Letter to the Brethren: June 15, 2017

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Belgrade, Serbia.

We had flight problems, but frustratingly, that seems to happen frequently.

We (my family) are planning to have Sabbath services in Belgrade, Serbia on June 17, 2017. If you wish to attend, please conduct Elder Aleksander “Sasha” Veljic. His email is aveljic@protonmail.com.

It takes a long time to go from our house to Serbia, and I arrived in Belgrade this morning. We look forward to meeting with the brethren here.

Prayer Request

Anthony Flavell sent the following from the Philippines:

Dear Dr Bob,

Greetings hope you and your Family are well.
Oscar Mediavilla has contacted me,to advise you that Oscar is not well
he is suffering with Heart Palputations & asks for Annointing & Prayer from
You and from the Brethren in the Church.
Many Thanks
Anthony Flavell

Oscar Mediavilla was the first person in Philippines to support the Continuing Church of God and has been with us over four years. He is in my prayers and I plan to send an anointed cloth to him next week from our office in California.

Be Careful of Bitterness

On November 29, 1982, Dexter Faulkner had the following in the old Worldwide News:

Let’s face it, our humanness causes most of our problems. We are bundles of potential problems looking for a place to happen. One of those deep problems of human nature is bitterness.

In his letter to the Ephesians. Paul deals with the “gut” issues of unity, theft, lying, malice and to put off the old man and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Then as the fourth chapter of Ephesians closes. Paul zeroes in on the thorny problem of bitterness.

Bitterness destroys friend ships and the fellowship in God’s Church. The theme of Ephesians is the unity of believers in fellowship in the Body of Christ.

Bitterness will destroy this unity. How?

A bitter person can’t keep his or her bitterness to himself or herself. Misery loves company. He finds sadistic pleasure in telling everyone who will listen how he has been mistreated.

The result is (if allowed to persist) his or her bitterness will spread through the Church like a malignancy.

Paul, writing in Hebrews, sheds practical light on the subject when he says we are to follow after peace with all men (even those who have wronged us): “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness spring up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:14, 15. Revised Authorized Version throughout).

Are you “burned up” with someone right now? Have you let your anger grow in to a grudge or bitterness? If you have, here are three essential steps to help break the bondage of bitterness.

• First of all we must recognize it for what it is — a sin! We are commanded to get rid of bitterness.

The apostle Paul says, “Let all bitterness. wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). This command deals with a number of related disposition problems.
Bitterness here does not mean just anger or wrath, but refers to a malignant disposition, a long-standing resentment, or a spirit that refuses to be reconciled. We normally think of it as holding a grudge.

Wrath, on the other hand, refers to the impulsive outburst — as when a person blows his top. This type of wrath or anger can lead to bitterness.

We have seen it happen in sports. I once watched a football player jump up, throw his helmet on the ground and storm back to the huddle after the referees made what he considered a bad call.

The commentator observed the player’s anger and wondered if he would seek revenge. Sure enough, the angry player tried to get revenge the next play. His anger gave way to bitterness.

The vehicle for expressing most bitterness is the tongue. A bitter person is frequently involved in what the apostle Paul calls clamor (Ephesians 4:31) or loud talking. Most of us have noticed that loud talking or arguing almost always accompanies anger.

Another way we express bitterness with the tongue is through what Paul called evil speaking. It also means failing to tell the whole truth.

Have you ever stretched the truth when recounting how someone wronged you? If you have, you are guilty of expressing bitterness through slander.

We are commanded in God’s Word to get rid of problems that come from an evil, harmful disposition. Paul says, “Let all… be put away from you, with all malice.” We are to make a clean sweep of the bitterness that cause sour dispositions to go sour.

Therefore, first, if we hope to deal with bitterness, we must begin recognizing bitterness for what it is — sin; and then deal with it as we would any other sin-confess it and go to God for help (I John 1:9). Please read the whole chapter.

• Try to keep from hurting others. Paul says. “And be kind one to another, tenderhearted” (Ephesians 4:32). This is a direct command to display human kindness to other people. Kind here means “pleasant or gracious.”

Greet people with a smile. A lot could be said about this simple gesture. A smile goes a long way toward removing seeds that would produce bitterness.

We are to be tenderhearted and compassionate. In practice we find it’s easier to be compulsive than compassionate. Think of the damage or hurt our unkind actions do in the life of someone else.

Showing kindness and compassion means to accept people just as they are (not as we want them to be) and to overlook personal hurts or wrongs suffered at the hands of others.

It has been said the most flammable material in the world is a chip on the shoulder. Our conduct with others should be based on compassion for them in their needs. This again is the real spirit of giving.

We have a responsibility in removing bitterness in others. In His Sermon on the Mount. Christ made it clear it is up to us to take the first step in restoring those who hold a grudge.

“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23, 24).

Christ does not discuss who is to blame, nor whether the brother has a right to be angry with you. The right or wrong of his or her bitterness is not the issue.

If your brother has something against you, you have the responsibility to take the initiative in restoring the brother and affecting a reconciliation. Failure to do so will hinder your worship.

It’s impossible to worship God while you know a brother is holding a grudge against you.

In practicing human kindness don’t be concerned about who is right or wrong. The real issue is reconciliation and restoration between two people in order to prevent the fruits of bitterness.

You might say. “That is a hard thing to do.” I agree! But this is where real Christian character is developed.

Paul exhorts us in Colossians 3:12: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering: bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone have a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

• Practice human forgiveness daily. That’s what Paul meant when he said, “for giving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

We are to display human kindness toward those who are upset with us whether or not we have done anything to them. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is to be practiced with those who have hurt us.

The word forgive in Greek is a participle picturing continuous action. It means to forgive freely: not holding back or forgiving grudgingly. Think of it!

We are to practice forgiving everything others have done against us, whether they seek our forgiveness or not. We are to seek their forgiveness when we offend them and then go ahead and forgive others who offend us. That’s not the way the world looks at it!

If practiced it solves lots of human problems. As Christians we have the responsibility to be kind to others as well as forgive them, and in so doing, we will bid farewell to bitterness.

When others offend us, we are to practice forgiveness freely because without a forgiving spirit, we will never be able to pry loose from the grip of bitterness.

Before going further, let me add that I met Dexter Faulkner a couple of times near when this article came out. My wife Joyce and I attended the Long Beach, California congregation of the Worldwide Church of God back then and he spoke there sometimes.

That being said, bitterness is a form of improper judgment and can be a problem for humans. Many were, and still are, bitter about the old Worldwide Church of God. Some were so bitter that the turned away from the faith. Others were less bitter, but turned against proper church governance and Philadelphia priorities. Pray, trust God, and do not succumb to bitterness.

World News Items

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with leaders from Argentina and Mexico in Argentina to try to make deals involving Germany and Latin America (see Germany’s Merkel is in Argentina making deals with Mexico and Argentina). This is something those of us in the Radio/Worldwide Church of God have expected for some time, and I began writing about this type of situation no later than 2008 (see A Combined EU & North American Trade Block Coming?). Angela Merkel apparently wants to set the stage for the coming G20 conference in Hamburg, Germany next month and seems to believe that getting Latin American nations to have some agreements before the G20 will be helpful for them and Europe.

Because of Brexit, Donald Trump, and recent events, more are wondering if we are facing the end of a world order dominated by the English-speaking nations (see BBC: The end of the Anglo-American order?). The USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand will one day be no more after the ‘King of Assyria’ (Isaiah 10:5-12), called the King of the North in Daniel 11, rises up and attacks. More are seeing the end of USA-UK dominance, but do not understand what biblical prophecy says will happen.

Speaking of the UK, there was an election held in the United Kingdom that did not go as its Prime Minister Theresa May hoped–this may complicate the negotiations for the UK leaving the European Union (see UK’s May election ploy may complicate Brexit). Politics do not always turn out as many politicians and others expect (cf. Daniel 4:17).

In the USA there were at least three separate shootings yesterday that made the national news (see Shootings in Alexandria, VA, San Francisco, CA, and Fairfield, CA). Increasingly, people are shooting others in public incidents. This will not end well for the USA:

23 ‘Make a chain,
For the land is filled with crimes of blood,
And the city is full of violence.
24 Therefore I will bring the worst of the Gentiles,
And they will possess their houses;
I will cause the pomp of the strong to cease,
And their holy places shall be defiled. (Ezekiel 7:23-24)

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

  • 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
  • Opening prayer.
  • Sermonette, which for many who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: End of the Anglo-American Order. Other sermonettes are available at the Bible News Prophecy channel.
  • Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
  • Sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Ephesus Church Era. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer.

Note: If you have a slow internet connection, you can watch these by starting the video, then below it (and towards the right) look for an outline of a gear–if you click on that, it will allow the YouTube video to be played with lower video quality, but at least it will not stop often–you can select a quality as low as 144p. If your internet connection is still too slow (as my home one is) and/or you prefer audio messages to audio-visuals ones, go to the YouTube link for the message, click on SHOW MORE related to the description. You will then see something that says, “Download MP3.” Below that is a link to an MP3 file. Most computers (and even some cellular telephones) will allow MP3 files to be downloaded and played. This is an option we have made available (but we are also looking into ways to improve that as well)–and, of course, we have written article options. Some people have found that if their internet connections are not fast enough, that they can simply listen to the messages that are found at the new Bible News Prophecy online radio channel. IN CASE YOU DO NOT RECEIVE A ‘LETTER TO THE BRETHREN’ FOR ANY WEEK, REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE MANY SERMON MESSAGES ON THE ContinuingCOG channel AND MANY SERMONETTE MESSAGES ON THE BibleNewsProphecy channel. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.

Concluding Comments

Solomon is believed to have written the following:

1 Give the king Your judgments, O God,And Your righteousness to the king’s Son. 2 He will judge Your people with righteousness,And Your poor with justice. 3 The mountains will bring peace to the people,And the little hills, by righteousness. 4 He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, And will break in pieces the oppressor.

5 They shall fear You As long as the sun and moon endure,Throughout all generations. 6 He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing, Like showers that water the earth. 7 In His days the righteous shall flourish,And abundance of peace,Until the moon is no more.

8 He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth. 9 Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him, And His enemies will lick the dust. 10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles Will bring presents; The kings of Sheba and Seba Will offer gifts. 11 Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; All nations shall serve Him.
12 For He will deliver the needy when he cries, The poor also, and him who has no helper. 13 He will spare the poor and needy, And will save the souls of the needy. 14 He will redeem their life from oppression and violence; And precious shall be their blood in His sight. (Psalm 72:1-14)

Brethren, there is a lot of violence in the news these days. But the good news is that the Kingdom of God will be here relatively soon, and there will be peace on earth.


Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer

Posted in Letters to the Brethren
About CCOG
The Continuing Church of God, which attempts to represent the most faithful remnant of the Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7) portion of the Church of God, bases its beliefs on the Holy Bible. Read CCOG's statement of beliefs for more information.