Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ,
Warm greetings to you all from Charlotte, NC! Dr. Meredith has been actively writing, preaching and administering the Work. Many of you saw him last Sunday, February 10, presenting a dynamic message live over the Internet. Modern technology allows us to preach the gospel around the world, overcoming the barriers of national geographic boundaries. In his powerful and stirring presentation, Dr. Meredith warned us that more dramatic prophecies will be fulfilled in 2013 and beyond.
As 2013 continues, my friends, be sure to watch developments in Europe. With 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI having announced his resignation, effective at the end of this month, factions within the Roman church are already jockeying for influence so “their man” can become the next leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics around the world. Those of you who have watched our telecast and read our magazine for some time understand the prophesied end-time role of a religious leader who will ally himself with a revived Roman Empire at the end of this age. Will the next Pope be the final one? Only time will tell, but those who watch world events in the light of Bible prophecy will be the first to understand.
We can certainly expect 2013 to continue the trend of record-setting natural disasters. Certainly, 2012 continued to set new records with damaging storms, fires, droughts, hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides and tornados around the world. In his booklet, Who Controls the Weather?, Dr. Meredith asked: “Are ‘natural disasters’ the impersonal workings of ‘Mother Nature’—or might they be a vital message from God? Weather calamities are sometimes called ‘acts of God’—but what is His actual role in the droughts, famines, floods and earthquakes that affect our world? What does the Bible say about weather disasters at the end of the age? What can a Christian do to prepare?” Be sure to order our free booklet, Who Controls the Weather?, for the answers to these questions.
Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26—the “blessings and cursings” chapters in your Bible—plainly and powerfully declare God’s judgments on disobedient nations and peoples. These judgments include severe natural disasters, such as we have been experiencing. And when leaders of nations not only condone but even promote as “normal” the sinful ways of life condemned in Scripture, we can expect a powerful judgment day as a result. One London newspaper reported that Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, has even “given his backing to gay weddings in churches in a move that puts him on direct collision course with the established Church…. The Prime Minister revealed yesterday he will be voting in favour of legislation allowing gay weddings in churches” (The Times, December 8, 2012).
Why would any national leaders promote anti-God, anti-biblical behavior that will ultimately bring judgment upon their nations? In my upcoming Tomorrow’s World article (March-April 2013), “Sex: Is it Sin?,” I emphasize: “The Bible is clear; God made sex to be shared by husband and wife in marriage. Any other sexual activity is sin. Read the full statement in Hebrews 13:4, ‘Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.’ Yes, God is the judge! Sexually immoral individuals need to repent of their sinful ‘lifestyles’! Further, the Bible describes specific sexual acts that are prohibited, including sexual perversion (see Leviticus 18).”
Genuine Christians understand that God is the author of marriage. Jesus answered the Pharisees’ challenge concerning divorce. He stated: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).
God is the author of marriage. He is the author of spiritual laws that are powerful and binding, just as the laws of nature, physics and chemistry are binding (James 4:12)! Sadly, many nations and cultures have gone the way of human reasoning based on materialistic, evolutionary philosophy. As the inspired book of Proverbs states in two places, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). The Apostle Paul described another cause and effect principle that brings inevitable consequences: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 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” (Galatians 6:7-8).
In his second inaugural address, on January 21 of this year, U.S. President Barack Obama stated: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law—for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” By calling a sinful lifestyle “love,” the President challenged the very laws of God. Yes, God loves sinners, but godly love promotes repentance from sexual immorality. Godly love encourages godly behavior and godly marriages. God does treat all “equally” according to His law—He is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Incredibly, polls have shown that 78 percent of Americans under age 30 agree with the President and support the sinful lifestyle of same-sex marriage. Will we repent of our sinful attitudes and behaviors, or will we face the penalties of our sins? God help our nations to wake up and acknowledge that the promotion of sinful, perverse, abominable practices is sinful (God’s own description in Leviticus 18:22, 27). We must repent—as individuals, nations and national leaders.
