WIC Weekly September 27th 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
THIS SUNDAY 27 SEPTEMBER WIC IS RETURNING TO WORSHIP AT ITS CHURCH PREMISES.
Unfortunately this coincides with a marathon being run along Miodowa Street outside the church, so IF YOU'RE ARRIVING BY CAR YOU MAY EXPERIENCE BLOCKED ROADS AND PARKING PROBLEMS.
I'm sure many of you are excited about resuming our church services after such a long suspension! Be assured, you are all very welcome and I will be overjoyed to see you (or at least your eyes!) again.
That said, there are some points to remember if you intend to worship in church in this coronavirus time. I've listed them below:
- Please stay at home if you feel unwell! You don’t want to make life worse for either yourself or others, and you can always follow the service on YouTube.
- If you do decide to come to church, come early to be sure of getting a seat, because we are restricting the number of worshippers taking part in services to 30 people, and also because of the entering procedure (however, this Sunday the German Lutherans will be having their service, which will finish at 10:30, so there's no point in coming before then). Please remember that we will start the service punctually at 11 am because of those worshippers connecting with YouTube at that time.
- Before entering the church, cover your mouth and nose with a mask, and keep it on throughout the service, even for singing (this applies to singers and readers as well). This is possibly the biggest inconvenience we’ll all have to get used to, but there’s no way round it if we want to have safe services.
- At the entrance, you’ll have your temperature taken and you’ll be able to disinfect your hands.
- There will also be an attendance list for you to enter your name, ID number and phone number, in case there’s a coronavirus scare and the authorities will want to trace those attending the service.
- The church will be well aired throughout the service – some, if not all, windows will be open. This means that when the weather gets colder, you may want to sit through the service with your coat on.
- Our ushers will show you where to sit in the church – social distancing at all times is vital.
- Please avoid shaking hands, hugging or kissing those who are not from your family.
- Instead of the usual collection, there will be a collection basket on the table at the back of the church, where you can leave your offering as you leave the church. If possible, consider sending your offering through e-banking.
- There will be no coffee hour or potluck dinners – the kitchen is also unavailable. This will restrict our fellowship somewhat, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t talk with friends outside the building, obviously keeping a safe distance.
The items above may be modified from time to time, depending on our experience and on how the COVID situation in Poland and Warsaw develops. However, with such basic precautions, I firmly believe we can still enjoy exciting worship in these difficult circumstances!
Also, because of the ever-changing situation and the greater likelihood that those of you playing a key part in our services may be absent at short notice, if only because of a bad cough, our services may sometimes not run so smoothly as usual. I'd appreciate your understanding if that is the case.
Last Sunday we were treated to a very relevant testimony from evangelist David Harris. David made the point that, when we hand over our life for God to control, He may have us doing some very unimportant and even menial work as part of His being able to use us in His service. In David's case, following God meant cleaning toilets for a while! David said that God will not prevent difficulties and troubles from affecting us, but that we should never despair when this happens, but just remember God's promise: "I will be with you".
Thank you for your support and prayers for our church and for one another. Now that we're returning to church worship, we'll have to pay for the premises again, so if you'll only be following us online now, and even if you intend coming to church, we ask you to continue your financial support through internet banking if at all possible.
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 note that from Sunday onwards the livestream services will no longer take place on Zoom, but will be transmitted on YouTube instead. Here is your link for this Sunday’s online service at 11 am CET:
Recordings of our Sunday services are available on our wic.org.pl website or by googling "Warsaw International Church YouTube".
For those of you viewing the service live on YouTube or watching it afterwards, please make sure to like and subscribe to the Warsaw International Church channel!
COVID-19 is affecting increasing numbers of people throughout the world. In Poland, new cases are now in excess of 1,000 a day. Please continue to pray for people affected by terrible tragedies all over the world as a direct or indirect result of the pandemic. Pray that people everywhere may turn to the Lord in their despair and rely on Him to heal and save them from their situation and their sins.
Specifically, please pray for members of the family of one of our worshippers, who have been infected with COVID-19. Two children and their grandmother are much better, but the children's mother (who is our worshipper's sister) is feeling bad, and needs our prayers for a recovery.
Last but not least, please say a prayer for our Sunday service, that everyone may be safe and that our worship may be really uplifting! Thank you!
Sermon preached by Pastor Harry on 20 September
Jonah chapters 1-3, selected verses; Matthew 21, 28-32.
Last week I spoke about the need for us to accept other people. “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters”, said Paul. I said that we need to remember that God accepted us sinners, when Jesus died on the cross and restored our friendship with God. So the least we can do is accept others, and forgive them their faults and weaknesses.
