Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings to you all from the Near East.

In this past week, we have been holding youth camps in Kenya, while I have been traveling to and from the Middle East (and had a confirmed dream related to that trip).

New Year’s Day

This is the time of year when much of the world celebrates their change of year.

The Bible begins the year in the Spring (Exodus 12:2), but what is commonly called New Year’s Day is observed on January 1st on modern calendars. In the late 2nd century A.D., Greco-Roman theologian Tertullian condemned those who professed Christ who were celebrating a version of it. But, that did not stop many who wanted to celebrate.

The Catholic Encyclopedia reports:

Christian writers and councils condemned the heathen orgies and excesses connected with the festival … celebrated at the beginning of the year: Tertullian blames Christians who regarded the customary presents — called strenae (Fr. étrennes) from the goddess Strenia, who presided over New Year’s Day (cf. Ovid, Fasti, 185-90) — as mere tokens of friendly intercourse (De Idol. xiv). (Tierney J. New Year’s Day. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11, 1911)

Around 487 A.D., the Greco-Romans seemed to adopt the “Feast of the Circumcision” on January 1st. This, however, did not stop all heathen activity.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

Even in our own day the secular features of the opening of the New Year interfere with the religious observance of the Circumcision, and tend to make a mere holiday of that which should have the sacred character of a Holy Day. St. Augustine points out the difference between the pagan and the Christian manner of celebrating the day: pagan feasting and excesses were to be expiated by Christian fasting and prayer (P. L., XXXVIII, 1024 sqq.; Serm. cxcvii, cxcviii). (Ibid)

So it also states:

…towards the end of the sixth century the Council of Auxerre (can. I) forbade Christians strenas diabolicas observare.

The expression strenas diabolicas observare roughly translates from Latin to English as “observing the new time of the Devil.” It is likely that New Year’s resolutions are related to prayers and practices once given for the pagan goddess.

January 1st is not a biblical holiday, and even the Church of Rome has forbidden some of its attributes as demonic.

Many of the practices and customs associated with New Year’s Day come from paganism as real scholars will admit. Neither Jesus’ apostles nor their early followers observed anything like that.

We in the Continuing Church of God do not as well. See also the free book: Should You Keep God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?

Youth Camps

Evangelist Evans Ochieng sent the following:

Pastor Dr Bob,Greetings from kenya.We had a wonderful youth camp at Ndhiwa.  So many youths attended than our expectations.  We wanted only 14 years and above to attend the youth camp this year because of covid 19 problems,  but it turned out great that the younger ones were also crying that they must come to the youth camps. So most of camps were attended by even eleven years old. The camp was very good and the teachings were fine. I also received the massage from kisii that the meeting went well.  I’m getting so many phone calls from youths that they were happy. It means that incase we failed not to have youth camp this year,  it would have been a great mistske to youths. They are now very happy everywhere and really appreciate the work church of God is doing.  Thank you very much pastor for the donation of the youth camps in kenya.We had 110 youths attended at Ndhiwa. Hope you are going to get more reports from other camps.I’m sending you a picture of those who conducted youth camp at Ndhiwa.Evans

Pastor Dr Bob Greetings from Kenya.
Below are those who conducted youth camp at Ndhiwa. From left to right, :- Andrew otwande church secretary Ndhiwa,  Fredrik omondi my son in charge of catering, Jared otieno in charge of Migori congregation, Bradox Ouma Ndhiwa branches co ordinator Evans Ochieng kisiengo African Evangelist, Jacob otieno, Gribe congregation host, Granton otieno Church deacon, Isaya owak also attended our youth camp services at Ndhiwa, and last is Lucas ogada church member. 
The performance was very good and successful. It bears more fruits around my home area since we were using speakers.  I’m getting so many applications from youths outside the church who wanted to join us. It was wonderful. 
We thank GOD for the good protection during youth camps in kenya. 
Evans.

Deacon Grantone Otieno sent the following:I am hereby sharing with you our joy of being protected during and Youth camp site located at Ndhiwa CCOG Church meeting hall from 23rd to 26th, Dec, 2020 and departed on 27th to our various homes.We managed to have a very wonderful  youth camp despite Corona virus pandemic/ covid 19 that  made it difficult for the youths below 14 years of age to attend according to the Government corvid 19 Laws which states that under 14 years of age are not allowed to attend any public gathering  like the one we had, spacing of 1 meter apart during the meeting, and also the number of people to attend was also limited.Youths who attended were taught on how to protect and keep themselves a way from the worldly sneers and evil that are there in the world and the various places during these last days as well as to know and be able to differentiate between the lies and the the truth of the Bible and the truth Doctrine. All youths who were present were able to learn  deep things of God and were all happy to be there during that period. Since we were there on 25th when the world was celebrating their pagan holiday, They were also taught  about the author of December 25th as well as January 1st.On our last day, in the evening, Pastor Evance Ochieng’ fell sick and it was so much serious that he could neither eat nor walk. God was merciful that the following day in the morning , he could now able to talk to the youths as they were departed, but was not able to walk a distanceOtherwise, may you remember him in your prayers and also other Gods servants so that God may intervene and strengthen His elect who have sincerely given their life for His work and to the faith which was once and for all delivered to the saints. ( Jude 3)May Almighty God strengthen you and give you more energy together with all who those who support His work to fulfill Mathew 14:14 and 28:19 -20.Many Regards,Deacon Grantone Otieno

David Cheruiyot sent the following:

Greetings from Njoro Kenya under the leadership of elder David Cheruiyot and Charles Langat.We had a youth camp meeting of approximately 100 youths on 23rd to 26th December. It was good and we thank the almighty God for his presence and provision during the meeting.We also thank Evans Ochieng for his support and may be blessed in Jesus name.We have photos for the youth meeting.

Pastor Tiongik Sawek sent the following report about CCOG youth camps in his area as well as some photos:

Hello and receive greetings in Jesus Christ. The youth meeting ended yesterday in a marvelous way, though it was a short duration of time but our youths were equipped and to learn a lot.Personally, I got to learn and grow spiritually having got time to interact with youths and i’m very glad. Pastor Sawek and Nelson group were administering in Chilani. The meeting bear lots of fruits.I also got a report from South Rift and they held the meeting very well. We are very thankful for the support from Evangelist Ochieng who ensured the success of the youth meeting.Takitech group is the first region to hold feast of tabernacles and youth meetings as they usually come to Chilani local, we are therefore happy for the move. We manage to send our brothers David Langat and David Rono to Takitech region to  assist in administering the word together with the Takitech decon Mr. Siele.The Continuing Church of God is really working and doing a great work especially here in Kenya where most of the meetings have been heard in most of the regions. For instance, in the Chilani area the Continuing Church of God only manages to perform the meeting as compared to other churches who didn’t manage.Attached are some of the few photos I managed to take, The first ones are from Chilani followed by Takitech group.May God bless you!Regards,Pastor Sawek

Because of COVID restrictions, we were not sure how to hold the camps. But by delaying and asking questions, we were able to.

Another Dream

The Bible teaches that unlike with Moses, God speaks to His prophets in a dream (Numbers 12:6-8).

I am writing this section from Doha, Qatar on December 28, 2020.

After going to bed on the night of December 26, 2020, I had a dream.

Because of airline connection issues, I was concerned whether or not I would be able to make the flight to Qatar.

In my dream, there were complications that made it look like I might not make the connecting flight. In the dream the complications were stressful, but without details. In the dream I prayed about this. I also prayed that if this trip and other trips I have made related to behind-the-scenes aspects of the final phase of the work was God’s will, that: 1) if there were stressful problems which looked like might cancel the trip 2) that I would make my connection to Qatar, and 3) that I would pass negative for the airport required COVID test.

(I did not want to be quarantined for two weeks in the event of a false positive. Recently, CCOG evangelist Evans Ochieng got a false positive COVID test which delayed his ability to fly back to Kenya from Malawi.)

Fulfillment?

As it turned out, there were two different people with two different, yet seemingly very serious, health issues on that first flight, which delayed it. It looked like one or both of them (they were not related) may need to be taken off the flight or even treated on the ground as some came aboard the flight related to each of them. While their situations appeared treatable, I was concerned that this may cause me to miss the connection to Qatar, so I began to make contingency plans (as one flight I was on years ago was delayed over 10 hours because of a health-concern of one passenger). Anyway, today was the best time to go on this trip as far as a lot of details were concerned. Plus because how short the trip was, I would have had to completely cancel it if I missed the connecting flight to Qatar. Yet, although my first plane left late, I was able to make the connection.

So, since the first two parts of the dream were confirmed, I strongly suspect that the dream was from God.

Jeremiah was inspired to write:

28 The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; (Jeremiah 23:28)

That is why I am doing do.

Slightly before midnight, I got my required COVID test.

December 29, 2020

It is now December 29, 2020. I have been wondering about the results of my COVID test as they were delayed. I had been told that they were supposed to take five or six hours, but instead after thirteen hours they have not arrived.

So, I wondered if perhaps something was wrong and perhaps the results would say I had COVID-19. I was NOT worried about the disease itself (as I have successfully treated several with it), but was concerned about God’s will for something I believed His Spirit, consistent with John 16:11-12, led me to do. I did not want to be working on something of my imagination, but wanted to be sure that the groundwork we were doing was what God wanted us to do.

Anyway finally, after much waiting I got the results of my COVID test.

It was negative. And on this trip I was able to accomplish some things that I believe will have long-term impact on the final phase of the work.

So, yes I believe that the dream did come from God.

Should I have not known before it was fully confirmed?

Not necessarily. The VAST MAJORITY of dreams are not from God, even if they have some accuracy.

Notice also what the prophet Jeremiah wrote:

6 And Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 7 ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, “Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it.”‘ 8 Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is yours, and the redemption yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. (Jeremiah 32:6-8)

So, even though Jeremiah wrote that the word of the Lord had come to him, he was not certain until it came to pass.

Now that that all three parts of the dream were confirmed (which reminded me what happened with Gideon for him to do a certain aspect of God’s work involving him and others: Judges 6:36-40), I consider that God has confirmed that the behind-the-scenes aspects of the final phase of the work we have been working on for many years was God’s will and should continue.

Essentially, this has to do with making mainly low-level contacts with leaders and others on most of the continents of the world which I have long believed will assist in future aspects of the final phase of the work that God wanted done.

While the latest overall trip accomplished much of what we felt needed to happen, one thing I can share was a meeting I had hoped to have with CCOG interested parties from Algeria in Qatar did not happen because of COVID and travel issues–but perhaps God will open the door to Algeria in a different way. Jesus often opens doors (cf. Revelation 3:7-13) in ways we do not always expect.

For those wondering about CCOG and Israel, some behind-the-scenes work has included contacts with Jewish leaders in Israel as well. And, it may be one or more in Israel that will become the first of those that will go from ‘behind-the-scenes’ to public in the next few years.

While the elements of this dream will not seem dramatic enough for most who call themselves Christian, God sometimes goes with “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12). And that “voice” (via a confirmed dream) confirmed for me to continue what I have considered to be long-term aspects of the final phase of the work.

Yes, even if not dramatic enough for many, God said He would use dreams in the last days (Acts 2:16-17; see also Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?) and has been doing so within the CCOG.

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

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. Some people have found that if their internet connections are not fast enough, that they can simply listen to the messages that are found at the Bible News Prophecy online radio channel.

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. There are also some messages at the CCOGAfrica channel.

World News Items

In the USA, its President Donald Trump signed another stimulus debt increasing bill (see ‘Trump Signs Spending Bill, Pandemic Aid Package’). He, as well as Joe Biden, want to provide more in the future. Debt really is prophesied to destroy a major nation in the end times (Habakkuk 2:6-8) and the USA is the most indebted nation in the history of the world.

The head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, Dr Mike Ryan, said related to COVID-19 that “this pandemic has been very severe … it has affected every corner of this planet. But this is not necessarily the big one” (see also WHO: Bigger Pandemic Than COVID Is Coming; COGwriter: The Fourth Horseman). He is correct–the “big one” is prophesied to come along with the ride of the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse (Revelation 6:7-8). The steps we have seen related to COVID-19 will pale in comparison to the deaths and losses of freedom that are prophesied to come (cf. Revelation 13).

At 11:00 pm in London tonight, the British exit (Brexit) from the European Union is supposed to be complete (see ‘New Year brings final UK-EU Brexit split’). While many in the UK will celebrate Brexit tonight (and some there will mourn it), it will not end as people there hope it will. The exit deal is complicated and will trigger disputes over trade and other matters. The Bible shows that Europe will become a military power that will shock the world (Revelation 13:1-4). It shows that the USA (Daniel 11:39) and UK (Daniel 8:24-25) will be taken over by a German-dominated Europe (Isaiah 10:5-11). Brexit will be a small part of Europe’s internal justification for doing so within a decade if the CCOG’s current understanding of the “last days” is correct.

Concluding Comments

The Apostle Paul was inspired to write:

47 For so the Lord has commanded us:

‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,
That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:47-48)

CCOG is striving to reach those ethnically of Israel, but at the same time it seems obvious that God has opened a door for us to be a light to the Gentiles.

Brethren, all of us, Israelite or Gentile, glad and glorify the word of the Lord, and support His work.

Sincerely,

Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer