Dear Brethren and co-workers in Christ:
Another full week here in the Five Cities region of California.
So there is a lot to cover ranging from the Feast of Tabernacles to the final phase of the work to positive administrative news to world news happenings to preparing the materials for this upcoming Sabbath.
Feast of Tabernacles
First, there is something from the Bible to notice related to the Feast of Tabernacles:
“At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess” Deuteronomy 31:10-13).
Notice that this reading of the law was to happen every seven years. I had long felt that this needed to be done, but had been overlooked by most COG groups. So in 2006, when I was first asked to give full sermons at the Feast of Tabernacles, I decided that I had to try to do this myself, so I did (see The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time to Learn the Law).
As it turns out, 2013 is seven years later. I believe that this was God’s timing, and perhaps one of many reasons that God wanted the Continuing Church of God to form prior to the start of the Feast of Tabernacles in 2013. Since the Bible teaches that the “word of the law” needs to be preached as part of the Feast of Tabernacles every seven years (Deuteronomy 31:10-13; cf. Nehemiah 6:73;7:1-3,8,13-17; Joshua 8:34), instruction about covering the law, especially through the light of the New Testament, has been conveyed to those giving sermons at the CCOG sites for 2013.
So, this will be another way that the Feast sites affiliated with the Continuing Church of God will differ from those of many other groups.
As far as Feast sites, as mentioned before, we have a webpage with information on the Feast of Tabernacles. You may wish to view from time to time as we updated it with more information this week: Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2013.
Please think about where you may to attend this year and let the coordinator for your preferred Feast site know via email.
- Ndhiwa, Kenya contact Deacon George Otieno, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Whangarei, New Zealand contact John Hickey, email email@example.com
- Santa Maria, California, USA contact Dr. Bob Thiel, email firstname.lastname@example.org
All those sites are intending to have one of more sermons that will fulfill God’s commands in Deuteronomy 31:10-13.
The Final Phase of the Work
Work related to various aspects of the final phase of the work was accomplished this week. This week I spoke to a pastor in India and sent him copies of the English version of Bible News Prophecy magazine. He has stated that he would like to translate future versions into his native language of Telugu.
The week before I was speaking with John Hickey of New Zealand about aspects of the work and its final phase. I mentioned to him that we in the Continuing Church of God need to go through doors that God opens, even if those are doors that others are not interested in or would be too concerned about how others would view them to actually go through them.
One radio door that has opened for me is to be a guest on the Nutri-Medical Report radio program on August 1, 2013 at 12:00 pm, Pacific Daylight Time over the Genesis Communications Network. Despite the show’s title, the topics discussed will mainly be of a biblical/news/prophecy perspective when I am on.
Going over to Asia, we received a letter from the region of Kachinland from a Sabbath-keeping pastor there requesting literature and information about the Continuing Church of God. Kachinland is in the northern region of Burma (and is considered a part of it by most outsiders). We sent our Statement of Beliefs, Bible News Prophecy magazines, and other information there. If he and those there remain receptive, this could be another door to go through.
The Spanish language version of Bible News Prophecy magazine was finalized and printed and put on one of our websites. It was slightly delayed because we wanted to put a new URL (www.cdlidd.es) on the front and back covers. Here is a link to the pdf version in Spanish: Noticias de la Profecía de la Biblia: Julio – Septiembre 2013 (note: the pdf magazine takes a little while to load and view). We continue to have more materials translated into the Spanish language and believe that, over time, this will be a more effective open door.
The Mandarin Chinese version of Bible News Prophecy magazine was finalized, announced, and put on our www.ccog.asia website and is in the process of being printed. Here is a link to the pdf version in Mandarin: 圣经新闻与预言2013 (note: the pdf magazine takes a little while to load and view). This is one of the first times, if not the first time ever, that a timely COG periodical has come out in Mandarin Chinese that I am aware of. We are excited about this door and hope to go through it as long as we can. Our reach into China has increased tremendously in the past couple of months, and having earlier materials in Mandarin Chinese seems to be a factor (even though most article views from China are of English language articles).
Research was also conducted in the areas of church history and prophecy that I believe will bear fruit in the future and help with the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14.
The State of California formally approved the tax exempt status of the Continuing Church of God. Unlike other states in the USA, the State of California requires churches to fill out a very long form and provide a lot of information for churches to be considered tax exempt in that State.
While contributions from the other 49 states in the USA were automatically ‘tax-deductible,’ we needed to get this letter so that all contributions from those in the State of California were also tax deductible.
Because of our status as a ‘corporation sole’ and other administrative decisions, I had concerns that there could be delays and issues getting the determination letter from the State of California. I wish to thank all of you for your prayers on this.
As the result of getting State of California tax exempt status, we have also asked California if it is possible to receive an exemption from paying sales tax related to the production of our magazines. This seems to be somewhat unlikely, but I request your prayers because this would save us a lot of money related to magazine production if this could happen.
