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What Is the Mark of the Beast? | Reluctancy to Follow Jesus

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
December 28, 2022 3:00 am

What Is the Mark of the Beast? | Reluctancy to Follow Jesus

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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December 28, 2022 3:00 am

One of the most positive things people can say about us is that we’re “followers” of Jesus Christ. It means we’re willing to follow His lead, we’re active in our belief, we’ve put feet to our faith. And today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie takes us to Revelation 13 where we learn about a group of exactly 144,000 “followers” of Jesus. A group recorded for time and eternity in Scripture. We’ll see what makes them unique, and learn to follow in their footsteps.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. For more ways to deepen and challenge your spiritual walk, enroll in Pastor Greg's free online courses.

Sign up at harvest.org. Coming up today, Pastor Greg Laurie reveals why sometimes people are reluctant to accept Jesus' free gift of salvation. I think sometimes people feel, oh, if I follow Jesus, I'm going to give up all of my dreams and just live this miserable life.

That's the opposite of what is true. What did Jesus say? If you lose your life for my sake, you'll find it. God's plans for you are better than your plans for yourself.

And you'll see how much He loves you as those plans unfold. One of the most positive things people can say about us is that we're followers of Jesus Christ. It means we're willing to follow His lead. We're active in our belief. We put feet to our faith. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie takes us to Revelation 14, where we learn about a group of exactly 144,000 followers of Jesus, a group recorded for time and eternity in Scripture.

We'll see what makes them unique and learn to follow in their footsteps. Revelation 14, starting in verse 1. John writes, Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder.

And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps, and they sang, as it were, a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures and the elders. And no one could learn that song except the 144,000 who were redeemed from the earth. These are ones who have not defiled themselves with women for the virgins. They are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They have been redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, and they were without fault before the throne of God.

So 144,000. Remember them? We read about them earlier in the book of Revelation. And God had protected them in Revelation chapter 7. Wherever they went, God watched over them. And they're proclaiming the gospel. Who are the 144,000?

They're Jewish people who have put their faith in Jesus as their Messiah. But now we see they're not on earth. They're in heaven. Notice it's not 143,999 that made it to heaven.

No. All 144,000 make it to glory. And that reminds us of the statement of Jesus in John 18.9, of those whom you have given Me, I have not lost one. God doesn't lose His children. God never loses sight of you.

He always has His eye on you because you belong to Him. Now here are four takeaway truths about the 144,000 that apply to you. Remember these are mere mortals. They're not angelic beings.

They're not superheroes. They're people who've been called by God. And these principles that are true of them can also be true of every follower of Jesus Christ. Number one, they have the mark of the Father in heaven, not the mark of the Antichrist.

So all marks are not bad. Revelation 14 one, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. The Father's name. You know you have a choice as to who your Father will be.

You can either make God your Father or you can be as Jesus said of your Father the devil. This mark on the foreheads of the 144,000 is something that identifies them as God's children. It's sort of like an ID tag. Other people won't see it but the Lord sees it. And by the way, God has put His ID tag on you. What does that mean? It means you belong to the Lord. Do you find that comforting? I do. First Corinthians 6 19 says you're not your own.

You've been bought with a price. Therefore glorify God with your life. Number two, another thing about the 144,000, they sing a new song.

I love this. They sing a new song. Do you have a new song in your life? Look at Revelation 14 again. And I heard the voice of loud thunder and sound of harpists playing their harps and they sang as it were a new song before the Lord. Now a harp is a beautiful instrument, is it not? So majestic and of course we think of it as heavenly because we read of harps in heaven but remember a harp is a stringed instrument.

So we could just as easily say they played their electric guitars or the ukuleles or or their mandolins or whatever it is but these stringed instruments are being used to bring glory and honor to God. But listen to this, every believer has a new song. Over in Psalm 40 verse 2, the psalmist writes, he lifted me out of a pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire and he has given me a new song to sing. A hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see what he has done and be astounded and many will put their trust in the Lord. See when you come to Jesus you're given a new song. You have a story to tell because God has lifted you and me and all of us out of a pit of despair. I remember when I became a Christian at the age of 17 and I'd been raised listening to rock and roll. The first music I remember listening to was the Beatles and the 60s was sort of a golden age of rock. I listened to the Beatles and I listened to the Rolling Stones and the Animals and and the Doors and Jefferson Airplane and Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan and the list goes on. So I loved all that music. Then I became a Christian and I thought well I guess I have to give all that music up.

