Notice to Readers

Posted December 10, 2017 by John
Categories: Thoughts from John

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed I haven’t posted any new content for quite some time. This site is slowly being phased out.

I invite you to follow me at JohnWesleySmith.com.

Thank you.

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Clean

Posted May 15, 2016 by John
Categories: Bible Study

I encourage you to spend a few minutes with Moments for You for the second quarter of 2016. The theme is “clean,” and all of the articles deal with such things as being cleansed by God and how we must live clean and holy lives.

You might also enjoy Clean Before My Lord, by Honeytree.

You’re In For It Now, Buster!

Posted December 6, 2015 by John
Categories: Thoughts from John

When you’re watching or listening to the news, do you ever get the feeling you’re back in school, waiting for the hammer to come down on you for doing wrong? I’ve had that feeling often, and I don’t expect it to go away any time soon.

Paul Craig Roberts explains why that is in a brilliant article entitled The Punishment Society. Our country is punishing those within and without who don’t tow the line.

I want to try to tie several seemingly random things together to emphasize this point. First, a little personal thought to get the ball rolling.

Generally speaking, I liked school when I was a kid years ago. I’ve always enjoyed learning. But one thing I absolutely hated was that the wrong actions of one person screwed things up for all of us. If one person did something out of line, we were all guilty. No chance to prove innocence.

Forget about individual responsibilities and rights. Collectivist thinking is surely instilled when we’re treated as a group, not as human beings.

That’s the attitude exhibited in our country today. There are all kinds of reasons why you and I might be domestic terrorists. The bottom line is, if we take a viewpoint that’s out of synch with the government in any way, we’re in for trouble.

But most people don’t know or believe that. Do right, and all will be well. Only those who break the law or are terrorists deserve punishment, right?

How will they know what you and I are up to?

Because we’re being watched all the time. And we’re told to watch each other. You know, See something, say something.

“The Atlantic” for November 2015 includes an article entitled If You’re Not Paranoid, You’re crazy. The author warns of the dangers of the surveillance we’ve come to expect and accept in our everyday lives. There’s surprisingly very little of the anticonspiracy theory attitude in it, which one would expect from such an establishment publication.

I think I understand why young people have no sense of the loss of personal privacy in our modern day surveillance society. It’s something that has baffled me before now.

First, they’ve grown up with pervasive technology that I didn’t experience years back. Second, there’s no sense of punishment associated with being watched. At least none that’s perceptible.

In fact, it’s flat out pleasurable to engage in social media. Who cares about consequences? See Why Do We Expose Ourselves? for mor thoughts on this.

There’s another side to the punishment coin. It’s not only the authorities who wish to punish the masses. It’s the masses who want to punish as well.

An attitude of political correctness has been allowed to grow and run rampant. Nobody would dare to hurt somebody else’s feelings, would they? They deserve punishment if they do step out of line.

And yet look who wants to do the punishment. The same people who don’t think twice about putting everything on social media.

Look at the punishment attitude embedded within the turmoil this fall over alleged racism at the University of Missouri. It toppled top leaders. The contageon has spread in one form or other to other colleges.

Look at the example of the weatherman who was fired in France a few weeks ago for not agreeing with the party line on global warming. Read about it here.

Let’s go further.

If you don’t believe the U.S. government’s official story about 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, the attacks on Paris, the shootings in San Bernardino, CA, etc., you’re a conspiracy theorist and must be made to feel out of step with reality.

We now have so-called mass shootings and terrorist attacks of one sort or other at least once a week. It’s alleged by talk show hosts and many among us that Muslims are invading America. Yet anyone who speaks out against them in any way stands the risk of being prosecuted.

This is a deliberate attempt to intimidate and bully Americans into submission.

Can you honestly tell me this isn’t a punishment society?

Or are you one of those who claims to have nothing to hide. You’re coloring inside the lines.

And yet, with the excess of regulations these days, we’re all law breakers of one kind or another.

Ironically, the solution to everything that looks out of order is to make more rules and regulations.

So many little things happen that reinforce the punishment society attitude. For example, after a Russian airliner was shot down over Egypt, a picture emerged allegedly showing a soda pop can bomb. Or maybe it was a beer can.

Either way, it could be that from now on when you drink a can of Coke in public, you’ll be looked at suspiciously.

Here’s another angle to that. If you’re not really a terrorist, do you really need that soft drink or beer anyway? Obesity runs rampant, right? Haven’t voices been clamoring for us to do something about it?

So, you see, you’re now being punished for drinking a can of pop.

But how brilliant is it that making people scared to drink from a can in public is a way to fight terrorism and obesity at the same time?

As that Russian comedian used to say, “What a country!”

OK, do you truly want to be a good citizen?

All right then. Here’s how you can avoid being punished in society today.

  • Believe absolutely everything you’re told by the media, government and anyone in a position of authority.
  • Remember authority is always right.
  • Never ask questions about anything.
  • When a new idea or law is put forward, always accept it blindly and eagerly.
  • Never ever think outside the box.

There may be more rules to follow, but those should get you buy for now.

Are you satisfied with that? I’m not, and I never will be. And my punishment is a harsh one–attempting to maintain sanity in an insane world.

The Nine and the One

Posted November 29, 2015 by John
Categories: Christian Life

Luke 17:11-19–
11. And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13. And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15.And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16. And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18. There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving our pastor preached from Luke 17:11-19 on the need for us to be thankful, like the one leper out of ten who came back to give thanks to Jesus. His message prompted a couple of thoughts I’d like to share with you.

When the lepers cried out for Jesus to have mercy on them, He told them to go show themselves to the priest. According to Leviticus 13, there were several reasons those with skin diseases should show themselves to the priest. Jesus wasn’t asking anything unusual of these men.

Had they been to the priest before? We don’t know, but it’s possible they may have been, since they kept their distance, knowing they were unclean.

Notice they obeyed Jesus’ command. They had enough faith to follow His word. And their obedience was rewarded. They were cleansed–healed physically and no longer unclean.

Did they have any idea that would happen? We’re not told in the passage. Jesus hadn’t promised them anything.

I see an important principle here. The lepers obeyed and were rewarded with something they may not have anticipated. So it is with us. God’s word doesn’t always tell us everything we think we ought to know. Nonetheless, when we obey His word by faith, we are rewarded, perhaps with something good we hadn’t expected. Perhaps, like the lepers, we’ll get it sooner than expected as well.

Now comes the critical part–gratitude.

Nine of the lepers kept going on their way to the priest. The tenth turned around, raised his voice to glorify God, and bowed in worshipful thanks to Jesus.

Notice the passage mentions he was a Samaritan. The Samaritans and Jews didn’t want anything to do with each other. Jesus Himself referred to this man as a stranger.

Keep in mind, we who are believers in Christ were once strangers, spiritually speaking.

Perhaps it was leprosy that brought Nine Jews and a Samaritan together in a common bond because no one else would have them. Adversity can make strange companions.

Yet it was this Samaritan who showed his thankfulness to Jesus. And he was rewarded for it. Jesus told him his faith had made him whole.

Hadn’t the others exercised faith, too? They obeyed Jesus’ words, didn’t they?

But it was only the one who gave glory to God and showed gratitude. Perhaps it’s safe to assume he was not only healed physically, as were the others; but he was healed spiritually, too. In other words, Jesus gave him salvation.

Shouldn’t we be like that one leper?

Where Are the Other Nine? – Geoff Moore

Isaiah 9:6

Posted November 22, 2015 by John
Categories: Bible Study

Isaiah 9:6–
Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of peace.

There’s no way I can publish this post without leading my readers to think I’m rushing Christmas. It’s not quite Thanksgiving Day yet as I write.

But rushing Christmas is far from my mind. I don’t celebrate Christmas, for reasons I won’t get into here.

Why we wait until the Christmas season to talk about Isaiah 9:6 is beyond me. The truth of it is so significant and astounding.

This verse has only partially been fulfilled. Christ was indeed born, but He is yet to come to establish His kingdom on the earth. The latter part of the verse will be fulfilled then.

The reason I share this post now is to let you know that “Moments for You” for the fourth quarter of 2015 is available online, and I invite you to read it here. The theme is Isaiah 9:6,.

Read each article. You’ll be blessed, and you’ll have all the more reason to worship our great and wonderful Lord.

Revisiting the Thwarting of Prophetic Events

Posted October 11, 2015 by John
Categories: Thoughts from John

A few months ago I wrote a piece called How to Keep Prophecy from Coming True, featuring a fictionalized letter supposedly from a high ranking leader of a secret society describing its control of world affairs. Recently I shared the link with the pastor of our church. He read the post but wasn’t altogether clear on what I was trying to say. We had a good discussion about it.

No one has commented on that piece, so perhaps others felt confused as well. I admit, I did throw a lot of things out there. Apparently my attempt to put forth big ideas in a clever manner fell flat.

What I’d like to do in this piece is summarize and hopefully clarify the main points I was trying to make. But I’d also like to raise a few serious questions I have, particularly about Israel–always a point of controversy.

At the risk of sounding paranoid, if this blog ceases to exist, it will have been taken down bby someone other than me because of this post.

I begin with two premises. The first is that Zionism exerts a far greater influence than most Americans–especially Christians–realize or admit. Another premise is that nations have come together, knowingly or otherwise, to thwart prophetic events from coming to pass as outlined in Scripture.

Here’s how I see that unfolding.

America has gone the extra mile to support Israel, so much so that our foreign policy has been taken captive by those who seek to build a Greater Israel at any cost. Other nations, such as those in the EU, have been brought along to aid in this quest.

Forget any rhetoric or behavior from our current president regarding Israel. He’s a bit player. It’s our country’s actions which continue to indicate ongoing support for Israel.

I’ll address Christians and support of Israel below because it deserves attention. But permit more background for now.

Regarding my first premise about Zionism’s influence, The U.S. is in the Middle East and that general region of the world for two reasons–Israel and oil. Granted, that’s an oversimplification.

But it appears we’ve been working behind the scenes to destabilize countries Israel perceives as a threat. It’s part of the preemptive strike mentality exhibited since 9/11/’01.

Many Americans have been conditioned in recent years to fear radical Islam. Admittedly this isn’t something we should ignore. But are we over reacting?

There’s so much misinformation and disinformation in our land. Have we been persuaded by those with a proIsrael mindset that Islam is a greater threat than it is? Could it be that we face a still greater threat?

Is it wise to go merrily on our way as if Zionism didn’t exist or had no influence on our country, both in its internal and external doings?

Let’s look at the problem with ISIS, for example. The U.S. and a handful of other countries created them, or at least fostered their development, in part to oppose the government in Syria.

Destabilizing Syria is perhaps thought by some to be beneficial to Israel. It may be that the idea is to create chaos to stimy the enemy.

It should be clear we have not wanted to stop ISIS. If this were untrue, months ago we could have done what Russia has done (as I write this) to strangle ISIS in a matter of weeks.

Additionally, the so-called color revolutions of the Arab spring and beyond weren’t grassroots efforts. According to many reports I’ve read, the U.S. and some of its allies had a hand in fomenting unrest. Again, is there benefit to Israel? Is the objective once again to create chaos to squelch a perceived threat?

Whatever the case, in reality, the path has been cleared for the rise of radical Islam. That flies in the face of the so-called war on terrorism, doesn’t it?

One of the consequences of this engineered rise of radical Islam is the growing persecution of Christians. If indeed America has had a hand in this, I believe she stands to be judged for this as much, if not more so, than whether or not she supports Israel.

Why would anyone want to set up such a sinister scenario?

Let’s not be blind to the fact that some Jews hate Christ and Christianity. There are those who would love to see America–a once great Christian nation–fall from within.

I hasten to add, the ills of America–and the world as a whole–cannot be blamed entirely on Jews. All I’m saying is we shouldn’t assume Zionist Jews don’t exist or have no role as movers and shakers.

But back to my main points.

If the U.S. can be used in some way, directly or otherwise, to facilitate the killing of Christians, so much the better.

Perverse, isn’t it?

Take note that Israel is not defenseless. It’s reported they have between 100 and 300 nuclear weapons. They have not signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, as has Iran, one of their alleged enemies. Does Israel really need all the money and military aid we’re giving them?

It appears to me Israel is operating out of fear. And they’re spreading it to those who would do their bidding.

Keep Americans afraid of Islam, and they’ll gladly give up freedoms for the promise of safety.

In fact, as some suggest, we should follow Israel’s example of keeping secure such places as schools and airports. After all, the thought is, nobody can face down threats like Israel.

Do I make too much of what motivates the nations shaping world events today? Perhaps my pastor is right to suggest their motivation doesn’t matter, since the root cause is ultimately Satanic influence.

But let me go on to my notion that nations are attempting to thwart prophetic events. Two items come to mind.

In Gulf War I in the early 1990’s, and with the sanctions on Iraq that followed, the U.S. and its allies stopped Saddam Hussein’s efforts to rebuild Babylon.

Why is that significant?

