WIC Weekly May 10th 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
Many people in different parts of the world joined us for last Sunday’s online service, which was really heartening to know! Thank you, all those taking part – we are able to meet together as one great family of present and former worshippers.
At the same time, I’d like to encourage even more of our Readers to join us in this form of worship – time zone permitting. We also have a virtual “coffee hour” afterwards, and in this way we can see you (maybe after many years), catch up with your news and perhaps even get to know you for the first time.
Also, if you know anyone you would like to recommend our services to, feel free to forward the link below to them.
The online Bible studies on alternate Thursdays are also going well.
Here is your link for this Sunday’s service at 11 am CET:
Here is your link for this Sunday’s service at 11 am CET: 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.
We are still praying for the conversion of Muslims during this time of Ramadan, especially those troubled by the coronavirus and its effects on their lives, that they may meet the Lord.
Let us all continue to pray for global revival.
Please also continue to pray for the safety and protection of your loved ones and yourselves, and for members of WIC.
Last Sunday’s sermon
Readings: Acts 2, 42-47; 1 Peter 2, 19-25; John 10, 1-10.
Today is a national holiday in Poland - Poland’s Constitution Day! After the American Constitution, Poland’s is the oldest in the world – and the first one in Europe. The Constitution of May 3rd 1791 created more equality in Poland, and gave peasants greater protection. Of course, today we have a more modern Constitution in Poland. Basically, a Constitution grants rights to citizens, as well as obligations. Even if some people don’t respect the Constitution, it’s better that we have one than if we don’t.
When you think about it, isn’t Jesus just a bit like a Constitution – a good thing to be followed, so that we can all benefit? Our reading from Peter’s first letter says: “once you were like sheep who wandered away; but now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls”. In other words, there was a time before people knew Jesus, and they were lost. Of course, they had a sort of Constitution to respect: they had the Law of Moses. It had very detailed laws and regulations – many more than the Polish Constitution! And as with any Constitution, some people tried to follow it down to the very last detail; while others couldn’t care less about it.
But this Jewish Constitution – if we can call the Law of Moses that – did not give people an absolute sense of being safe in God’s hands, because the direct contact with God was missing. Only when Jesus died on the cross was a more direct relationship with God made possible - symbolized by the curtain in the Temple being torn in two, from top to bottom, when Jesus died: the curtain separating the people from the holiest part of the Temple, where the presence of God was said to be. With the resurrection of Jesus, a direct relationship with God was made possible, for both Jews and Gentiles. Through Jesus, God becomes our personal Shepherd.
We can see what a wonderful sense of safety and personal guidance our Lord Jesus gives us in today’s Gospel reading! He calls us His sheep, and He is both our Shepherd and the door, or gate, by which He leads us out. Sheep are nice and friendly, but they’re pretty stupid, and without a shepherd they’d be totally lost. They need a shepherd to be around in person – to call them, and sometimes even to carry them! That’s how it is with people. A personal shepherd is much more useful to them than the Polish Constitution, or even the Law of Moses – simply because he’s a person.
The question is: how do we know which shepherd to follow? How do we know if someone who wants to lead us is a true shepherd, or a thief or robber? Jesus suggests that His sheep will follow Him, because they will recognize His voice – they will run away from strangers. So there is a special bond, a special personal relationship between Jesus and His followers: He knows who they are, and they know who He is – to such an extent, that even if they follow others for a time, they will soon realize their mistake and turn back to Him. This happens not because His sheep are wiser or more intelligent than other sheep, but because their bond with Him is so close. He calls them, and they respond.
In the reading from Peter, it says: “God is pleased when, conscious of His Will, you patiently endure unjust treatment”. That’s a difficult one, isn’t it? The Shepherd might want His sheep to suffer injustice! Have you ever been in such a situation – knowing that it’s God’s Will that you should not retaliate when you are unjustly treated? Or that you should take the blame for someone else – like Jesus did for us? Have you been blamed for something you didn’t do, and were even unable to defend yourself? In countries where Christians are persecuted, this happens a lot. Such Christians feel that somehow God allows them to be treated badly or unjustly – because they know that God could put a stop to it at any time. They can’t explain why they should suffer so much – but they know it’s His Will, and all they ask of us is that we pray, so that they might endure their suffering. I suppose it’s a kind of witness. God is calling them to be witnesses to Christ.
