December 11, 2018
December 11th, 2018
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers,
As we near the end of 2018, more than two billion people around the world are preparing to celebrate Christmas. Many will celebrate by going further into debt in a frenzy of gift-buying. The National Retail Federation reports that holiday sales in the United States this year are expected to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over last year, possibly surpassing $720 billion. This is up from an average 3.9 percent annual increase over the past five years, even though a survey conducted by YouGov.com determined that 15 percent of spenders are still paying off last year’s holiday debt!
Most of this end-of-year shopping is supposedly done to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, even though we know from the evidence of Scripture that He was born several months before December. Imagine how powerfully we could reach the world with the true Gospel message if even a tithe of that misguided holiday spending went instead to God’s Work! Of course, God has not opened most people’s eyes to His truth at this time. Do you truly appreciate just how much love God has shown to those whom He is calling in this present age? As Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). In our Tomorrow’s World personal appearance presentations, I often emphasize the sins of America, Canada and other nations, including the national sin of robbing from God. The prophet Malachi indicts our Western nations for their selfishness and covetousness, and their choice not to honor God for His abundant national and individual blessings. “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.” (Malachi 3:8–9).
Notice that the penalty for robbing God is not only individual, but national! We have been warning our Western nations that there is a cause for every effect, and we will reap what we have sown nationally and individually (Galatians 6:7). We can be thankful for the time being that the U.S. economy has been healthy, even with a third-quarter slowdown and volatile stock market. While the European Union unemployment rate remains above 8 percent, unemployment in the United States earlier this year reached a 49-year low at 3.7 percent. Yet, we know from God’s word that the situation will be reversed, as social and economic devastation in the U.S. and British-descended nations contribute to a “famine” of the preaching of the Gospel. The prophet Joel records a plea for repentance during a future time of scarce resources (Joel 2:12–17). And eventually our work of preaching the Gospel will come to an end, leading to a famine of the word (Amos 8:11) just before the two witnesses powerfully prophesy during the three and one-half years leading up to the seventh trumpet proclamation, announcing the Kingdom of God on earth (Revelation 11:15). As our Lord Jesus Christ said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). So, we must fulfill the Great Commission while it is day! Many of God’s people are now being blessed financially and choosing to contribute generously to the Work, according to their means. Thank you for your continuing support in spreading the light of God’s truth!
We have an online calendar listing the dates of the annual Sabbaths for 2019. If you want to review these scripturally ordained times and their meanings, you can do so at the LCG.org website when you click on “Holy Day Calendar.” I hope you will watch (or re-watch) Mr. Rod McNair’s powerful Tomorrow’s World telecast “Why Christmas?” You may also want to review our informative booklet Is Christmas Christian? Whose birthday was originally celebrated on December 25? As our booklet explains on pages 20-21, the New World Encyclopediaanswers plainly: “The feast of Sol Invictus on December 25 was a sacred day in the religion of Mithraism, which was widespread in the Roman Empire. Its god, Mithras, was a solar deity of Persian origin, identified with the Sun. It displayed its unconquerability as ‘Sol Invictus’ when it began to rise higher in the sky following the Winter Solstice—hence December 25 was celebrated as the Sun’s birthday. In 274ce, Emperor Aurelian officially designated December 25 as the festival of Sol Invictus.”
As all reputable Bible scholars know, Jesus Christ was born in the autumn season and not on December 25. Many professing Christians do not know, or do not care, that the Christmas date was based on the celebrated birthday of a pagan sun god. Paganism crept into professing Christianity as leaders compromised with the truth to gain superficial converts. The Roman world accepted pagan customs which even to this day are falsely labeled “Christian.” Historian Will Durant summarized this shocking development: “Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it…. Christianity was the last creation of the ancient pagan world…” (The Story of Civilization, pp. 595, 599). I encourage you to read (or reread) Dr. Roderick Meredith’s revealing booklet, Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity.
Well-meaning relatives and friends may pressure us to join the seasonal celebrations. We must be alert to the deceptions of this world and avoid giving in to falsehoods. God gives us this sobering warning: “[T]ake heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them [pagan nations], after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way…” (Deuteronomy 12:30–31).
As you will note on the calendar, we will observe the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles next year from sunset on October 13 through sunset on October 20, followed by the Last Great Day the day after. This past autumn, more than 10,000 members, co-workers, and family members celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles at 57 Living Church of God Festival sites in 36 countries. We rejoiced in the meaning of this and other Festivals that reveal the true plan of salvation for all peoples. Be sure to plan ahead for 2019!
Soon, we will begin another calendar year, one year closer to the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16; 17:14). We see Bible prophecy coming to pass as nations continue their greed, oppression and rebellion against biblical Christianity. Be sure to watch Mr. Gerald Weston’s Tomorrow’s World telecast, “2019 in Bible Prophecy,” scheduled for the last weekend in 2018. It will be available on the TomorrowsWorld.org website.
We are excited about more open doors for preaching the Gospel. In the past couple of months, we have begun broadcasting the Tomorrow’s World telecast on TV stations in the following cities:
|Albuquerque, NM (KWBQ)||Portland, OR (KRCW)||Tucson, AZ (KMSB)|
|Charleston, WV (WQCW)||San Antonio, TX (KABB)|
|Nashville, TN (WNAB)||Seattle, WA (KSTW)|
We are also producing television programs in Dutch, German, French, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese and Ukrainian for the Internet, and for various satellite stations and Roku. I invite our English-speaking brethren and co-workers to view our Spanish and French websites, elmundodemanana.org and mondedemain.org. I think you will be impressed. The TomorrowsWorld.org home page also announces personal appearances by our television presenters and local ministers. If you live in the Memphis or North Little Rock area, be sure to attend Tomorrow’s World presentations on January 5 and 6 as well as January 12 and 13. If you live in the Melbourne, Australia area, I hope you will attend the presentations on 3, 10, and 17 February.
Jesus proclaimed, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Pray for God’s Kingdom to come. And pray that we all will continue with heartfelt dedication and service to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20). Thank you for your continuing support and prayers, particularly as we see major end-time prophecies coming to pass. May God continually bless you in your service to Him and His Work in 2019.
In Christian love,
Richard F. Ames
P.S. Please remember that any contributions dated in December that are postmarked on or before December 31, 2018 will be counted as 2018 donations, and may be tax-deductible in 2018, even if we receive them in January 2019. So be sure any December donation is dated and postmarked no later than December 31. If you prefer to use our online donation system found at www.lcg.org/donations.shtml, the cutoff for 2018 donations will be 11:59 p.m. on December 31.