Greg Laurie Explains Significance of the Mark of the Beast, 666 By Anugrah Kumar , Christian Post Contributor

California megachurch pastor  Greg Laurie, who is taking his congregation through a series of messages called,  “Revelation: The Next Dimension,” spoke about  the mark of the beast, showing the world is already moving towards the  fulfillment of the prophecy.

“We have never been closer to the end  of the world than right now,” said Laurie, pastor of Harvest Church in  Riverside, in his message on Sunday.

It is, however, important to know that the Bible also talks about a new  beginning when there will be “no perversion, no terrorism, no war, no  starvation… no problem of any kind.” As Isaiah 11:9 says, the knowledge of the  Lord will fill the earth. But “it is going to get worse before it gets better,”  the pastor warned.

Revelation 13 talks about spiritually dark times, the tribulation period, he  went on to say. “Satan’s son” will emerge on the scene… “the man of perdition,  the man of sin, the beast… best known as the antichrist… the most evil man who’s  ever lived… history’s vilest embodiment of sin and rebellion.”

Referring to his previous message on the antichrist, Laurie reminded the  audience that the antichrist’s agenda will be to deify Satan. The antichrist  will come to take the place of Jesus, and to kill all Christians. And the  antichrist will have with him his “devilish worship  leader, a religious guru,” the false prophet, referred to as the “second beast”  in Revelations.

Laurie then quoted Revelation 13:15-18: “The second beast was given power to  give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and  cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all  people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on  their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell  unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its  name. This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number  of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.”

If you google the number 666, you’ll receive 543 million results, the pastor  said. “And you probably will find 543 million ideas about what it actually  means. I don’t think anyone can answer this with complete certainly, but this  much we do know… The antichrist is going to introduce a cashless society… The  endgame of this is to cause people to engage in devil worship.”

This scenario is unfolding before us, Laurie said. The technology to make that happen is already here.  He quoted Mark Hitchcock, a writer on the topic of prophecy, as saying, “The  fact that the words of Revelation 13 were penned in the age of wood, stones,  swords and spirit, makes this prophecy one of the powerful proofs of the  inspired nature and reliability of God‘s word that one could have ever imagined.  Who could have predicted a one-world economic system that controls all commerce  but God?”

God knows the future just as well as we know our past, Laurie said. While we  sometimes forget even our past, God knows the future with complete precision.  Only God can tell what is going to happen, as Isaiah 46:9, 10 says.

About the changing global economy, the pastor quoted a financial expert as  telling Fox News, “The real reform is some kind of a banking union where  everyone signs on board, that there’s going to be some kind of a banking  overlord, a banking union that everyone’s gonna have to bow down to.” Can this  actually happen? Actually, it can, Laurie said. “And the leader of it will be  the antichrist, and he will have his mark.”

Laurie added, “The antichrist’s economic policy will be very simple. Take my  mark and worship me, or starve to death… No mark, no merchandize… No seal, no  sale.”

The technology to do this is already here, the pastor said. A June 1, 2012  headline from New York Daily News read, “‘Human barcode’ could make society more  organized.” The article said, “Microchip implants have become standard practice  for our pets, but have been a tougher sell when it comes to the idea of putting  them in people.”

Since 2006, new U.S. passports include radio frequency identification tags,  known as RFID, that store all of the information in the passport as well as a  digital picture of the owner. In 2002, an implantable id chip, called VeriChip,  was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The chip can be implanted  in a person’s arm, and when scanned can pull up a 16-digit id number containing  information about the user. However, it was discontinued in 2010 amid concerns  about privacy and safety.

“Am I saying that this technology will be the mark of the beast? No, I’m  not,” Laurie cautioned. “I’m just saying the ability to technically pull this  off exists.”

We don’t know when the tribulation period will begin, five or 20 years from  now, Laurie said. But with the technology today, we know all this is “totally  plausible.” But let’s not overreact, Laurie advised. Not every stamp put on  someone’s hand by some authority is the mark of the beast. Or, if an office  building’s number is 666, that’s not the mark of the beast.

While we do not know exactly when the mark of the beast will appear, we know  this though that a great delusion will come upon the world and many will believe  the lie leading to their destruction, as 2 Thessalonians 2:9 warns. Destruction  will happen “because they refused to believe the truth that would save them.” At  the time of the tribulation, they will choose to believe in a lie that the  antichrist is “God,” Laurie said.

God has given us a free will, the pastor emphasized. He’s not going to force  us to believe something we do not want to believe. And if we continue to harden  our hearts, there will come a day when God will strengthen our own resolve not  to believe, he warned. But those who respond to the Holy Spirit are also  strengthened in their resolve to believe, he added.

