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Living in the Age of Signs

Online Destination

Do you remember the days when everyone paid with cash or paper checks?

Credit receipts were made in triplicate—one page for the customer, one for the seller, and one for the bank. And there were knuckle–grinding machines that imprinted name and account numbers through two lightweight paper sheets and one tagboard sheet, each separated by carbon paper. Personal checks were written out at checkout stands, and then a clerk wrote down the payer's driver's license and home phone numbers.

Now research shows that 46% of Americans don't worry about carrying cash. As of October 2018, 29% of Americans never purchase with cash and another 52% occasionally purchase with paper money.1 That means 86% of Americans are largely paperless when it comes to their shopping.

Credit and debit cards are just one option in a growing list of electronic payment options available today. Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay allow shoppers access their bank accounts for payment by scanning a code from their smartphone. Social, cash–sharing apps like Venmo, Cash App, and Google Wallet enable individuals to repay friends and split restaurant bills by sending money electronically with the click of a button.

Why is our cashless trend significant?

What does this trend toward an electronic and cashless society have to do with Bible prophecy and the End Times?

Scripture reveals that the Antichrist will unite the world under one government—one united economy. Every person will be required to take a mark in order to buy or sell goods of any kind.

This mark could be an actual physical brand, but it could very easily be connected to the technological advances being made today.

In early 2010, the Jerusalem Post reported that Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv had implemented a first–of–its–kind biometric security system to make air travel safer and security screening more efficient than ever before. The Unipass Airport Management System was developed by the Israel Airports Authority, and "was authorized as a voluntary system.... The move to make participation mandatory has been under debate ever since the database was proposed."2 On February 27, 2017, Israel's Parliament passed a law mandating their citizens to obtain a biometric ID card.

According to an article in The Times of Israel following the passing of the law,

"The biometric card is designed to digitally encode personal information, fingerprints, photo and facial profile. The data will be stored in a chip attached to the card, which will also contain the holder's name, gender and birth date. All information will be stored in a secured database.

The law requires all citizens to give high–resolution facial images to be stored in the national biometric database. They may, however, opt out of releasing their fingerprints to the database, though that information will remain on the card."3

The mandated use of this technology is a source of controversy. Many are worried about their privacy and information security for obvious reasons. But it has even more sinister potential: it is a perfect weapon in the arsenal of a tyrant bent on world domination. As we know from the Bible, a despotic ruler will govern the entire world during the last half of the Tribulation period, and he will likely use technology to accomplish his purposes (Revelation 13:16–17).

New technology for the internet is tailor–made for the Antichrist.

According to a WORLD magazine article titled "The Tower of Google," the internet is "society's brain, continually patrolled by cyber bots that make connections."4 The omnipresent search engine—whether Google, Bing, or some other—extends its reach through "search engine optimization." With this enhancement in the past ten years, Google can target marketing specifically to our interests by following us around the internet noting where we stop, shop, and search.

Not only can they figure out what we like and want; they create those very needs and wants for us! Sergey Brin, cofounder of Google, has expressed a somewhat frightening desire to see "the development of a wireless chip to be implanted directly into the human brain."5 That is the kind of control the Antichrist is all about.

Technology Advancing Toward the Mark of the Beast

The purpose of this elaborate technology summary is to restate one reality: technological advances are paving the way for fulfillment of end–time prophecy. These innovations are creating the environment that the Antichrist and False Prophet will need to wire this world together for their evil purposes. Even now it is well within the range of possibility for a centralized power to gain worldwide control of all banking and purchasing. With Tribulation–era prophecy beginning to take shape all around us, we can anticipate the Lord's return is not far off.

If it seems drastic to connect financial technology with the mark of the Beast, remember that prophecy was written with the words and from the context of human authors in their day. When the apostle John wrote of a mark, he naturally thought of the slave or criminal branding of his day, which would inflict a literal and permanent mark on the hand or forehead. We cannot be sure the mark of the Beast will conform to John's conception of it. The mark may be an electronic identification signature via cell phone or other device that will control one's ability to make purchases if the world becomes cashless by the time of the Antichrist.

1Andrew Perrin, "More Americans are making no weekly purchases with cash," December 12, 2018, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact–tank/2018/12/12/more–americans–are–making–no–weekly–purchases–with–cash/, accessed March 1, 2019.

2Jenny David, "Israel Adopts Biometric Database Despite Security Concerns," https://www.bna.com/israel–adopts–biometric–n57982084580/, accessed March 1, 2017.

3"Knesset approves making biometric ID cards mandatory" February 28, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/knesset–approves–making–biometric–id–cards–mandatory/, accessed March 1, 2019.

4Janie B Cheaney, "The Tower of Google," WORLD, March 13, 2010, https://world.wng.org/2010/02/the_tower_of_google/, accessed March 5, 2019.

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Daily Devotions

Today's Devotion: Clearly God in Christ

When we study the person of Christ, we clearly see God. According to the Bible, there’s a mysterious invisibility to God the Father, but Jesus is God the Son—the tangible revelation of God to us. This theme runs through John’s Gospel like a golden thread. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” Verse 18 says, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”

When we see the love of Jesus, it’s the love of God. When we read His words in the Gospel, we hear the voice of God. When we ponder His miracles, we see the power of God. When we receive Him as our Savior, we have a relationship with God.

Thomas called Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) The Lord Jesus shouldn’t merely be a part of our life. He should be the center of all we are, all we do, all we think, all we say, and all we feel.

