. Real prayer comes from the lips of those whose affection is set on things above. What a man of prayer Zinzendorf was. Why? He sought the Giver rather than His gifts. He said: “I have one passion: it is He, He alone.” An anonymous Christian
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