Somehow, sometime, literal Babylon will be rebuilt. We see it in Revelation 17-18. Remember, no one thought in times past there would be a nation state called Israel again. So why shouldn’t there be Babylon in the future?

I suggest it’s believed that if there’s no physical, literal Babylon, how can Babylon fall, as predicted? Babylon is a geographic place, not just a political, economic or religious system.

Next, consider the destruction of ancient sites. It happened in Iraq in what some call Gulf War II. It has happened most recently in Syria and other places with the advent of ISIS.

Jesus said in John 10:10 that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. The destruction of ancient sites and the preventing of Babylon’s rebuilding fits that pattern.

To bring my two main premises together, nations, largely influenzed by Zionism, have joined together to keep prophecy from happening as predicted in Scripture. Those who want a Greater Israel want it apart from God and without a Messiah.

After the discussion with our pastor, I came away feeling that my theory about nations working to keep prophetic events from happening isn’t as earth shattering as I had thought. But it does seem more evident to me in these times, and I don’t think people see it..

My pastor reminded me that Satan did what he could through Biblical history to prevent prophetic events, particularly the birth of Christ. King Herod’s slaughter of baby boys as described in Matthew 2 is but one example of that.

Did Herod know he was fulfilling prophecy, rather than stopping it by trying to scuttle the first advent of Christ? Not likely.

Do nations today know they’re fulfilling prophecy by trying to scuttle the second advent of Christ, rather than preventing it? Not likely.

The fact is, the nations who are deliberately fostering chaos aren’t thwarting prophecy, as I believe many in power behind the scenes wish to do. Instead, they are setting the stage for the AntiChrist. He is the one who will bring order out of chaos and peace–at least at first.

Looking at the big picture–as if we weren’t already–God is sovereign. Though Satan has a great deal of free reign in this world, God overrules. His Word is true, and His will will be accomplished, regardless of who or what tries to stand in the way.

Israel will go through many trials but will not be destroyed.

Now let’s come back to the subject of America, and Christians, supporting Israel.

As I expected, our pastor takes the standard view of most Christians and insists our country should support Israel, or America will fall. I have held this view in the past, but I have reservations and questions about it now. It’s not a matter of whether, but how we should uphold Israel.

There are enough reasons for God to bring the U.S. down already, regardless of her position on Israel. America is not in Bible prophecy, but it’s hard to say what will take her out. Could it be due to something other than whether we support Israel?

The principle of support for Israel is drawn from Genesis 12:1-3 which says:

1.Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2.And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3.And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Many books have been written which have sought to unpack the truths in these verses. I can’t begin to do the subject justice here. Obviously, Christ is the greatest blessing to come from Abraham, and He has brought salvation to people throughout the world.

But how would God truly have us support Israel today? Does Genesis 12 mean America should unconditionally give money and missiles to the present nation-state of Israel? Right now they’re a secular nation which, whether they know it or not, is being used as an instrument of Satan.

Are those words too harsh?

Let me put this another way. If you’ve raised children, did you give them candy and soda pop every time they asked for it? Did you let them stay up until all hours of the night and do anything they wanted? Would that have been the way to bless them? Wouldn’t you in a sense be cursing them by letting them have their way?

With that illustration in mind, shouldn’t America be more reserved in its support of Israel? Or shouldn’t we take a different approach? Why should that be considered as cursing Abraham’s descendants?

Some will say I’m overlooking the threats Israel has faced since its modern day creation in 1948. Nothing in that part of the world is clear cut or black and white. And Israel isn’t as innocent and pure as the driven snow.

One of the key reasons Christians believe in supporting Israel is because of the teaching that Israel’s presence today is the fulfillment of prophecy. Others say it is not because it is a U.N. construct–of man and not of God.

But what of the idea God uses such instruments as the U.N. to do His will? I can’t rule that out.

On the other hand, what if the establishment of modern day Israel is comparable to the birth of Ishmael? In other words, did Zionists and others get ahead of God’s plan?

My late friend Gerald Franz thought Isaiah 11:10-14 indicated Israel will be dispersed again at a time in the future before God accomplishes His final plan for the nation. Even if this somehow does happen, God is not done with Israel and will not allow her to be destroyed. The Bible makes that clear.

God’s plan will come to pass as He wills. Thankfully the Zionists will be dealt with. Israel will be judged during the time of the seven year Tribulation. But ultimately the Lord will finish what He started with Israel and raise the nation to prominence in His own way.