Perhaps some of us might think that, in this coronavirus crisis, God will keep us from suffering, because God just wants unbelievers to turn to Him. That’s a dangerous assumption. We Christians could die of the virus just like anybody else. And in many countries where Christians are persecuted, they are now persecuted even more. Sometimes they are held responsible for spreading the virus. Sometimes they are thrown out of their families, because in certain countries the virus causes shortage of food. Sometimes they are not received back into their families, because the rest of the family is scared of being infected by them. Sometimes, if masks, medicines or food are distributed by the government, they are overlooked. Yet they see this as God’s Will for them, to witness to the non-Christian population. So following the Good Shepherd can lead to persecution and suffering.
You know, God might want us believers to suffer, because He wants to use us in some way we might not even realize. One of our worshippers (Brother Francesco) sent me a video of a very moving testimony by a pastor from Northern Ireland, about how God healed him from the coronavirus last month. You can hear it on YouTube if you google The Ark Church, Belfast. The pastor was having a hard time in hospital, and obviously no one could visit him. All he could do was call out to God to have mercy and save his life. Surprisingly a cleaner started talking to him. It turned out that this cleaner had been a missionary in Nigeria for 14 years! He prayed for the pastor, and the pastor started to feel better that same night, and his appetite suddenly returned (the coronavirus takes away your appetite). He got such a big appetite that night that he prayed that God would somehow send him some prawn-flavoured crisps and a can of coca-cola! And the next morning, that was exactly what the cleaner brought him – without even knowing what the pastor wanted! I have no doubt that this was a genuine testimony. So God is using that pastor’s testimony on YouTube to reach thousands of other people with this message: that God knows exactly what we need and desire! He’s our Good Shepherd. But He wants us to turn to Him in our distress.
At Pentecost, 3,000 people turned to the Lord, because they were in spiritual distress and they cried out: “What shall we do? What shall we do to be saved?” The Shepherd heard His sheep calling, and came to their rescue. Just like people today can be converted by a testimony on video, so those Jews in Jerusalem were granted repentance and faith, as a result of Peter’s words. Then those new believers organized themselves, so that the church could grow. As it says in our reading from Acts, “all the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals, and to prayer”. God brought them together to live in a community, and to share whatever they had. He moved them to worship daily in the Temple, and to meet in each other’s homes for the Lord’s Supper. As they carried out God’s Will, a deep sense of awe came over them. Maybe in our church too, this could happen, as we meet online! Many miracles and healings took place. Above all, each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. They were in the middle of a great revival.
Our Lord is still the Good Shepherd – we know Him, and His voice calls to us through Jesus. And when we respond by calling out to Him, He will lead us through life. It’s a mystery we can’t explain. Even if we know that this could lead to our suffering or persecution, we still follow Him, because we have no one else to follow. No one else speaks to us like He does. All other shepherds are just thieves, robbers or strangers. If we follow them, they will lead us over the cliff, to our destruction. Our Lord may lead us into suffering and persecution, but never to destruction. And, like those first Christians, He wants to lead us into church growth and into Revival. I believe He’s doing so at the present time, right now.
Dear Friends, when things go wrong for you and you find yourselves in distress, call out to your great Shepherd. Cling to your Lord like never before. No force on earth can resist Him. His Will is completely in control. We don’t need to get upset that things aren’t working out as we think they should. All we need remember is that they are working out exactly as God wants them to work out. And that is where all our hope lies – in Jesus Christ our Good Shepherd. Amen.
This Sunday’s readings
10 May is the Fifth Sunday of Easter.
Verse for the week: “’The stone that the builders rejected—this One has become the cornerstone’, and ‘A stone to stumble over, and a rock to trip over’. The unbelieving stumble, because they disobey the message; they were destined for this” (1 Peter 2, 7-8).
Psalm: 31, 1-5. 15-16.
1st New Testament reading: Acts 7, 55-60.
2nd New Testament reading: 1 Peter 2, 2-10.
Gospel reading: John 14, 1-14.
Food of the Spirit
Shepherds In Need Of Revival
Last November  my wife and I were in Taiwan and in Korea. There was again a huge movement of God in my heart. As I approached Korea I knew more than 500 pastors and some of their staff would be gathering from all different denominations and from all over South Korea. On a Tuesday night suddenly what I had read in that book [Brian Edwards’ book, Revival, A People Saturated With God, in a description from a missionary in North Korea of that enormous moment in 1907 when the Spirit of God fell there] began to happen. Suddenly there was a profound encounter with God. I was not finished with the message, and I had not given an invitation, but suddenly the entire place broke out into wailing. Every person in that room was wailing before the Lord. The encounter was so deep in the lives of some that all they could do was shout. Others fell out on the ground and began to pound the floor. Others pounded the table and they wept. I looked at my interpreter and he was on his face beside me.
I had never been in a moment quite like that. I turned and went back to the chair behind me and began to kneel and pray. There was a touch on my shoulder and a man in broken English said, "I’m a pastor," and his eyes were swollen with tears. He said, "Would you pray for me? Is there any hope for me?"
I didn’t give him any comfort. I simply asked God to help me to know how to pray. I could tell you the moment that God set him free. Suddenly he hugged me and he cried and he said, "I’m free! I’m free!" He said, "Thank you," and he turned and walked away. I went back to pray again and there was another touch on my shoulder and it was another pastor. I looked and there was a whole line of pastors. It terrified me.
I grabbed the interpreter and went to the microphone. I said, "Folks, let me say a word to you. When you are in the presence of Almighty God don’t ever leave that presence until God is through with you. Do not seek a blessing from a man when you are face to face with Holy God. Lest I interrupt what God intends to do in this place, my wife and I are going to our room and we’re going to pray for you through the night. Do not leave the presence of God until He has completed His work in your heart."
The next morning folk began to give testimony. A stately pastor stood and said, "You know that I am a pastor of one of the largest Presbyterian churches in South Korea. I came with a very successful ministry. I came with great acclamation from people. Last night God confronted me. He said, ‘You are full of sin. You have lost the shepherd’s heart. You are no longer ministering to My people, or caring for them. The word I have for My people I can’t get to them because of you. If you do not repent, your ministry is over.’"
This brother cried his heart out. He said the Lord would not let him loose all through the night and into the early hours of the morning and into the late hours of the morning. He said, "Finally God gave me peace. I want you to pray for me because I am going back to my people, and the work that God did in me to cleanse me, is what I want to see happen in the people that God has entrusted to me. God has once again let me be a shepherd to His people."
Others stood to testify, and it was an awesome moment. There were a number there who came and said, "South Korea has not seen a touch of God like this in thirty years."
But I had talked to them earlier and asked them a question. I had said, "Do you believe that God is willing that any North Koreans perish?" They all of one accord had said, "No, He wants them to be saved." Then I asked, "Are you willing for God to prepare you for what He might be about to do to open the doors to North Korea?"
I had said that with fear and trembling because I had just come from Taiwan and something very similar, but not of that magnitude, had occurred. I had not given an invitation, I had not finished the message and pastors began to come with brokenness to the altar and the front row. When I thought it was appropriate I went down to talk to one who looked to be in his early 30’s, and through swollen eyes he looked at me. I asked, "Sir, did God speak to you?" He said, "Yes, sir." I said, "What did God tell you?" He answered, "God commanded me to go and preach the gospel to China." I looked at him and said, "You know, sir, that may cost you your life."
He looked back at me, and I’ll never forget the look in his eyes. He looked straight through me and said, "Sir, that’s the issue I just settled with God a few minutes ago." And then I trembled because I realized that for me to be obedient to God may cost others their life.
It is critically important that spiritual leaders know the tremors of the activity of God. This past week I listened as North and South Korea communicated. It’s not a political decision. It’s a spiritual decision. I watched to see how God was touching the pastors because when God’s about to do something in one place, He starts it in another place. Then He works so that everything is in place when He does a mighty work. I believe we are standing in the middle of a spiritual crossroads. I believe the evangelical people of God in America are not aware of it, nor are even close to understanding what God is doing.
Henry Blackaby, 2002
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