From now on it's kumbaya 24 hours a day. So I went to this church called Calvary Chapel where the Jesus movement was literally happening before my eyes. I walked right into the middle of a spiritual awakening and these new bands were forming.

One of those bands was called Love Song and one of their songs was called A New Song. I heard this song and this new music that was being created and it just washed over me in a beautiful way. We had our own music and actually I was watching contemporary Christian worship and contemporary Christian music in general also being born before my eyes. We had a new song and we have a new story. When's the last time you told someone your story or sang your song? Now I'm not suggesting you have to literally sing to people. Jesus came into my life and he can come into yours too.

No not like that. But the idea is tell your story. When's the last time you told your story about what Christ has done for you to someone who doesn't know the Lord yet? It's a beautiful thing. Sharing your faith is life giving.

It actually replenishes you as you do so. Listen when you draw people to Christ you yourself will be drawn to Christ. When we make him known to others we effectively know him better. I can think of times where I'm telling my story to someone and I'm remembering all that God has done for me and it encourages me as I'm sharing it with them.

These folks have a new song. Number three the 144,000 are sincere in their faith. They're sincere in their faith.

Look at Revelation 14 5. And in their mouth there was no deceit. They're without fault before the throne of God. This word deceit speaks of hypocrisy. There's no hypocrisy.

There's no double standard. And sometimes people like to put on an act and appear to be something they are not. The technical definition of hypocrite in the Bible is the same word that is used for actor. An actor. So who is an actor?

It's someone that plays a part. They learn the lines. They get their makeup on. They go to their spot and they act.

And that's what some people are doing. They're in the church. They've got the props.

The Bible. They have the verbiage down. But they're actors. They're fakers. They're phonies.

They're not real. I think sometimes we misunderstand what hypocrisy is. We might see a Christian lose their temper and scream. And you'll point an accusing finger at them and say, you hypocrite. And even the way you say it, it's like, you hypocrite.

Almost like people are enjoying it. Hypocrite. Now just because a Christian loses their temper or does something else that's wrong like that, it doesn't mean they're a hypocrite.

It might just mean they're human. I'm not excusing it. I'm saying we're going to sin as Christians. The Bible says that we say we have no sin. We deceive ourselves.

And the truth is not in us. But that's not hypocrisy. That's just messing up. That's just sinning. Hypocrisy is when I put on an act and appear to be pious when I'm not really even a follower of Jesus at all. Listen to this. Hypocrite are the ones who find faults in others but never themselves.

Let me say that again. Hypocrite are the ones who find faults in others never themselves. So the hypocrites are often the most judgmental critical people of all. The apostle Paul feared being a hypocrite and being disqualified.

And he spoke of it in 1 Corinthians 9 27 when he said, I discipline my body like an athlete training it to do what it should do. Otherwise, when I preach to others, I myself would be disqualified. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of today's message in just a moment. You know, Pastor Greg, Harvest Ministries has used many different ways to get the gospel to people. We've done crusade outreaches. Of course, we're here on the radio. We're on television and, of course, feature-length movies.

But our biggest asset isn't technology. It's people, isn't it? Friends who believe in the mission of Harvest to know God and make Him known. Yeah, that's really true, Dave. You know, we try to use every platform that we can, but it's always with a purpose, and that is to proclaim the message of the gospel. The gospel, according to the apostle Paul, is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. And we want to proclaim that gospel message to as many people as we can, but we need our friends to stand with us. If we all pray together, if we all work together, if we invest our resources, we can do more together. So I'm asking you who listen to this radio broadcast, A New Beginning, to join us as a friend and help us financially so we can reach more people with the only message that can change people for time and eternity, the message of the gospel.

Yeah, that's right. And the need for that hope is so apparent today. Why not partner with us to make a real difference? Can we invite you to become what we call a Harvest partner? Give us a call today, and we'll pass along all the details. Our number is 1-800-821-3300. Call any time, 24 hours a day. That's 1-800-821-3300.

Or just go online to harvest.org. Well, today Pastor Greg is offering up several observations about the 144,000 spoken of in Revelation 14. We're learning how to follow their example.

One last point. The 144,000 follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Look at verse 4. They follow the Lamb.

We should do that each and every day. We've all been called to follow the Lamb or follow Jesus. Jesus said, If any man come after Me, let him deny himself and take up the cross and follow Me. For whoever will seek to save his life will lose it. And if you lose your life for My sake, you'll find it. I think sometimes people feel, Oh, if I follow Jesus, I'm going to give up all my fun and all of my dreams and aspirations and just live this miserable life.