The dearest friend on earth is a mere shadow compared with Jesus Christ.
Oswald Chambers

People mistakenly believe money is evil or having a lot of it is sinful. In fact, the Bible warns against the love of money. Paul said the "love of money is a root of all kinds of evil" (1 Timothy 6:10). He also said it is a sign of the last days (2 Timothy 3:2).

Throughout history, money and possessions have drawn people away from God, but greed is an epidemic in our culture. This headlong descent into materialism will continue intensifying as the end draws near.

As believers, how do we combat the love of money in our own lives? The Bible says the antidote to materialism is generosity. Here are 27 verses to read, meditate on, and apply as you seek to develop a generous spirit.

  1. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17).

  2. "Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing" (2 Corinthians 8:1–3).

  3. "This poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood" (Mark 12:43–44).

  4. "Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil" (John 12:3).

  5. " 'Leave her alone,' said Jesus. 'Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her' " (Mark 14:6–9, NIV).

  6. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

  7. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19–21).

  8. "Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life" (1 Timothy 6:17–19, NLT).

  9. "I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ" (Philemon 1:6, NLT).

  10. "If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit" (Leviticus 25:35-37).

  11. "If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs" (Deuteronomy 15:7-8).

  12. "Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; you will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness; you will sustain him on his sickbed" (Psalm 41:1-3).

  13. "Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness" (Psalm 119:36).

  14. "There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself" (Proverbs 11:24-25).

  15. "He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given" (Proverbs 19:17).

  16. "Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard" (Proverbs 21:13).

  17. "And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward" (Matthew 10:42).

  18. "Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you" (Luke 6:37-38).

  19. "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' " (Acts 20:32-35).

  20. "For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. As it is written, 'He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack' " (2 Corinthians 8:12-15).

  21. "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).

  22. "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).

  23. "But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (1 John 2:5-6).

  24. "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:16-18).

  25. "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

  26. "A good man deals graciously and lends; he will guide his affairs with discretion" (Psalm 112:5).

  27. "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels" (Hebrews 13:2).

Trust in the Lord, and do good. Psalm 37:3

David tells us that we respond to God first by trusting and then by doing good—trust and obey. Trust is an act of the mind, while obedience is an act of the hands and feet. Once we've set our minds on the wisdom of God, we get busy doing the things he would have us do. It's simple but empowering: "Trust in the Lord and do good."

Let's look first at the trust step—the "think right" step. Paul's advice to his protégé, Timothy, captures it well: "Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content" (1 Timothy 6:6–8).

Godliness with contentment is the mind–set for right thinking—the pinnacle of wisdom in the Christian life. Don't crave more than you need; demonstrate your trust in God by being content with what you have. This mindset is why Paul could be stripped of all he owned and thrown into prison, yet still manifest incredible joy.

The world is filled with wealthy, miserable people who have everything but contentment. Their money is an empty god that can never fill the vacuum in their souls with peace. Here Paul points those with money toward right thinking: "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come" (1 Timothy 6:17–19).

Paul stresses the idea of both thinking rightly (trust) and then acting rightly (obedience). Right thinking means trusting in an unshakable God instead of riches that we can't take with us. Right acting means doing good, which builds a heavenly nest egg of riches waiting just for us.

These insights echo throughout the Scriptures, and they are summed up in Paul's restatement of Job's famous observation: "We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1 Timothy 6:7). Someone has observed that life is ultimately like a board game of Monopoly: you go around a few times; you collect paper money and houses; and then, sooner or later, it all goes back in the box.

What we often hear of wealth is true: You can't take it with you. But you can send it on ahead. Jesus said we can lay up treasures in heaven. That means we can live now in a way that earns a kind of interest for the next life. Whenever we serve a fellow human being, we're earning that kind of spiritual capital. Jesus said that even giving a cup of cold water to someone in need is rewarded in heaven (Matthew 10:42). He also said we amass "treasures in heaven" that cannot be destroyed or stolen (Matthew 6:19–20).

The great Christian leader John Wesley lived in a time of financial disruption, and he took those words of Jesus very seriously. The Industrial Revolution was causing a massive migration to the cities. Farms were lost, small–town economies collapsed, and epidemics of crime and disease plagued urban areas. The rich grew richer, and the poor grew in number.

Wesley saw the crowds of hurting people as Jesus saw them, and he designed ministries to care for them. His ministry became a financial success, and his annual salary grew to be the modern–day equivalent of $160,000. Wesley calculated the small sum that he really needed and gave the rest away. He saw it as investing in the things of God, which never perish. Wesley said, "If I leave behind me ten pounds, . . . you and all mankind [can] bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber."1

By no means was John Wesley against the idea of wealth; his problem was with "storing up treasures on earth" when wealth could be such a marvelous tool of ministry. He once preached a sermon in which he proposed the best attitude we can have toward wealth: "Gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can. "2

When we do things that honor the Lord, we invest in eternity.

1John Wesley, Selections from the Writings of Rev. John Wesley (New York: Methodist Book Concern, 1929), 232.

2John Wesley, Sermons on Occasions, volume 1 (London, 1829), 566.

Complete audio message as heard at Shadow Mountain Community Church

Financial Signs of the End Times

Complete audio message as heard at Shadow Mountain Community Church

When it comes to money, life today is radically different from just a few decades ago. Today, the financial world operates electronically; wealth is concentrated in the hands of the minority of people; the middle class is vanishing; and oil has become an international bargaining chip. Covers Revelation 18:1-24 plus selected Scriptures.

How to Live a Generous Life

To introduce his teaching series, A Life Beyond Amazing, Dr. Jeremiah sat down with some well–known Christians for a conversation that reveals their personal and biblical perspectives on living generously.

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