WIC Weekly May 2nd 2021
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 welcomed Sharoon from Pakistan (and based there) to our worship service. Sharoon has an outreach ministry to the Christian community in his area.
Brother Kothil has resigned from the Church Council. I extend my warm thanks to him for all his service, which has included preaching and leading the worship.
Here is your link for the Sunday service: Warsaw International Church - Sunday Service Meeting ID: 818 1714 5932
Recordings of our Sunday services are available on our wic.org.pl website or by googling "Warsaw International Church YouTube".
Thank you for your continuing support and prayers for our church and for one another. Please remember that WIC is entirely self-supporting: without your contributions we cannot operate as a church.
Should 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
Please continue to pray for Sister Anna's sister-in-law in Turkey, who is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. We pray that the therapy may be successful, and that the Lord will bring about a healing miracle.
While the situation regarding Covid is improving in Poland, in many countries it is greatly worsening. We pray especially for the people of India, that help may be provided to all sufferers in the form of hospital beds and medical attention, including oxygen supplies. May enough vaccines be made available to the population. We pray also for a more even distribution of vaccines throughout the world.
Let us continue to pray that the pandemic and its consequences may cause increasing numbers of people to turn to God in their need.
Please also continue to pray for our English-speaking friends Brother Kenz, Sister Kelly and their three children, who are in Azerbaijan trying to find a church in another country to sponsor them so they can start a new life with work prospects. They are still in great financial need and any contributions for them are greatly welcomed - please contact Pastor Harry for payment details.
Vahid in London also welcomes our continuing prayers in his own wait to be granted asylum in the UK.
Last Sunday's sermon was preached by Pastor Harry.
In this Easter season, when we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, we nevertheless look ahead slowly to Pentecost – when the Holy Spirit was poured out among the new Christian believers in Jerusalem. So I think we want to find out more about this Spirit: the Holy Spirit of God, of Jesus, who comes to people in such mysterious ways that, even after He comes to them, they still find it difficult to explain Him to others. When He comes to us, we use words like in today’s Old Testament reading from Isaiah – we too say: “Now I feel I belong to the Lord – I am the Lord’s”. But it’s difficult to get this across to people who have never had such an experience. In our verse for the week, Jesus calls it being “born again”. But He also says: “Unless you are born again, you can’t see the Kingdom of God”. Those words should make us think – we need to take them seriously.
A few weeks ago, we saw that the disciples already had this experience of being born again, on the very day that Jesus rose from the dead! Do you remember how He appeared to them in the evening, when the door of their house was locked, and breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit”? Their eyes must have been opened – perhaps for the first time – and they would fully have understood who Jesus really was, and felt His presence not only among them, but also within them. Because when you have the Spirit, the Kingdom of God is within you.
The setting for today’s story from the Acts of the Apostles is Samaria, which was where Philip was preaching. Philip was one of the men chosen in Jerusalem to be responsible for organizing the fair distribution of food to the Christians there, especially widows who were being overlooked. Philip was on fire for the Lord, and he wasn’t afraid to preach to people other than Jews. So he went directly to Samaria – the last place where many Jews wanted to go, because of their prejudices against the Samaritans. And there in Samaria, these Samaritans – half-Jews, half-pagans – responded to Philip’s preaching in such great numbers, that Peter and John decided to go there from Jerusalem, to see what was happening. God was performing miracles through Philip! Disabled people were being healed, and evil spirits were being driven out of those who were possessed. These were times of revival!
In one of the cities of Samaria, there was a man called Simon, who practised sorcery – black magic, occultism. We can call him a shaman or witch-doctor. Our passage tells us that Simon believed the gospel message and was baptized – though from the context, we can imagine that this was mainly because he was so amazed by the miracles that God was doing through Philip. Simon realized that Philip had something which he didn’t have, and he wanted it badly – but not to serve the Lord, but to serve himself, because he wanted to be regarded as an even more powerful magician. Simon wanted the Holy Spirit for himself. He was a self-centred Christian.
There’s an interesting situation in Samaria, isn’t there? Philip is full of the Holy Spirit, and he performs such miracles that the people are converted. They have changed their way of thinking, and have accepted Jesus – just like Simon. But apart from Philip, no one has received the Holy Spirit – not until Peter and John arrive, and lay hands on the people. The people have believed the message about Jesus – but they haven’t yet been born again. As Jesus says in our Gospel reading: “The wind blows wherever it pleases… So it is with everyone born of the Spirit”. In other words, the Holy Spirit is a gift from God – you can’t make yourself be born again. Even laying hands on people is no guarantee that they will receive the Spirit.
So, what’s the difference between a Christian who has the Holy Spirit, and a Christian who doesn’t? What do you think? Have we got two kinds of Christians?
This year in Poland, a population census is being conducted, in which everybody will also be asked to declare their religion, among other things. I can imagine that 95% of Poles might again put “Christian” or “Catholic” as their religion. Almost a whole country full of Christians! But of course, we know it’s not like that: most of them are what we can call “cultural Christians” or “nominal Christians”. They definitely regard themselves as Christians. They definitely have some knowledge about Christianity. They may go to church – perhaps even regularly. Most of them will say a prayer now and again – especially when they’re in trouble (who doesn’t?). But, by and large, their Christianity is a label. I can imagine the Samaritan believers were like that – no longer labelling themselves as “Jewish” or “pagan” or “Samaritan”, but as “Christian”. Accepting a new set of ideas is something we can all do by ourselves. I can become a Muslim or a Buddhist or an atheist next week if I want to – all I have to do is think myself into that frame of mind. And they can also become a Christian like that – just by thinking differently. But being such a “Christian with a label” does not yet mean I am born again with the Spirit of Christ. All it means is that I’ve accepted Christian ideas. And if I’ve accepted them so easily, I can reject them just as easily.
We seem to have a new global religion which has crept up on us. Our planet is so small now, because of the Internet and air travel – and people of other religions, or no religion, are all around us. Imagine that the people of this world are like bottles. We will have labels on the bottles, saying “Christian”, “Buddhist”, “Muslim”, “Hindu”, “Jewish”, “Agnostic” or “Atheist” – you can add other labels. Different sets of ideas, like different flavours – but they all have the same basic ingredient inside the bottle: I call it “Niceness and Kindness”. That’s the new world religion. It teaches that it doesn’t really matter what you believe, as long as you are nice and kind. Being nice and kind is what saves you – not God’s Spirit! Your beliefs are just a “flavour” – a coating on the outside.
Friends, being nice and kind, and believing a set of propositions about Jesus and God, is not enough to make you a Christian. Even Simon the sorcerer understood that! There has to be more: the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, has to dwell within a person. Biblically speaking, what makes you a Christian is the Holy Spirit coming into your bottle – coming into you, so that you’re born again. And when that happens, you’ll be the first to realize that it’s not enough to be nice and kind, like everybody else. You realize that you have been saved. You start praying for your friends and loved ones to be saved. Your soul has been touched by God. You find it hard to explain this to others – but you know you have it yourself. Why? Because your relationship with a personal God has now become so much closer, so much more intimate, so much more precious, than it ever was before.
There’s also another difference. A person who simply has Christian ideas will realize they still keep on sinning – they just can’t help it. Do you remember what Paul says in his Letter to the Romans?: “I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing”. That sums up all those who don’t have the Spirit of Christ within them. Because without the Holy Spirit within us, we have less control over our sinful thoughts, words and deeds – we’re not free. And we are self-centred. But if we have the Spirit, we do have that control – and if we then sin, that’s our free, conscious choice, because we know we didn’t have to give in to the temptation. We could have avoided it, and our shame is therefore that much greater – like David, who had the Spirit, but nevertheless committed adultery with Bathsheba, and felt so awful, so ashamed. The closer you get to God, the more sinful you realize you are. But also, the more control you have over your temptations.
Brothers and Sisters, God gives His Spirit to people as He pleases. We can desire to have the Spirit leading us, but we can neither force Him to come to us and save us, nor earn Him with our “niceness and kindness” and our good deeds. “The wind blows wherever it pleases… So it is with everyone born of the Spirit”. I believe those words of Jesus about being born again. But if we really desire and ask God to fill us with His Spirit – not for our own power, but simply to serve Him – then I’m sure He will – not just once, but many times. And then, when we have Christ’s Spirit, let’s obey Him as He leads us in our daily life. May God grant this to us all, through Jesus Christ, Amen.