That's the opposite of what is true. What did Jesus say? Deny yourself, take up your cross. Yes, but then He said, But if you seek to save your life, you'll lose it.

But listen, if you lose your life, you'll find it. What this means is I say, God, I want your will above my will. I want your plans over my plans. And you'll come to discover God's plans for you are better than your plans for yourself.

And you'll see how much He loves you as those plans unfold. I think Jesus has a lot of followers that are like people that follow you on Twitter. I'm on social media, I'm on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. I don't get people on Twitter. It seems like Twitter is the platform for angry people with too much time on their hands. They're always attacking one another and you'll tweet something and people will retweet it and they'll refute it and attack you. And one of my favorite things to do is block people on Twitter.

You have two choices. You can mute them or block them. If you mute them, you won't see what they're posting. If you block them, they can't copy your name in their tweet.

But who are these people? These are not followers. Why are you following me if you disagree with me? And I think there are people like that that say, I'm a follower of Jesus, but they're always fighting with Him and rebelling against Him and disobeying Him. You're not a follower of Jesus, you see. But these people, 144,000, they follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Listen, following Jesus is something we do each and every day. One day Jesus looked at a tax collector named Matthew. He didn't have any friends because he was a Jewish man who betrayed his fellow Jews and was working for Rome collecting taxes.

Not only the taxes that Rome demanded, but probably a little on the top for his own benefit. And much to the surprise of Levi or Matthew, Jesus walked by his tax booth one day and made eye contact with him and said, follow me. Without a moment of hesitation, Matthew bolted up from that tax booth and became a follower of Jesus Christ.

And that phrase follow means follow with me. So the idea is following Jesus is not something I do just on Sundays. He's not Sunday Jesus. He's Monday Jesus. Tuesday Jesus.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Jesus. You follow Him each and every day. And the phrase that Jesus uses to Matthew to follow Him means follow with me, or to put it another way, let's walk together. Walking with God. Not dragging God where I want God to go, but getting in sync with God. Discovering the will of God.

Seeking to pray according to the will of God. And you can start doing that right now. And when you do, you'll find the life you're looking for.

And listen to this. If you know Jesus now, He will know you then. If you say yes to Jesus now, He'll say enter into my kingdom then.

But if you say I don't want Jesus now, then He'll say depart from me. I never knew you then. Question. Who are you following? Anti-Christ or Jesus Christ?

Emmanuel or Jezebel? God or Satan? You say well I'm not following Satan, but I'm not following Jesus. Okay. You're following the devil if you're not following Jesus.

Listen to this. Jesus said you're for me or against me. I told you I became a Christian when I was 17 years old. I lived this crazy life with my mother. I ended up getting into drugs myself for maybe a little over a year. I was drinking and partying and doing all these things I never wanted to do.

And I was empty and I was searching. And I came upon this group of Christians on my high school campus who were having a Bible study and singing songs about the Lord. And I sat down close enough to sort of eavesdrop on their conversation, but not so close that my other friends, so called, would think I joined up with the Jesus freaks. And I watched him sing their songs. I saw the smiles on their faces. And I remember thinking these poor, deluded people. Look at them.

They're nuts. But then I tried a new thought on for size, which was what if they're right? What if they found the truth? And I thought oh no that's not possible. I quickly dismissed it. And I returned to it.

What if it's all true? And then a guy got up to speak. His name was Lonnie. I don't remember most of his message, but I remember one statement when he said Jesus said you're for me or you're against me. Now I was not an atheist. Whenever I was in trouble I called on Jesus. But this was the first time I heard that I was either for or against Jesus. And I looked at those Christians and I thought well I'm not one of them. Does that mean I'm against Christ?

And that was the day I gave my life to Jesus. Let me close by saying this. You are for or against Jesus. This is an either or proposition. It's like when you get in an elevator. You're going up or down. You can't go sideways.

Right? You have to decide. And Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sin. He paid the price for every wrong thing you've ever done. And he rose again from the dead. And that same Jesus who died and lives is standing at the door of your life right now and he is knocking.

And he's saying if you'll hear my voice and open the door I will come in. Would you like your sin forgiven? Would you like to know that you will go to heaven when you die? Would you like to be ready for the Lord's return?

Would you like your guilt taken away? It can happen for you right here right now. He's just a prayer away. I'm going to pray a prayer. And I'm going to ask you that do not have Jesus in your life yet to pray this prayer with me. To pray this prayer with me. And it's a simple prayer where you're asking Jesus to come into your life as your Savior and your Lord. So if you want to go to heaven when you die, if you want to be ready for the Lord's return, if you want your guilt taken away, just stop what you're doing. And I want you to pray this prayer. You could even pray it out loud.