But it’s not just other people we need to accept. I’ve concentrated today on the wonderful story of Jonah in the Old Testament – Jonah the reluctant prophet. He didn’t accept others either – he hated the people of Nineveh. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire; it was the largest city in the world in those days. These were the people who had oppressed Israel, and Jonah had no desire to go there and tell them to repent of their sins. He just wanted their destruction. Jonah was an ordinary man like me and you – he had his loves and he had his hates.
So Jonah didn’t accept these enemy people. But more importantly, Jonah did not accept his own calling. He didn’t accept God’s Will for him. He wasn’t going to go to Nineveh, and that was it! In fact, he went in the opposite direction just to get away from God: he boarded a ship to Tarshish. Presumably he thought he could trick God just by fleeing from Him – in a sense, by pretending that God didn’t exist.
We all know the outcome of that. A storm threatened the ship, and the sailors threw Jonah overboard to calm the storm. Jonah was swallowed up by an enormous fish. He was inside the fish for three days, after which the fish vomited him out onto dry land. After this terrible experience, he was now ready to obey God’s command. God’s instruction had not changed – but Jonah’s self-assertion had gone. God could now use him to carry out His Will.
I’ve heard it said to me that God doesn’t allow bad things to happen to us – God is good, and therefore He cannot allow evil to afflict us. But I don’t see how that can be true. It’s not true in the Bible, and it’s not true in real life. On the contrary – God allows unfortunate circumstances to happen to us, in order to prepare us for something, and in order to teach us something. In fact, God creates those circumstances. He creates the situations you and I find ourselves in – we can be sure of that. So, rather than despairing about the troubles we face, we should be happy – because they are given to us for a purpose, and God is in control of them. We can rest in God in the middle of our sufferings – many people do.
Dear Friends, that is precisely the change that Jonah underwent in the belly of the fish. Presumably he was able to think during those three days. He realised his mistake. His conception of God had changed. God was no longer a bad master who was giving him tasks he could run away from. God was now a powerful, holy Being who listens to prayers and answers them, even in the worst moments of our suffering. God Himself creates our situation. Jonah prays: “God, You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas. All Your waves and breakers swept over me”. The waves, and throwing Jonah into the sea, were all caused by God.
In his prayer from within the fish, Jonah realises that he made a mistake: “I will look again towards Your holy temple”. Jonah has changed his mind about God, and wants to make a new start. He also realises that God has been merciful to him: “I sank down (…), but You brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God”. And Jonah concludes his prayer with those beautiful words: “Salvation comes from the Lord”.
Do you recall that last week I said that many stories in the Bible reflect the life and person of Jesus? The story of Jonah is another example of this. If you read Jonah’s prayer carefully, you will see that it could also be Jesus who’s praying. The three days inside the fish can represent the sufferings of Jesus and His rising from the dead on the third day. And in the prayer, it could be Jesus who’s praying to His Father, calling to Him in His distress, and thanking Him for restoring Him to His resurrected life.
“I remember You, Lord”, says Jonah in that prayer. That’s the key to spiritual progress, isn’t it? – that by the grace of God, when things go wrong for us, our hearts and minds can be turned towards Him. And precisely by focusing on Him – by looking towards Him – we turn away from our own self-seeking, our own selfishness, and we become flexible instruments in God’s hands, allowing Him to change us, and to have His way in our life, and to give us the tasks that He wants us to do – not that we want to do. There’s a world of difference between these two attitudes to life. Which of them is your attitude?
There was a man who had two sons. The first one refused to work for his father, but changed his mind, and went to work. The second son said “yes”, but he didn’t go to work. Which son was the obedient one? The first one, of course.
And there, in that parable of Jesus, we have the story of Jonah. Jonah rebelled against God at first, but he changed his mind when God gave him a kick in the pants – then he obeyed God. Jesus says that so-called “bad” people – the ones condemned by society (the tax collectors, the prostitutes – maybe we should add modern-day equivalents such as refugees or LGBT people, and anybody else some of our Polish politicians like to condemn) – those so-called “bad” people are often ahead of others spiritually, because many of them allow themselves to be transformed by God, like Jonah did. And many of the others, who say they are obedient to God – very often religious people such as bishops, priests, politicians from religious parties, members of religious organisations – very often such people have God on their lips, but not in their hearts. In their hearts, they disobey their Father. In their hearts, they do not repent. In their hearts, they do not believe.