From a human standpoint, it’s hard to see that in the midst of so much darkness.

With all of that said, here’s my message to Christians and churches, regardless of what America does or doesn’t do pertaining to Israel. If you get nothing else from this post, please take note here.

Our response to the Genesis 12 passage should be that we each show lovingkindness toward Jewish individuals. Give them the gospel whenever possible and let God’s Holy Spirit win them to Christ, the Messiah.

Churches should do more to support the spread of the gospel to Jews, including in Israel, as difficult as that may be.

Wouldn’t that be the better way to bless the physical seed of Abraham?

Resurrection and reunion in the Rapture

Posted September 20, 2015 by John
Categories: Bible Study

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18–
13. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16.For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17.Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18.Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

I listened to a famous radio preacher speak on the Rapture, or being caught up, from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. He did a good job of it, but I take issue with him on one matter. It’s his handling of verse 14. His view is commonly held, so mentioning his name would serve no purpose.

He muddled through his explanation of this verse, but his commentary was contradictory and unclear. I wondered how many of his listeners were like me and found themselves unsatisfied.

You may be asking whether I think I can give a better explanation than a world famous, seminary-trained preacher. The answer is yes, or I wouldn’t write this. All I ask is that you follow me to the end of this piece and draw whatever conclusion God leads you to.

The concept expressed by the preacher is a familiar one. We’ve all heard it. It says that the dead in Christ are now in heaven, but somehow need to be brought back from there at the Rapture to be reunited with their bodies in resurrection.

But, I must ask, if dead believers are in heaven in some glorified form, as most believe, why bother with the retrieval of decayed bodies?

This brings up the question of what death really means. Allow a brief digression, which some may find upsetting; but I need to lay ground work for what follows.

Death is the cessation of life. For the believer, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and we will be resurrected to eternal life. That eternal life can’t begin at death, or death isn’t really death.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul’s focus is on resurrection. No mention is made of the dead being in some kind of soulish, intermediate state.

Back to 1 Thessalonians 4:14. In the King James Bible the verse says, For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

When we look at the first part of that sentence, the focus is on resurrection. The thought is that, if Christ was resurrected, shouldn’t we expect the dead to be resurrected, too? Indeed, those who have died as believers will be resurrected at the great catching away. They’re not gone forever.

Paul reassures his readers in these latter verses of 1 Thessalonians 4that, at the Rapture, we who are alive will be reunited with those believers who have died before us.

But let’s hone in a bit more on 1 Thessalonians 4:14. I believe resurrection, not reunion of the body with the soul, is how we must see this verse.

I owe a debt of grattitude to my late friend Gerald Franz for helping to clarify the meaning of this verse. He wrote a piece called Who Does the Bringing? In it he quoted from the New International Version of the Bible, which helps shed light here. It says…

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

In the Rapture Jesus will come in the clouds as promised in Acts 1:9-11. It is He who resurrects the dead in Christ first and takes them with Him. Immediately following is the catching up of those of us who are believers and still alive at the time of the event.

In other words, Christ doesn’t bring believers from heaven to be reunited with their dead bodies in resurrection, only to take them back up. He endows the dead bodies of believers with life, and brings them to heaven.

Those who will ascend to heaven are the resurrected dead in Christ as well as those of us believers who are alive at the time of the event. We will all meet Him in the clouds.

But where does God fit into the picture? After all, He’s the one who’s mentioned in the KJV translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:14. It is He who empowers Christ and brings all of us together–along with Jesus–to be with Him in heaven.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at what Jesus told Martha in John 11:25-26, which says…

25.Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26.And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Let’s not overlook the obvious. We have to be dead to be resurrected. Once resurrected, we shall never die because we’ll have eternal life.

And it’s all because Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Those of us who die as believers–we’re in Christ–can put our full confidence in Him for raising us from the dead.

John 14:2-3 makes sense when seen in this light. It says…

2.In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

If we’re already in heaven when we die, why does He have to come back for us?

Because we’re not in heaven immediately after death. Neither are we in hell or some other place of limbo. But that’s another matter I won’t get into here.

At the Rapture, the dead in Christ will be raised from the dead as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 points out. It’s just that simple.

Of course, the good news for those of us who are alive at the time of the Rapture, or catching away, means we won’t have to be concerned with being resurrected.

As Paul exhorts in 1 Thessalonians 4:18, we should comfort one another with these wonderful truths.