God, give me wisdom to discern truth from falsehood in all of my encounters and strength to choose the truth.
READ: REVELATION 13:11-18
 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon.  It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed.  And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people.  Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.  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.
REFLECT: WHAT IMAGERY STANDS OUT MOST?
Let me introduce you to the earth beast. You may not feel threatened, you may actually be impressed. He looks like a lamb, performs miracles and speaks persuasive words. Don’t be deceived, he is the deceiver. If the sea beast from yesterday’s reading is the power of Anti-Christ’s empire, then the earth beast is his public relations officer. Both get their power from the dragon (2,12), and both are bent on discrediting God and destroying his people. The sea beast does it through brute force, the earth beast through the lure of false religion (14).This is the earth beast, serving secular authority and doing his work of undermining God’s truth. Weigh his offers of wholeness and well-being in the light of the God “who is, and who was, and who is to come” (1:4) manifest in the death and resurrection of Jesus who marks his people with his Spirit (Eph. 1:13). The alternative is the mark of the beast: 666 (18), which is the mark, not of God, but of man—constantly falling short of wholeness and well-being.
Ground yourself in the hope you have in Christ alone.
God, You are the only hope of my life. I call out to You and rest in Your presence.
Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.