The false prophet will appear to be harmless – like a baby rattlesnake – but  will be as harmful as the antichrist, Laurie said. He will mislead many  people.

We’re already moving towards a global economy and a global religion, the  pastor said. The watchword for the day is tolerance, he painted out. We have  people talking about women’s reproductive rights, which means women have the  right to murder their own babies; death with dignity, which means euthanasia of  the elderly; and religious tolerance, which means you tolerate every religion  except the one that says Jesus Christ is the only way to God the Father.

However, Revelation 14:1 talks about another kind of mark, which we, who are  believers, want in our lives: “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood  the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on  their foreheads.”

Who are these people? These are Messianic believers who have found Jesus as  the messiah set up by God to proclaim the Gospel during the tribulation period,  Laurie suggested. Not one of them was lost. “God does not lose us.”

Laurie said it is important for us to learn from the characteristics of the  believers that Revelation 14 refers to. They had the mark of the Father, and not  the antichrist. You have a mark on you, and God can see it, he told the  congregants. Even today it matters what mark we carry; God can see the mark.

They sang a new song. Songs are about celebration, Laurie explained. All  believers should sing a “new song,” what God has done for them today. They lived  pure lives – no premarital or extra-marital sex, and only in the context of  married man and woman, he added. They were also sincere in their faith. They had  no deceit or hypocrisy. And they “followed” the Lamb wherever He went. They were  not like Twitter followers, Laurie said.

“Are you ready to meet the Lord?” Laurie asked the audience as he closed the  message.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/greg-laurie-explains-significance-of-the-mark-of-the-beast-666-88720/#fklFSBa0CyxV4fIx.99

Connecting Scientology, Lance Armstrong and Gun Control By Dan Delzell , Special to CP

Besides for being in the news right now, what do Scientology,  Lance Armstrong and gun control all have in common? All three of them reveal the  downside of man’s controlling nature. All three of them point the finger back at  each of us….because each one of us can easily become a “control freak” if we are  not careful.

There is a new book out by Lawrence Wright on Scientology entitled, Going  Clear. As expected, it reveals more damaging facts about the  controlling nature of this organization. Pretty scary stuff….and terribly  detrimental to children, and their families. What do we think is going to happen  when a religious group carries out a secret agenda at the expense of its  followers? Power, control, and suffering….this is what a cult is all about.

Read the stories of those who have come out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses….or  Mormonism….or any religious group that carries out a secret and hidden  agenda….and the stories will sound eerily similar. The false doctrines are  varied….but the controlling nature of the leaders is almost identical. That’s  because man’s nature is pointed in the direction of selfishness, and  control.

Raymond Franz is a former member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s  Witnesses. He wrote a book years ago entitled, Crisis of Conscience. It  is a clear warning of what can happen when someone turns his God-given right of  decision making over to an organization. The problem with certain religious  organizations is that they are run by leaders who are awfully experienced at  controlling others….and these men are callous to the real spiritual needs of the  people.

Lance Armstrong has gone through his own “crisis of conscience” recently. In  his interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong said, “It was impossible to live up  to this. I’m a flawed character. All the fault and all the blame falls on me.  Whether it’s fans or the media, it just gets going and I lost myself in all of  that. I certainly couldn’t handle it, and I used to control everything in my  life. I have controlled every outcome in my life.” We can all probably relate to  Lance’s struggle in one way or another. We are all flawed….we are all  sinners….and we all like to be in control.

And then there is gun control. There is that word again. It is amazing how  often it tends to pop up in our lives. There are some people in our world, and  perhaps even in our nation, who want to prevent people from even owning guns.  These elite “control mongers” have their own agenda….and like the leaders of a  cult, they feel they know what is best for everyone else. Control, control,  control.

Do we want evil men like Adam Lanza being given guns? Of course not. We want  responsible people to own guns….and there are millions of responsible people in  our country who meet that qualification. When evildoers like Adam Lanza  viciously attack children, responsible adults need to have guns on hand to stop  the attack instantly. This is what will help to protect the children from such  modern day monsters.

At the end of the day, it is about the children. We don’t want them to join a  cult, and get controlled by power-hungry leaders. We don’t want them to imitate  Lance Armstrong, and cheat their way to “victory.” And we don’t want them to be  vulnerable to vicious men who wish to hurt them.

God loves the children, and He wants to surround them with His protection and peace. Jesus suffered and died on  the cross for the children, and for each of us. It is only when we accept His  forgiveness for our sins….and place ourselves under His leadership….and the control of the Holy  Spirit….that we find the power to stop trying to control others.

If you are out of control today, turn to Jesus….and ask Him to take control.  He will change your heart….and He will change the way you treat others. Are you  ready to hand over control of your chaotic life to Christ? No Jesus….no peace.  Know Jesus….know peace. Pretty simple huh?

http://www.christianpost.com/news/connecting-scientology-lance-armstrong-and-gun-control-88552/#dRKMpTu1PoA4ZXMA.99

Mark Driscoll on Inauguration Day: Obama Likely Knows Neither God nor Bible By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter

As Americans tuned in to watch President Barack Obama be sworn  into office for his second term on Jan. 21, a number of Christian leaders took  to their Twitter accounts to offer reaction.

Arguably the most impassioned remark came from Pastor Mark Driscoll, founding  pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., who wrote that Obama knows neither  God or the Bible. “Praying for our president, who today will place his hands on  a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know,” Driscoll  tweeted. The Mars Hill Church pastor’s tweet was retweeted by more than  2,100 people.

The president has publicly professed his faith in God many times, but also  has been accused by conservatives of attacking religious freedom, most notably  with the Affordable Care Act that mandates religious employers to offer  insurance that covers birth control, including abortifacient, to their  employees.

In his tweet shared Sunday, Christian minister John Piper argued that Obama’s  support of abortion stands against the ideals that civil rights leader Martin  Luther King Jr. stood for, whose day of remembrance falls on inauguration day  this year.

“President Obama ‘spiritually blind’ or ‘evil hypocrite’ in claiming MLK and  disregarding the weakest,” Piper tweeted, who is former senior pastor of Bethlehem  Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn.

Russell Moore, Dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, shared that he  would be praying for President Obama.

“Congratulations President @BarackObama. Prayers for blessing, wisdom,  direction, & health,” Moore tweeted.

Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Ga., who found himself at the  center of a controversy surrounding the inauguration after he resigned from  delivering the official benediction because he did not wish to be part of the  gay debate, also shared a thought with his Twitter followers.

“The word benediction literally means ‘good + to speak.’ Seeking to do this  today,” Giglio tweeted.

In his inaugural address, President Obama mentioned the gay rights riots at Stonewall, a symbol of the  LGBT movement – which could have potentially caused more controversy if Giglio  had remained in charge of the benediction. Several liberal websites have called  the evangelical Christian minister “anti-gay” due to a 1990s sermon in which he  preaches what the Bible says about homosexuality.

http://global.christianpost.com/news/mark-driscoll-on-inauguration-day-obama-knows-neither-god-nor-bible-88625/#hMQ3g50gu7DDaTh4.99

Ultrasound Technology: An Effective Piece of the Pro-Life Message By Jeff Schapiro , Christian Post Reporter

Pro-life groups are optimistic about the effectiveness of  ultrasound technology in  persuading pregnant women to choose giving birth over having an abortion.

Ultrasound technology has played an important role in helping pregnant women  realize that the fetuses they carry are “alive and vulnerable,” said Roland  Warren, CEO of Care Net, in an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday. Care Net is a Christian ministry that supports  such women through its network of pregnancy centers, 60 percent of which offer  ultrasound exams at no charge.

Warren compares the impact of ultrasound technology on the pro-life movement  to the impact of television  cameras on the civil rights movement. During the civil rights movement, cameras  captured images of the injustices perpetrated against black communities in the  South and allowed those images to be broadcast  nationwide.

“You have a similar kind of thing that’s happening with ultrasound,” said  Warren. “In a similar way, you know, the ultrasound is coming into the womb and  it’s helping people understand what’s happening to the most vulnerable among  us.”

A number of different pro-life organizations have found ultrasounds helpful  to promoting their cause.

The website for Options Pregnancy Resource Centers in Oregon says that among  the organization’s Project Ultrasound clients who were considered “at high-risk  for choosing abortion,” 75 percent of those who declined to receive an  ultrasound ended up having an abortion. In comparison, only 30 percent of those  who received an ultrasound did the same.

CitizenLink reported in February 2012 that Focus on the Family’s Option  Ultrasound Program (OUP), which offers grants to support the use of ultrasound  technology in Pregnancy Medical Clinics, had a role in preventing an estimated  120,000 abortions since the program’s inception in 2004.

Abortion clinic doctors in Texas are now legally required to provide pregnant  women with a sonogram at least 24 hours before an abortion can be performed,  except in some cases where the procedure can be performed no earlier than two  hours after the sonogram. Doctors must also make the unborn child’s heartbeat  audible to the woman seeking an abortion.

Texas Right to Life spokesperson Rachel Bohannon told CP via email that the  “Sonogram Law,” which went into effect in February 2012, had an immediate impact  in that it reduced the number of abortions and increased the number of visitors  who visited pregnancy centers to receive free sonograms.

