Contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered for the saints ... Let brotherly love continue (Jude 3; Hebrews 13:1)
Letter to the Brethren: March 7, 2024

Letter to the Brethren: March 7, 2024

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Greetings from Grover Beach, California.

We have now been pushed out of our offices and into cramped aisles in the warehouse as our ceilings are in the process of being removed and replaced because of water damage related to the tornado that hit last month. Because of the construction, the church telephone line (which is analog) is not functional and probably may not be for a couple of weeks. However, email still works. Sorry for any difficulties this may cause some of you.

Let me add that we contacted another city in Texas where we are considering holding the Feast of Tabernacles for the USA in this year. Although we have gotten several responses from different locations, so far we have received no acceptable quotes (meeting room rates quoted were many times higher than appropriate) from the four cities we contacted in Texas. We continue to work and pray about this.

On other matters, we received another 20 translations of our English booklet titled The Gospel of the Kingdom of God this week. The work of reaching the world with a witness of the good news of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 24:14) continues.

Baptism in New Zealand

There was a baptism in New Zealand on Tuesday:

Dear Dr Thiel,

Today, on the early evening of Tuesday 5th of March 2024, a new member was added to the body of Christ with the baptism of Tia Kosena. This was held at Maraetai Beach, on the east coast of Auckland NZ. We encountered some challenges with the weather which led to a delay and were finally blessed with a picture perfect evening. Tia’s sister Shirley and her niece Danielle were also present at her baptism. To finish the evening we had fish and chips Kiwi style and discussed aspects of the coming Passover and ULB Holy Days.

Kind regards

Ritchie White

So, as Jesus said, that would have been cause for more joy for the angels in heaven (Luke 15:7). We, Christians on earth, also should also have joy from that:

12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. … 25 … there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13,25-26)

Fasting and Supporting the Work, Including the Poor

The late Worldwide Church of God evangelist Dennis Luke wrote the following:

Fast Regularly

Actually, we should fast to get closer to God so our prayers will be more effective. Every Christian needs to fast regularly to stay close to God. Christ said, “When you fast…” (Matt. 6:17), not “if you fast.”

Your goal should be to fast about once each month. Draw closer to God and pray especially and specifically about God’s Work and your part in it.

James was inspired to write,

“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:8-10).

David said he humbled himself with fasting (Psalm 35:13). So fasting is a way to humble yourself before God and seek Him in prayer and Bible study with all your heart.

Fasting is hard. It does take character, but the results are more than worth it! God says,

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” (Isa. 58:6-7).

Notice that God wants us to fast to overcome our own problems and grow, and also to help others. Fasting and praying about God’s Work is a way to help the poor and hungry of this world. People today are starving spiritually and they need help! We have the spiritual food to give them and we must not hold it back.

Are you willing to discipline yourself and fast for God’s Work? If you are, God says to you: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and, thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.” (Isa. 58:8.) God will bless you and reward you and hear your prayers for His Work. “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry and He shall say, Here I am…” (verse 9).

Here is how you can effectively fast for God’s Work. A spiritual fast means denying yourself all food and liquids for the purpose of humbling yourself before and drawing closer to your Creator. You should have a purpose in fasting. In this case, your purpose or main concern is the progress of God’s Work. You should spend much extra time on this fast day praying about the main needs or problems in God’s Work.

Pray for God’s ministers and others. Pray about having your heart in the Work and doing your part. In other words, dedicate that day to God for a special purpose — that of being a living sacrifice — giving your life, time and energy for the benefit of God’s Work. It pleases God to see our wholehearted concern for His Work!

Tithe Faithfully and Give Generous Offerings

Christ said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). This is a living principle. If you want your heart to be in God’s Work, put your money in God’s Work! This really works, brethren. This is an important way to put and keep your heart in the Work of God. Those who are committed financially to this Work are automatically going to be concerned about it.

Our tithes and regular, generous offerings are a means of serving others We are helping to give the truth of God freely to the world. And what counts is how much we give according to how much we have to give financially. There is no better place on earth to put your money than in God’s Work. Christ said that you are laying up for yourself treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:30), a reward which you will receive when He comes. No one can steal this reward from you!

“… you cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on…but seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:24, 25, 33).

Brethren, if we do put God’s Work first in our lives financially, He has promised that He will take care of all our needs! And God cannot lie (Titus 1:2)! God has promised to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing we will not be able to hold (Mal. 3:10) if we give generously with a cheerful heart (II Cor. 9:7). You can’t out-give God. The more you give to His Work, using wisdom of course, the more God is going to bless you in this life and in His Kingdom! (Luker D. ENEMY NUMBER ONE: Spiritual Lethargy in God’s Church. Good News, July 1969)

Yes, we should have zeal, fast regularly, and support the work of God.

As far as fasting goes, those who physically can are to do fast on the Day of Atonement, but as Dennis Luker pointed out, it has long been the position of the Church of God that people should strive to fast monthly. Let me add that the more often one fasts, the easier it tends to get (though for many regular caffeine consumers it still can be quite difficult).

That said, we are not just to fast to get something from God.

Dennis Luker quoted part of Isaiah 58 from the old KJV, here is part of that chapter from the New King James Version:

6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry …? (Isaiah 58:6-7)

So, according to the word of God part of why we should fast is to be able to aid the hungry, which too, is also part of the work.

Dry Spell Hurting in Malawi and Mozambique

Last Friday, Sosten Libungwa sent the following report:

Dear pastor Dr Bob,

Church greetings, thank you so much for the assistance of funds that you sent to us for food as dry spell continuing for 10th weeks now,many have died due to this dry spell which is the first time in the history of Malawi,on sabbath I will be attending the church services at Naminjiwa,a new branch which has opened just 2 weeks ago and tomorrow will be the third week,while am there I will share food to the church members,photos shall be send to you,I have asked brethren to pray for rain to come,if it can come today nothing will happen to our crops since already dried up but we can plant crops like potatoes, cassava and some vegetables for food and cash,we need all brethren to pray over Malawi,other church started distributed food as well as the Government but for the Government is sharing food to only aged people,we trust that our God is en able God,where there is no hope God put hope,I can not report to you that this region is better than others,Malawi and Mozambique is the same of dry spell and that our church people are suffering too,thanks for your prayers and support.i have send you photos of dry spell and video for farmers crying for God’s mercy for help. Sosten Libungwa.

After the Sabbath, he sent me the following photos and report:

Dear pastor Dr Bob,

Church greetings, thank you for food assistance you sent to me last week, as I told you that I shall visit the new church at Naminjiwa next trading centre after Migowi, it was wonderful and fruitful trip to visit the brethren there, they started with 4 church members but within a short period for third week now they are over 20 people as you can see on the photos, people are very much thanks for your prayers and support to us,please continuing praying for us because dry spell that has hit Malawi will give us bad results, no harvest but our faith is to God the mighty that can makes away where seems no way, we trust prayers can change things, Sosten Libungwa

There are hundreds more hungry in Malawi and Mozambique than the relatively few shown above. We had provided assistance to many of them earlier, but this group was missed, so we did not want them overlooked.

That said, the hunger situation in parts of Malawi and Mozambique due to dry spells and other reasons is real and is severe.

Speaking of “dry spells,” our USA income has been down significantly so far this year. Because of that, we have made cuts to certain expenses associated with literature (including translation) production and internet promotion. This “dry spell” has also limited our ability to assist the starving in Africa as much as we would hope to be able to.

Jesus said:

 37 “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)

Please pray for more laborers for the harvest as well as more income to support the harvest and the poor.

The Apostle James wrote:

27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, (James 1:27)

15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  (James 2:15-19)

The Apostle Paul wrote:

9 … James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do. (Galatians 2:9-10)

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:7-10)

With those scriptures in mind, consider that we reported that we have been sending funds for the poor and hungry (including widows and orphans). But we would like to do more. We should not weary of doing good and helping those of the household of faith.

Jesus said:

34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40)

Yes, when you support the Continuing Church of God with tithes and offerings, in addition to supporting the proclamation work, you are serving Jesus by also assisting the poor in places like Africa.

Suggested Sabbath Day ServicesHere is a suggested Sabbath day service for our scattered brethren and other interested people:

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 mobile 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. There are also messages in the Spanish language at the CDLIDDSermones  channel.

World News Items

German army officers were caught plotting to possibly send missiles to destroy the bridge that connects the Russian mainland to Crimea, so the Ukrainians then attempted to do it themselves (see Ukraine attacks Crimea bridge after German military caught proposing attack–what will happen to German-Russian relations?). This is a major embarrassment to Germany because 1) the secret conversation was intercepted and 2) it is not supposed to be directly militarily involved in the Ukrainian fight against Russia. Ultimately, I believe that the Germans will decide that they need to “make nice” with the Russians, and this incident may end up as part of the motivation to do so in the future.

Speaking of Germany, its non-Roman Catholic Chancellor Olaf Scholtz met with Pope Francis this week (see Germany’s non-Roman Catholic chancellor meets the pope). There will be a more direct Vatican-Europe alliance coming and actions by many European leaders are helping set the stage for that.

Two days ago, the USA held its ‘Super Tuesday’ election, with Donald Trump picking up nearly enough delegates to clinch the Republican Party nomination, and almost the same for Joe Biden for the Democratic Party nomination (see Trump wins, Europe militarily concerned: ‘it is the prospect of a return by Donald Trump to the US presidency that has helped focus minds in Europe’). The November election is set to be a contest between two evils, with some looking at possibly replacing Joe Biden should he drop out (see also Super Tuesday, Michelle Obama, Bill & Hillary Clinton, and Evil).

Some very wealthy Americans, as well less wealthy ones, are looking to create bunkers and other shelters in which to try to ride out the coming apocalypse in the USA (see MS: Should Tennessee Be Ranked #1 For Survivability For Preppers That Want To Survive The Cataclysmic Times That Are Coming?). That is a mistake as the USA will not survive what is coming and various prophecies point to those who flee to places like the mountains will also be pursued (Ezekiel 6:1-10, 7:16-17; Lamentations 4:1; Amos 3:9-14). There is a place of protection for the Philadelphian Christians, but it is NOT in the United States of America  (see also  There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Near Petra).

Concluding Comments

Luke’s gospel has the following:

36 Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’” (Luke 5:35-39)

Why might Jesus have said this?

The Cambridge Bible offers the following explanation:

The spirit for which our Lord here (as it were) offers an apology is the deep-rooted human tendency to prefer old habits to new lights, and stereotyped formulae to fresh truths. It is the unprogressive spirit which relies simply on authority, precedent, and tradition, and says, ‘It was good enough for my father, it is good enough for me;’ ‘It will last my time,’ &c.

Brethren, while many in the Church of God have seen how those outside of the COGs falsely rely on tradition over the word of God, we also need to be careful that we do not assume all COG traditions are fine as is.

Most end time Christians have relied on certain prophetic traditions that will prevent them from knowing when God wants His most faithful to flee in Revelation 12:13-16 (see also Do You Hold to Any of These Laodicean Prophetic Errors?).

We should remember:

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

And that reproof and correction can include us personally or some beliefs that we may improperly hold.

We all need to be more “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work,” hence we need to rely on the word of God in case of any conflict with tradition.


Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseerv