Thursday, October 18, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: Christ's Prayer Must Be Answered

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Lord encourages each of us to pray to Him alone; Jesus gave us permission to address His Father as "our Father in heaven." We are to pray in the name of His only begotten Son: "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:14). Big promise!

But sometimes it seems that He doesn't hear us or answer us. We beg Him to tell us why. John may help: "This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 5:14). "His will" is love for our souls; it's possible we are asking for something that in the end would harm us, because we don't know better (or it might harm someone else).

Then John explains further: "And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him" (vs. 15). The "if" is important. Some dear people spend a lifetime trying to understand, but you can "fast forward" your understanding if you will choose to believe that He loves you as an individual, that He does hear you, and that He will grant you whatever is best for you, to be realized when you need it.

But there is something about answered prayer we must not forget: "If twoof you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven" (Matt. 18:19). Praying by yourself may not be good enough! You'd be surprised how rare it is to find two individuals (even in a church) who are totally in heart unity. Not that one must be a clone of the other, but the Holy Spirit just has trouble "convicting" two people alike; one seems always to be breaking away from heart unity in some way. If only "two" could fulfill that promise "in Christ," they could turn the world upside down--let alone their church.

The prayer of Christ's heart still is for His disciples "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17:21). With His church fragmented, it may seem that even Christ after 2000 years can't get His prayers answered when He prays by Himself! But don't give up your faith: Christ's prayer mustbe answered, or He must lose the great controversy with Satan! Pray with Him, on His side, that His people may be brought into that true, blessed one-ness "in Him."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 9, 2004.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: The Savior Needs Your Willing Cooperation

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When you think about it, you marvel: whenever Jesus worked a miracle to give people food or drink, He always needed the willing cooperation of some human beings. At the wedding in Cana of Galilee, He needed the help of the servants to go get the wine jars and fill them with water. Then He chose not to wave His hand and suddenly fill all the guests' glasses with supernatural wine. Instead, working behind the scenes with the servants, He gave the party wine.

In the two miracles of feeding the thousands, it's interesting that in each instance He waited for the cooperation of the disciples before He could feed the multitudes. In the case of the "four thousand men, besides women and children" (Matt. 15:32-39), when He expressed His compassion on the people being so hungry that they might collapse on their journeys home, He first asked the disciples, "How many loaves do you have?" Apparently they went off to inquire and came back, "Seven, and a few little fish." Very well, now He can do something; "He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude."

In feeding the five thousand (Mark 6:30-44; John 6:5-14), again He was dependent on the little boy's gift of his "five loaves and two fish" (obviously the lunch his mother had made for him; he was so enthralled listening to Jesus he forgot to eat it). The lesson seems clear: although Jesus could "create" bread from nothing as He created the world in the beginning, now the rules in the great controversy require that He be dependent on willing human cooperation for something to begin with!

Astounding as the truth may be, the Savior actually needs you! Perk up, lift up your head; you are important in His great plan for the world.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 1, 2005.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: According to Jesus, There Is Only One Thing We Must Do

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

This may shock you, but it is true: as you read the New Testament, there is only one thing that we are told we must do--and that is "believe." It's clear in John 3:7-16, and in Hebrews 11:6, as well as Acts 16:30, 31.

The New Testament does not teach the heresy of what is known as "only-believism," that is, that a mental assent and confession are all that are necessary--without obedience. Romans 10:10 says that "with the heart one believes to righteousness." And if you believe with the heart, there is certainly a change in the life that leads you to obey all of God's commandments.

Put all those texts together and let them speak, and it becomes clear that the Bible meaning of the word "believe" is quite different from the usual idea held by Roman Catholic and Protestant evangelicals. To "believe" is not an exercise of selfishness, like buying a lottery ticket. Every such purchase is a hope to win a bonanza. But Bible faith is not centered in winning something, even if it is a heavenly fortune instead of an earthly jackpot. Bible faith is a heart-appreciation of the love of the Father in giving His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. According to Jesus, this is the one thing you must do.

But someone says, wait a minute--doesn't He say, "If you love me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15)? Yes, but please notice: the motive is love, not fear or hope of reward! And Jesus prefaces that remark with this: "believe ... in Me" (vs. 1). He is talking about receiving the atonement, the reconciliation (Rom. 5:9, 10). Paul pleads with us, "Be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20). Why, and how? The next verse answers: "He made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us."

Let your heart contemplate what happened on that cross; then as David says, your heart will be "enlarged" (Psalm 119:32). In such faith is everlasting life. And the message about it today is the third angel's message in verity.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 28, 1997.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, October 15, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: Confused by Conflicting Ideas of Righteousness by Faith?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Are you confused by conflicting ideas of "righteousness by faith"? Many are! It's quite likely that preachers, theologians, and writers have muddied the waters for you. Try reading the naked Bible. Yes, reading it, not merely listening to it on YouTube or on CDs to some preacher whose voice betrays his own confusion or hard-heartedness.

Here's a brief suggestion: try reading the Gospel of John. (Those who try to learn New Testament Greek usually begin there, for John's Greek is the most simple of any of the New Testament writers.) But before you open the Book offer a sincere prayer that the same Holy Spirit who inspired the apostle will condescend to inspire your mind and heart to grasp what he writes--then you and John will be kneeling together at the throne of grace!

If you have been afraid to read the naked Bible for fear you will be misled, make a choice to believe what the Savior of the world has promised: "Ask, and it will be given to you; ... What man is there of you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? ... Your Father who is in heaven [will] give good things to those who ask Him," not fanatical or poisonous ideas (Matt. 7:7-11; Luke 11:13 explains those "good things" to be the Holy Spirit).

It's a healthy thing to be afraid of fanaticism! Plead with the Father to save you from pride, for fanaticism is spiritual pride. A good, healthy prayer to pray daily is in Romans 12:3, "not to think of [oneself] more highly than [one] ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith."

Now, with confidence that the Father is not teasing you, but that He respects your humble prayer, start reading John. Remember, no commentaries for now, maybe later. By the time you get to John 3:16, much of the confusion will be cleared out of your mind, like sunshine after a storm.

You will see that it is God's job to tell you Good News, and it is now your job to believe it. That's the same as exercising that "measure of faith" God has already given you; and lo and behold, what happens? Righteousness by that faith; yes, willing and happy obedience to all the commandments of God--reconciliation of your alienated heart to Him and to His holy law. Another word for that? Salvation!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 7, 1999.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: A "Student" in Christ's School

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

You'd think that if a person knew, even before he was born, that he was called of God to be a prophet, such a high honor would give him a healthy sense of self-respect. The Lord told that to Jeremiah (1:5), but here he is so down in the dumps that he wishes he could die (9:1, 2; 20:14-18). Of all the Lord's prophets, he is the most open in telling us of his inner battles with self, and of the disappointments in his relation with the Lord.

Elijah also wished he could die (1 Kings 19:4), but the Lord gave him the very high honor of being translated, and not dying. Isaiah went through an experience of deep humbling of his heart before God (Isa. 6:5), but the Lord gave him the joy of ministry to a king who appreciated him (37:1, 2, etc.).

But Jeremiah! He suffered nothing but rejection and disappointment for his entire lifetime, and even after the remnant of people who were left alive after the ruin of the kingdom saw the unmistakable evidence that he had been right all along in his ministry, they treated him like dirt (43:2-6ff.). His story comes to an end in tragedy. After he was dead, his people changed their mind about him, and they rated him the greatest of the prophets, even thinking that Jesus Christ might be Jeremiah resurrected (Matt. 16:14).

One experience in his life is of special encouragement to all of us who are "students in the school of Christ." Jeremiah prays in 10:23-24: "O Lord, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing." Do you believe the gracious, kind Lord answered that prayer? Yes! Did He bring the poor servant of His "to nothing"? No! Jeremiah tells us how the Lord kindly rebuked him, corrected him, disciplined him as a "student" in His school (15:15-21), and made a great man out of him. You are a student, too. Don't quit "school"!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 28, 2004.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: An Alternative to Being "Under Law"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

A man wrote of his experience as a youth when he would read the Bible every day simply because he enjoyed it. He had a Good News Bible, and was attracted to it. Then he went away to college and got in with a group of earnest-minded people who emphasized discipline. "Have you had your 'quiet time' with the Lord?" they would ask him frequently. "Are you maintaining your devotions?"

He got so he dreaded to hear the questions. Now, reading the Bible and praying had passed from a pleasant experience to a burden, an obligation imposed upon him with dreaded consequences if he slipped up. Now his "Christian" experience had become a list of "shoulds": you "should" pray more, you "should" read your Bible more, you "should" do this or do that more.

What happened? He tried to think it through and concluded that he was in the spiritual condition that Paul describes as "under law" (Rom. 6:14, 15). He was trying to do all the right things for the wrong reason. The joy was gone.

The "world" is much with us; we are enmeshed in countless activities and it seems the busy days fly by and we drop exhausted into bed at night and remember, "Oh, I forgot to pray, or I forgot to read my Bible! Now what's going to happen to me?!" That's what it's like to be "under law."

Yes, you're busy; but when you drop into bed at night do you suddenly reproach yourself, "Oh, I forgot to eat breakfast this morning! I've been too busy to eat lunch! And there was no time to eat supper! And I haven't even had a snack for a week!"? I doubt it. You have a built-in device called "hunger" that pretty well makes that impossible, at least for very long.

There's an alternative to being "under law"--being "under grace" (Rom. 6:14), under a new motivation imposed upon you by a heart-appreciation of God's loving and His giving that you might not "perish" (John 3:16). And thatproduces a "hunger and thirst for righteousness" that simply will notgo unsatisfied for long! (Matt. 5:6).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 27, 1998.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: The Good News in Suffering

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Have you ever known someone who was faithful and obedient to the Lord, yet who was left to suffer sickness and pain for a long time, unhealed? Yes, it does encourage us to hear stories of other people whose prayers were answered miraculously. But for some people, the miraculous answer doesn't come.

I knew of one case, a lady whose ministry blessed many people, whose love and unselfishness were unquestioned, whose life record was one of wonderful good works, yet her illness went on and on. Have you suffered and yet it seemed your prayers were not answered? Let me encourage you:

Elisha was undoubtedly a man of God, a true prophet, yet he became ill and he actually died of his sickness (read 2 Kings 13:14). Can you imagine Elisha praying for healing and wondering why the Lord did not heal him? If anybody had merit accumulated by a life of good works, he did. Why did God leave him to suffer until he died?

And then there is Paul, so sick that he almost died (2 Corinthians 12); well, yes, Paul must have been healed, but he tells us that when he begged the Lord three times to take away the "thorn in his flesh," the Lord said No. Why? Doesn't the Lord answer our prayers? Yes, He answered Paul's with a straight-out No. But that "No" brought immense joy and peace to Paul's heart and he was on Cloud Nine from then on because the Lord said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (which means human helplessness). Then Paul said, "Most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ... For when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Cor. 12:7-10).

The real Good News in suffering like this is that you "partake of Christ’s sufferings" (1 Peter 4:13) and that is real cause for rejoicing.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 17, 1998.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."