Just pray these words. Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. But I know that you are the Savior who died on the cross for my sin. And now I turn from that sin. I repent of that sin. And I ask you to come into my life to be my Savior and Lord. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. In Jesus' name I pray.

Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie, closing with an important prayer with those choosing to follow the Lord today. And if you've just prayed that prayer with Pastor Greg and you've meant those words sincerely, your sins have been forgiven.

Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And we want to help you get started living the Christian life. We'd like to send you our New Believers Growth Packet. Just ask for it, and we'll send it to you free of any charge. Request it when you write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514, or when you call 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime 24-7. Again, that's 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to harvest.org. Well, we're in studio today not only with Pastor Greg, but Pastor Greg's wife Kathy, and also author Sally Lloyd-Jones. We're making available a brand new book called Known, Psalm 139. Sally, you do such a wonderful job of communicating with kids, and I know that's a challenge. How do you find the balance between teaching the kids a lesson but not being heavy-handed, if you know what I mean? You do that so well.

How do you weave that balance? Well, I think I never want to actually teach them a lesson. I think there's a place for teaching lessons, but my job is to tell a story the best way I can. And the power of the story is the story. It's not some kind of moral lesson you draw out of the story.

It's not, you know, how often we're tempted, and I have done this myself. You're tempted to read a story and then go, and the meaning of that story and the lesson in that story is, and you fill in the blank. But what you've done by filling in the blank is you've killed the story. And what I love to do is I think of a story as a seed, to tell the story the best way I can, to be true to what God's saying. If it's a Bible story, to really do my job, which is to really understand the theology, make sure I'm telling the story correctly and really tell it from a place of my heart so it will reach their heart.

And then I leave it with God. And I think if you say anything, I think it's about asking a wonder, I wonder question, as opposed to you being the adult telling the child what to think. Because what if you, what you got from the story isn't what God wants to say to the child. What if you come in with your perspective and you make it a lesson, then the child is in danger of just switching off because it's become school. So I think the lovely thing about a story time is keep it a story time. There's plenty of time for school and lessons. Children have that all the time. But how often do they get to sit with a parent or a grown up and together wonder at this incredible God who loves both of us? So that's my goal is not to teach a lesson. If a lesson comes out of it, that's between God and the child, I think. That is brilliant.

I think that is so good. What I noticed about this book is going alongside with the concept of Psalm 139, that God is omniscient. He knows everything. And the first few pages talk about He knows this about me. He knows that about me. He knows when I run outside to play. He knows my name.

He knows, He knows, He knows. He knows everything about me. And then the next page says, and He loves me completely. And I thought that was so powerful because to a child or even to an adult, a God who knows everything, everything about you can be a little intimidating. And yet you follow that with, and He loves me completely. And there's the gospel right there. You know, we tend to think of He knows everything as a threat. Really Psalm 139 shows it as a comfort because if He knows everything about me, because He made me. And even my terrible, ashamed, whatever I've done that's so dreadful, He still loves me and He still extends His hand to me. Yes, it's the gospel. And that's what you want is for children to run to that God, not run away from Him.

That's right. So I'm in studio with my wife, Kathy, with Sally Lloyd-Jones. We're talking about Sally's new book, Known, and it's a paraphrase of part of Psalm 139. It's a beautiful book illustrated by Jago, a fantastic artist, an artisan artist, I have to say. His illustrations just capture something so special.

It's so hard to describe it to you, on the radio. So that's why we need you to order a copy so you can see it for yourself and read it to your little ones. And we'll offer you this book, Known by Sally Lloyd-Jones, for your gift of any size this month to help us continue on teaching the Word of God and proclaiming the gospel.

Yeah, that's right. And it's such an important time to reach out with the gospel. We're reaching out further than we ever have before in some surprising ways. And your partnership is so pivotal and important right now. And as you partner with us by making a year-end donation, please do ask for Sally's brand-new book called Known, Psalm 139. And we hope you'll contact us soon.

We'll only be able to mention this a short time longer. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. Call any time 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514.

Or go online to harvest.org. Well, next time, Pastor Greg brings an important study in the Gospel of John called How to Not Be Born Again. Once we know how not to, we'll have a good idea how not to not be born again. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Lord.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-28 05:19:25 / 2022-12-28 05:29:35 / 10

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