“When women come face to face with their preborn children, their natural  desire to protect their children begins to kick in, and they often reconsider  their abortion decision,” said Bohannon.

“This is not manipulation on the part of Pro-Lifers. The Sonogram Law is not  meant to guilt or shame women out of abortions, as our opponents claim. The  purpose of the Sonogram Law is very simple: to make women fully-informed by  presenting them with all the medical information, and thus bring  abortion practice in Texas up to contemporary medical standards of informed  consent.”

Bohannon says appeals to “science, technology and common sense” have resulted  in many pro-life victories since Roe v. Wade was decided by the U.S. Supreme  Court in 1973, and will continue to be important moving forward.

Warren described this week’s 40th anniversary of the court’s decision as  being “bitter,” and even suggested that modern technology and medical knowledge  might have prevented the legalization of abortion if it had been available  before Roe v. Wade.

“I think, frankly, had people known then what we know now in terms of fetal  development and all these different pieces, it would have been very difficult, I  think, for abortion to even have become the law of the land,” he said.

Approximately 55 million legal abortions have occurred in the U.S. since the  Roe v. Wade decision. According to the Texas Right to Life website, at least 1.2  million abortions are reported every year.

A total of 43 abortion restrictions were enacted across 19 states in 2012 – the second highest total ever passed in one year – the Guttmacher Institute  reports.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/ultrasound-technology-an-effective-piece-of-the-pro-life-message-88721/#RBS2CVdiuvjm1qRL.99

The People Principle

“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”  Luke 15:31-32

I didn’t mean to break it!

In fact, just the night before, as our hosts for the evening were showing my wife Martie and me around their beautiful home, they drew our attention to a gorgeous bowl of alabaster fruit. They talked about how valuable it was to them, not only because of its beauty and rarity, but also because of the memories that were associated with the piece.

Which made my klutzy moment early the next morning all the more distressing. In my pre-coffee fog, I walked by the table and knocked the alabaster banana to the floor, breaking it in half. Immediately, the dark side of my fallen heart began to think how I could get out of this jam. It was a clean break, and perhaps if I put it back into the bowl carefully the two halves would look like their original form. Weeks later when they would discover the broken banana, they would no doubt blame it on their kids, and we would be long gone.

In the end, the bright side of my redeemed heart prevailed and I apologetically admitted, “I hate to tell you this, but I knocked your alabaster banana on the floor and it cracked in half.”

I’ll never forget my friend’s reply.

“That’s all right, Joe, in our home people are more important than things.”

I was spared, but more importantly I was taught a great lesson.

In fact, that is exactly how God feels! With Him, people and their needs have always trumped everything else. Jesus made this very clear in His teachings and actions, but perhaps most profoundly in the familiar story of the prodigal son. When He told the story, He was surrounded by tax collectors, women of ill repute, and various other “sinners.” On the fringes of this crowd of outcasts, the Pharisees and teachers of the law stood muttering and grumbling about Christ’s apparent penchant for the unsavory characters of their day. So Jesus proceeded to tell these stories highlighting a lost sheep, a lost coin, and then a lost son. Each parable focuses intently on the passion God has for people as He actively seeks after us and then rejoices when, at last, we turn to Him and are found.

Pointing directly at the Pharisees with His words, the parable of the lost son concludes with the spotlight turned on a disgruntled older brother who is hung up on the “things” that have been lost—the family reputation, dignity, and most likely a sizable portion of the family inheritance. Viewed from his perspective, the father’s expenditures on a wayward son are wasteful and even unfair.

But Jesus, reflecting the heart of His Father in the closing words of the parable, points out that in God’s household people matter most. Not just “cleaned-up” people. Not just “churchy” people. But people who desperately need to hear that God loves them enough to forgive them of their sin, free them of their addictions, and find them at their point of darkest need. People matter most.

So when we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we have to ask ourselves: What matters most in our lives? Our possessions? Our personal preferences? Our perspectives on how people should act and think? Our plans? Our personal pride and reputation? Our rules? Or do the needs and nurture of people matter most?

My friend with the alabaster bowl got it right—people matter most. And Jesus has shown us the way!

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • List a few of the priorities in your life (prized possessions, family, friends, schooling, career, church responsibilities, dreams, desires, etc.). Take a few minutes to honestly rank them according to how you have been living.
  • Now go back over that list and rank each category in the order it would appear if you lived to make people matter most based on God’s Word and His priorities.
  • What are some steps you can take today to realign your priorities and reflect the truth that people matter most? Make a plan and pray that God will give you the opportunity to convince someone that he or she matters most to you and to God.

http://getmorestrength.org/daily/the-people-principle/