From increasing attacks by the Islamic State terror group to a new alliance between Iran and Russia, everything is happening according to God's plan, California megachurch pastor Greg Laurie said in a message, sharing what believers should be doing as they await Christ's return.
"It's safe to assume that we are living in the Last Days," Pastor Laurie of the Harvest Christian Fellowship told the congregation in his message, titled "What in the World Is Happening? #WorldwarIII?"
The hashtag WorldwarIII was trending recently as people discussed the possibility of a World War III.
It's a world of upheaval, violence, crime and terrorism, he said, underlining that it has come to the United States, referring to last week's massacre in San Bernardino in Southern California that left 14 people dead and 21 wounded.
Laurie said Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has recruited more than 19,000 foreigners in the last nine months alone, according to experts. And they have done this by using social media. The Digital Age is helping terrorist radicalize youth around the world.
ISIS is also making chemical weapons, as they seek to create a global caliphate, he explained.
Iran, the Shia-majority country, is more dangerous than the Sunni terror group ISIS, Laurie said. "Iran is taking a longer view to achieve their objectives, and thus are developing nuclear weapons." They have stated clearly that they want to annihilate Israel and the United States.
This is happening because people are living in sin, and not because God is not in control, Laurie stressed. One day all will be well, but that day is not here yet, he added. "But everything is going according to God's plan."
Though a tiny nation, "Israel is the eye of the hurricane of the great events of the Last Days," the pastor told the congregation, reminding them that "God has promised a blessing to those that bless Israel and a curse to those that don't."
In the recent months, Iran and Russia have come together, which was predicted 2,500 years ago in Ezekiel 37 and 38, Laurie added. This has happened in the name of defending the embattled Syrian regime.
The real question is how we should live as Christians in the times like these, Pastor Laurie said.
He read 1Thessalonians 5:2-8, which states, "For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation."
This passage suggests at least three things Christians need to be doing, Laurie said.
One, wake up. When we are asleep, we are not conscious of events around us, he explained.
A big meal makes us sleepy, and similarly, some spiritually well-fed Christians are sometimes the first to get sleepy, that is when they acquire knowledge after knowledge without doing anything or being the fishers of men, he said.
"Wake up and be ready for the Lord's return," Laurie urged, saying "it's joyful, happy and good" to live in anticipation of Jesus' return.
Two, sober up, the pastor said. Don't get drunk or be under the influence of drugs, he said.
To be sober means having clear thinking, to be clear-minded, he explained. You can also be under the influence of the "cares of this life," he warned, adding that these may not be sinful things, and yet we can be obsessed with them.
Three, we are to suit up, like a soldier, Pastor Laurie said, for we're in a battle. "The moment you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you enter into a spiritual battle."
You can either be victorious or lose in a battle, he said. We have no other option. "You're a follower of Jesus Christ; there's work to be done. There's people to be won."
Laurie concluded the sermon by saying that every nation, including America, has a beginning, middle and end. "America is not in the end times scenario of Revelation. You can find Israel, you can find Iran, possibly, you can find Russia. Perhaps even China. There's no mention of the greatest super power on the face of the earth at the moment, the United States of America. Where are we?" he asked.
Pastor Laurie explained that could be one of the three possible reasons. Maybe, we're just destroyed in a war that we lose, he said. Or, maybe, we collapse economically and militarily and morally, he added. Or maybe, we have a spiritual awakening. "We need to pray for revival," he said.