Also, let me add that we are in the process of applying for tax exempt status in the nation of New Zealand. I sent them various papers earlier this month to assist with this. Earlier this week, I also sent them a scanned copy of the determination letter from the State of California. Your prayers that the Continuing Church of God will find favor in the site of government officials in New Zealand on this matter would be appreciated (cf. 1 Timothy 2:1-3).
World News Events
Israel made various statements suggesting that Syria is provoking them to consider war, while a Syrian official at the United Nations made various statements suggesting that certain Israel actions need to be stopped and hinting that this may provoke Syria to consider war. At the same time, some analysts have suggested that the USA is intentionally leaking information about certain Israeli military actions against Syria in order to provoke a war between the two. Some information about all of this is in the article Syrian and Israeli officials seem to talk war; Some suspect that Obama Administration leaks are intended to get a war started.
In the meantime, Iran continues to have bought itself some time from direct military assaults and is working on its nuclear ambitions. The situations in Syria and Iran must change and actions happening this week are consistent with that. A King of the South will arise in the region of the Middle East and North Africa (Daniel 11:40-43), Syria will be involved, and Iran will not lead it. Hence, if we see military conflict involving Syria, Iran (who is Syria’s closest ally), Israel, and/or the USA, understand where this will lead.
Over in South America, Pope Francis is visiting Brazil. He made a visit to a Marion shrine over there (see Massive crowds meet Pope Francis at Marion shrine in Brazil and he speaks of ‘Mary’). His continual focus on his version of ‘Mary’ may be setting the world up for ‘signs and lying wonders’ that the Bible warns about (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12), as female apparitions may have end time involvement in deception (cf. Isaiah 47; Revelation 17 & 18).
In North America more political posturing was occurring as another ‘budget crisis’ is expected (see Obama, McConnell, and the next budget crisis). The Bible warns against debt accumulation and the USA seems determined to overlook this warning, despite statements from some politicians that recognize some of the dangers of it. But the dangers are even bigger than most realize:
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry…5 Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, He is a proud man… 6 “Will not all these take up a proverb against him, And a taunting riddle against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases What is not his–how long? And to him who loads himself with many pledges’? 7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty. 8 Because you have plundered many nations, All the remnant of the people shall plunder you (Habakkuk 2:3,5,6-8).
The above prophecy will be fulfilled at the time of the end (cf. “The message was true, but the appointed time was long…in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come,” Daniel 10:1,14). The nation with the greatest debt of all time is the United States of America, and on a per capita basis one of the top ones may be the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the the United States and its Anglo-allies that have loaded pledges of debt in these end times that they really do not expect to pay back.
Now, the real cause of all of this overspending is sin. The USA has moved away from traditional marriage, expanded homosexual “rights,” increased its tolerance for pornography, exports entertainment with lower and lower standards, has violence in the land, encourages/engages in violence elsewhere, seeks to expand abortion, does not truly value truth, and basically is turning further and further away from biblical morality.
And while this is true for some other lands as well, the USA, with its earlier respect for certain Judeo-Christian values should know better. The New Testament clearly teaches:
48 For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required (Luke 12:48).
The U.S.A. and its Anglo-allies have been given much. The three “most sinful nations” according to a 2010 BBC report based on the classic ‘seven deadly sins’—lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride’— were Australia, the United States, and Canada (‘The Most Sinful Nation on Earth,’ February 2010, p. 30). The United Kingdom was 6th on that list. And while one can argue if other nations should be ahead of them on a sin-list, the reality is that the Anglo-nations promote a lot of sin. And they accept more and more sin.
Despite its military strength (which is getting affected by the debt situation as well as homosexuality, etc.), destruction is coming to the USA (Daniel 11:39). While the return of Jesus and the establishment of His Kingdom will reverse these and other problems, it is fairly clear that USA politicians will not.
Suggested Sabbath Service for July 27, 2013
Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services on July 27, 2013:
- 2-3 hymns (we are using the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG, and in most areas, the Choral Accompaniment).
- Opening prayer.
- Sermonette. Here is a link to our latest one: Pornography: Harmless Fun or a Scourge on Society? There is also information related to this in the article: Pornography: A scourge on society. Other sermonettes are also available at the Bible News Prophecy channel (especially if this is not a subject that you want covered in this format).
- Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
- Sermon which for most will be a recorded one titled: Christians and Unclean Meats. There is also information related to this in the article: The New Testament Church and Unclean Meats. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
- Final hymn.
- Closing prayer.
Note: If you have a slow internet connection and/or 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. So, this is an option we have made available.
The gospel of the kingdom is being preached to the world as a witness and the end will ultimately come (Matthew 24:14). Thank you for your prayers and support.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God