WIC Weekly June 7th 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
At last Sunday’s Pentecost service, we were pleased to welcome Christopher from the UK (currently in Poland) and Adeyinka from Nigeria.
WIC will be moving back to church services in the near future. Our Church Council will hold a meeting to decide exactly when to move back, and under what circumstances.
Thursday Bible study will continue online as before, because the premises where we normally meet for Bible study will be closed for the next few months. Our next Bible study will be on 11 June.
Join us this Sunday for our first live online Holy Communion service! You are invited to prepare some wine or grape juice (or water if you have no wine or grape juice available), as well as bread or matzo, before the service, to give to each other if you are together with another believer, or to eat and drink yourself if you’re on your own. Please also prepare yourself before the service by repenting of your sins, thanking God for forgiving your sins on the cross, and for you to be close to Him during the Communion. For those of you who feel unsure about giving yourselves Communion, please remember that this is possible in the Protestant tradition, which teaches the “priesthood of all believers”, and because that is exactly what was practised in the early Christian church, where bread was broken in people’s homes every day.
This Sunday, we will be celebrating Pentecost. Join us for the live online service on Zoom at 11 am CET by clicking:
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 remember in your prayers the tense political (civil rights) situation in the United States and Hong Kong; and the devastation caused by COVID-19 in countries like Brazil, Russia, Iran and the United States.
We continue to pray for governments and presidents all over the world to heed the warnings of health experts, at a time when many countries are attempting to return to normal while not at all having the pandemic under control.
Here in Poland, let us pray that the sudden loosening of restrictions (which some health experts consider shocking) will not lead to another wave of infections and deaths.
Last Sunday’s sermon
Readings: 1 Corinthians 12, 3-13; Acts 2, 1-8 and 11-21.
When I was a boy, and a teenager, I must admit that the Holy Spirit didn’t mean much to me. I knew who God was, and I knew who Jesus was, but I couldn’t figure out the Holy Spirit. It was the apostle Paul who helped me to get the Holy Spirit sorted out in my head, in a verse from Romans chapter 8: “If any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ”. That made me realise that the Holy Spirit is something like the mind and character of Christ: the mind and character a person develops when they become a believer in Jesus.
The Bible makes it clear that this Spirit of Christ is not something we are born with. Don’t let anyone tell you they were “born a Christian” or “have always been a Christian” – it’s not true. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is given to us by God as a gift from God – when? When we believe in Jesus.
Look what happened at Pentecost: the Holy Spirit came to those who were already believers in Jesus. When the Spirit came to them, miracles took place! The believers started speaking in languages they had never learnt, but which the other Jews who had come to Jerusalem from far away could understand! Other miracles followed later, such as healing, prophesying and even raising people from the dead. I love the symbolism of the speaking in tongues – an indication that the outpouring of the Spirit was not just to be a local event, but would affect Jews from different countries and cultures; and later, of course, Gentiles in every country of the world. Even North Korea – there are thousands of Christians in North Korea!
Also, the Jews who witnessed these strange events in Jerusalem did not themselves receive the Holy Spirit straight away: they were astonished and confused. Remember what Peter said to them: “Repent and be baptized, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. Three thousand Jews repented and turned to Jesus – only then did they receive the Holy Spirit.
Have you repented of your sins and believed in Jesus? Then you too have received God’s Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. That Spirit is among us here and now, as we worship. It doesn’t matter if we can’t touch each other. It doesn’t matter that we are online, in different locations. That’s no problem for God’s Spirit! We feel His Spirit, here at our computers! We are moved, touched, enlightened, uplifted – so many spiritual qualities! We can have joy, peace, love in our hearts, right now – the fruit of the Spirit! We can have fellowship, communion with one another and with God – even Holy Communion! Why should it be a problem for God? He can become real to us – the Real Presence – at any time, in any place. The Real Presence of Christ. The Real Presence of the Holy Spirit. Present with every believer, and between believers, whether online or not.
What does this wonderful Spirit give us that we didn’t have before? Look into your life – what have you got now? Surely more love and understanding; more peace of mind and joy in your heart; more patience and willingness to forgive, perhaps. A quiet faith. A love of talking to God, in your prayer times. A love of talking about God, to others. A love of His Word in the Bible. A love of hymns and Christian songs.
Our reading from 1 Corinthians also mentions other gifts of the Spirit. Different spiritual ministries are given to us. Having spiritual wisdom is such a gift. So are preaching and teaching. So is healing. So is differentiating between different spirits – and so on. Our reading tells us that we all – as believers – have spiritual gifts from the same Holy Spirit. The Spirit distributes those gifts as He pleases, for one purpose only: to build up the church, to serve the Lord as His instruments, according to the plan He has for us.
Just try to imagine how great this Holy Spirit must be! Each one of us has only one small part of Christ’s Spirit. Even if you put together all the spiritual gifts of all the believers in the world, you still wouldn’t have a complete picture of the Holy Spirit’s greatness! He transcends what we are, and we are just a small part of that one Body – the Body of Christ. So we are not alone!
