WIC Weekly August 2nd 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 Edyta from Poland, Danson from Kenya and Melinda from Finland to our online service.
This Saturday those who ordered WIC T-shirts and are based in Warsaw will be able to collect them (please bring your payment on collection, if you haven't already paid). They will be available for collection between 2 and 4 pm at the cafe just across the road from our church, on the corner of Miodowa and Schillera streets.
We thank you for all your support - prayer as well as financial. If you wish to make a contribution to WIC, the church's bank details are as follows:
Warsaw International Church
Santander Bank Polska S.A.
IV/Oddział w Warszawie ul. Jana Pawła II 17 00-854 Warszawa Polish złoty (PLN) account: PL 63 1090 1056 0000 0000 0600 9128
This Sunday we will be celebrating Holy Communion at our online service. If you wish to take part in Communion by giving it to yourself (and to those with you), please try to ensure that you have red wine or grape juice or water prepared, as well as bread or matza (unleavened bread, cracker).
Here is your link for this Sunday’s online service at 11 am CET:
Join us for this Sunday’s live online service on Zoom at 11 am CET by clicking: Warsaw International Church - Weekly Zoom Service (Sundays @11:00 am) Time: Sundays @ 11:00 AM Warsaw Meeting ID: 375 882 822
Recordings of our Sunday services are available on our wic.org.pl website.
Please continue to pray for our Turkish sister Anna, who is awaiting the results of tests after suffering much pain. Please keep praying for her to be healed.
Pray for the conversion of your unbelieving friends and loved ones. At this time of COVID-19, God has opened a window of opportunity for millions of people to come to Christ, as they see the ground crumbling beneath their feet and mankind being powerless to help them. We pray for general revival all over the world.
Last Sunday’s sermon
Readings: Acts 6, 1-15; Matthew 13, 44-52.
Anyone who reads the Bible a lot must notice how much attention Jesus pays to the idea of the Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom of Heaven). In Matthew’s Gospel, in particular, Jesus gives us so many illustrations of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. We know that the whole world is under the rule of the “prince of this world” – Satan, the evil force in our existence. Into this world comes God, to establish His power, His glory, His rights. His power is spiritual, not worldly; and He rules in the hearts of His people. And because God comes with spiritual power, the world is in a state of crisis, because everyone must decide whether or not to submit to God’s rule. We enter the Kingdom of Heaven by one condition: “Repent, and believe the Good News about Jesus Christ”. In other words, put all your trust in the Lord.
Those who enter the Kingdom of Heaven have spiritual power over Satan. They are delivered from the power of sin. They share their faith with others, and they themselves live a life of “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. The Kingdom of Heaven is therefore among us, and it’s a foretaste of heaven.
So what Jesus is talking about is a state of being. The Kingdom of Heaven is Christ’s own state of being, free of sin, and also the new state of being of everyone who submits to the Lord in his or her life. It’s the state in which we realize that Christ is our Lord, Saviour and God. In our Gospel reading, Jesus calls our Christ-centred state of being a “priceless treasure, more desirable than anything else”; and also a “pearl of great value”, to be acquired by “selling” everything we have – in other words, transferring our whole heart from other interests to the one supreme interest: serving God alone. God should reign in our hearts – not the will of Harry, or July, or whatever your name is. Even our holiday plans should take God into account!
But the Kingdom of Heaven is also a net, according to Jesus. Not all who seem to be in the Kingdom really are in the Kingdom. So there’s a true and a false Kingdom of Heaven – and the false one is really the kingdom of this world all over again. The visible church, with its institutions and organizations, includes not only true believers, but also false ones: the “bad fish”, as Jesus calls them: people who are not sincere about their faith. I’m assuming that you and I are all “good fish”: that we are sincerely living in the Christ-centred state of being, known as the Kingdom of Heaven. So we are citizens of two kingdoms here on earth, whereas unbelievers and self-centred people are only citizens of the kingdom of this world.
Notice that often these two kingdoms clash – they collide. Always our fight is for justice, peace, acceptance, transparency, sincerity, equality – the interests of Christ our Saviour. And always the interests of the world are connected with promoting one’s own self or the self-centredness of one’s family, or tribe, or caste, or country, and often with war, injustice, hypocrisy, lies, selfish pride, intolerance and inequality. The two don’t go together. For example, what do you do when your country calls you up to fight in a war? Your Christ-self says: “Do not kill – Jesus was a pacifist”. Yet your country wants you to take up a gun and kill other people. I remember that precisely this discussion was being held in the media when I was in Germany in 1981; the German prime minister, who was a Christian, insisted that the Kingdom of Heaven should only apply to our personal life and not interfere with what a country might require a person to do.
In 1982, when I was back in England, there was a chance that I might be called up to fight in the Falklands War – I remember thinking that I saw absolutely no sense in going off to shoot Argentinians who hadn’t done anything to me personally, just in order to defend a group of islands on the other side of the world, which I wasn't even sure should belong to Britain. Fighting is a moral problem for many Christians, and people need to decide for themselves what they should do. But they should remember Peter’s words before the Sanhedrin: “We must obey God rather than men!” – even if it means going to prison. I think that would have been a good reply to that German prime minister.
In the reading from Acts, the question of conflicting interests also arises. First, there is the conflict between Greek-speaking Christian Jews and Hebrew-speaking Christian Jews. The Greek-speaking Christian Jews were complaining that food wasn’t being distributed fairly to their widows. This was causing a further conflict of interests among the twelve disciples: how can they see to people’s material needs and simultaneously have time for prayer and for the ministry of the word – in other words, for study and preaching and teaching? They’re overloaded. It’s a problem so many of us face today. We have to see to our worldly needs – but also leave time for prayer, Bible reading and meditation. If we can’t get up early in the morning, we’ll find ourselves doing our worldly tasks during the day and then being too tired to pray and study in the evening. So we neglect the Kingdom of Heaven in our lives.
The disciples solved the problem by appointing other followers of Christ to look after the material needs. Seven men were appointed, including Stephen, described as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. Stephen, as you know, became the hero of this and the following chapter, when he was cruelly stoned to death.
Stephen’s Holy Spirit wisdom – and the miracles he was able to do – made him enemies. The kingdom of this world clashed with the Kingdom of Heaven. The Jews who argued with him couldn’t stand up to his God-given wisdom, so they stirred up the people with fake news, and produced false witnesses who lied about what Stephen had been saying. Just like Peter and the apostles earlier on, so now Stephen found himself before the Jewish Supreme Court – the Sanhedrin. And his face shone like that of an angel. That was because Stephen was living on the level of intense Christ-centredness – the state of being of the Kingdom of Heaven. Stephen reminded the Sanhedrin of God’s promised Messiah, Jesus, whom they themselves had put to death on a cross! The members of the Sanhedrin were so angry at this that they attacked Stephen and personally stoned him to death.
You see, if we live on the level of our Christ-centred state of being – if we live in that Kingdom of Heaven state – then, even though we have a pearl, a great treasure, the world will seek to ignore us, or make fun of us, and may even persecute us for this. Unbelievers may laugh at us, and sometimes even hate us. The world won’t understand our priorities, which seem ridiculous or foolish to it. But in our weakness, we will discover an inner spiritual strength which the world can’t understand, and which sometimes drives it mad, because it can’t figure us out. Even if everything falls apart around us, we don’t have to despair, but we can stand firm, and can rejoice in the Lord like Stephen.
As I said, I’m assuming you are already living in the Kingdom of Heaven state. If anyone hasn’t yet found Christ, but is dominated by their own self-centredness, I urge you to put your faith in Christ the Lord now, and make Him the centre of all your attention – not yourself.
One of the things that Jesus said about the Kingdom of Heaven was that it is within us – not just among us in a few other people, but within us. Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is made up of people like children. Kids find it easy to abandon themselves, to forget their own self-centredness for a while, to make up and forgive, to love. Man was created in the image of God; in other words, in Christ. And little children live in Christ, in a state of something we would call innocence. We lost our life in Christ when we fell into sin, but somewhere deep down within every person the image of Christ still shines, unnoticed, and ignored by most people. But it gives us hope, because we know that Christ died for our sins and cancelled them. So Christ restores us to live in Him again, in God’s image, as a member of the Kingdom of Heaven. All we have to do is want to live in that state.
I have an acquaintance who’s just announced to me that, after years of being a Christian, he’s finally seen the light and become …. an atheist! His new god is Richard Dawkins! But you know, I have no difficulty praying for him, or for people like him. I have no difficulty, because I know that Christ the image of God is within him, and he can’t run away from that. Unbelievers who try to avoid God are like Jonah, who tried to run away from Him – without success. The Kingdom of God is within us. So we can pray for such people to find that treasure, that pearl of great price which is so close to them, by the grace of God. We can pray for everybody like that, in the assurance that Christ is very, very near. Paul says in Acts chapter 17: “God’s purpose is that people will seek Him and perhaps reach out and find Him, though He’s not far from each of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being”. So there’s hope for everybody.
And if you are already Christ-centred, living the life of a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, I recommend that you read through the references to the Kingdom of Heaven, mainly in the second half of Matthew’s Gospel – all the illustrations that Jesus gives, of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. It’s your life in Christ that Jesus is describing, so lift your heads! You already have the most precious thing you could ever have! You have the pearl; the treasure; you have a seat at the banquet; you have become like little children – these are all parables of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Just live more and more in that Kingdom life! Submit yourself to the Lord more and more! And you too will shine like Stephen. Model yourself on Stephen and the apostles, and live in their inner joy and peace! The Kingdom of Heaven is yours! Amen.
This Sunday’s readings
2 August is the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost.
Verse for the week: [Jacob said:] "I will not let you go unless you bless me" (Genesis 32, 26).
Psalm: 145, 8-9. 14-21. Old Testament reading: Genesis 32, 22-30. Gospel reading: Matthew 14, 13-21.
Food of the Spirit
Give God No Rest
People say to me, how long have you been travelling, preaching on revival? And I say, a long time. How long? Well, half a century. Don’t you get discouraged? What is there to be discouraged about? I’ve been doing what I was asked to do. I wasn’t asked to bring revival. I was asked to plead with the people to repent and seek the face of God. I haven’t done it perfectly. I sometimes say, "Lord, if you’d let me run through life again I think I could do a better job the second time," but I’ve done what I could. I don’t have any grounds for discouragement. Someone might wonder, "Why not?"
We’ve had one prayer meeting in Wheaton, Illinois, that’s been running for well over twenty years. Have we seen revival in Wheaton, Illinois? Thank God, we saw a stirring in the college about four years ago. But no, we haven’t seen any revival in the city yet. But have I any grounds for discouragement? No.
As a young man still in college I was frequently engaged in revival meetings so-called. Night after night when I should have been in my room studying, I was out preaching. On one occasion a couple of college friends asked if I would join them in a spiritual effort in one of the churches not far off. One was the student pastor, the other was a lovely musician, and they said, "Would you come and preach in an eight-day meeting?" I delighted to say, "Yes."
We travelled out of the city of Spokane a few miles to a rural area. Night after night I preached. By about the third or fourth night the place was jammed with people. There were multitudes standing outside looking in the windows and through the doorway. Somehow a reporter from the great newspaper in Spokane was there and wrote an article in the newspaper about this amazing stirring that was going on in this small community under the leadership of these college students.
We reached an agreement among ourselves. The evidence seemed overwhelming that God was at work, that there was a prospect of a mighty outpouring. So we three agreed to meet together on the college campus following the Friday evening meeting to give ourselves to a night of prayer. So we met. We prayed with great fervour for an hour or two. Then one of the brothers, who was the only married one of the three of us, interrupted the prayer and he said, "My wife will be worried. I’d better go home," and off he went.
The two that remained tried to get back into the spirit of prayer. After a little bit, the second fellow said, "Well, after all, we are students. Our major calling is in connection with our studies. I don’t think we really want revival. I mean, how could we be leading a great revival and still be students? I think I’ll go home," and off he went. There I remained.
"Well, Lord, what should I do?" The answer was obvious: stick by your commitment; pray. So I struggled manfully onward for a little while, and then I thought, "Oh Lord, nothing is going to happen. The two of them have forsaken me." So I folded up my Bible and went to my room.
Foolishly, we allowed the continuation of the meeting to be announced, but by Tuesday night, it was dead. I was agitated. Shame on those two! Imagine the gall of committing ourselves to a night of prayer and then slipping away. Shame on them! I rejoiced to be agitated by their unfaithfulness. After a while it dawned on me that I wasn’t called to be a leaner. I was called to stand alone. The real problem lay not with those brothers who forsook me, but in this brother who forsook the Lord.
I began then to learn a very powerful lesson. I’ve never been given assurance that I’m going to give God no rest day or night in company with a multitude of others. If God blesses me with others, well and good. But if I’m alone and there is no one else who is willing to press on in this urgent matter of prayer, I still better stick by my calling.
I ask you, "Have you got what it takes to press on alone without any regard whether anybody else stands with you or not?" I suffered for three or four years from that failure; not that I didn’t keep active, but I did not again for over three years see another deep stirring of the Spirit of God. It took me a long time to recover from that failure to stand alone. Oh, I plead with you to set your heart on giving God no rest day or night!
By God’s grace I pressed on with a measure of faithfulness for a long time. Then I was approaching my sixty-fifth birthday, and I allowed a sense of age to interfere. I said to myself, "You’re too old to keep on with this work." I was under attack by the evil one and was foolish enough to give in to it. Then it dawned on me that having a sixty-fifth birthday didn’t mean a thing. My calling was to give God no rest day or night until He visited us in gracious power.
Maybe someone else has reached that point where they’ve said, I’ve served my term. I’ve done what I could. I’m due a rest now. Well, if you give yourself a rest, you give God a rest. Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Even when you’re ill you can keep the Lord troubled on this matter.
I find that something else that is robbing many, indeed I fear a high percentage of the Church, from giving God no rest is their inability to read the times and to feel with the heart of God what He feels. I’m grieved and troubled by the vast masses in the Church that do not have any visible perception at all where we’re at.
When we had the stirring at Wheaton College a few years ago, we who had prayed for it were all grateful but grievously disappointed that the principles of revival were not understood. The students were stirred and moved, and hundreds of them stood and confessed awful sins. But there is a phenomenal difference between the confession of sin and repentance. Many of these students who would in utter honesty confess their sins, were not brought to repentance. And so months, even years now after the revival, their tragic conviction is that revival is worthless, it has no meaning. Some of them have said, "I tried that. I went forward. I confessed my sin, and I’m right back now where I was then." We ought to give God no rest day or night until He visits us with a Word-centered revival in which multitudes of people sit hour after hour under the most urgent preaching of the Word of God.
Oh Lord, help us to learn how to pray with importunity for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
Richard Owen Roberts
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