Readings for 2 May
Verse for the week: "The hearts of men are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterwards they join the dead" (Ecclesiastes 9, 3).
Psalm: 84, 1-5. 10-12. Old Testament reading: Jeremiah 17, 5-10. New Testament reading: 2 Corinthians 3, 2-6. Gospel reading: Matthew 25, 14-30.
Food of the Spirit
God had given the apostles a commission. He had given them a mission of going into all the world, but they could not do it without the power of the Holy Spirit. These were the only people with the message that could save people and yet He told them to not go, but to tarry. So how important is the filling of the Holy Spirit? Unsaved people were dying all over Jerusalem and in Judea and in Samaria and in Galilee. But essentially the Word to them was, "Don’t go! You are the only ones with the message, but don’t go, because you are going to encounter satanic strongholds and great opposition, and you do not have the wisdom and the power and the boldness you will need to meet this. Although you are cleansed and believe in Me and you see Me now, you need something else. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you." Without that power, they couldn’t do the Lord’s work.
We Need the Spirit Today!
Brothers and sisters, nothing has changed to this day. We cannot do it with computers. We cannot do it with talents. We cannot do it with cleverness and production and relating and all else. We need wisdom in all our communication, but we need whatever this anointing and power of the Holy Spirit is. We need it! We cannot do God’s work on our own, no matter what seminary we go to. None of the original twelve went to any seminary. Isn’t that amazing?
Of the people who were filled with the Holy Spirit, one of them a few weeks previously had cursed and denied he knew the Lord. Who of us in our churches would have him preach with that record? With our sense of decency and reputation, who would have Peter preach? But God filled him with the Holy Spirit! I’m glad God is not like us! I’m glad God is a God of grace. The group in the upper room were all filled.
Receiving the Holy Spirit is the beginning. It is the start of the Christian life. It is not a sign of maturity. The church at Corinth had received the Holy Spirit. But it wasn’t mature; it was carnal. It had all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but they were arguing. One said he was of Paul; another said he was of Apollos. Paul asked, "Are ye not carnal?" (1 Cor. 3:3). They were thinking like men. It was not because they did not have a flow of the Holy Spirit. But receiving the Holy Spirit is just the beginning.
I wonder if Paul and Peter and James and John would come to earth today and walk among our churches in America, what would they say? They might possibly ask, "What are you doing? Where did you get the mandates to do what you’re doing? We’re not supposed to learn from men. We are supposed to learn from God."
I have learned that without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit I am a coward. I will not speak what God wants me to. I will begin to fear the face of man and I’ll give in to certain pressures. I need the power of the Holy Spirit. The lack of the Holy Spirit is one of the factors giving rise to the entire movement of seeker sensitiveness. Instead of declaring the truth under the anointing of the Holy Spirit there is effort to find out, "What do you want to hear? I’ll tell you. You don’t want to hear the mention of sin? All right, I won’t mention sin."
If you don’t believe in the power of the Holy Spirit you will not have the boldness to proclaim the truth. But notice it is not just power; it is love. When Peter spoke on the Day of Pentecost, it wasn’t harsh. It was powerful and authoritative, but tender.
If you say, "God is going to do it someday," thirty years can go by and that "someday" hasn’t come yet. We have to start believing. I believe that we need to see an opening of the heavens, that God would come down. But too many people are dying for me to wait for that. I’ve got to have revival right now in Brooklyn Tabernacle. You need to have revival right now in your church. If you do not have it, whose fault is it? It is not God’s fault.
Many people are being accused by the devil. As long as he can keep me looking in, thinking I’m not ready yet, of course he’ll say that to me. Doesn’t he come as an angel of light? God wants to change us. And He wants to change us now. The Blood Jesus shed on Calvary has never lost its power. How many do not want to live in sin? You want to be like Jesus. Does God see that? Let us pray and have faith now for the Holy Spirit!
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