Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Greetings again from the Five Cities region of California.
The recommended sermon and sermonette for this week are amongst the last ones that were (at least significantly) videoed in Israel when I was there back in October 2013.
While some who watch this week’s recommended sermonette may feel I was a bit brash by declaring in 2013 that the Great Tribulation did not start in 2014, the biblical reality is that we can have confidence in biblical prophecy. We realize that there are real signs that we must see before the Great Tribulation can start, which is why I knew it was impossible for it to start in 2014.
One of the reasons I have done at one “Great Tribulation” sermonette for each year is that they tend to get more views than our average Bible News Prophecy videos (the one for 2014 ranks as our 5th most popular and the one for 2013 our 6th most popular BNP video). The one for 2015 has already had over 500 views itself, despite being online less than a week.
As far as the sermon for this week, due to mechanical problems, most of the sermon I gave in Jerusalem that is being recommended for this upcoming Sabbath was lost. I had to redo the end part of the sermon as only 17-18 minutes of the original was not destroyed. However, there have also been world events related to the sermon subject that happened since I originally did it, so those changes are reflected in the recommended sermon for this week.
More on Sermon and Sermonette Videos
Sermons and sermonettes videoed on locations like the Middle East, Vatican, etc. tend to get more views than average, hence this is something I strive to do when I can.
The next “location” that I might video from will be France later this month. If there are any in Europe that may wish to meet in the Paris region for services on December 27, 2014 can send me an email: COGwriter@aol.com.
You may be interested to learn that the ContinuingCOG channel sermon with the highest amount of views was videoed on location in Vatican City. It has had over 14,000 views. After we put that sermon up, Vatican City changed its policies and does not allow this type of videoing by visitors without official permission. So, the last time we were there, we had to video a fair amount just outside of its borders.
As far as the Bible News Prophecy sermonette videos go, their popularity tends to be tied to their timeliness. The highest watched one, with over 65,000 views, was put up right after Francis became pope. The second highest one had to do with Kenneth Copeland embracing the ecumenical movement, while the third highest has to do with those who believe that blood moons are important for 2014 and/or 2015.
So, location and timeliness are factors that affect viewership.
Of course, most sermons and sermonettes are not videoed at remote locations. And few sermons tie into specific world news events. That is part of why the sermonettes, which often are somewhat tied to specific news events, tend to be more popular.
The Bible News Prophecy channel tends to appeal more to those without a Church of God background, than the sermons. Of course, people with and without a COG background do watch both.
Report from Africa
After services last Sabbath, Kenya-based Pastor Evans Ochieng sent the following:
I was busy with the burial program of my mother. thank you for your prayers. We buried her yesterday. Our brothers from Kisii Evans Manoti and his brother, Ezekiel Oanda our representative in Kisii came to the funeral yesterday. I was ok when they all came to mourn with me. Today I went to visit our group in Mbani. I met one of the old members of VITWCOG who decided to join CCOG. He said that, according to the work he is seeing in CCOG, it is true that, CCOG is really a true Church of God which is still continuing. Some incorporation which are claiming that they Church of God are dead.
The meeting was very good. I met our area representative John Okinda and discussed more about the growth of the church in that area, We also taught tithing. We negotiated that from January we shall collect all tithes from our congregations there. I told them to produce a receipt for every tithe given. …
I will go to Kisii after my trip from Tanzania…
We shall have our youth camp from 12th Dec.2014 up to 16th Dec.2014.
Pray for the camp.
We were not sure we would have been able to help fund any type of youth camp, but I am glad that this is now scheduled.
World News Events
This week marked the fourth anniversary of the death of evangelist Dibar Apartian (see Remembering evangelist Dibar Apartian). He and I considered each other as friends and we used to discuss many matters together. Though this anniversary may not be considered as a ‘world news event,’ he is still missed.
The World Council of Churches, with some type of support from the United Nations, is launching a global ‘peace’ network, consistent with the apparent plans of Pope Francis (see World Council of Churches launches global peace network with UN interest). A lot has been going on in the ecumenical movement and I may do a new BNP sermonette about that soon.
On the weather front, Typhoon Hagupit hit the Philippines and disrupted many there (see Typhoon Hagupit and other extreme weather). A report from some scientists concluded that California is in its worse drought in 1200 years (see California drought the worst in 1200 years?). In Northern California, it had a large of amount of rain today. The Bible warns about drought in one city and too much rain in another (Amos 4:6-9). California will have more problems than this in the future.
Over in Hong Kong, government forces have cleared out most of the areas that protesters there had occupied (see Hong Kong clears out protesters). Protesters are concerned that Hong Kong is not as free as they would like as they fear that China is becoming too controlling. The biblical reality, however, is that Hong Kong is expected to come under tigher Chinese control, despite what the protesters there seem to want.
The USA has continued to have protests related to the deaths of some who had contact with some police departments (see NYC protests Garner death; Cleveland police found to use excessive force and Police arrest 150+ protesters in Berkeley, California; others protest in Phoenix, Seattle, and NYC). There is more unrest to come in the USA.
There is outrage in and out of the USA because of a report about torturous practices of certain sanctioned actions by USA government employees (see Barack Obama rightly condemns USA’s use of torture, but . . .). The United Nations has called for criminal prosecutions, and some nations are pointing out the hypocrisy of the USA in all of this (see USA torture report spurs UN to call for prosecution against the CIA; some call USA hypocritical). The hypocrisy of the USA on many matters (such as it accumulating debt when it tells other nations not to do the same) is not going to remain unnoticed. The Bible warns that the Assyrians will go against “an hypocritical nation” (Isaiah 10:5-6, KJV).
Because of espionage by the USA, more and more are trying to avoid USA surveillance. This is resulting in more data centers being built in Europe (see WSJ: Data centers increasing in Europe in response to USA espionage). The increasing amount of data centers will help break Europe from its dependence on the USA for some items. For a time I wondered what would happen to the Internet once the USA is gone, but this development is consistent with plans in Europe to be able to function without the USA. This development also seems consistent with prophecies that the final Beast power will be able to control buying and selling (Revelation 13:15-16).
In economic news, a report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows that China now has the world’s largest economy for any single nation–it has passed the USA (see China now recognized as world’s largest economy, but . . ). The IMF reported that the economy of the USA was 10 times larger than China’s only two decades ago. A major shift is going on in the world and the final time of the Gentiles is getting closer.
Of course, the world’s largest economy is actually that of the European Union (EU). But since it is made up of 28 separate nations, the IMF did not combine its data. Speaking of the European Union, there are concerns there that it needs to invest more or possibly see the collapse of the -Euro-zone (those nations in the EU that use the Euro as their currency (see Euro-zone about to break up? Could it?). The Bible teaches that there will be instability in the final Beast power (Daniel 2:41-43), and Europe does display this.
Speaking of breaking Europe’s dependence on the USA and Russia, the Europeans agreed to develop the Ariane 6 rocket (see Europe agrees to develop Ariane 6 rocket). While Europe does not have all it needs yet, it keeps taking steps that are consistent with the rise of the final militaristic Beast power of Revelation 13:1-4.
German Chancellor Merkel denounced Russia’s President Putin for interfering with Europe’s plans for expansion (see Merkel lashes out against Putin for interfering with with EU’s expansion plans).
Vladimir Putin wants Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic states, and other parts of Eastern Europe. While the latter two groups are already part of the EU and the former ones have applied, this has not changed Vladimir Putin’s intentions (see also Putin defends Crimea annexation; Moldova’s election seemingly points to EU). But it has affected his actions. He seems to hope that the EU will be enough of a disappointment for Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia, that either they or parts of them, will end up as part of Russia and/or part of the upcoming Eurasian Union.
After Angela Merkel’s denunciation about Vladimir Putin’s ‘interference,’ Russia announced that it did not support the West’s plan to bring Bosnia into the European Union, but instead said that Bosnia had other options (see West wants Bosnia in EU, Russia says there are other options). While Russia would love to have Bosnia, it also might try to use Bosnia as a bargaining chip as it realizes that the West badly wants Bosnia in the EU. The West does not want Bosnia aligned with Russia nor its coming Eurasian Union.
Speaking of the Eurasian Union, Armenia decided to join the economic union (see Armenia votes to join Putin’s Eurasian Union). That nation is more comfortable with Russia than it is with Turkey, and apparently believes its economic objectives are better served with stronger ties to Russia. Jeremiah 51:27-29 indicates that Armenia (called Ararat) will be part of the final confederation that will fight the end time European Babylonian power. The decision by the Armenian government to be part of the Eurasian Union seems to be consistent with that.
Suggested Sabbath Service
Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services 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 most who receive this emailed-letter will be a recorded one: Can the Great Tribulation Begin in 2015? A related written article is: When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? Other sermonettes are also 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 emailed-letter will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Might the oldest church building have prophetic ramifications? A related written article would be: Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill. 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 that we list each week.
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 Bible News Prophecy channel.
The Apostle Peter wrote:
17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:17-21)
Brethren, we need to need to pray to God and realize that God judges.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God