March 26th, 2020
From the Presiding Evangelist
Greetings from Charlotte,
Some have asked about the purpose of this week’s fast.
The purpose of fasting is to draw near to God (Luke 5:33–35). Two events compel us to do this: Passover is just around the corner, and we are instructed to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Corinthians 11:28). Passover is a sober reminder each year of how serious life is. Our Creator, Jesus Christ, had to give His life in exchange for ours, if we are to experience eternal life in God’s family. Our first and main focus must be to humble ourselves, confess our personal sins, and cry out for help to see ourselves the way God does and to change (Jeremiah 10:23–24).
The second reason is the current COVID-19 crisis. Yes, we all hope and pray that this pandemic will be short-lived, and that we and our loved ones will be long-lived. That is normal, but we must understand the bigger picture, which is that this pandemic and other calamities occurring in our world today are the result of mankind’s rebellion against its Creator. I plan to address that more in my sermon this week.
Yes, we ought to cry out to God to spare our brethren and to be merciful to other human beings who do not understand the real cause of our problems today. We must also pray for our leaders, both national and Church leaders, to have courage and make wise decisions. And we need to pray for God to open doors for us to reach this troubled world with a message of repentance—showing our sins and what the results will be, but giving hope for those willing to change.
Those of us here in Charlotte continue to pray for you as we know you are doing for us. Let’s ask God to bless this special service and the transmission of it this coming Sabbath, so we can worship Him in unity.
Sincerely, in Christ’s service
Gerald E. Weston
Sabbath Services on March 28, Churchwide Fast, at 1:00 p.m., EDT
This Sabbath, March 28, is our Churchwide fast related to the upcoming Passover and the COVID-19 situation. The fast will begin Friday evening at sundown and run through Saturday at sundown. This should be an excellent opportunity for all of us to approach our Father in heaven in unity and humility.
Please note: You may wish to consult your physician if you have a condition that fasting may affect. If you have the flu, it may not be wise to avoid fluids for 24 hours.
Online services this Sabbath will begin at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (U.S.A.) and will be live streamed online. It should be an exciting Sabbath! Please pray not only for the inspiration of the speakers, but also that God will bless and protect the streaming of services.
Start time: 1:00 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Saving Time, USA)
To stream: go to https://www.lcg.org/ and click the banner (at the top of the page). On Saturday, this will bring you to the streaming page. No password is required.
Preparing for the Passover in Your Own Home—Repeat Announcement
All LCG brethren should prepare to keep the Passover in their own home this year, as a result of the current COVID-19 situation. While this may be an unusual and unique experience for most of us, it is not for shut-ins, some of whom have been self-administering the Passover for years.
Your Pastor will have more instructions about the details of how the Passover will be conducted in your area. However, all brethren should begin now to make preparations for self-administering the Passover:
(1) Wine: Members should obtain a small amount of red wine (grape juice is not acceptable). This should be done soon, in case grocery or liquor stores in your area unexpectedly close. Be sure you obtain natural, unfortified wine. Alcoholic content will be between 10–13 percent, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, or any other natural wine. Wines containing 19–20 percent alcohol are fortified and should not be used (the label will tell you the percentage of alcohol).
2) Unleavened Bread: Members can purchase or prepare a small amount of unleavened bread. If you intend to purchase Matzos or Ry-Krisp (which is unleavened), you are encouraged to purchase it soon, in case your neighborhood grocery stores close unexpectedly or are out of stock. You may also make your own unleavened bread.
(3) Written Instructions: Detailed written instructions on keeping the Passover in your own home are posted on the MyLCG website (www.cogl.org). We will also send them to all ministers for distribution as needed. (Note: All U.S. households are also being mailed a copy of the Passover instructions with an accompanying DVD.)
If you have any additional questions on how to conduct the Passover in your home, please contact your pastor.
Despite the emergency situation now, we’re looking forward to next year’s Living Education–Charlotte program, as we review and begin to accept students. We have ten who are applying to be part of our program for next year, with another nine or ten who have expressed interest. At this point, we have more young women than young men in the application stage. This means one thing… our men are going to have lots of opportunity to date beautiful young ladies! If you or someone you know is interested in diving into our nine-month Bible-immersive program, just go to lcgeducation.org and apply, or call (704-708-2295) or e-mail us ([email protected]) right away, as we do have a few openings left.—Jonathan McNair
Living Youth Program
Living Youth Friday Evening Bible Studies Suspended for Summer—Repeat Announcement
The online Friday evening Teen Bible Studies are now suspended for the summer and Feast break. They are scheduled to resume on Friday, November 6. Archives of previous Living Youth Bible Studies can be found on the Living Youth Programs Live archive page at https://live.livingyouth.org/archive/.—Josh Penman
Online Donations—Repeat Announcement
For those who are able, it would be appreciated if you would use the online donation system to make contributions and offerings—including the upcoming Holy Day offerings—during this time of crisis. This would allow funds to go directly into our accounts instead of relying on postal and other mailing systems which might be overloaded as more people are asked to stay home. It would also alleviate the burden of our office staff at this time. Just go to lcg.org and click the “Donate” button at the bottom of the page, or click or paste https://www.lcg.org/donations into your browser. There is also an “Online Donations” button in the member section of MyLCG.
