December 17th, 2020
Greetings from Charlotte,
This week’s telecast is by Mr. Wallace Smith, “Just What Is the Kingdom of God?” It is so easy to take for granted this wonderful truth God has opened our minds to understand, whether we are new in the Body of Christ or whether we have been around for many years. I remember that when I first came to this knowledge, I saw it as simply changing the location of our eventual reward—from heaven to earth. But the difference between the concept the world has of going to heaven and the world-ruling Family of God into which we may be born as sons and daughters of God—what we call the Kingdom of God—is as great as east is far from west. However, the longer we are in the Church the easier it is for us to take this wonderful truth for granted. It is also easy to take for granted that we have been called now to do a Work, yet it has been exciting to see the progress in the Work over this turbulent year. Even this month, Mr. Cristian Orrego and Mr. Peter Nathan report that new groups are coming with us in Mexico and Africa. Last Sunday we learned that income is up in Jamaica, one more of many of our offices around the world where we see this trend. At the beginning of 2020, a good week saw over 3,000 responses to the telecast. Today, a good week is over 4,500 responses, and some programs have drawn more than 5,000 and one over 6,000. We have much to thank God for and much not to take for granted.—Gerald Weston
New Congregation in Guadalajara, Mexico
As our Presiding Evangelist, Mr. Gerald Weston, mentioned in last week’s World Ahead, “God is still calling people from around the world to be His children.” We are pleased to report that a new congregation is being formed in the city of Guadalajara in Mexico. Due to the current circumstances, the brethren there have not yet all been able to meet in person, but we hope that they will soon be able to do so when we visit them and establish a meeting place. For now, this small group from Guadalajara, as well as 80 percent of the congregations in Latin America, will continue to faithfully connect to the weekly live transmission of Sabbath services. It is encouraging to see the wonderful power of our Creator while He carries out His plan of salvation for humanity, because even a devastating pandemic is not an impediment for God to continue to bring children to His Church.—Cristian Orrego
Livestreamed Sabbath Services on December 26, 2020, and First Holy Day of Unleavened Bread 2021—Repeat Announcement
The Headquarters Sabbath Service will be livestreamed on December 26. All U.S. and Canadian congregations, and other congregations for whom it is practical, are requested to tune in. Services will begin at 1:00 p.m. EST, USA. Livestream access information will be announced soon, and a phone number will be available for those who do not have Internet access. For those who live in time zones where tuning in to the live service is not practical, or for those who need a translation of the message, a recording and translation will be available later.
No Church-wide livestreamed services are planned for January or February.
The Headquarters Holy Day service on the First Day of Unleavened Bread, March 28, 2021, at 1:00 p.m. EDT, USA is scheduled to be livestreamed to all congregations.
We look forward to meeting virtually together!
We are already receiving applications from some of our young adults for Living Education-Charlotte 2021–22. You are probably wondering what the program is all about, what its purpose is, and who can participate. Perhaps a young person in your congregation has asked if you know how long it is and how much it costs. To find out the answers to these questions and to watch a short video explaining the program, just go to www.lcgeducation.org/charlotte. If you are just curious about the program, that’s fine too!—Jonathan McNair
Wanted: Web Developer—Repeat Announcement
Log into your MyLcg account.
Trials Test Our Faith: The Apostle Paul warned, “know this, that in the last days perilous times will come” (2 Timothy 3:1). Jesus wondered aloud, “when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Jesus also prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail when he encountered trials and tribulations (Luke 22:32). When the challenges of life begin to mount, we need to remember that faith is one of the fruits of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and that God gives His Spirit to those who trust Him and obey His instructions (Acts 5:32). We must do our part to stir up God’s Spirit to help us overcome our trials and fears (2 Timothy 1:6–7). We can also ask for more faith (Luke 17:5). We need to remember that faith comes from hearing and studying the instructions and examples in God’s word (Romans 10:17), which plainly states that God is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9) and that He is like a rock and a fortress that protects and preserves His faithful people (Psalm 31:3, 23). James wrote, “the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:3–4). Let’s do our part to build faith by studying the examples of faith recorded in Hebrews 11, as we strive to please God and stay focused on His word and His plan.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—December 17, 2020
Europe and Islam Face Off: In recent decades, the Muslim population in Europe has been on the rise, and this has contributed to political and social tensions in many European countries. In October, radical Islamists carried out two beheadings in France in the name of Allah (Gatestone Institute, December 6, 2020)—two of three serious attacks by Muslim extremists in the nation within a two-month period. According to French police, there are approximately 120 attacks by young Muslims each day—with many resulting in serious injuries. Last month in Vienna, an Islamist gunman opened fire on a crowd, killing four and injuring over twenty people.
Responding to these ongoing acts of violence, the French prime minister has vowed to "relentlessly fight” against radical Islamic extremism. In addition, “Europe’s politicians responded to the recent terror attacks in France and Austria with expressions of solidarity” (Euractive, November 4, 2020). In fact, leaders pushed the EU to take stronger “joint action against terrorism” on European soil. Even the pope, who has been notoriously quiet on the matter, called for the French people to “respond united for good against evil” (ReligionNews, October 29, 2020).
Frustration in Europe is growing as terrorist acts by Islamists increase in frequency and severity—and national governments are being pushed to take action to combat these atrocities. Both history and the Bible document the ongoing struggle between the peoples of Europe and the Middle East, which will continue up to the end of this age. Prophetic statements in Daniel 11:40–44 indicate that at the time of the end, a “king of the South” will push against or attack the “king of the North,” which will bring an armed response from the north into the Middle East. What is brewing in Europe with the attacks by Islamist extremists could set the stage for a powerful reaction by a coming European “beast” power. To learn more about this climactic future event, be sure to read or listen to The Middle East in Prophecy.
COVID-Related Starvation: In many nations around the globe, COVID-19 restrictions are crippling economies and forcing many into joblessness. In the Philippines, the rates of hunger are unprecedented, and food charities are struggling to keep up (AFP, December 9, 2020). A director of one food charity observed, “If you go out there everybody will tell you that they’re more afraid of dying from hunger than dying from COVID. They don’t care about COVID anymore.”
According to one source, nearly a third of Philippine families ran short on food in the past three months, and 2.2 million families are currently experiencing “severe hunger.” Dreams of moving out of poverty have been shattered, and some compare the current state of existence to “living like pigs.”
The current extreme hunger in the Philippines is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what the future holds for mankind. The Bible warns of a future time of global hunger when billions of people will be affected by Revelation’s “black horse” of famine (Revelation 6:5–6). This coming time of extreme scarcity will be unprecedented in human history, one of many dramatic events that will come on a world that has turned away from God—just before the return of Jesus Christ. To learn more about these earthshaking events, read or listen to our informative booklet Armageddon and Beyond!—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater