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Update from the President: August 10, 2017

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Update from the President

August 10, 2017

Are You Preparing for the Best Feast Ever?

“It was the best Feast ever!” We in the church often hear this phrase immediately after returning to services following the Feast of Tabernacles. Celebrating the Festival of Tabernacles in its modern form is a major blessing. During that eight-day period, we experience joy, renewed friendship, great fellowship, mind-expanding travel and much more. For many, it is the highlight of the year.

I would like to remind all that even though the Feast of Tabernacles is still a number of weeks off (believe it or not), what we do right now can have a major positive impact on our upcoming Feast experience. I’d like to present a few items for us to consider and act upon.

Feast of Tabernacles in Lusaka, Zambia

The Festival experience represents first and foremost a spiritual experience. Paul declared that God “calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4:17 Romans 4:17(As it is written, I have made you a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who vivifies the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were.
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). The coming magnificent Kingdom of God is so real, so sure that it should be a secure anchor for us all. In accordance with God’s command, we can truly rejoice in this marvelous truth (Deuteronomy 12:12 Deuteronomy 12:12And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; for as much as he has no part nor inheritance with you.
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). During the coming eight days (October 5-12) we will joyously live in part and be deeply reminded of the incredible future that awaits those in the Church of God who have God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11 Romans 8:9-11 9 But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
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).

Right now, as I write, ministers and speakers who were assigned sermons and sermonettes during the coming Festival are already engaged in deep preparation. Many have already discussed their topics and outlines with their Festival coordinators, regional pastors and others for input and refinement. We want nothing but the best our speakers can offer. And we set the bar high. I’m certain all of our speakers would appreciate your upfront heartfelt prayers that they are inspired and encouraged to take that extra step for the best that can be delivered. I am personally planning my Festival sermon now for the Church. As I prepare, I certainly would appreciate being included in your prayers!

Here’s another item to check. As we in the Church of God know, to observe the Feast properly we are commanded to save a Festival tithe for our personal use during the annual Holy Day seasons (and principally during the Feast of Tabernacles). As the Bible states, this Festival fund enables us to fully enjoy “whatever your heart desires, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you” (Deuteronomy 12:15 Deuteronomy 12:15Notwithstanding you may kill and eat flesh in all your gates, whatever your soul lusts after, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which he has given you: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.
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).

Sometimes families have extra Festival tithe beyond what they might need for a great Feast experience. Donating that to the church may well enable another needy Christian brother or sister to attend and have their own “best Feast ever.” We, as a church, also ask that you donate 10% of your personal Festival savings to help pay for Festival facilities, supplies and needs.

Despite all of our preparations, there are some who simply cannot take part physically. This is through no fault of their own. This may be due to illness, accident, complications from aging, physical impairment or other issues. I have been told many times of the loneliness and feelings of separation that can emerge among those left behind, particularly when they have previously attended regularly for many years. Listening or watching Feast sermons online can help, but it’s just not the same.

An important solution is to make advance preparations to stay in touch with our isolated brethren during the Feast. If your congregation doesn’t already have one, why not volunteer to help put together a Festival mailing list? (And remember to mail your cards and notes very early in the Feast). Some congregations put together special Festival gift baskets for older members and those unable to attend. I know from personal stories that they are much appreciated, even cherished. Staying in touch is an important gift that means a lot.

A Church of God tradition for many families is to assemble a “Feast chain” from paper. Each paper chain link represents a day. The total “chain” shows the days remaining until the opening night service. Children remove a “link” each day as the Feast approaches, which keeps the Feast top of mind in the family (Deuteronomy 6:5-9 Deuteronomy 6:5-9 5 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: 7 And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 And you shall write them on the posts of your house, and on your gates.
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) and helps build positive “Feast fever.”

(By the way, my wife Bev and I have traveled abroad many times to serve brethren during the Feast. From that experience, I want to remind everyone planning to travel abroad for the Festival that right now is an excellent time to make sure you know where your passports are and whether they are up to date.)

While all of the above are good practical things to consider as we approach the 2017 Festival, the best thing that each of us can do to prepare for “the best Feast ever” is to really dedicate the time and effort to be personally spiritually ready in advance. Now is an excellent time to review and meditate on the inspiring prophecies of the coming Kingdom of God in Isaiah 2:2-4 Isaiah 2:2-4 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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; 9:6-7; 11:6-9; 35:1-10; 65:17-19; 66:18-23; Daniel 2:44-45 Daniel 2:44-45 44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 45 For as much as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God has made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
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; Revelation 19:7-9 Revelation 19:7-9 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he said to me, Write, Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God.
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, 11-16; 21:1-5 and many other places. For families, there are great online study guides specifically about the Feast that can be downloaded at https://www.ucg.org/members/family-study-guides . We also have an online Bible commentary for you to check out at http://bible.ucg.org/bible-commentary .

Take the time to reflect and prepare so the 2017 Feast of Tabernacles will indeed be your “best feast ever!”