Some are calling for repentance. However, many leaders of our Western nations acknowledge God only with their lips. Jesus berated the religious leaders of His day for twisting and watering down the commandments of God: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (Matthew 15:7-9). When leaders teach that sexual sin is “love,” they are teaching commandments of men and not of God! Genuine love is demonstrated by obedience to His commandments: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
When has a Western leader led his people in a proclamation of repentance? U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued such a proclamation on March 30, 1863, “appointing a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer.” The proclamation begins: “Whereas the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation….”
My friends, what modern government, or leader in our Western world would, today, in the twenty-first century, even consider making such a proclamation—and then living by it? Have we gone so far that we will no longer consider humbling ourselves as a nation, or as a people? Have we crossed the line and become hardened in disobeying the Creator of nations and peoples? Have we become like the ancient Israelites who resisted the warnings of the prophets whom God sent to reform the nation? God sent warning to Judah and Jerusalem. How did they respond? “Yet He [God] sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord; and they testified against them, but they would not listen” (2 Chronicles 24:19).
Are we now approaching that same condition of rebellion against God?
Lincoln’s proclamation continues: “and Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
Last week, at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, President Obama honored Lincoln, describing him as a man who “was humbled in the face of the Lord.” To an audience comprised mostly of professing Christians, the President went on to say, “Let us pray to God that we may be worthy of the many blessings He has bestowed upon our nation.” Are we worthy today of those blessings? Will our leaders and peoples continue to ignore God’s commandments that condemn fornication, adultery and sexual perversion? My friends, our prideful nations are becoming either more blinded to God’s plain condemnation and declaration of sin (1 John 3:4), or simply more rebellious!
In 2013, will Western pride and arrogance prevent us from confessing national and individual sins? President Lincoln’s proclamation reflected humility, not vain pride: “It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness. Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do by this my proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy.”
God preserved the U.S. through a blood-soaked civil war that took the lives of more than 600,000 human beings. As in Lincoln’s day, we need national repentance, humiliation, fasting and prayer! Brethren and co-workers, our nations are very close to crossing the line beyond which they, like ancient Esau, will find “no place for repentance” (Hebrews 12:17). For now, God is giving us time to learn lessons and to turn from our lawless ways. But time is running out. As we have warned, time and again, we are all headed for national captivity—unless we repent. Individually, God will grant repentant sinners His grace, mercy, forgiveness and protection. Those who have believed in the true gospel of the Kingdom of God, have truly repented, and have accepted Christ’s shed blood for the remission of their sins, know the joy of God’s love and the way of life obedient to His laws. God has called repentant sinners to fulfill the Great Commission, to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God to all nations (Matthew 24:14). Let us pray, while there is yet time, that our Western nations—and the whole world, for that matter—will acknowledge their Creator and repent.
We look forward to the time when all nations on earth will worship the King of kings (Zechariah 14:16). In the meantime, we must do our part in preparing the world, the Church and ourselves for the glorious Kingdom to come.
One way to prepare is to educate ourselves. As many of you know, Living University teaches biblical values, biblical morality and the way to successful and abundant living (John 10:10). Our students are standing up for the truth of God, and are not compromising with the pressures of worldly immorality, as they strive to “recapture true values.” Many of you from around the world have taken on-line courses from Living University in your own home. We also deeply appreciate our on-site students, who daily participate in God’s Work here in Charlotte.
In 2012, worldwide Living University student enrollment continued to rise, with an average semester student count of more than 200. We now have dedicated classroom space, have created a professional university library, and were able to greatly expand our library holdings in 2012. God also blessed us with double the amount of donations to Living University in 2012 compared to 2011. God is clearly showing His support for Living University, and with His on-going guidance we will continue working hard to provide better quality and more meaningful spiritual education to an ever-greater number of His people. Your tax-deductible donations to Living University, in addition to your regular tithes and offerings to the Church, are much appreciated!
Thank you very much, brethren and co-workers, for your support in preaching the gospel of the Kingdom to the whole world as a witness! Thank you for your courage to stand up for God’s truth while the world around us is growing in lawlessness and rebellion! Let’s look forward with joy and heartfelt anticipation to the return of Jesus Christ and the beginning of tomorrow’s world (Luke 21:28)!
May God bless you all in your heartfelt service to our Father in heaven and our soon-coming King!
With love, in Jesus’ name,
Richard F. Ames