But what can we do with the spiritual gifts we have been given? Are they given to us to frustrate us, because we see so many people without the Spirit, who are perfectly happy to live like that? To frustrate us, when we see a world so full of sin, lies, hypocrisy, greed and all the rest of it? Haven’t you sometimes felt that you’re bubbling over with energy and spiritual insight, and you don’t know what to do with it? Especially in this coronavirus time, when we’re restricted in what we do? How can we believers in Christ channel the Holy Spirit within us at such a time, to be used as God wants us to be used?
Basil Malof was a Russian man of God who was active in the early part of the 20th century. He wanted to bring Jesus to his Russian people. He had to go to England to train to be a pastor, because there was no evangelistic training college in Russia. While he was in England, the great Welsh Revival of 1904 and 1905 occurred, and he went to Wales to see it for himself. While he was there, he got to know the Holy Spirit in a deep, intimate way. He saw God working mightily in the midst of His people; and Basil Malof wanted to see the same happening in Russia.
He returned to St. Petersburg and supervised the building of a large evangelical church there. But the Orthodox Church didn’t appreciate his efforts, and in the end he had to leave the country and settle in Sweden. He was really frustrated. God had clearly given him a calling to evangelise Russia, and there he was, stuck in Sweden. How can you praise the Lord when the door has been shut in your face?
And yet, Basil Malof started to praise God in spite of his frustration, because, when he was in his most depressed state, God gave him a spirit of praise in the darkness. He couldn’t stop singing hymns and praising and thanking God. And suddenly, God opened the door. World War One broke out. Hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers had been captured by the Germans and were taken to Germany. Those Russians included Poles, Latvians, Ukrainians and many other nationalities. Malof was able to provide evangelistic literature for this vast army of prisoners of war, and thousands of them were converted to Christ. And when the war ended, they went back to their different locations and took their new faith with them. That’s how God works.
Here’s another story. William and Mary Boardman were an American Presbyterian couple living in the 19th century, who came to England to help establish what came to be known as the Higher Life movement, with its emphasis on holiness. The movement centred around Keswick in England’s Lake District – some of you may have heard of it. When William died, his wife went through a very dark time. But as she was praying one day, she felt the Lord saying to her: “I want you to praise Me for the way in which I have taken your loved one”. Her response was: “How can I praise You, in my grief?” She kept repeating the word “praise”, but her heart couldn’t do any praising. So she prayed: “Lord, I will praise You if You will give me a spirit of praise”. And do you know what happened? In a moment, she was filled with praise! Just like the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem!
Now, if you’re thinking: “Easy to say, not easy to do”, I agree with you absolutely. God’s Spirit is needed! Ania and I had a bombshell late last night. Ania’s father was taken to hospital with suspected coronavirus, after he complained of a fever and breathing problems. To make matters worse, Ania and I had been at her parents’ house for two days this past week, looking after them. He probably doesn’t have the virus, because he suffers from heart failure, which affects your breathing. But how can I possibly have a spirit of praise this morning? It’s difficult. [Note: Thankfully the test results turned out to be negative.]
Many of us are feeling frustrated right now. We have God’s Spirit. We have many spiritual gifts. We want to see conversions, church growth. And all of a sudden, this virus appears. What will happen when we go back to church? Masks, disinfectant, keeping your distance, no shaking hands, no coffee hour – it sounds miserable. And we might think: “Is that how God wants us to worship? What about all the good things we wanted to do – all the plans we had?”
But today’s message is simply this: the Holy Spirit gives us many gifts. And there are many spiritual gifts which we don’t have. But in a time like the present, when life is depressing us, we can specifically ask God for the spiritual gift of praise. Because when we start praising God with all our hearts – that’s when we win our battles; that’s when we overcome the darkness; and that’s when God will open our doors. May He open the door to a praise revival in our midst! Amen.
This Sunday’s readings
7 June is the First Sunday after Pentecost.
Verse for the week: “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2, 46-47).
1st New Testament reading: Romans 8, 9-11.
2nd New Testament reading: 1 Peter 2, 1-3. 11. 21-25.
Food of the Spirit
The Challenge of Pentecost
The gift of the Holy Spirit is the distinguishing feature of the Christian religion. It is the very soul of our faith. In His indwelling Presence is the secret of all Christian experience, and in the abiding energy of His power is the dynamic of all Christian service. The promises concerning the Holy Spirit challenge us. The record of the day of Pentecost challenges us. The history of the Christian Church challenges us. Do we believe in the Holy Spirit? If we do, what is the practical proof of our faith?
Have we power over sin? The Spirit of Truth is the Spirit of Holiness. He sanctifies in truth. The Day of Pentecost changed carnal thought into spiritual vision, pride into humility, selfishness into love, and cowardice into courage. It changed hearts and transformed lives. Victory comes by fullness. Have we the joy of conquest over sin? Is the character of the average Christian anywhere near the standard of a Spirit-filled soul?
What about the love of the world? Jesus said He was One "whom the world cannot receive." They are in irreconcilable antagonism. What has come of the doctrine of separation? If believers were filled with the Spirit, would they haunt the world’s gaudy fountains and brackish springs? It is mockery to profess fullness, and go about panting with thirst and gasping with vanity.
What about the power for service? Is our decline due to external difficulties or internal weakness? Think of the host of workers, the vastness and variety of their service, the earnestness and ingenuity of their labours, and the scanty result of it all. What influence has the Church upon the life of the people, and what impression does it make upon the strongholds of iniquity?
What about the dearth of conversions? Pentecost brought awakening, conviction, conversions, and baptism; but the ungodly no longer speak of chapels as "converting furnaces." The gift of the Holy Spirit is the gift of power, and the lack of power is due to the absence of His indwelling fullness. Abounding fullness overflowed in gladness, testimony, and sacrifice.
The Call of Pentecostal Fullness
There is no doubt that the one thing needful for the Church is the blessing of Pentecostal fullness. The flood would sweep away all the rubbish, fill all the dikes, and fertilize all the desert. The work of God cannot be accomplished without the fullness of the Spirit, and everywhere God waits to give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. It is His will that every believer should be filled with the Spirit, overflow in the power of the Spirit, and in all things prevail through the Spirit.
What hinders? The blessing is for all, and for all now. The conditions are simple, unalterable and universal. God waits to fill ordinary people with extraordinary power, and to turn a baffled faith into a rapturous conquest....
The Way into the Blessing
Two things are plain:
(1) Pentecost is a definite work of the Spirit in Believers. (2) It is by grace through faith.
What are the steps of faith by which the blessing is appropriated?
The first step is to repent. "And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38).
There is a repentance of believers as well as of sinners. When men begin to pray for the blessing of Pentecost the answer begins in conviction of sin. The things of which they are convicted, as we have said, are not transgression of the law, but sins of the spirit. The things of which the believer is convicted are not in themselves sinful, but they are kept in disobedience to God’s will. Things are not surrendered, indulgences retained against light, possessions held for selfish ends--these must all be surrendered to the supreme authority of Christ. For until He is exalted, crowned, glorified, there can be no Pentecost.
The second step is to ask. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him" (Luke 11:13).
There must be definite asking for the specific gift. I was talking with a farmer in Lincolnshire a few years ago about prayer, and he said all the preachers he heard just now were urging people to pray and come to prayer meetings. "But," he said, "to my mind, desire has a good deal to do with praying, and praying is a slack business when desire is lacking." There must be desire that is focused into petition. "Ye have not," says James, "because ye ask not" (James 4:2), and there are thousands of believers who have never definitely asked for the Blessing. God waits to give, but He is a God of discretion, and waits to be asked. "I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it...For this, moreover will I be inquired of by the House of Israel to do it for them" (Ezek. 36:36-37).
We must be careful not to ask amiss. Nothing hinders faith so effectually as a wrong motive. "How can ye believe, which receive the glory of one another, and the glory that cometh from God ye ask not" (John 5:44). James traces the failure of prayer to the same source: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures" (James 4:2). The pleasures may be lawful and laudable enough, but God will not give the glory of His Son to another, and the mission of the Spirit is to glorify the Son. If the power is sought for success in Christian service merely, it will not be given. Christ must be supreme in affection and aim.
The third step is to receive. When the consecration is complete the act of faith is quite simple. "Receive ye the Holy Ghost" (John 20:22) is the all-inclusive command. It is the word used in the Upper Room when our Lord gave them the Bread that symbolized His Body-- "Take" (Matt. 26:26). There is a point at which asking becomes foolishness. Faith claims and takes. "Therefore I say unto you, all things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall have them" (See Mark 11:24). Take God at His Word.
The fourth step is the continuous life of obedience. Jesus Christ identifies faith with obedience, and in the Acts of the Apostles obedience is made the condition of receiving and retaining the Spirit. "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him" (Acts 5:32). Abiding fullness depends upon obedience to the ever widening circle of illumination. The blessing of Pentecost may be lost, and it is always lost when obedience fails. The Spirit filled must be Spirit ruled. We are ministers of the Spirit through whom the supply is conveyed. Those who are greatly used of God have no monopoly of the Holy Ghost; they are mighty through God because the Spirit has a monopoly of them.
Again I say this extraordinary gift is for ordinary people. All may be filled as full and as truly as the hundred and twenty on the day of Pentecost. The conditions are the same for all: Repent, Ask, Receive, Obey.
From The Way To Pentecost by Samuel Chadwick (1860-1932). Samuel Chadwick served as pastor, evangelist, lecturer and college president in the UK.
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