So how do we accept God? The Bible shows us that actually this is not really possible unless God first creates the conditions for us to accept Him. You might not think there is anything wrong with you. But if you’re a prostitute, or have had an abortion, or committed adultery, or have done anything that you have deeply regretted, then you’ll know there is definitely a lot wrong with you. If you feel you have nothing to regret, and are perfectly happy with your moral life, then, my Friend, you have not yet accepted God. It’s only when we realise the depth of our sin that we receive the ability to turn to God and accept His Will for us. And that happens by grace alone.
Brothers and Sisters, we need to pray so much for God’s grace to be with us. We need to pray for spiritual enlightenment, spiritual insight. If we have cancer, we want to know about it, so we can have treatment before it kills us. And in the spiritual realm too, we need to know how sick we really are – even if we feel perfectly good, perfectly moral. Let us pray that the Lord will show us our spiritual sickness – like He showed it to Jonah, by sending him into the stomach of a whale. He might not send you a whale. But when trouble hits you, remember the Lord. Amen.
Readings for 27 September
27 September is the 17th Sunday after Pentecost.
Verse for the week: [Jesus said:] "If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8, 31-32).
Responsive reading: Psalm 119, 33-48.
New Testament reading: Romans 6, 16-23.
Gospel reading: Luke 4, 14-21.
Food of the Spirit
How the Hebrides Revival (1949-52) began
The revival did not begin by my going there. God was moving and moving mightily before ever I thought of going to Lewis. This is where and how it began: A number of men and two elderly women there were made conscious of the desperate need of their parish; all human effort had failed and had left them baffled. They realized that their one resource was to fall back upon God. Oh, how true it is that despair often is the womb from which real faith is born. When man comes to the end of himself – to the end of all human resources – he has reached the beginning of God. That was where I had arrived, and that was where the men of Lewis had arrived. So they entered into a solemn covenant that they would not rest nor cease from prayer until He made "Jerusalem" a praise on the Island.
According to the report given me by the minister of the parish, you find men waiting through the night in confidence that God was about to manifest His power. You find two elderly sisters on their faces before the peat fire three nights a week pleading one promise, I say one promise: "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground." A promise made, as they declared, by a covenant-keeping God who must ever be true to His covenant engagements. So they waited and the months passed and nothing happened; until one morning a young man in the company read the portion of Psalm 24 that we have read, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart" – the Word of God speaks about heart purity – “He shall receive the blessing of the Lord." Looking down at his praying companions, and speaking in Gaelic, he said: "Brethren, it seems to me just so much sentimental humbug to be praying as we are praying, to be waiting as we are waiting here, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God." And then he prayed, "Are my hands clean, is my heart pure?"
He got no further. At that moment there came to them a realization of God, an awareness of His presence that lifted them from the sphere of the ordinary into the sphere of the extraordinary. Three of them fell prostrate on the floor: they realized at that moment that they were now moving – not in the field of the natural, but on the plane of the supernatural. Revival had come and the power that was let loose in that barn shook the whole community of Lewis.
These few men – and two elderly women – discovered this profound truth, that a God-sent revival must ever be related to holiness, and real New Testament separation. Yes, that was the truth that they discovered; revival was coming, God was going to be honoured, they were going to see men so supernaturally altered that holiness would characterize every part of their being, body, soul and spirit. That was the truth that gripped them and that moved Lewis and Harris. There was a hunger, a cry, for pardon.
Let us be honest in the presence of God and get right into the grips of reality. Have I a vision of my own desperate need? Oh, for a baptism of honesty, for a gripping sincerity that will move us to cry with the men of Barvas, "Is my heart pure, are my hands clean?" This great blessing of heart purity, of clean hands is a human necessity. Sanctification is Christ enthroned. If the secret of holiness is in the complete filling of the soul with the life of Christ; if the baptism with the Holy Spirit is, in its final analysis, the revelation of Jesus; if beauty of Christian character comes from the incorporation of His personality in mine, surely the great need of the Christian Church today is a clean heart.
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, who shall stand in His holy place? . . . he shall receive the blessing of the Lord" – that is revival: that is God let loose through human personality and there you have the floodgates of heaven opened and the dry places flooded with God. Revival is a community saturated with God. That is the difference between revival and successful evangelism. In successful evangelism, in successful crusades, you have ten, you have twenty saved here, you have a hundred brought to Christ there, but the community remains unchanged. Men move on to their Christless hell. But when God steps down, when hearts are made clean by Him, then He finds an avenue through which He can move; the community becomes saturated with God, so that many of those who find the Saviour come into saving relationship with Him before they come near any church or place of meeting.
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