Monday, November 22, 2010

Use Hard Times to Grow Strong Testimonies that Encourage Others

Rev. 13:11- 18 NLT 

  11 Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth. He had two horns like those of a lamb, but he spoke with the voice of a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast. And he required all the earth and its people to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 He did astounding miracles, even making fire flash down to earth from the sky while everyone was watching. 14 And with all the miracles he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first beast, he deceived all the people who belong to this world. He ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life. 15 He was then permitted to give life to this statue so that it could speak. Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die.

   16 He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. 17 And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name. 18 Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.

The collection of images shown to John continue to portray various circumstances relating the God, human kind, redemption, and ultimate judgment. We are introduced to the unholy trinity. First there was the Dragon-- clearly explained as Satan, the one fallen from Heaven because of pride and sin, who took a third of the other angels with him into pride and arrogance. He raises up his own false messiah-- the Beast out of the sea (the sea representing collective humanity). This next beast out of the earth is the false prophet, the evil counterfeit of God's Holy Spirit. The false messiah will even stage a false resurrection (13;14. People will worship him because they are impressed by his power. He will unite the world under one leader for the first time in earth’s history since the fall of man. He uses power to point to himself and promote evil plans.

God, by contrast uses his infinitely greater power to love and build up. We must encourage others to not be misled by claims of great miracles or reports about a resurrection or reincarnation of someone claiming to be Christ. When Jesus returns He will reveal himself to everyone (Matt 24:23-28)

Verse 7 reveals that the best conquers Gods’ people and even rules over them, but cannot harm them spiritually. His worldwide dominance and demand for personal worship will not fools true believers. It may be that Christians are not raptured at this point in future events, but must endure this process. If so we must be equipped and empowered by full submission to God and filling of His Holy Spirit so we will not be deceived.

A time of persecution described in verse 8-10,  will provide opportunity for believers to exercise patient endurance and faithfulness. The tough times we now face are also such opportunity for spiritual growth and preparation for more serious times to come. Pray for believers that we will not let hard times turn us away from trust in God and the Lord.  Pray that we will use hard times as opportunities for spiritual growth and to be strong testimonies to others.

Your Servant in Christ's Love

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