For those who are not able to donate online, please avoid sending cash through the mail, as it may be stolen. For mail-in donations (tithes and offerings) please use checks instead of cash.
Conditions for Mercy: The fear and anxiety generated by the spread of the coronavirus is causing many people to look to God for mercy and deliverance from this invisible plague. While the Scriptures tell us that God is “abundant in mercy” (Numbers 14:18), many today overlook the fact that there are actually conditions for obtaining God’s mercy. David wrote in the Psalms that while mercy is one of God’s benefits, God will grant His mercy “toward those who fear Him… and to those who remember His commandments to do them” (Palm 103:1–2, 11, 18). David also wrote that God’s “salvation [deliverance] is near to those who fear Him” (Psalm 85:9), and the New Testament records that God’s “mercy is on those who fear Him” (Luke 1:50). The prophet Jeremiah warned the backsliding house of Israel, “Your own wickedness will correct you… [because]…you have forsaken the Lord your God, and the fear of Me is not in you” (Jeremiah 2:19). When Daniel entreated God on behalf of his people, he noted that God “keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and… keep His commandments” (Daniel 9:4). When we seek God’s mercy, we must also strive to meet His requirements as revealed in the Scriptures (Deuteronomy 10:12–13; Micah 6:8). During the Passover season, we need to examine ourselves in this regard… and hopefully anyone today who is seeking God’s mercy will do the same.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—March 26, 2020
Could Coronavirus Kill the EU? COVID-19 is wreaking havoc everywhere, and especially in Europe! While the coronavirus pandemic threatens global economies, experts say it could tear the European Union apart (Geopolitical Monitor, March 19, 2020). Financially strapped Italy is on the front lines with viral infections and deaths, and much of the rest of Europe is not far behind. What will happen if three, four, five, or more national economies within the EU suddenly decline? Can the EU survive such a financial strain and stay together? What will happen when a number of European nations exceed the debt thresholds set by Brussels? Experts expect the virus will create an even greater financial divide between northern and southern Europe.
Instead of working in unison, European nations are applying health constraints haphazardly and closing borders to each other—erasing the freedom of movement guaranteed to EU citizens (The Spectator, March 22, 2020). Another serious issue is the level of control some European governments are assuming under the current extreme conditions. For example, “Hungary’s nationalist government submitted a draft law to parliament Friday (20 March) that would enable it to rule by decree for an unlimited period of time, citing the corona emergency” (EU Observer, March 23, 2020). And Hungary may be just the beginning. Opponents fear that once authoritarian measures are taken, they will be difficult to remove after the crisis ends (Euractiv.com, March 23, 2020). The pandemic is pushing European states toward greater nationalism. As once source noted, “What the coronavirus crisis reveals is that the member states of the European Union will revert to national interests when extreme circumstances call for it. While such revelations may not spell the immediate end of the European Union, they certainly raise questions about the point of an organization that pledges solidarity as a founding principle, but abandons that principle the moment it is most called for” (Gatestone Institute, March 21, 2020).
The book of Revelation reveals that ten kings (or rulers) will eventually “give their power and authority” to a single entity in Europe that is referred to as “the Beast” (Revelation 17:12–13)—and times such as these demonstrate how quickly some conclude that desperate times call for desperate measures. The COVID-19 crisis could contribute to a situation in Europe that will pave the way for end-time prophecies to be fulfilled. One key to understanding Bible prophecy is to watch events in Europe! For more insight into what will happen in Europe in the years ahead, watch our telecast “The Beast of Revelation.”
The Growing Locust Crisis: The Guardian reports that tropical storms have provided moisture to enable locusts to thrive in the arid North African desert (March 20, 2020). Storms that usually move through the region quickly have stayed longer and come more frequently. A single tropical cyclone can increase locust reproduction 400-fold, but the recent duo of tropical cyclones resulted in an 8,000-fold increase in locusts! The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that the vast swarms threaten the food security of 25 million people. According to the Guardian, the FAO’s locust monitoring service has located swarms “in at least 10 countries over recent months. One swarm recently reported in Kenya covered an area the size of Luxembourg.”
The fighting in Yemen and Somalia has made the situation worse by hindering locust control efforts. The last comparable locust outbreak occurred in the 1940s and 1950s. The current outbreak is affecting 15 nations in North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia (Scientific American, March 4, 2020). If severe storms continue in the region, the likelihood of more devastating locust outbreaks remains high.
Jesus warned that “famines and pestilences” will go hand-in-hand at the of the end of the age (Luke 21:11), and the book of Revelation warns that famine will contribute to the deaths of unprecedented numbers of people at some point in the future (Revelation 6:5-8). This devastating locust outbreak provides students of God’s word with an insight into how some Bible prophecies could come to pass in the future. For more on this topic, read “The Black Horse of Famine.”—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater